It’s easy to play it safe with predictions. Expect Alabama to be right there in the national championship hunt and mark down Ohio State’s games with Michigan and Michigan State as must-see events.
But sometimes it’s fun to see people take chances. ESPN did, as its writers put together a list of fearless Big Ten predictions.
Here they are:
- No Big Ten team will make the College Football Playoff (Dan Murphy)
- Michigan will go 13-0 (Jesse Temple)
- Penn State will have the most improved offense in the country (Josh Moyer)
- Sam Hubbard will lead the nation in sacks (Austin Ward)
- Minnesota wins nine games — and beats Wisconsin, finally (Brian Bennett)
The first prediction is easy to figure out in terms of how it could happen. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State cannibalize each other and trip up somewhere else, either in the non-conference slate or in Indianapolis. All three are ranked in the Top 12, so going into the season, there isn’t much separating the three — as far as we know before the games finally begin.
Of course, another writer took a chance and said Michigan would go undefeated. The non-conference schedule shouldn’t be a problem, though road games at Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State won’t be easy. Still, the defense should be dominant.
Moyer’s thoughts about Penn State could all add up. The Nittany Lions have a pair of great WRs in Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton, plus RB Saquon Barkley should be ready for a huge season after rushing for 1,076 yards as a freshman. Sure, there’s a first-year starting QB in Tracy McSorley, but with new schemes with first-year OC Joe Moorhead, Penn State will use a dual-threat QB and should be much improved.
The Hubbard thought is something to watch. He had 28 tackles in 2015 but still made 6.5 sacks. Tyquan Lewis’ presence will take away some defensive attention, too.
The final fearless prediction will make Gophers fans happy. Ohio State and Michigan are off the schedule, as is TCU. Michigan State isn’t there, either. But perhaps most important to Gophers fans, there’s a chance for Minnesota to finally beat Wisconsin. The Badgers have won the past 12 in the series.