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Big Ten Football

2009 BIG TEN FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Years ago, the Big Ten was referred to as the Big Two and the Little Eight as Ohio Big TenState and Michigan staged perennial battles for league supremacy.  As the NCAA tightened roster limits and scholarships, other schools began to establish their own cycles of dominance, among them Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin.  None were able to sustain the run for more than a few years, though, and when Jim Tressel took the reins for the Buckeyes, Ohio State settled in for a long run at the top.

This year, the Big Two, Little Eight may once again describe the league as Penn State is poised to challenge the Buckeyes under octogenarian Head Coach, Joe Paterno.  Do they Have enough to give JoePa one last title?  Is the talent of QB Juice Williams enough to carry Illinois all the way to the Rose Bowl?  And what of Rich Rodriguez in his second year at Michigan?  Has he assembled enough “spread offense” talent to restore Michigan’s pride?  Let’s take a look.

Ohio State– Let’s see. They have the best incoming recruiting class, the best coach, and just one tough road game.  Looks like the Buckeyes’ biggest chore will be keeping their focus on the Big Ten and not the polls.  QB Terrelle Pryor returns to lead the offense and will seek to take a more prominent role with RB Beanie Wells gone.  Daniel Herron takes over, having run for more than 400 YDS while filling in for Wells last year.  A strong secondary headed by SS Kurt Coleman and FS Anderson Russell will cover the losses of LB Jim Laurinaitis.  If Ohio State can grab a win when Southern Cal comes to Columbus on September 12th,  it just might be clear sailing to the BCS title game.

Illinois The Illini get the nod here as conference runner up based on their supreme offensive talent and the fact that Penn State must visit Champaign.  The dynamic duo of QB Juice Williams and WR Aurelius Benn may be too much for anyone in the league to handle and they’ll get a lot of help from two talented RB; Jason Ford and Mikel LeShoure. Although Illinois boasts an all conference LB in Martez Wilson, CB and DL are areas of concern.  If those holes are filled and the O Line comes together, the Illini will be playing ball on New Year’s Day.

Penn State– JoePa’s back, supposedly in good health and he’s got himself a helluva QB in Daryll Clark.  Unfortunately for Clark, he’ll be breaking in a whole new set of WR and a young Offensive front.  He will have help from G/C Steve Wisniewski and RB Evan Royster.  The secondary is a question however, while Paterno hopes a strong recruiting class can fill the holes left by 12 departing starters.  If they can get past Illinois in October, it’ll all come down to November 7th when Ohio State gets a “white out” in Happy Valley.

Michigan State– The Spartans return 17 starters to a 9-4 squad.  However, there are questions in the backfield, under center and on the line for the offense.  Blair White and Mark Dell will battle for the QB job and rely heavily on TE Charlie Gantt.  A cadre of freshman will likely be called upon to replace RB Javon Ringer as the Offensive line looks to make a name for itself.  Where the Spartans will be tough is on defense, as DE Trevor Anderson and LB Greg Jones anchor an experienced group.  They catch a break in ’09 with Ohio State off the schedule.

Iowa– Much will depend on the growth of QB Ricky Stanzi, who could be a star.  His insertion into the lineup last year sparked a 6-1 run that included a victory over undefeated Penn State.  He’ll be without Shonn Green, who took his talent to the NFL and will lean on WR Marvin McNutt while Jewel Hampton seeks to establish himself in the backfield. The Hawkeyes could play very well and still endure a tough season as they face Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State on the road. 

Michigan– In Rich Garcia’s first season at the helm, Michigan was either very good or very bad; never mediocre.  The Wolverines had a stellar recruiting year however and it may be just another year before Rodriguez has them back on track.  Solid RB’s Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor will carry much of the offensive load as an uncertain QB situation plays out.  Tate Forcier, Nick Sheridan and Denard Robinson will battle to decide.  Look for Robinson, the best runner of the three, to start.

Northwestern– The Wildcats will look to the defensive side of the ball for any success this year.  DE Corey Wootton and S Brad Phillips lead a talented group of defenders although, both return from injury.  They’ll be counted on to perform as QB Mike Kafka gets used to the starting job and a receiving corps decimated by graduation.     

Minnesota– The Gophers have plenty of firepower in the passing game with QB Adam Webber and WR Eric Decker.  It’s in the backfield where the problems lie and there’s not much help on the horizon.  An inexperienced defense and weak offensive line will make it a long year. 

Wisconsin–  The Badgers return just 13 starters and have serious questions at RB, QB and in the secondary.  A strong offensive line will help the rushing game no matter who plays but there’s not a lot of promise under center as Dustin Sherer and Curt Phillips fight to establish which of the two is less mediocre.

Purdue–   Aptly named, new Head Coach, Danny Hope, tries to restore some to the stumbling Boilermakers.  He’ll be looking for contributions from young players, the best of whom may be QB Najee Tyler. 

