13 Predictions for the B1G in 13

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Last updated: 12/21/2012 0:27 AM
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Football
13 Predictions for the Big Ten in 2013
By Tony Gerdeman

You are asking yourself why somebody has written a predictions piece for the 2013 season when the 2012 season isn't even over yet.

The answer is easy. The 2012 season has been over for nearly a month for those of us who cover the Buckeyes, and we can't just sit around for another few weeks letting all of our great predictions go unwritten!

So what follows is a prediction for each Big Ten team because we are nothing if not equal opportunity soothsayers around here. Apologies in advance for all of the doomsaying regarding Iowa. It's just that there was no other option.

1. Wisconsin will have two 1,000-yard rushers.
Next season the Badgers will need to replace Montee Ball's 1,800-odd yards rushing, and amazingly it shouldn't be too much of a problem for them. Wisconsin will return James White and Melvin Gordon, who to this point have combined for 1,372 yards rushing on just 172 carries (8.0 ypc). Gordon alone is averaging 10.8 yards per carry this season. I don't think it's a stretch to expect the Badgers to have two 1,000-yard rushers, especially when they did it just two seasons ago as well.

2. Ohio State will have an individual national award winner, and I'm not talking about Braxton Miller.
The Buckeyes will have three legitimate national awards candidates next season in Braxton Miller, linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby. Based on the seasons that Shazier and Roby had this past year, both should be atop the various preseason All-American lists in June and July. You might not think preseason hype is important, but if a player doesn't have it, then sometimes it's difficult to get the recognition that he deserves, even though he's obviously had a more impactful season than Manti Te'o. For instance.

3. Illinois will double their win total from 2012, and that's it.
Illinois went 2-10 this season, losing nine games by multiple touchdowns. Even Rich Rodriguez wasn't that terrible in 2008, and he was pretty darn terrible. Their 2013 schedule features non-conference games against Southern Illinois, Cincinnati, Miami (OH) and Washington at Soldier Field. They should split those games, though they may need to win three of the four in order to finish the season with four wins. I'm not sure where a Big Ten win is coming from at the moment. Road games against Nebraska, Penn State, Indiana and Purdue won't be easy, and home games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Northwestern will be even harder. It's pretty bad that I'm predicting four wins, but not sure where those four wins are going to come from. I just have to assume Illinois can't be this bad next year.

4. Purdue will not be going to a bowl in 2013.
Sorry Boilermakers, but your schedule just won't allow for a bowl game in 2013. It's never good when there's a chance that you could lose three of your non-conference games. Purdue opens the season at Cincinnati, then hosts Indiana State. They follow that up by hosting Notre Dame. Two weeks later Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois come to town. Fortunately, they get both Iowa and Illinois at home next year, so they won't go winless in conference play.

5. Penn State will finish with a winning record.
Everybody keeps waiting for Penn State's demise, but sometimes these things take time. Keep in mind, however, that when I predict a "winning record", I'm specifically talking about 7-5, and I'm not entirely sure where two of those seven wins will be coming from. Though I've found that counting on the kindness of a weak Big Ten is usually a smart move.

6. Indiana will have the best offense in the B1G and go bowling.
This prediction is dependent upon Tre Roberson being healthy and regaining the starting quarterback job. He makes the running game better, and throws the ball just fine for what Kevin Wilson wants to do. Even without Roberson for most of the year, the Hoosiers still finished second in the conference in total offense. Indiana has eight home games next season, provided they don't sell any of them away, and if they can get by Navy and Missouri, they have a very legitimate shot at eight wins. Yeah, I said it. This could be Kevin Wilson's last season in Bloomington (because Illinois will hire him).

7. Tailback Ameer Abdullah will lead the B1G in rushing.
Admittedly, this prediction only makes sense if Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell enters the NFL Draft. Still, it's not as crazy as you make it sound. Abdullah has rushed for 1,089 yards so far this season, and he's had to split carries with Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead. Burkhead won't be around next year, and Martinez will want to cut down on his carries for some dumb reason.

8. Michigan will lose at home to Notre Dame.
Yeah, way to go out on a limb, I know. I usually have a pretty good feel for how this game is going to go, and right now maybe I'm buying too much into the Notre Dame hype. I just think Everett Golson will have more success against the Michigan defense than Devin Gardner will against the Irish defense.

9. If Le'Veon Bell leaves for the NFL, Andrew Maxwell will lead the B1G in passing yards.
Not that he'll have much of a choice. If Bell goes, the running game goes with him. The Spartans have a slew of talented receivers who have yet to get consistent. They'll get a ton of chances to be consistent next year. I'm not sure how else Michigan State will move the ball. They always have a running game, but that's because they always have running backs. Do they have any without Bell? By the way, I think he would be making a mistake leaving early. He's not a combine guy, which will kill his draft stock.

10. Iowa will go 4-8 again.
I just don't see the Hawkeyes getting better by starting a quarterback with absolutely no experience, who is being told what to do by an offensive coordinator who hasn't put a quarterback in a position to succeed since 2009, and hasn't had a running game since 2007. Fortunately, we have to assume the defense will be better, but will it even matter? Iowa could end up splitting their non-conference games against Northern Illinois, Missouri State, at Iowa State and Western Michigan. I can see the Hawkeyes going 0-8 in conference play with their schedule, but going winless is hard to predict because expecting competence out of every other Big Ten team is a fool's errand.

11. Northwestern will beat Michigan and Michigan State in the same season for the first time since 2000.
Sometimes I like the idea of a prediction better than the actual prediction. However, Northwestern gets both teams at home, and they get them in consecutive weeks. They get Michigan following a bye, so they can prepare for Greg Mattison's defense for a couple of weeks before seeing the real thing. Michigan gets to prepare for Northwestern by playing Nebraska. Then, one week following Northwestern's win over Michigan, Sparty comes to town and when Sparty comes to town, anything can happen at any time.

12. Minnesota will start the season 5-0, but finish 6-6.
Minnesota's non-conference schedule is a complete joke. Even Bret Bielema would be embarrassed to play it. Minnesota has UNLV, New Mexico State, Western Illinois and San Jose State on the schedule next year. And Iowa comes to town in week five. Other than that, however, they'll have to get a win at Indiana or home against Penn State to reach bowl eligibility.

13. Nebraska and Ohio State will play for the Big Ten Championship.
There is a slim chance that this game will be between two undefeated teams. Nebraska's season comes down to a home game against UCLA, and a road game at Michigan. Ohio State, meanwhile, has a road game at California and one at Michigan (as well as a game in Evanston). This is very unlikely to happen, but I just wanted to be the first one to say that it might happen, just in case it does. I'm petty like that.

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