Twelve Semi-Bold Predictions for the 2012 B1G Football Season
By Tony Gerdeman
The best part about predicting things is being right. The worst part about predicting things is forgetting to tell everybody when you were right. Unreveled-in glory is a tragedy on par with an inside joke that people in your present company just don't get.
On the other hand, you might be surprised to find out that being wrong is no big deal because people make millions on television who are only slightly more right than they are wrong, and they seem perfectly respected.
After all, a wise man once said, "It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong, it's whether or not you remember to tell people when you were totally right."
That man was me, and it was said just now.
So rest assured that when all twelve of these predictions come true, I will be writing another piece detailing how it all came to be. It might even be a three-parter.
1. Michigan will be 2-3 after five games.
Anybody can predict Michigan to lose to Alabama and Notre Dame in a four-week span, but it takes a true genius to also pick them to lose at Purdue after a bye week. The Wolverines will be reeling, yet the week off will get them back to believing in themselves, which is when they're actually at their most vulnerable. After the game, Danny Hope will tell Michigan fans to "get used to it", and then he will smirk. He will always smirk.
2. Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg will have the most prolific passing season for a non-Purdue Big Ten quarterback ever.
To accomplish this feat, Vandenberg will need to throw for over 3,671 yards, which is the conference record for a non-Purdue quarterback (Illinois' Tony Eason). As a bonus prediction, he will also throw for the most touchdown passes by a non-Purdue quarterback, which needs to be at least 34. Fortunately for my prediction's fate, Iowa won't be able to waste their time running the ball.
3. Minnesota will finish their Big Ten record with an 0-8 record.
This is why I had to change the title of this piece to "Semi-Bold". Still, going winless in an above-average conference is pretty hard to do. Normally, a team can count on a home win against the other terrible team in the conference, but with games against Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State, I'm not sure that game is on their schedule this year. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the Spartans will be playing their last game of the season in Minnesota with a likely Big Ten Championship Game spot on the line. Could Sparty sparty? (Don't you love how "sparty" is a verb now?)
4. Ohio State will keep Michigan out of the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Wolverines will enter The Game with two conference losses, which will tie them with Michigan State for the Legends Division lead. For the purposes of this prediction, we'll go ahead and say that Michigan somehow beats the Spartans for once, which would take away Michigan State's tie-breaking advantage. Michigan will enter the game at 5-2 but leave it at 5-3, which will give the Spartans the division win barring something sparterrific.
5. Wisconsin will go 0-2 against Michigan State this season.
This is a bold prediction because not only am I picking the Spartans to beat Wisconsin in Madison, but I'm picking them to do it the week after they play Michigan. And then I am picking them to beat Wisconsin again in the Big Ten Championship Game. By the way, putting faith in Michigan State is about as shaky as playing Jenga in a mobile home parked on an incline.
6. Michigan State linebacker Denicos Allen will be the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
People will watch Michigan State hoping to see William Gholston, but they'll keep noticing this little dude running all over the place making tackles and not punching people in the face or trying to snap their necks. With so much focus on the Spartans' defense, it will only be fair to give the award to the best player on said defense.
7. Illinois will be undefeated at home and winless on the road.
The Illini home schedule is a who's who of have nots (Western Michigan, Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech, Penn State, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue) and they should very clearly coast. But road games at Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern doesn't lend itself to many, if any, victories. The Northwestern game is obviously their best chance, and it is Tim Beckman's supreme rival, so maybe that will count for something.
8. Purdue will once again skate by a MAC team in a bowl game.
Yeah, I know it's not very bold, but you try coming up with a bold Purdue prediction without sounding like a loon. Besides, I already predicted (boldly, I might add) that the Boilers were going to beat Michigan this year. Purdue has won their last two bowl games by a combined score of 88-80, with both games coming against MAC teams.
9. Indiana will start the season 4-0, including a win at Northwestern.
You wanted bold, and I went straight to ludicrous. The rest of these predictions will be read in plaid. Still, Northwestern is famous for early-season losses that should never happen. Also, I have to think that Kevin Wilson is going to put together a decent offense this year. I like the Hoosier backfield and they could cause quite a few problems for the Wildcat defense.
10. Nebraska will finish with a .500 conference record.
Nebraska's road conference schedule is a recipe for no hope as it features Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa. If we rightfully assume that OSU and MSU are losses, then we can go ahead and give Nebraska the benefit of the doubt that they'd split the other two road games. Home games against Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Minnesota should yield three wins, making the Huskers 4-4 in Big Ten play.
11. Northwestern will finish with a losing record for the second consecutive season.
If we're actually going to believe my crazy Indiana win prediction, then that only leaves three or four Big Ten wins for the Wildcats. Road games at Penn State and Minnesota should be wins, but if they aren't, then I don't know where seven wins are coming from. They won't come from road games at Michigan State and Michigan. A non-conference schedule featuring Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College could see the Wildcats with two losses before conference play even begins. Home games against Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois may all have to be wins if Northwestern wants a seven-win season. Though now that I think about it, if I really wanted a bold prediction, I would've said that Northwestern would win their first bowl game since 1949.
12. Penn State will fail to score 14 or more points in at least half of their games.
I don't know where Penn State's offense is going to come from, but I know where it won't come from—their offense. A below average quarterback, unknown running backs, unproven receivers, and an offensive line that may or may not be able to block isn't exactly what the doctor would order for a patient as ill as this one. It's a good thing Bill O'Brien has never said anything about having a decided schematic advantage, or else opposing coaches would shut his offense out, rather than allowing the obligatory pity points here and there.
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