2020 COLLEGE FOOTBALL: PICKING THE BIG 10

It has been a long time since the Big 10 won a national championship. Turn the clock back to 2014, the first season college football had a four – team playoff, with Ohio State shocked everyone by defeating

#1 Alabama and #2 Oregon. The conference didn’t have a playoff team in 2017 or 2018 before Ohio State punched their ticket last season.

Last season, many felt Ohio State was the best team in the college football playoff but fell to #3 Clemson 29 – 23 in the semi –final. Maybe this is the season the conference can win it all with contenders like Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan all heavy favorites.

There is reason to believe Ohio State can win a national championship beginning with Quarterback Justin Fields. The Georgia transfer rank #1 in the conference in total offense and had a 41 – 3 touchdown – to – interception ratio. They will miss running back JK Dobbins and his 2,003 rushing yards and DE Chase Young (the defensive player of the year), but don’t worry Ohio State has enough talent to fill any losses from last year’s team.

Coach Day must also replace his defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley (Boston College) and his offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich who departed for Texas. As of today Ohio State is the clear favorite to win the Big Ten championship. Here is how we are picking the conference in 2020:

EASTERN DIVISION

  1. Ohio State: It all begins with QB Justin Fields, but believe me there is plenty of talent on this roster. The defense must adjust without DC Jeff Hafley. Buckeye fans will settle for nothing less than a national championship in 2020.

  2. Penn State: The Nittany Lions will have a new OC. Penn State fans are hoping that means more excitement on offense. The biggest question mark will be on defense where Penn State lost a lot of talent. The Nittany Lions have won at least 11 games in three of the last four seasons. Could this be the year they break through for a playoff spot?

  3. Michigan: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is still looking for more excitement on offense. There will be a new quarterback and a new go – to wide receiver. The defense could be the best in the conference. Michigan appears to be good this season, but not good enough.

  4. Michigan State: The Spartans are in need of a better offense. Mark Dantonio is gone and former Colorado head coach Mel Tucker takes over the reins.

  5. Indiana: The Hoosiers will challenge Michigan and Michigan State for the #3 spot in the division. They have veteran talent on both sides of the football. QB Michael Pennix Jr. must stay healthy if Indiana is to compete this season. This could be Tom Allen’s best team yet.

  6. Maryland: Head Coach Mike Locksley has recruited excellent talent at Maryland. Quarterback has been an issue and must be addressed early in the fall. Getting better talent upfront is a huge key if Maryland plans on moving up in the division.

  7. Rutgers: This struggling program needed a shot in the arm and got one in the naming of Greg Schiano as the head coach. He will struggle until the program can upgrade its talent across the board. It will be difficult to watch, but given time Schiano will turn the program around.

WESTERN DIVISION

  1. Wisconsin: The Badgers return nine starters back from a solid defense in 2019. Losing RB Jonathan Taylor and having a retooled offensive line will hurt early. It will be hard to pick against Wisconsin in a much weaker Western division.

  2. Minnesota: The Golden Gophers are loaded on offense, but there are several questions surrounding the defense. Minnesota is talented enough to win this division and should continue their winning ways in 2020.

  3. Iowa: The offensive line will be a strength again this season. The Hawkeyes have skill at WR and RB. Quarterback will be a question mark following the graduation of Nate Stanley.

  4. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers just can’t seem to get over the hump. They do have some playmakers on offense, but they must get better play from their quarterback position. Coach Scott Frost hasn’t turned the program around as many had expected.

  5. Purdue: The Boilermakers suffered from key injuries in 2019. Reports say that the walking wounded are healthy including playmaker Rondale Moore. Purdue will implement a new 3 – 4 defense this season. They may not have enough talent across-the-board to get back to a bowl game.

  6. Northwestern: Former Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey will take over a bad offense. The defense was underrated last season and eight starters return. If the Wildcats are to compete this season they must get better on offense.

  7. Illinois: The offense has plenty to prove after being so inconsistent last season. The defense does have some talent returning that created turnovers in 2019. Getting back to a bowl game is going to be very difficult.

BIG GAMES TO WATCH:

September 5: Purdue at Nebraska

September 5: Michigan at Washington

September 12: Ohio State at Oregon

September 12: Penn State at Virginia Tech

September 12: Michigan State at BYU

September 18: Iowa at Minnesota

September 26: Wisconsin at Michigan

September 26: Miami at Michigan State

October 3: Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin at Green Bay

October 3: Penn State at Michigan

October 10: Iowa at Ohio State

October 10: Michigan at Michigan State

October 10: Minnesota at Wisconsin

October 17: Michigan at Minnesota

October 17: Ohio State at Michigan State

October 24: Ohio State at Penn State

October 31: Nebraska at Ohio State

November 7: Penn State at Nebraska

November 14: Nebraska at Iowa

November 21: Nebraska at Wisconsin

November 28: Michigan at Ohio State

November 28: Wisconsin at Iowa