Indiana– Basketball practice begins on October 15th

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BIG TEN FOOTBALL 2009 SCHEDULES

ILLINOIS

Sep 5    Missouri @St. Louis, MO
Sep 12   ILLINOIS STATE 
SEP 26   at Ohio State
Oct 3    PENN STATE 
Oct 10   MICHIGAN STATE 
Oct 17   at Indiana 
Oct 24   at Purdue 
Oct 31   MICHIGAN
Nov 7    at Minnesota 
Nov 14   NORTHWESTERN
Nov 28   at Cincinnati 
Dec 5    FRESNO STATE

INDIANA 

Sep 3    Eastern Kentucky  
Sep 12   Western Michigan 
Sep 19   at Akron 
Sep 26   at Michigan 
Oct 3    Ohio State 
Oct 10   at Virginia
Oct 17   Illinois
Oct 24   at Northwestern 
Oct 31   at Iowa 
Nov 7    Wisconsin 
Nov 14   at Penn State 
Nov 21   Purdue 

IOWA

Sep 5    Northern Iowa  
Sep 12   at Iowa State 
Sep 19   Arizona 
Sep 26   at Penn State
Oct 3    Arkansas State 
Oct 10   Michigan
Oct 17   at Wisconsin
Oct 24   at Michigan State 
Oct 31   Indiana
Nov 7    Northwestern
Nov 14   at Ohio State
Nov 21   Minnesota

MICHIGAN

Sep 5    Western Michigan              
Sep 12   Notre Dame             
Sep 19   Eastern Michigan            
Sep 26   Indiana                 
oCT 3    at Michigan State
Oct 10   at Iowa                 
Oct 17   Delaware State        
Oct 24   Penn State        
Oct 31   at Illinois             
Nov 7    Purdue                
Nov 14   at Wisconsin            
Nov 21   Ohio State

MICHIGAN STATE

Sep 5    Montana State 
Sep 12   Central Michigan 
Sep 19   at Notre Dame 
Sep 26   at Wisconsin
Oct 3    Michigan
Oct 10   at Illinois
Oct 17   Northwestern
Oct 24   Iowa 
Oct 31   at Minnesota 
Nov 7    Western Michigan
Nov 14   at Purdue 
Nov 21   Penn State

MINNESOTA

Sep 5     at Syracuse 
Sep 12     Air Force 
Sep 19     California  
Sep 26     at Northwestern  
Oct 03    Wisconsin
Oct 10    Purdue 
Oct 17    @ Penn State 
Oct 24    @ Ohio State 
Oct 31    Michigan State 
Nov 7     Illinois 
Nov 14    South Dakota State 
Nov 21    @ Iowa 

NORTHWESTERN

Sep 5    Towson 
Sep 12   Eastern Michigan 
Sep 19   at Syracuse 
Sep 26   Minnesota
Oct 3    at Purdue
Oct 10   Miami (Ohio) 
Oct 17   at Michigan State
Oct 24   Indiana
Oct 31   Penn State 
Nov 7    at Iowa
Nov 14   at Illinois
Nov 21   Wisconsin

OHIO STATE

Sep 5     Navy                    
Sep 12    Southern California,     
Sep 19    vs. Toledo (in Cleveland)
Sep 26    Illinois
Oct 3     at Indiana,               
Oct 10    Wisconsin
Oct 17    at Purdue
Oct 24    Minnesota,                
Oct 31    New Mexico State
Nov 7     at Penn State
Nov 14    Iowa
Nov 21    at Michigan

PENN STATE

Sep 5     Akron 
Sep 12    Syracuse 
Sep 19    Temple 
Sep 26    Iowa 
Oct 3     @ Illinois 
Oct 10    Eastern Illinois 
Oct 17    Minnesota 
Oct 24    @ Michigan 
Oct 31    @ Northwestern 
Nov 7     Ohio State 
Nov 14    Indiana 
Nov 21    @ Michigan State 

PURDUE

Sep 5     Toledo 
Sep 12    at Oregon
Sep 19    Northern Illinois 
Sep 26    Notre Dame 
Oct 03    Northwestern 
Oct 10    at Minnesota
Oct 17    Ohio State 
Oct 24    Illinois 
Oct 31    at Wisconsin 
Nov 7     at Michigan 
Nov 14    Michigan State  
Nov 21    at Indiana 

WISCONSIN
 
Sep 5     NORTHERN ILLINOIS 
Sep 12    FRESNO STATE 
Sep 19    WOFFORD
Sep 26    MICHIGAN STATE 
Oct 3     at Minnesota 
Oct 10    at Ohio State
Oct 17    IOWA
Oct 31    PURDUE
Nov 7     at Indiana
Nov 14    MICHIGAN
Nov 21    at Northwestern 
Dec 5     at Hawai’i

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