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2011 Big 10 Preview - Leaders Team Breakdowns
Illinois OT Jeff Allen
Illinois OT Jeff Allen
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 29, 2011


Preview 2011 - CFN Big Ten Leaders Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finishes


Preview 2011

Big Ten Leaders Predicted Finish


LEADERS
- 2011 Illinois Preview | 2011 Indiana Preview | 2011 Ohio State Preview
- 2011 Penn State Preview | 2011 Purdue Preview | 2011 Wisconsin Preview

LEGENDS
- 2011 Iowa Preview | 2011 Michigan Preview | 2011 Michigan State Preview
- 2011 Minnesota Preview | 2011 Nebraska Preview | 2011 Northwestern Preview

- 2011 Big Ten Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Big Ten | 2011 Big Ten Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Big Ten Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 Big Ten Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Big Ten Leaders Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 Big Ten Legends Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 Big Ten Media Days - Coaches Quotes | 2010 Big Ten Preview

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

1. Ohio State
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: Few places could lose a starting quarterback, leading rusher, No. 1 receiver, and left tackle and be fine. Terrelle Pryor is gone putting Joe Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller in the spotlight. Bauserman is the safe, steady option, but Miller is the shot for the stars as the possible main man for the next four years. Dan Herron ran for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, but he’ll be out for the first five games giving Jaamal Berry, Rod Smith, and others a chance to take over the ground game. The receiving corps has bigger issues without DeVier Posey until the Nebraska game with several untested talents needing to blossom immediately, while there will be plenty of shuffling up front until Mike Adams is back at left tackle. Overall, the offense will be fine; the backups for the stars are still better than almost everyone else’s starters. It just might take a little while to jell, and by then the attack gets Herron, Posey, and Adams back.

Defense: This will be a major test of the past few Ohio State recruiting classes. The Buckeyes weren’t splashy and they didn’t get into the backfield enough, but they finished fourth in the nation in total defense, third in run D, and fifth in scoring defense. The pass rush has been mediocre over the last few years, and it’s not going to be anything special once again even though Nathan Williams is a good-looking veteran end and the line appears to have reloaded despite some key losses. The linebacking corps also has some big shoes to fill, but there are plenty of good prospects waiting to shine with Storm Klein and Etienne Sabino about to put up huge numbers. The secondary is the biggest issue with three starters gone and a mediocre pass rush that won’t help the cause. The safeties should be solid, helped by the return of Orhian Johnson, but the corners will be a bit suspect. Fortunately, there aren’t that many great passing teams on the slate.

2. Wisconsin
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst had an awful Rose Bowl – KEEP RUNNING THE BALL! – but he and the Badger offense had a special season highlighted by the 83-point explosion against Indiana and the 70 hung up on Northwestern to finish fifth in the nation in scoring with the ground game dominating and the passing game the Big Ten’s most efficient. QB Scott Tolzien is gone, but getting Russell Wilson from NC State might turn out to be an upgrade who brings more mobility to the attack to go along with his bombing skills. Of course, as always, the Badgers will pound away with the running game. John Clay might be done, but Montee Ball and James White form a devastating 1-2 rushing attack. Outland winner Gabe Carimi and all-star guard John Moffitt will be missed, but the Badgers offensive line is big, strong, and should be dominant again with three unsung starters back and more big blockers ready to fill in the gaps. Tight end Lance Kendricks is off to the NFL, but WR Nick Toon is expected to do even more if he can stay healthy. The key, though, is Wilson, who makes the Badgers instant Big Ten title contenders again.

Defense: More of a pass rush would be nice, and more big plays all across the board will be tough without J.J. Watt, but the Badger D should be among the best in the conference if injuries aren’t a problem. Defensive coordinator Dan Doeren is gone to be the head man at Northern Illinois, and now it’ll be up to Chris Ash to keep the production going as the head coordinator, but line coach Charlie Partridge and head coach Bret Bielema will have their say. The defense loses Watt off the line, and the top three tacklers are gone, but three starters are back on a line that should be a rock against the run if tackles Patrick Butrym and Jordon Kohout can play up to their promise. The linebacking corps might lose key parts in Blake Sorensen and Culmer St. Jean, but the return of Chris Borland from a shoulder injury should do wonders for the front seven. The secondary should be even better after a solid 2010 with the expected emergence of Aaron Henry into more of a leader at free safety and with Antonio Fenelus one of the Big Ten’s best ball-hawking corners.

3. Illinois
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 4-4

Offense: After a disastrous and disappointing 2009, the offense quickly rebounded thanks to the addition of offensive coordinator Paul Petrino. He didn’t reinvent the Illinois wheel, but he made took what the offense did well and made it better. The running game tore off close to 3,200 yards and 29 touchdowns, and even with Mikel Leshoure gone, the production will be there again with a quick and talented group of relatively untested backs working behind a solid line. A.J. Jenkins is a good lead target for a dangerous but green receiving corps, but the biggest plus is the quarterback situation with sophomore Nathan Scheelhaase appearing to be ready to grow into a tremendous all-around star. He’ll always be a good runner, and now he should be a more polished passer.

