- Ohio State: The Buckeyes could be even better than last season, so there’s no way anyone in the Big 10 should overtake them. The question for the Buckeyes is whether they can repeat as national champions.
- Michigan State: Offensively, the Spartans could be improved over last year’s top unit. The defense took some hits and especially Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi who left to take the head job at Pittsburgh. Head coach Mark Dantonio has it under control and they do have some talent returning. They won’t
beat Ohio State in Columbus, but the Spartans should be tough.
- Michigan: The Jim Harbaugh era begins in Ann Arbor. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock could be his first Quarterback if he can beat out Shane Morris or true freshman Alex Malzone. Michigan had a really solid defense last year and should be good again there this year. Michigan could be good, but it may be a few years before they can compete with the top 2. I believe in Harbaugh getting it done.
- Penn State: As much as I believe in Harbaugh, James Franklin is going to kill it at Penn State. The Lions struggled a bit in 2014, but they should be right there with Michigan or even better in 2015. Christian Hackenberg was an impressive true freshman in 2013, but he had more than his share of struggles as a sophomore in 2014. Will he bounce back? Defense loses the standard Penn State Linebacker prototype Mike Hull, but they have a lot of returning stars like Nyeem Wartman, Marcus Allen, Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel.
- Rutgers: The Scarlett Knights lost 3 year starter Gary Nova at Quarterback. Sophomore Chris Laviano or LSU transfer Hayden Rettig should be his replacement. They also lost 3 starters up front. On the defensive side, Rutgers could be pretty good, with stars Steve Longa and Kemoko Turay. They were somewhat surprising in their first season in the Big 10 with an 8-5 record. They probably will match that this year, at least.
- Maryland: Like Rutgers, Maryland lost their long time starter at Quarterback, CJ Brown. Caleb Rowe, Shane Cockerille or Perry Hills will need to step up. The Terrapins finished at 7-6 in 2014 and other than stars like William Lively I see little reason for improvement.
- Indiana: The Hoosiers just might surprise everyone next season with the return of Quarterback Nate Sudfeld and the arrival of Running Back transfer Jordan Howard. They also return 4 out of 5 Offensive Linemen. However, the defense could be about the same. The Hoosiers should improve over last season, but will it be enough? The Hoosiers have a good coach in Kevin Wilson and they need to hold onto him despite the won loss record.
- Wisconsin: The Badgers are the defending champions of the West and should stay there mostly by default. Wisconsin has a brand new coach in Paul Chryst, but he is the former Offensive
Coordinator and things should remain about the same. They will return a solid defense and an excellent run game with Corey Clement stepping right in for departed All-American Melvin Gordon at Running Back. They still need a Quarterback, but they may stick with experienced Joel Stave.
- Nebraska: The Cornhuskers also have a new coach. They fired Bo Pelini and hired Mike Riley from Oregon State. While I don’t understand the hire, it will be interesting to see what Riley can do here. Huskers return 6 starters on offense and 7 on defense. They lost top Running Back Ameer Abdullah and 3 Offensive Linemen, plus Wide Receiver Kenny Bell.
- Minnesota: They lost their star Running Back from last season, David Cobb. Plus, star Tight End Maxx Williams. They do return Quarterback Mitch Leidner and 3 Offensive Linemen and 2 Wide Receivers, but they will need somebody to step up at Running Back. The defense returns 7 starters and I am ready for Defensive End Theiren Cockran to finally live up to his enormous potential. The 6-6, 255 senior from Homestead, Florida could be a high draft pick with a great season.
- Northwestern: 2014 was a very disappointing season for the Wildcats, but they did have a surprising new star freshman Justin Jackson at Running Back who ran for over 1,000 yards. On defense, they lost top tackler Chi Chi Ariguzo, but they have a lot of good talent returning and
- Iowa: Hawkeyes Quarterback Jake Rudock graduated and transferred to the Michigan Wolverines to play his last season for Jim Harbaugh. CJ Beathard needs to step up at Quarterback. Iowa returns a few starters on both sides of the ball and will have the same struggles this year as in last. It wasn’t all that long ago that Iowa was one of the Big 10’s finest.
- Illinois: A few years ago the Illinis were a talented team, but that’s no longer true. They have a shot at being slightly better in 2015, but probably not enough better.
- Purdue: I had a lot of hope in new Boilermaker head coach Darrel Hazell early last season, but they still struggled. There’s not a lot of talent on hand to turn things around. As an old school football fan that remembers the 1960’s and other powerful Purdue teams, I do feel for them. Hazell is an impressive coach but he has his work cut out for him.