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Bold/Unbold Predictions: Big Ten Football

Some hot (and cold!) takes about Big Ten Football in 2018.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I was going to start this by predicting that none of the 14 Big Ten head coaches would be fired this season, but DJ Durkin’s total lack of empathy toward his players and his negligence ruined that. He isn’t fired yet, but it is almost guaranteed after a player died that Durkin will at the very least be fired — and possibly be in legal jeopardy.

Still, the idea that this may have happened speaks to the stability of each program in the conference at this moment. Every team is either rebuilding at different stages, is Northwestern or Iowa, or is contending for the Big Ten title. In a way this makes the unbold predictions hard for this because the conference won’t be one for many surprises beyond who will win the East division.

So because of that here’s four bold predictions and two unbold. Sue me.

Bold Prediction: Purdue doesn’t make a bowl game

Purdue surprised many last season with a good season under first year coach Jeff Brohm. The Boilermakers made and won a bowl game over a Kahlil Tate-led Arizona team.

Many are expecting Brohm to build off last season with another bowl season, but I don’t think that’ll be the case. Purdue lost basically its entire defense front seven, and the schedule will do the Boilers no favors.

They have Missouri — Tigers slightly favored — and Boston College — toss-up — in the non-conference schedule. If they finish 2-1 in non-con they’ll need four conference wins, but they could need to win 5 with losses to Boston College and Mizzou.

I don’t see more than three wins here:

  • vs. Northwestern
  • @ Nebraksa
  • @ Illinois
  • vs. Ohio State
  • @ Michigan State
  • vs Iowa
  • @ Minnesota
  • vs. Wisconsin
  • @ Indiana

The Nebraska and Indiana games will be key, but with the losses on defense, I can’t see them taking both. No bowl game for the Boilers.

But fear not Purdue fans. Brohm will likely slingshot back to 7 or 8 wins in 2019.

Unbold Prediction: Wisconsin wins the West Division

Ok, moving on.

Bold Prediction: Dylan McCaffrey will be Michigan’s starting QB by season’s end

Michigan fans are excited about their new transfer QB Shea Patterson, and they should be. Patterson is a step-up in talent from what they’ve had under center under Jim Harbaugh, but Patterson still has his flaws. Mainly, turnovers.

Patterson played seven games in 2017 and had three multi-interception games and two games with three. Furthermore, how convinced are we that Shea Patterson is all that great?

I think Shea Patterson struggles against some of the better Big Ten defenses and Dylan McCaffrey gets his shot and wins the job by season’s end. A redshirt freshman, McCaffrey is a blue-chip recruit and younger brother of Christian McCaffrey. He has a lot of talent and is a great fit for Michigan’s offense.

Bold Prediction: Trace McSorley will be a Heisman Finalist

He may has lost his best buddy in the backfield in Saquon Barkley, but Trace McSorley is poised to have his best season with Penn State. OC Joe Moorhead is also gone, but with what is left — a fantastic offensive line and a bunch of weapons at WR — and McSorley’s talent, he will put up great numbers yet again.

Losing Barkley may hurt Penn State, but it could help McSorley’s stat line as the Nittany Lions will need to depend on him even more this year.

This is also a year with many preseason candidates for the Heisman, but no clear leader of the pack. I think this is a year we see at least four finalists, and I expect Trace McSorley to be one of them, even though he probably won’t win — unless Penn State overachieves like mad this season.

Bold Prediction: Ohio State wins the conference and goes to the College Football Playoff

Urban Meyer has been suspended for three games due to the scandal with ex-Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith. This may lead some to believe they could be in for a surprise loss or two with the distractions, but I don’t think that will be the case. This is still the most talented team in the conference by far.

Meyer’s suspension will force him to miss Oregon State and Rutgers at home which they will have no problem winning and TCU on the road in Dallas. That TCU game could be a trip up, but given that Ryan Day — one of the best young assistants in college football — calls the plays, I’m not sure Meyer’s game-day impact is that great.

At the end of the day, the Buckeyes have the best offense and a defense that is a bonafide top-10 unit. They have the fewest holes and I don’t see them losing more than one game in the regular season. A conference championship win over Wisconsin — as is tradition — and a playoff berth is in tow.

Unbold Prediction: Ohio State beats Michigan again

This needs to happen of course for the above prediction to be true. This is often called the best rivalry in sports, but take a look at this.

Wikipedia

If it wasn’t for the history I wouldn’t think this would even be called a rivalry. The only game Michigan has won over Ohio State since 2003 was the year Luke Fickell was the Bucks interim head coach after Jim Tressel was fired.

The game is in Columbus this season. Ohio State is loaded and Michigan still has a ton of questions to answer about their offense. People can keep asking the question, is this the year Harbaugh overtakes the Buckeyes, but for the foreseeable future that answer will continue to be no.

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