2010 Big Ten Football Predictions and Preview from Whatifsports.com From WhatIfSports.com image

Big Ten Football Predictions and Preview

Buckeyes the team to beat in the Big Ten
By Eric Schmoldt and Ryan Fowler, Whatifsports.com
August 19th, 2010

Could an impressive bowl run be the catalyst in returning the Big Ten back to college football's forefront? Adding Nebraska next year certainly won't hurt, but the conference surely needed a run to spark some sort of momentum as it was quickly falling out of favor nationally. Perhaps that lift came when the Big Ten won four bowl games against ranked opponents. A national championship run by a member school would certainly boost conference popularity along with a nationally respected program like the Cornhuskers waiting in the wings.

The Buckeyes, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Terrelle Pryor, appear to be the favorite once again in 2010. Why wouldn't they be the favorite at this point? They have won at least a share of five straight Big Ten Conference championships and will be looking for their first national title since 2002. Behind Ohio State, three teams lurk as potential contenders. Wisconsin returns 2009 Offensive Player of the Year John Clay at running back along with a slew of other veterans that produced a 10-win team as youngsters last year. Iowa has the most favorable schedule, getting the other top three league teams at home. And Penn State has the most brutal schedule and just 13 returning starters but it's hard to count the Nittany Lions out.

Using our college football simulation engine, Whatifsports.com simulated thousands of college football games to create this Big Ten Preview. Team ratings, player ratings and depth charts are accurate as of July 31st. What you see in the WIS-Big Ten Predictions table is the most-likely outcome based on the computer simulations. The team-by-team schedules use Absolute Records, which you can learn more about below. Those same game-by-game results also generate average points per game for both teams.

WIS-Big Ten Predictions
TeamWLOverall Record
Ohio State7111-1
Penn State629-3
Iowa629-3
Wisconsin629-3
Michigan State448-4
Purdue447-5
Northwestern448-4
Illinois355-7
Indiana265-7
Michigan173-9
Minnesota173-9

To hide the details, click here.

For this analysis, thousands of college football games are simulated, with the sum of the winning percentages of those games being our final predicted record. As can be noted, sometimes a team is "favored" (wins more than 50% of the time) in a different number of our games than the expected record shows. We list this record as the Absolute Record. The assumption of the Absolute Record is that the more likely scenario always happens. Since we know that it does not, our expected record (in the table above) is far more accurate. Also, especially since we are rounding, it is possible for a team to win a game more often, yet score the same or fewer points on average. In those cases, for Absolute Records, we always take higher winning percentage and are not predicting a tie or a win by an underdog. This is another reason why the expected records are more accurate, as the teams are so evenly matched, the game could easily go either way.


Illinois

Illinois

Coach Ron Zook sounded optimistic about Illini football at Big Ten Media Day.

"Obviously at the University of Illinois we have a lot of new things going on and excitement," coach Zook said. "Got a new quarterback that I think everyone will enjoy watching. And we all want to see the progress that he's going to make and obviously new coaches.

So we're excited to get going, looking forward to it. The attitude has been great. The transition was probably as smooth as it possibly could have ever been with the coaching changes."




Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Illinois Fighting Illini
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Missouri Tigers2324-34
2Southern Illinois Salukis9545-9
3Northern Illinois Huskies6329-22
5Ohio State Buckeyes513-36
6@Penn State Nittany Lions915-38
7@Michigan State Spartans3527-36
8Indiana Hoosiers6730-22
9Purdue Boilermakers3225-28
10@Michigan Wolverines5628-27
11Minnesota Golden Gophers7930-19
12@Northwestern Wildcats2121-32
14@Fresno State Bulldogs2324-37

Indiana

Indiana

"For people outside of Bloomington, the 2010 Hoosiers would seem to be a team ready to take a step backward. After all, they lost seven starters on defense, and 40 percent of the offensive line must be replaced. It seems on paper that perhaps returning to 4-8, the record IU posted a year ago, might be a bit out of reach. Then again, context is everything, and more than a few IU insiders believe the program is poised to take a huge step forward."

