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2007 Big Ten Preview - Unit Rankings

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 16, 2007


2007 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - Big Ten Unit Rankings

2007 CFN Big 10 Preview

Unit Rankings


Team Previews Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State
Minnesota | Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin

- 2007 CFN Big Ten Preview
- CFN All-Big Ten Team & Top 30 Players
- Big Ten Team-by-Team Capsules
- Big Ten Schedules & Predictions

Offenses
1. Michigan
Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord didn't change things up much in his first year, and there aren't going to be a lot of bells and whistles for an attack with all the stars returning. Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Mario Manningham form the best skill trio in America, while tackle Jake Long and quarter Adam Kraus form one of the nation's best left sides. The only issue is depth, which is stunning undeveloped or a program like Michigan. Of course there are talented prospects waiting in the wings, but there will be major problems if injuries strike early on.

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

Quarterbacks  
1. Michigan
As long as Chad Henne gets time to work, he'll carve up defenses. He has the experience, the talent, and the skill players to make him look good. Now he has to create a legacy as a winner, which will only come with a win over Ohio State and a Big Ten title. Ryan Mallett will be a superstar ... in 2009.

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

Running Backs
1. Wisconsin
It's Wisconsin, so there will always be production from the tailbacks, but there are question marks. P.J. Hill won't have to be everything for the running game, but the longer he can stay effective with 20+ carries a game, the better. In a perfect world, Hill will get 20 touches, Lance Smith will get ten, and the ground game will crank out close to 200 yards a game with star recruits John Clay and/or Zach Brown able to redshirt.

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

Receivers
1. Purdue
The receiving corps will be unstoppable. Dorien Bryant is an All-America talent who'll be good for 70+ catches, Selwyn Lymon, when he returns, and Greg Orton will be used even more to stretch the field. If you can handle the receivers, there's tight end Dustin Keller to deal with underneath. It's a talented, veteran group that should pave the way for another top ten season for the passing game.

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

Offensive Line
1. Ohio State
The Buckeye offensive line was overrated in past seasons, but not last year. Did you notice how much time Troy Smith had to throw on just about every play? You could've stood back there and waited for Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez to break open with the time the tackles provided. Yes, they were overwhelmed by Florida's speedy defensive front, but that was hardly the team's biggest problem in that game. There are three potential first round draft picks and a good anchor in Jim Cordle to work around for the next several years.

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

Defenses
1. Ohio State
A question mark last year thanks to a ton of turnover, the defense reloaded and should be fantastic as long as the tackles and safeties shine and a second corner emerges on the other side of Malcolm Jenkins. There are stars to build around, with Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis and end Vernon Gholston among the best in the country, while there are emerging stars, as always around OSU, in like linebackers Larry Grant and Ross Homan and end Lawrence Wilson. Don't expect too many bells and whistles; this D will beat teams by simply being far more athletic.

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


Defensive Lines
1. Iowa
New defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski inherits a heater of a hand. If everyone stays healthy, this might turn into the Big Ten's best front four. All the starters are legitimate All-Big Ten candidates with Ken Iwebema in a salary drive before becoming a top 50 draft pick next year. The backups aren't experienced, but there's plenty of talent and upside to get excited about.

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

Linebackers
1. Penn State
While you don't get better by losing an all-timer like Paul Posluszny, the corps will be one of the best in the Big Ten if Sean Lee takes another step in his progression and Dan Connor is the all-around defender he's expected to be. Finding a top-notch number three will be the main job in fall practice, but there are plenty of options to choose from.

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

Defensive Backs
1. Wisconsin
Yeah, UW was second behind Virginia Tech in pass defense and first in the nation in pass efficiency defense, but it didn't exactly face a who's who of top quarterbacks. Even so, there was one 200-yard passing game allowed, and it happened to come in the one loss of the season (Michigan). The corners will be excellent, Shane Carter will grow into the job at free safety, and eventually, the strong safety spot will end up being fine. It just might take a while to find the right player. Jack Ikegwuonu is an All-America corner who'll shut everything down on his side of the field.

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

Special Teams
1. Ohio State
As always, the Ohio State special teams will be fantastic, and a key piece of the overall puzzle. Without the explosive offense of last year, there should be more of a return to Tressel ball. Semi-conservative offense, solid defense, and rock solid special teams. Almost no one will beat the Buckeyes in the third phase. The kicking game will be one of the best in the nation with the return of sophomore placekicker Aaron Pettrey and sophomore punter A.J. Trapasso. Trapasso had a great year averaging 40.6 yards per kick with 17 put inside the 20. Pettrey appears to be the next in the long line of star kickers after a good first season hitting eight of 11 attempts including two from beyond 50 yards.

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

 

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