Ohio State reloads every year and I don’t expect this season to be any different. Dwayne Haskins steps in to replace the production from JT Barrett. Fortunately the receiving core is fully intact with the top 3 receivers from 2017 returning this season. These playmakers should help ease the QB transition. It’ll also help to have JK Dobbins back in the backfield. Dobbins nearly rushed for 1500 yards last season. The Buckeyes will have to replace 6 playmakers on defense but again, the Buckeyes stay ready. Tough tests on the road against TCU, Penn State, and Michigan State, and the annual contest against Michigan at home on November 24th.
Michigan disappointed last season after dropping loses in its matchups against MSU, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. The road to the college football playoffs won’t get any easier for Harbaugh’s Wolverines this season though, but the roster is chalk full of returning firepower. The difficult tests will come on the road against Notre Dame, Northwestern, MSU, and Ohio State. Despite these obstacles I believe Michigan has a legit shot to reach the conference championship game and earn a berth to the playoffs.
This season Penn State loses its Superman in Saquon Barkley and a whole gaggle of playmakers on defense. However, despite this fact, the Nittany Lions won’t face a true test until they host Ohio State in Week 5. If Coach Franklin can get these new playmakers in place before then, then the second half of the schedule is definitely winnable.
Michigan State is loaded with talent this season and this team expects to improve on its 10-3 record from a season ago. It’s fully possible that Dantonio’s squad could go the distance and return to the Big Ten title game again for the first time in 3 years. The Spartans will benefit from not facing Wisconsin this season and will host Michigan and Ohio State at home.
Wisconsin is another team similar to Ohio State that seemingly “reloads.” For the last 10 seasons Wisconsin has put up the second best win-loss record, next to Ohio State, which is crazy considering the Badgers have had 4 head coaches in the last 6 years. Impressive. The Badgers return 9 starters on offense but they’ll have to go on the road at Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, and Penn State if they want to have a chance of going to a third straight Big Ten title game.
Iowa benefits from a favorable home schedule however I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hawkeyes go 2-2 before they enter the month of October. The Hawkeyes had one really good, 12-win season in 2015 but lately this is a team that underachieves, stringing together 8-win seasons. Last year the Hawkeyes lost 3 games by a touchdown or less. The keyword for this team in 2018 is FINISH. Finish the job, get these wins at home so that the Hawkeyes can make a return trip to the Big Ten title game for the first time in 3 years.
Northwesternenters the 2018 season coming off one of their best finishes ever. The Wildcats won 8 straight including the exciting one-point victory over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl. The 8 wins is the current and longest win streak in the Nation. The Wildcats return 14 starters and are one of the most experienced teams in the West division. Unfortunately their schedule is very tough and while they host Michigan, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame at home I do not think that the Wildcats will match their 10-3 record from a season ago.
Minnesota has a legitimate shot of winning at least 7 games in 2018 and go to a bowl game. PJ Fleck will get the Gophers to row the boat in his second season in Minneapolis.