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2011 Big Ten Preview - Unit Rankings
Iowa WR Marvin McNutt
Iowa WR Marvin McNutt
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 29, 2011


CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Big Ten Preview - Unit Rankings


Preview 2011

Big Ten Unit Rankings



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

Big Ten Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

Leaders Overall
1. Wisconsin
2. Ohio State
3. Penn State
4. Illinois
5. Purdue
6. Indiana

Legends Overall
1. Nebraska
2. Michigan
3. Michigan State
4. Iowa
5. Northwestern
6. Minnesota

Offenses

1. Wisconsin
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.

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

Quarterbacks

1. Michigan
Is Denard Robinson going to ready to make the adjustments needed to make the attack work like it’s supposed to? He still needs plenty of time after an occasionally rough offseason. Is Devin Gardner ready to step in and consistently shine if needed? The jury is still out. Losing a safety valve in Tate Forcier hurts, considering he might have been the best overall fit for the Al Borges attack, but Robinson and Gardner are good enough to make the position a plus. They just need to be able to do what they do best.

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

Running Backs

1. Wisconsin
Wisconsin always plugs in very good backs and the production always comes, and Montee Ball and James White have the talent and potential to continue to crank out huge yards. The two should combine for well over 2,000 yards, but more backs will be used to keep everyone fresh. Jeffrey Lewis and Melvin Gordon will see time, and the opportunities will be there for others to step up and star when given a shot. As always, consider it a shock if Wisconsin doesn’t finish in the top 15 in rushing, and with more of a running quarterback in Wilson, being in the top ten is possible.

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

Receivers

1. Michigan State
The potential, talent, and experience were in place to be great, and while the results were fine, the receivers didn’t quite blow up as hoped for. However, five players caught 20 passes or more, six players averaged more than 12 yards per catch, and the production was spread around well among several targets including the tight ends. Leading receiver Mark Dell is gone after catching 51 passes for 788 yards and six touchdowns, and while he was the team’s best playmaker averaging 15.5 yards per play, he’s replaceable. There are enough good talents returning to expect the overall production to continue. B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, and Keith Nichol are as experienced and savvy as they come. They know what they’re doing, while the tight ends, Tony Lippett, Bennie Fowler, and several other players will get involved. Including the running backs, 15 players caught passes and the wealth will be spread around.

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

Offensive Lines

1. Wisconsin
This isn’t going to be the killer line it was last year, but it’s not going to be all that far off. Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner will be great on the left side with a little bit of time, and Peter Konz is one of the best centers in America and is a huge piece of the puzzle to get back. Anything the line can get out of Josh Oglesby would be nice, and if it all finally comes together, look out. Don’t hold your breath, but there are more than enough massive blockers to see time in the rotation.

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

Defenses

1. Nebraska
Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini didn’t put together quite the killer of a defense he had in 2009 – losing Ndamukong Suh will do that – but the Huskers finished 11th in the nation in total defense and ninth in scoring defense. Even though the overall numbers were great, the pass rush was mediocre and there weren’t nearly enough big plays made. Now the D will go from a versatile 4-2-5 alignment that changed by the week to more of a basic 4-3, and that’s a plus with the potentially great linebacking corps waiting to shine. Lavonte David is one of the nation’s best tacklers, while Sean Fisher is back from an injury and Will Compton should be great with a bigger role. The line needs pass rushers on the outside, but Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler form one of the nation’s best tackle tandems. The secondary takes the biggest personnel hit and needs some help at corner, but it’s a big group that’ll be fine in time.

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

Defensive Lines

1. Nebraska
As long as everyone is healthy, the line should be terrific with a great rotation working around, arguably, the best tackle pair in America in Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler. Steadier production into the backfield would be nice, and more quarterback hits is a must, but the line is deep, big, and talented. With three returning starters and with Thaddeus Randle, Terrence Moore, and Jason Ankrah ready for bigger roles, there should be a good rotation for a line that knows what it’s doing.

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

Linebackers

1. Penn State
The linebackers should be up to Penn State snuff again if everyone can stay healthy. Unlike last year when the defense had to overcome the loss of Josh Hull, Novorro Bowman, and Sean Lee, this year’s corps is ready to make more big plays and be stronger against the run with a few returning starters and a couple of very promising prospects ready to emerge. Assuming everyone stays healthy, and if Josh Hull plays up to his prep hype, there are two strong options at each spot and there should be more and more plays made in the backfield. Penn State has reloaded at its fabled position.

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

Secondaries

1. Penn State
All the starters are back from a group that helped Penn State finish 16th in the nation in pass defense even though there wasn’t any help from the pass rush. The defense gave up 19 touchdown passes and only came up with ten picks, with LB Nate Stupar getting one of them, but the secondary should be far better with the promise of a better pass rush and with all the experience returning. With four excellent starters returning and with D'Anton Lynn and Nick Sukay likely all-stars, this should be one of the team’s biggest strengths. The corners are big, the safeties can move, and there’s quality depth at all four spots.

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

Special Teams

1. Wisconsin
After a horrible 2009, the special teams improved last year in every way but kick coverage. PK Philip Welch and P Brad Nortman are terrific, and the return game will turn out to be fine, but keeping big, game-changing returns to a minimum is a must. Welch was a Lou Groza semifinalist in 2008 and has been solid ever since. A big bomber, he has connected on 54-of-70 field goals in three years. Nortman has been a good three-year veteran averaging 42.1 yards per kick on 153 career attempts with 50 put inside the 20.

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

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