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2013 Big 10 Conference College Football Predictions: Leaders Division

BIG 10 CONFERENCE LEADERS DIVISION FOOTBALL PREDICTIONS2013 Big 10 Conference College Football Predictions: Leaders Division

Illinois Fighting Illini:
The success of this team starts at quarterback as Nathan Scheelhaase is back for a team that is loaded with veterans. The offense has been powerless the last year-and-a-half. Since beating Indiana, 41-20 on Oct. 2, 2011, the Ilini have gone 18 straight games against FBS teams without scoring more than 24 points. They failed to score more than 17 in 14 of those games. They were second-to-last in FBS in both yards and scoring. They need to find more playmakers on offense to help Scheelhaase. They had an inconsistent running attack and poor offensive line play. On defense, Jonathan Brown leads a promising group of linebackers.

Indiana Hoosiers:
The Hoosiers have 19 returning starters and eight home games this year so they have to be thinking about going bowling. Cameron Coffman returns at quarterback but they Hoosiers need to be more explosive on offense. Sophomores Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld are also in the mix. Roberson was the starter before suffering a season-ending leg injury, while Coffman and Sufield threw for 22 touchdowns in his absence. Indiana was last in the B1G in 2012 in time of possession at just over 26 minutes per game. Defensively, Larry Black Jr. and Adam Replogle are gone from the defensive line. That unit has to improve sine they allowed 231.3 rushing yards per game last year.

Ohio State Buckeyes:
The Buckeyes went undefeated last season but were on probation so they couldn’t participate in postseason. Urban Meyer’s squad will not only play in the postseason this year, but they could be playing in the BCS title game. Meyer must replace all four starters along the defensive line. He does have a great recruiting coming in including Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. Both are five-star recruits. The offense is stacked led by quarterback Braxton Miller, who is a Heisman candidate. RB Jordan Mall is back from a medical redshirt and moves to wide receiver, while RB Carlos Hyde is an all-conference caliber player. The offense will be tough to stop with four offensive linemen returning.

Penn State Nittany Lions:
The Nittany Lions head into the summer with a lot less eyes on them and coach Bill O’Brien, which is a good thing considering the tumultuous situation of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. At quarterback, sophomore Tyler Ferguson competes with highly-touted freshman Christian Hackenberg. Steven Bench decided to transfer after the spring. At linebacker, Mike Hull, Ben Kline and Nyeem Wartman are expected to battle for starting reps with Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges gone. DE Dion Barnes will anchor the dfeense after having an excellent freshman season. The lack of depth due to scholarship sanctions will become an issue if there are injuries.

Purdue Boilermakers:
The Boilermakers let go of Danny Hope as Darrell Hazell takes over as head coach. The former Kent State coach wants to be aggressive on defense and force turnovers. Senior QB Rob Henry will compete with freshmen Austin Appleby and Danny Eting. Akeem Shavers, their top running back, graduates, but Akeem Hunt is an adequate replacement as a runner and receiver. They also lost WR OJ Ross, who was suspended for violating team rules. New offensive coordinator John Shoop will run a pro-style offense anchored by the running game. Replacing DT Kawan Short, who is head to the NFL, will be key. New defensive coordinator Greg Hudson still has a quality defensive line that needs to find a way to get more pressure on the quarterback.

Wisconsin Badgers:
The Badgers add new coach Gary Anderson, who brings in a new coaching staff. Last year, Brett Bielema had to replace all but one assistant. Fortunately, they have a quality running back returning in series James White (1,052 yards), who steps in for record-breaking back Monte Ball. They need to find a quarterback and have several options. Joel Stave is back along with Rose Bowl starter Curt Phillips and juco transfer Tanner McEvoy, who is a dual-threat quarterback. Wisconsin has run the “power” offense for seemingly decades and Anderson is expected to keep that offense but with some elements of the spread that he ran at Utah State. The defense will switch to a 3-4 scheme though the middle will be anchored by ILB Chris Borland. The front seven if fine but questions remain on the defensive backfield, where they have to replace three starts.

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