"IU simply needs to get through September at 3-0 and avoid any major injuries. A Sept. 18 trip to Western Kentucky will test the Hoosiers' ability to win on the road, and a battle vs. Akron Sept. 25 will be a rematch of a game IU won handily last season. Indiana can't stumble in September or the critics will come out in full force, especially since there is a group of fans who are worried that the program isn't headed in the right direction."

- Fox Sports

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Indiana Hoosiers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Towson Tigers9542-8
3@Western Kentucky Hilltoppers9334-16
4Akron Zips7730-19
5Michigan Wolverines6332-25
6@Ohio State Buckeyes57-44
7Arkansas State Red Wolves7730-18
8@Illinois Fighting Illini3322-30
9Northwestern Wildcats1822-31
10Iowa Hawkeyes512-36
11@Wisconsin Badgers1120-44
12Penn State Nittany Lions514-39
13@Purdue Boilermakers1619-34

Iowa

Ball Hawks


Iowa's pass defense was 4th best in the country

Brian Finley from HawkeyeInsider.com is our Iowa Hawkeye insider:

"Christian Ballard experienced a mostly seamless move from end to tackle last season as Iowa enjoyed a successful season due in large part to the play of its defensive line," Finley said. "The senior talks about taking the next step and more in this video."

For more from Brian Finley and the Hawkeyes check out HawkeyeInsider.com.





Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Iowa Hawkeyes
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Eastern Illinois Panthers9555-5
2Iowa State Cyclones9338-9
3@Arizona Wildcats6024-22
4Ball State Cardinals9542-7
5Penn State Nittany Lions4919-20
7@Michigan Wolverines9135-14
8Wisconsin Badgers7532-22
9Michigan State Spartans7934-23
10@Indiana Hoosiers9536-12
11@Northwestern Wildcats8128-18
12Ohio State Buckeyes2319-25
13@Minnesota Golden Gophers9530-10

Michigan

Third Year the Charm?


Wolverines have depth at quarterback this season

The staff writers at GoBlueWolverine.com are our Michigan Wolverines insiders.

They recently attended a Rich Rodriguez pre-season press conference and coach was peppered with questions about the development of this year's squad. Click on the video to the right for Rich Rod's progress report.

For more on the Wolverines check out GoBlueWolverine.com.






Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Michigan Wolverines
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Connecticut Huskies523-38
2@Notre Dame Fighting Irish1219-41
3Massachusetts Minutemen9545-8
4Bowling Green Falcons7531-19
5@Indiana Hoosiers3725-32
6Michigan State Spartans1827-37
7Iowa Hawkeyes914-35
9@Penn State Nittany Lions514-40
10Illinois Fighting Illini4427-28
11@Purdue Boilermakers1921-33
12Wisconsin Badgers522-39
13@Ohio State Buckeyes510-45

Michigan State

Michigan State

Dave Berk from SpartanDigest.com is our Michigan State Spartans insider:

"While the next few days will be filled with shorts, helmets and shoulder pads, the Spartans 4th year head coach was excited to talk about a couple of the new players who put on the Green & White for the first time," Berk said in a recent article.

"This is the first time we've been able to see some of our new guys," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Being out here watching William Gholston move around, Mylan Hicks and Skyler Schofner we get excited."

"While Dantonio was eager to talk about a few of the new players, it is what he expects from the veterans that matters most," Berk said.

For more from Dave Berk and the Spartans check out SpartanDigest.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Michigan State Spartans
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Western Michigan Broncos9544-19
2Florida Atlantic Owls8847-31
3Notre Dame Fighting Irish5139-37
4Northern Colorado Bears9558-7
5Wisconsin Badgers2336-39
6@Michigan Wolverines8237-27
7Illinois Fighting Illini6536-27
8@Northwestern Wildcats6535-32
9@Iowa Hawkeyes2123-34
10Minnesota Golden Gophers9139-21
12Purdue Boilermakers6738-31
13@Penn State Nittany Lions2128-38

Minnesota

Minnesota

"It's probably unfair to throw it all on the quarterback, but Adam Weber is shouldering a lot of responsibility this season. The senior was actually better in his first two seasons than he was as a junior. He broke nearly all of the school's single-season passing and total offense records as a freshman and was second team all-conference the following season. In Weber's defense, he did have surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder after his second season admitted he didn't feel 100 percent physically in 2009."

