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Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview - Why To Be Happy
Penn State CB D'Anton Lynn
Penn State CB D'Anton Lynn
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 17, 2011


2011 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview - Why Every Big East Team Should Be Happy

2011 Pre-Spring Preview   

Why To Be Excited - Big Ten


Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Leaders Illinois | Indiana | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin 
Legends Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern 

2011 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview
- Big Ten Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 

- 2011 Big Ten Leaders Division Breakdown & Analysis 
- 2011 Big Ten Legends Division Breakdown & Analysis
- 2011 Big Ten Composite Schedule & Week Rankings
- 2011 Big Ten Schedule Analysis

Leaders

Illinois
- The offense should still work. The passing game will never be high octane, but now that Nathan Scheelhaase knows what he’s doing, he should be one of the Big Ten’s premier playmakers. The defense gets three starters back in the secondary including free safety Trulon Henry, a big, linebacker-sized defender who should be an All-Big Ten selection. The schedule works out nicely with only one road game, at Penn State, against a team that went to a bowl.

Indiana
- The defense will never be a brick wall, but seven starters return from a group that got a bad rap after giving up 155 points over the final three games of the year and had a rough midseason stretch of allowing 34 points or more in four straight games. However, three starters are back on the line including two promising tackles, and the linebacking corps has the potential to be solid with a little bit of time. The offensive line gets the interior back and should be strong in pass protection.

Ohio State
- It’s Ohio State. The backups can play. While not having the four best offensive players – Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, and Mike Adams – for the first five games will be a problem, the Buckeyes should be able to sleepwalk through games against Akron and Toledo and the defense should be just strong enough to get by Miami, Colorado, and Michigan State. Even if the team drops one game, it should get the benefit of the doubt in the national title chase if everything clicks once the stars are back.

Penn State
- For good and bad, Penn State isn’t losing anyone early to the NFL. Taking away the all-time leading rusher, Evan Royster, isn’t as big a deal as it would normally seem, and guard Stefen Wisniewski will be missed, but everyone else of note comes back to the offense, including Robert Bolden to battle Matt McGloin for the starting quarterback job after threatening to transfer. Eight starters are back on defense that was good, but not great, but the secondary should be a rock with everyone coming back and the defensive line gets three starters back. There are only three road games in the first 10 going to Temple, Indiana, and Northwestern.

Purdue
- Experience. Because of the injury issues of last year, there are veterans across the board and they appear ready to take a next step up in their production. Seven starters are back on offense and nine return on defense, and while the talent level might not be top-shelf, and there won’t be any run at the Leaders title, this could be one of the Big Ten’s most dangerous teams. The schedule works out for a hot start with Middle Tennessee, at Rice, and SE Missouri State to provide a nice base before playing Notre Dame, and then Minnesota comes to West Lafayette to end a run of four home games in the first five.

Wisconsin 
- Even with the loss of Outland winner Game Carimi, the offensive line should be phenomenal with three good starters returning to pave the way for Montee Ball and James White. Yes, QB Scott Tolzien is gone, but Curt Phillips, coming off a knee injury, could be a more talented player and Jon Budmayr is a strong prospect. Schedule-wise, the Badgers don’t have a true road game until late October with a neutral site game in Chicago against Northern Illinois. There are tough games against Oregon State and Nebraska, but both of them are in Camp Randall.

Legends

Iowa
- The schedule works out nicely. While going to Penn State will be a battle and the home game against Michigan State will be a fight, there isn’t a game in the first 11 that Iowa will likely be a big underdog. The regular-season ender at Nebraska might be different, but there’s no reason the Hawkeyes can’t put together a nice base of wins. With the return of RB Marcus Coker working behind a line with three returning starters, the running game should be better, while James Vandenberg could end up being an upgrade at quarterback over Ricky Stanzi.

Michigan
- Almost everyone is back. Ten players who could be called starters (depending on the formation) return with the only big loss at left guard where Stephen Schilling is done. Nine starters are back on defense, and while that might not seem like a plus considering last year’s disaster, the secondary goes from being green to experienced, and the loss of linebackers Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh is likely going to be a net positive. Throw in the return of punter Will Hagerup and PK Seth Broekhulzen, and Brady Hoke’s team is loaded.

Michigan State
- Only five starters are back on offense, but many of the key players are part of the returning mix. Kirk Cousins should be among the best passing quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and he might turn out to be an all-star with a little luck. The backfield is loaded with Edwin Baker, Le’Veon Bell, and Larry Caper all working in a dangerous rotation, and with B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol, and Keshawn Martin good targets who could put up mega-numbers. The defensive front should be among the Big Ten’s best with Jerel Worthy a sure-thing top NFL draft pick when he’s ready to bolt.

Minnesota
- The defense might have been a disaster, but nine starters are back and there’s plenty of young depth to develop. There were only two upperclassmen, both juniors, on the defensive second team, and the hope has to be that all the work Tim Brewster did to bring in some decent prospects will pay off. The real excitement will be on offense as MarQueis Gray, a star quarterback recruit who worked last year mostly at receiver, gets to show what he can do under center. He could be the perfect fit for what Jerry Kill wants to do.

Nebraska
- If Taylor Martinez is consistent, there might not be any stopping the Huskers. The defense loses a few key parts, but seven starters return including tackling machine linebacker Lavonte Davis, who’ll take the Big Ten by storm. The defensive line has to replace Pierre Allen, but it’s a loaded front with depth and skill, while the secondary should be fine with a little bit of time. The offense gets back enough key skill players, and welcomes in top running back recruit Aaron Green, to be excellent.

Northwestern 
- Nine starters return on offense and seven are back on defense. The offensive line was full of veterans going into last year, and while it wasn’t very good, it’ll at least be even more experienced this year with four starters back up front. All of the key receivers are back with Jeremy Ebert, Drake Dunsmore, and Demetrius Fields providing a great trio for Dan Persa, if he’s back, or Evan Watkins with a full off-season to work. The schedule in Big Ten play isn’t all that bad, and while there are trips to Iowa and Nebraska to win the Leaders a tough task, the next toughest game is a winnable home date against Michigan State. Penn State and Michigan also have to come to Evanston.

Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Leaders Illinois | Indiana | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin 
Legends Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern 

2011 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview
- Big Ten Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 

- 2011 Big Ten Leaders Division Breakdown & Analysis 
- 2011 Big Ten Legends Division Breakdown & Analysis
- 2011 Big Ten Composite Schedule & Week Rankings
- 2011 Big Ten Schedule Analysis