2009 Preseason Conference Analysis- Big Ten

The once all-powerful Big Ten Conference slipped into mediocrity last season. As a whole the conference finished an astounding 1-6 in bowl games last year. Not only that, Ohio State, the pride and joy of the conference, had been bludgeoned in two straight BCS championship games by superior SEC opponents. The conference has shown its inability to keep pace with other BCS conferences and is quickly falling off the map.

Can 2009 be the year that the Big Ten turns it around? Not quite. Penn State will probably lose one or two games again, Iowa will return to mediocrity without Shonn Greene, Wisconsin has been exposed as terrible, and Northwestern and Minnesota can’t hope for repeats. The only hope is that Ohio State beats USC at home in their non-conference game and that Michigan turns it around. I really don’t see that happening this year at all.

The non-conference schedule includes USC, Air Force, Missouri, Notre Dame, Fresno State, Oregon, Cal, and Cincinnati. Not many teams in the Big Ten could beat any of those guys. The conference matchups I expect to me as usual, just a few powerhouse teams creaming everyone. Here’s my prediction for the final standing in the conference:

1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
3. Michigan State
4. Michigan
5. Iowa
6. Illinois
7. Wisconsin
8. Purdue
9. Northwestern
10. Minnesota
11. Indiana

There is a bright spot though- Terrel Pryor. Anyone watch their bowl game against Texas? This kid can play, and he’s only going to be a Sophomore. Ohio State is losing some key players, but who isn’t? They should dominate the Big Ten this year, then I’m thinking in the 2010 season they will be right back at the championship game again. Of course, they will likely get throttled by an SEC team, but isn’t that what the BCS is all about?

My advice to the Big Ten is simple: recruit Notre Dame already! Get them in the conference as a 12th team. Then you can make two divisions like this:

Notre Dame
Michigan State

Ohio State
Penn State

Now that would be a conference. There would be a title game like the other big conferences are doing. The conference championship would never be Michigan vs. Ohio State, so the rivalry game would always mean something, just like Texas and Oklahoma. Plus, Notre Dame is a perennial powerhouse. They have winning season 4 out of every 5. It would really help the conference to get them in there. This year they play Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. They’re already halfway in the Big Ten, they just need a final push.

Once they pony up and join the Big Ten, Navy and Army could saddle up with the Big East and make them a respectable conference again. But more on that later. For now we’re sticking with the Big Ten, and I think it’s safe to say Notre Dame isn’t joining anytime soon. So let’s count on another mediocre season with a bowl bashing to finish the season. But like I said, it all hinges on USC playing at Ohio State. If OSU can pull that one off, that momentum could really turn things around for the whole conference and get them some respect.

Well we may not be able to count on much in the Big Ten, but we can always count on Ohio State being ranked ridiculously too high in the preseason rankings, so count on them being in the top ten at least.