"While 10 starters return on offense, only two are back on defense. A total of 22 redshirt freshmen and 16 sophomores battled for time in spring ball. The Gophers are also bringing in 27 true freshmen for fall camp. Some of them will have to contribute, which is no easy task."

- Fox Sports


Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Minnesota Golden Gophers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders3021-30
2South Dakota Coyotes9535-6
3USC Trojans1620-35
4Northern Illinois Huskies3022-28
5Northwestern Wildcats1918-28
6@Wisconsin Badgers515-40
7@Purdue Boilermakers1615-30
8Penn State Nittany Lions510-37
9Ohio State Buckeyes510-39
10@Michigan State Spartans921-39
11@Illinois Fighting Illini2119-30
13Iowa Hawkeyes510-30

Northwestern

Northwestern

"Northwestern finished 95th nationally in rushing last year with just 117.5 yards per game. Not only did the Wildcats run the ball inconsistently (3.0 yards per rush), they couldn't find a go-to guy. Offensive coordinator Mick McCall rotated four guys depending on the situation. All four of those guys are back this season, but none of them made much headway during the spring."

"Sophomore scatback Arby Fields, the team's top rusher with 302 yards and five touchdowns, split his time between spring practices and his duties as Northwestern's starting center fielder. Juniors Jacob Schmidt and Scott Concannon -- the latter of whom fell out of favor late in the year due to fumbles -- finished the spring healthy, but they combined for 52 yards on 25 carries in the spring game. Undersized senior Stephen Simmons, who entered the 2009 season as the starter but fell to the wayside in part due to injuries, carried three times for minus-4 yards."

- Fox Sports

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Northwestern Wildcats
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Vanderbilt Commodores9330-14
2Illinois State Redbirds9552-6
3@Rice Owls9137-18
4Central Michigan Chippewas8230-19
5@Minnesota Golden Gophers8128-18
6Purdue Boilermakers5429-27
8Michigan State Spartans3532-35
9@Indiana Hoosiers8231-22
10@Penn State Nittany Lions2118-34
11Iowa Hawkeyes1918-28
12Illinois Fighting Illini7932-21
13@Wisconsin Badgers1925-36

Ohio State

Smell the Roses

Ohio State Pryor woke up in the Rose Bowl last January

"QB Terrelle Pryor is ready to prove the Rose Bowl was his coming out party and not a fluke. The Buckeyes have perhaps their deepest backfield under Jim Tressel and the four top players in receptions all return. With minimal losses up front, the only question is whether or not Tressel trusts Pryor enough to let him drive the offense."

"Defensively, the Buckeyes must find a new pair of safeties after the departures of Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman. Jermale Hines is one obvious replacement after taking over for Russell early last season when Russell was struggling in coverage. Hines has been good enough to start for the last two years. The other safety will come from a group that includes sophomores Orhian Johnson and Travis Howard and sixth-year senior Aaron Gant."

- Fox Sports

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Ohio State Buckeyes
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Marshall Thundering Herd9544-10
2Miami (FL) Hurricanes6733-25
3Ohio Bobcats9536-9
4Eastern Michigan Eagles9558-6
5@Illinois Fighting Illini9536-13
6Indiana Hoosiers9544-7
7@Wisconsin Badgers8132-25
8Purdue Boilermakers9538-14
9@Minnesota Golden Gophers9539-10
11Penn State Nittany Lions7930-18
12@Iowa Hawkeyes7725-19
13Michigan Wolverines9545-10

Penn State

JoePa-ternity Test

Penn State A new QB may mean a new offense in the Valley

Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com is our Penn State Nittany Lions insider:

"Penn State features one of the nation's best running backs in Evan Royster, who is poised to smash the school career rushing mark thanks to a gaudy per-carry average of 6.1 yards," Brennan said. The Nittany Lions are also loaded at receiver and along the defensive line, and return all the key faces in the secondary. The linebacker corps is being reloaded after the 2009 starters were all drafted, but Joe Paterno has enough horses to get the job done there."

