2013 College Football Preview: Big Ten Conference

Sports

Below are the projected Big Ten team ratings for the 2013 season. Keep in mind that projected wins and losses are made to reflect what would happen if every team played an average schedule. Most teams don’t play an average schedule, so actual wins and losses won’t look like this once the season plays out. Instead, these numbers are trying to tell us who the best teams are, regardless of the difficulty of their schedule. Therefore, instead of seeing this as a prediction that the top team in the Big Ten will go 8-4 this year, think of it as meaning this upcoming Wisconsin team would be projected to go 8-4 in 12 games playing an average schedule.

For projections for all Division I football teams, click here.

Overall

Ranking Big Ten 5 Yr. Improve Ret. Starters Proj. Off+ Proj. Def+ Proj. Total Proj. Total+ Proj. W Proj. L
1 Wisconsin 103 112 115 112 109 113 8.32 3.68
2 Northwestern 106 112 110 112 109 111 7.97 4.03
3 Michigan State 101 112 99 122 105 110 7.90 4.10
4 Michigan 101 89 103 111 102 107 7.39 4.61
5 Ohio State 98 97 115 98 106 107 7.32 4.68
6 Nebraska 103 97 113 99 101 106 7.24 4.76
7 Penn State 99 97 106 105 103 105 7.15 4.85
8 Indiana 100 142 114 97 104 105 7.15 4.85
9 Minnesota 103 119 102 103 101 102 6.68 5.32
10 Iowa 100 104 96 107 100 102 6.55 5.45
11 Purdue 99 97 93 104 96 98 6.07 5.93
12 Illinois 93 89 88 82 83 85 3.99 8.01

Offense

Ranking Big Ten Passing Rushing Scoring Turnovers Blocking Proj. Off Proj. Off+
1 Ohio State 111 119 119 112 103 115 115
2 Wisconsin 109 114 108 127 91 110 115
3 Indiana 112 105 112 124 117 113 114
4 Nebraska 110 114 114 86 101 108 113
5 Northwestern 108 107 106 122 98 108 110
6 Penn State 98 94 102 124 108 103 106
7 Michigan 92 105 104 80 94 97 103
8 Minnesota 103 97 98 105 114 102 102
9 Michigan State 97 82 87 113 110 94 99
10 Iowa 80 107 83 122 100 95 96
11 Purdue 88 86 91 86 98 89 93
12 Illinois 102 86 83 76 76 86 88

Defense

Ranking Big Ten Passing Rushing Scoring Turnovers Forced Pressure Proj. Def Proj. Def+
1 Michigan State 118 119 124 96 108 116 122
2 Wisconsin 99 118 115 85 115 108 112
3 Northwestern 110 108 112 114 99 110 112
4 Michigan 99 112 112 93 105 106 111
5 Iowa 99 109 107 110 92 105 107
6 Penn State 105 102 112 93 91 103 105
7 Purdue 106 98 100 107 102 102 104
8 Minnesota 103 96 105 98 101 101 103
9 Nebraska 106 86 95 89 90 94 99
10 Ohio State 104 92 101 91 85 97 98
11 Indiana 105 94 94 85 105 96 97
12 Illinois 80 81 75 83 86 79 82

Confused? Check the glossary.

1. Wisconsin– 2013 Wisconsin looks like a talented football team, but it will be interesting to see how they do under first year head coach Gary Andersen. While they have some playmakers at the skills positions, it’s the quarterback position that is the big concern. Also, with the defense, Andersen wants to play a lot of 3-4 and it remains to be seen if Wisconsin has the personnel to do so. Andersen had some strong defenses at Utah State, so maybe he’ll do fine with with a Wisconsin defense that returns 8% more starters on defense than the FBS average. However, while I think Wisconsin has a lot of talent coming back, it will be interesting to see how the year one transition from Bielema to Andersen goes.

2. Northwestern– The Wildcats have more starters than average returning on both sides of the ball, and Pat Fitzgerald’s team has averaged the most improvement per year over the past five seasons out of any team in the Big Ten. We know that the offense should be pretty good, but the question is whether or not the returning experience on defense will be good enough to make sure they can hold on to any leads they may have late into the game.

3. Michigan State– This looks like your classic Mark Dantonio team; Scary defense and pretty anemic offense. The offensive line should be improved, but they lack experience at running back, and the quarterback position is still a big question mark. Still, that defense alone is good enough to keep them in any game.

4. Michigan– Devin Gardner has the talent to be a game-changer, but the numbers don’t trust his ability to throw the ball. The offense should be able to move the ball on the ground, but an inability to move the ball via the pass may give defenses an advantage of stacking the line of scrimmage on the Wolverines. The defense also returns a below average number of starters everywhere but at linebacker. The good news is Michigan recruits extremely well, so even with a below average number of starters on both sides of the ball, they should still be pretty damn solid.

5. Ohio State– Urban Meyer looks to have an explosive offense this year, with Braxton Miller at the helm, 30% more than average returning starters, and some exciting incoming frosh players, like Dontre Wilson. The defense, though… that is where the numbers become concerned. On the other hand, Ohio State seems to have a pretty dominant defense year after year and Urban Meyer can recruit with the best of them, so it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Ohio State outperform this projection.

6. Nebraska– Taylor Martinez and the offense will help Nebraska win a decent amount of games this year, but only 4 starters return from a defense that was a liability last year. Cornhusker fans are looking for that breakthrough season, but with this defense, I just don’t see it.

7. Penn State– Honestly, the numbers are more optimistic about Penn State’s offense than I am. But, who knows? O’Brien made the offense look pretty damn good last year when everybody thought they would be terrible. And, honestly, same with the defense. The secondary looks strong, but the rest of the defense will have some inexperience. I just don’t know what to think about this team.

8. Indiana– The numbers expect Indiana to make a jump this year. Thanks to their offense, the Hoosiers look primed to put a lot of points on the board this upcoming season. But, per usual, the Hoosier defense looks to be porous. Even with a majority of the starters returning, the numbers still are not very confident in their ability to keep points off the board. I mean this is Indiana we’re talking about, after all…

9. Minnesota– As bad as Minnesota has been in recent years, the numbers show them improving since Jerry Kill has taken over. They won’t be great this year, but they look like they will be an above average team. And, hey, considering they’ve been 8% worse than the average FBS team since 2007, above average is a step in the right direction.

10. Iowa– My beloved Hawkeyes are projected to be barely above average again this year. The defense should be decent, but inexperience at quarterback (and Greg Davis calling plays?) look as if they are going to hold back this offense. Maybe next year?

11. Purdue– New coach, bad offense, and an okay defense. What else is there to say?

12. Illinois– Illinois is trending in the wrong direction. Over the past five seasons, the Illini have gotten worse by 7% per year, on average. Sure, most of that is from Ron Zook, but Tim Beckman already doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to the X’s and O’s after one year on the job. The offense has a number of guys coming back this year, but with a below average number of starters returning on defense, it looks like it could be a long year for the blue and orange.

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