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2009 Big Ten Preview - Unit Rankings
Wisconsin RB John Clay
Wisconsin RB John Clay
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 27, 2009


2009 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - Big Ten Unit Rankings

2009 CFN Big Ten Preview

Unit Rankings

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


- 2009 CFN Big Ten Preview
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Big Ten Unit Rankings

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- 2008 CFN Big Ten Preview

Offenses

1. Ohio State
The OSU offense took a left turn last season when Terrelle Pryor took over the attack with less deep passing and more running, but things should be more balanced this year. Pryor worked hard this offseason to become a more polished passer, and now there should be more long balls and more chances taking after he dinked and dunked with safe passes throughout the second half of last season. While much will be made about the major losses at running back and receiver, there's more than enough speed and talent to step in and produce. There's no power in the running game, but Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon "Zoom" Saine can fly. The receiving corps might turn out to be a strength with DeVier Posey about to become a superstar and with Dane Sanzenbacher, Ray Small, and incoming freshman Duron Carter all good enough to put up big numbers. The key to the offense should be the line, which wasn't bad for the ground game last year but struggled mightily in pass protection and didn't have a nasty enough attitude. The addition of Michigan transfer Justin Boren at left guard should make a big different for a group that should emerge as the Big Ten's best with a little time.


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

Quarterbacks
 

1. Ohio State
Everyone in America knew that Terrelle Pryor was the team's best quarterback going into last year, but the Buckeye coaching staff didn't get the memo until right after Todd Boeckman melted down against USC. Now this is Pryor's program to run for the next few years, and he should be fantastic. Todd Bauserman isn't bad, and he could start for at least half of the other Big Ten teams, but he's a clear No. 2. There will be a season-long battle for the No. 3 slot.

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

Running Backs

1. Wisconsin
It’s Wisconsin, so the running game was solid with a Big Ten-leading 211 yards per game, but it didn’t control games as much as it should have. With P.J. Hill’s ill-advised early jump to the NFL, the time is now for Zach Brown to be an even bigger part of the attack while John Clay will go from being a strong No. 2 to one of the nation’s leading rushers. A top-blocking fullback needs to emerge and the line has to undergo some changes, but Clay and Brown will be the stars of the show.

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

Receivers

1. Illinois
Of all the places on the team that has received the most attention from the recruiting classes, no place has benefitted more than the receiving corps. It should all pay off this year as this should be the Big Ten's best crop of receivers, and Juice Williams has grown enough to make them all shine. This should be a fun group to watch, led by Arrelious Benn, with a ton of speed and talent to get excited about.

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

Offensive Line

1. Iowa
After a disastrous 2007 when no one could stay healthy, last year's line came together and was a dominant force by the end of the season. Now it'll be among the best lines in America if, and it's a huge, screaming if, injuries aren't an issue. Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway aren't the problems at tackle, but from Dace Richardson's knee, to the shoulder of Andy Kuempel, to the leg problems of Rafael Eubanks, the Iowa line has several players who likely won't play an entire season. Better pass protection is a must, but the running game will thrive under this group.

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

Defenses

1. Iowa
The formula worked last year and it should be more of the same. Don't worry about the pass rush, don't get beaten deep, keep everything in front, and hit, hit, hit. The back seven should be fantastic, possibly the best in the Big Ten, with Pat Angerer leading a loaded linebacking corps and Amari Spievey a rising superstar at corner. The defensive front takes a huge, irreplaceable hit losing tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul, but there's good size and experience on the outside and a promising, but inexperienced, rotation on the inside. Iowa was terrific last season against the run, finishing fifth in the nation, and it'll be a shock if it's not close to as strong again. While there won't be many plays behind the line and nothing fancy done to generate pressure on the quarterback, it shouldn't affect the overall production.

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

Defensive Line


1. Ohio State
Ohio State has had one of the nation's best defenses over the last few years even though the line production has been spotty at times and the tackles have been mediocre. This should be the year when the front four carries the defense (it'll have to) with several great ends for the rotation and veteran tackles who should be ready to step up and shine after a few years of getting shoved around in key moments.

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

Linebackers

1. Penn State
A monster question mark last season is one of the team's biggest strengths going into this year. Getting Sean Lee back is as much of a boost as it gets, while Navorro Bowman is an all-star who should do even more now that he can get into the backfield and can let Lee clean everything up. There's a ton of talent waiting in the wings, but the backups need more time to be ready to roll for next year and if injuries strike the starters.     

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

Defensive Backs

1. Iowa
This might not be the most talented secondary around, and it's still very young with no seniors on the projected two-deep, but the production was phenomenal last year and it should be strong again this season. The Hawkeyes will let teams dink and dunk as much as they want to, but the receivers will get popped big time and there won't be many, if any, big plays deep. The formula worked last year, and it should again.

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

Special Teams

1. Iowa
The special teams were solid two years ago, and now they might be the best in the Big Ten with a little bit of improvement. Ryan Donahue is a special punter, the kicking combination of Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker is good, and the return game should be a strength. That's not to say there isn't room to be better, but overall the Hawkeyes should have an edge here in most games.

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

 









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