19 Aug 2019 Big Ten West Preview
2019 Big Ten West Preview
With three big time coaches heading into their third year in the Big Ten West, it’s time to see a jump
Nebraska (Prediction: 10 Wins)
Nebraska is the team to beat in the west this season. Coming off a down year record-wise they developed and increased the talent on the roster. Scott Frost has done a maasteful job recruiting and creating a well-rounded beast of a team. Adrian Martinez is the best quarterback in the Big Ten and can really make their offense dangerous. With his arm and ability to get out of the pocket and take off downfield opens up a lot of opportunities for big plays For Nebraska to go the distance, the defense must be able to get off the field and can not allow as many big plays as they did last season.
Key Matchups: vs. Ohio State (9/28), @ Purdue (11/2), vs. Wisconsin (11/16), vs. Iowa (11/29)
Wisconsin (Prediction: 9 Wins)
Wisconsin is a perennial threat when it comes to winning the Big Ten West. They play hard-nosed football and win the battle in the trenches. Their quarterback play is going to make or break their season. Everyone knows they have one of the most lethal run games in the country with Jonathan Taylor, but their inability to hit the big plays in the passing games keeps them from being elite. The defense lost a lot of key players last year to injury and will be looking for a bounce-back season with the new talent.
Key Matchups: vs. Michigan State (10/12), @ Ohio State (10/26), vs. Iowa (11/9), @ Nebraska (11/16)
Purdue (Prediction: 8 Wins)
Will this be the year that Purdue finally makes the leap? Since Jeff Brohm has taken over, Purdue has gone from league doormat to what I now consider a legit title contender. The offense returns the most dangerous playmaker in the big ten and maybe even the country in Rondale Moore. Around Moore, they have added two more four-star receivers but lost their starting quarterback. The replacement will be Elijah Sindelar who is no stranger to the moment as he has led Purdue to their most recent bowl victory. The defense will need to be much improved with the additions of George Karlaftis and Marvin Grant if they want to compete in the Big Ten West.
Key Matchups: vs. TCU (9/14), @ Penn State (10/5), vs. Nebraska (11/2), @ Wisconsin (11/23)
Iowa (Prediction: 8 Wins)
Iowa will try and rebuild their defense after losing Amani Hooker and Anthony Nelson to the NFL draft. They will need young guys to step up and fill those roles if they want to have success on that side of the ball. One thing is for sure it’s never easy to leave Kinnick Stadium with a win. The defense will likely come together and play hard, especially in the trenches. Iowa faithful will be excited to see what Nate Stanley can do this year and see if he becomes the man for the Iowa offense. Iowa can certainly make noise in the Big Ten this year but they will only go as far as Stanley can take them.
Key Matchups: Iowa @ Iowa State (9/14), Penn State @ Iowa (10/12), Iowa @ Wisconsin (11/9), Iowa @ Nebraska (11/29)
Minnesota: (Prediction: 7 Wins)
Year three rowing the boat should be the best one yet. Tanner Morgan will take on the starting quarterback role as the quarterback competition ended with Zack Annexstad getting hurt early into camp. This means there’s no looking back and the team has to roll with Morgan and see where it gets them. I think PJ Fleck is one of the best coaches in the Big Ten and will get the most out of his players every game until the clock strikes zero. All of their first seven games are winnable with the toughest being at Purdue but after that, they will have to take on some powerhouses to make it past the six or seven-win tally.
Key Matchups: @ Purdue (9/28), vs. Nebraska (10/12), vs. Penn State (11/9), vs. Wisconsin (11/30)
Northwestern (Prediction: 5 Wins)
I am not buying into the Northwestern hype. The reigning Big Ten West champions must prove that they were not a fluke. I’m interested to see if Hunter Johnson gets the nod day one and if he is the real deal. They will start the year with a big non-conference test when they face Stanford. After that, they will have a couple of cakewalk games before the conference schedule starts. With a brutal slate of October games, I see Northwestern dropping the ball and not being able to salvage their season, even against the weaker back half of their schedule. This will be a season to forget for Northwestern fans.
Key Matchups: @ Stanford (8/31), @ Nebraska (10/5), vs. Ohio State (10/18), vs. Minnesota (11/23)
Illinois (Prediction: 2 Wins)
Lovie Smith was an incredibly successful NFL coach. That being said, he has been nothing short of terrible with the Illinois football program. I don’t believe he connects with the kids on the team the same way he connected with the players in the NFL. His recruiting classes have been near the worst in the Big Ten every year. I do not see enough talent on this roster or on the coaching staff to salvage a decent season.
Key Matchups: @ UConn (9/7), @ Minnesota (10/5), vs. Rutgers (11/2), vs. Northwestern (11/30)