Defense: The D that finished 38th in the nation in yards allowed isn’t going to be quite as good, but it’ll be among the fastest and most athletic in the Big Ten. Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning inherited a veteran group, and while he had several good players to work with, he also got a huge surprise with the emergence of DT Corey Liuget, who bailed early for the NFL along with star LB Martez Wilson. The front seven will be extremely athletic and very active, but it’s missing its two key stars and lacks leadership in the linebacking corps. The secondary will be a strength with some of the players who moved over from the offensive side last year experienced enough to know what they’re doing, and with a few all-stars in CB Tavon Wilson and FS Trulon Henry to work around. A regular pass rusher has to emerge and the top three tacklers are gone, the defense will be disruptive.

4. Penn State
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 4-4

Offense: The offense struggled way too much. Ninth in the Big Ten in both yards and scoring, the Nittany Lions couldn’t get the ground game going and the passing attack was woefully inefficient. The line is athletic, and should be again, but it couldn’t blast anyone off the ball and it didn’t do enough against the better teams. Once again the pass protection should be great, and now the offense needs to find a quarterback to benefit. Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin will once again battle for the starting job, and the Derek Moye-led receiving corps is in place to make either one look good. The running game loses Penn State’s all-time leading rusher, Evan Royster, but there’s more speed and flash in the backfield now.

Defense: Call 2010 a transition season that could lead to huge things for 2011. Injuries played a big role with five key players – DEs Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore, LB Michael Mauti, CB Stephon Morris, and FS Nick Sukay – all hurt to various degrees, and the production suffered. The main goal is to start generating more of a pass rush, and while there isn’t a hybrid type of terror who can get into the backfield like past Nittany Lion stars, the return of Crawford and Latimore should be a huge help. The linebacking cops should be stellar with Mauti back and healthy and with excellent options on the outside, while the secondary could be the team’s biggest strength with all four starters returning and excellent depth to count on.

5. Purdue
Predicted Overall Record: 5-7
Predicted Conference Record: 2-6

Offense: Coaches never like to allow for excuses to enter into the equation, but last year’s Purdue offense can be forgiven for being 104th in the nation in yards, 105th in scoring, and 114th in passing efficiency. The attack suffered a Spinal Tap drummer-like array of injuries with RB Ralph Bolden going down in the offseason with a torn ACL; starting QB Robert Marve was also lost to a knee injury; and top WR Keith Smith also got knocked out for the year. Smith is gone, but Bolden and Marve are back and could mean a night-and-day difference. QB Rob Henry will still be in the hunt for the starting job, but Marve, if healthy, is the better option. The receiving corps needs a true No. 1 target, but it should be good even though there’s almost no depth to count on. The backup running back situation is also an issue. The big plus is the offensive line that was good last year and welcomes back four starters.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Gary Emanuel did a good job last year, and now he has the tools to make his defense a rock. The loss of star DE Ryan Kerrigan is a problem, but there are several interesting options ready to form a decent rotation around a fantastic young tackle tandem of Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston. The linebacking corps is full of athletic veterans with Dwayne Beckford about to take a big leap up in production and limelight with the ability and potential to get into the backfield if turned loose. The secondary struggled mightily against the pass last year, but everyone is back including leading tackler Logan Link and good-looking young corners Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen.

6. Indiana
Predicted Overall Record: 4-8
Predicted Conference Record: 1-7

Offense: Last year the plan was to do more power running and rely less on the passing, and it didn’t happen. Now, the strength of offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s attack will be a tremendous group of receivers that could be the best in the Big Ten, and a veteran passer in QB Ben Chappell who knows how to spread the ball around and knows how to spot the mismatches. The O line that was among the best in the league in pass protection will be fine even with a few key replacements, but there needs to be more of a push, and more of a commitment, to the ground game. Darius Willis is a big-time talent in the backfield, but he has to prove he can be a workhorse and he has to be consistent after a good, but not great year.

Defense: The defense took a giant step backward last year giving up 410 yards and 34 points per game, while looking a step slow along the way. The 83 points allowed in the Wisconsin game was the biggest down moment, but there were few bright spots. New defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler will try to attack more, but the overall speed and athleticism isn’t there to be too disruptive. On the plus side, the senior linebacking tandem of Jeff Thomas and Leon Beckum will swallow things up, while the line could be one of the team’s biggest strengths if the ends can get into the backfield on a regular basis. The tackles, led by Adam Replogle, are solid, but they have to be consistent. The secondary that was awful last year has to replace key parts, but there’s surprisingly decent depth and good potential at safety.

LEADERS
- 2011 Illinois Preview | 2011 Indiana Preview | 2011 Ohio State Preview
- 2011 Penn State Preview | 2011 Purdue Preview | 2011 Wisconsin Preview

LEGENDS
- 2011 Iowa Preview | 2011 Michigan Preview | 2011 Michigan State Preview
- 2011 Minnesota Preview | 2011 Nebraska Preview | 2011 Northwestern Preview

- 2011 Big Ten Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Big Ten | 2011 Big Ten Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Big Ten Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 Big Ten Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Big Ten Leaders Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 Big Ten Legends Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 Big Ten Media Days - Coaches Quotes | 2010 Big Ten Preview