Thursday, August 2, 2012

Michigan, MSU not my preseason Big Ten favorite

I can’t be the only one that was a little surprised to see Michigan as the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten Championship this year when the poll came out at Big Ten Media Day.
It’s not to discredit Michigan, as they clearly have a team that should contend for the title. But, to me, the favorite seems obvious. And no, I am not talking about Michigan State either.
In my OPINION, Wisconsin is the front runner in the Big Ten. Not necessarily because they have the most talent, but because their road to the championship is far easier than Michigan’s or Michigan State’s.
Considering that Ohio State and Penn State are unable to compete in the Big Ten Championship Game due to ongoing sanctions, that leaves Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana to contend for the right to represent the Leaders Division in the title game.
Illinois is in its first year with a new coach (Tim Beckman) and Indiana is Indiana. The Boilermakers showed improvement last year and return eight starters on offense, but I don’t see them ready to take that next step quite yet.
Even if Ohio State was eligible for postseason play, the Buckeyes still might not be able to beat Wisconsin. The Badgers won’t be as impressive offensively this season, but Danny O’Brien is still a viable quarterback and Montee Ball and James White are more than capable of racking up a combined 2,500 rushing yards.
The fact is, Wisconsin basically needs to play average just to make the title game, and then it is a one-game shot to win it all.
Consider the roads that Michigan and MSU have.
The Wolverines have road games at Nebraska and Ohio State and still have to try to get over this losing streak to the Spartans at home. We have all seen what the MSU defense is capable of doing to Denard Robinson.
For the Spartans, winning in Ann Arbor this year will be a huge challenge, but they also have to head to Wisconsin while hosting Ohio State and Nebraska. They also have to do this with a new quarterback and a brand new group of receivers.
Sure, both the Spartans and Wolverines have great potential. But, in any championship season, you need a few breaks.
Wisconsin already got those breaks by Ohio State and Penn State being eliminated from the equation. 

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