"The primary area of concern is at quarterback, where sophomore Kevin Newsome is the "veterans with exactly 11 career passing attempts. A reshuffled offensive line ranks second on the list of potential problems, followed closely by a complete lack of experience at tight end and punter."

"A brutal road schedule will result in three losses (at Alabama, Iowa and Ohio), and don't be shocked if PSU follows its recent pattern of dropping one game per season against a less talented opponent. Look for an 8-4 regular season, a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten and a win in the Outback Bowl to go 9-4 overall."

For more from Mark Brennan and the Nittany Lions check out FightOnState.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Penn State Nittany Lions
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Youngstown State Penguins9561-5
2@Alabama Crimson Tide715-31
3Kent State Golden Flashes9537-8
4Temple Owls7732-19
5@Iowa Hawkeyes5120-19
6Illinois Fighting Illini9138-15
8@Minnesota Golden Gophers9537-10
9Michigan Wolverines9540-14
10Northwestern Wildcats7934-18
11@Ohio State Buckeyes2118-30
12@Indiana Hoosiers9539-14
13Michigan State Spartans7938-28

Purdue

Makers' Mark

Purdue Miami (FL) transfer Robert Marve will start at QB

"Robert Marve will replace Joey Elliott at quarterback. Marve has plenty of potential -- he broke a number of Tim Tebow's high school records in Florida -- but comes to Purdue following a stormy exit at Miami. There are questions whether his knee is fully recovered from ACL surgery. Tailback Ralph Bolden is out for most, if not all of the season. But receiver Keith Smith returns after leading the league with 91 catches and 1,100 yards last year. He did that while playing all year with a broken wrist that required surgery after the season. The coaches have to be excited over his potential when fully healthy."

"The biggest question is the secondary. Purdue needs four new starters and has plenty of candidates but no real frontrunners. The only player with any sort of experience, safety Albert Evans, missed the spring recovering from ankle surgery. Finding four starters -- and their backups -- will be the biggest question of the spring. Also, linebacker Jason Werner missed the spring with a heel injury. It wouldn't be a big deal, other than Werner's chronic back woes have previously kept him off the field for extended periods of time. Werner is the leading returning tackler with 77."

- Fox Sports

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Purdue Boilermakers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Notre Dame Fighting Irish3327-35
2Western Illinois Leathernecks9552-7
3Ball State Cardinals9539-10
4Toledo Rockets8637-20
6@Northwestern Wildcats4627-29
7Minnesota Golden Gophers8430-15
8@Ohio State Buckeyes514-38
9@Illinois Fighting Illini6828-25
10Wisconsin Badgers2629-34
11Michigan Wolverines8133-21
12@Michigan State Spartans3331-38
13Indiana Hoosiers8434-19

Wisconsin

Badgers Reloaded

Wisconsin Badgers return 15 starters on offense & defense

Michael Bleach from BadgerNation.com is our Wisconsin Badgers insider:

"He wouldn't go as far as say his offensive linemen are one of the top groups in the nation," Bleach said. "Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema has a good problem on his hands, figuring out how to use seven players with starting experience. After day one of camp, Bielema has 26 more days until the opener to answer that and other persistent questions."

For more from Michael Bleach and the Badgers check out BadgerNation.com.




Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Wisconsin Badgers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@UNLV Rebels9542-19
2San Jose State Spartans9549-12
3Arizona State Sun Devils9137-16
4Austin Peay Governors9564-7
5@Michigan State Spartans7739-36
6Minnesota Golden Gophers9540-15
7Ohio State Buckeyes1925-32
8@Iowa Hawkeyes2522-32
10@Purdue Boilermakers7434-29
11Indiana Hoosiers8944-20
12@Michigan Wolverines9539-22
13Northwestern Wildcats8136-25

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Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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