NCAA Preview 2016
CFB BIG TEN EAST
The NCAA football season is near. Get ready to play CFB at FanPicks (click to play). With the impending kickoff in Sydney on August 26th, FanPicks will cover every NCAA conferences and their teams for the 2016 season. If you’ve missed the Big 12 CFB preview, click here.
The BIG TEN conference defending champions Michigan State are aiming for a third championship in four years. The Spartans were pummeled by the eventual CFP champions Alabama Crimson Tide in last year’s playoffs semi-final Cotton Bowl match. They’ve failed to register a single point in that game, losing 38-0 and putting a end to their season. It won’t be easy with East division rivals Ohio State in the mix. The Buckeyes won the CFP title in 2014. Two Big clubs, one spot in the finals. But will either of them make it?
Indiana made it to the Pinstripe Bowl last year, earning its first postseason appearance since 2007 and just its second since 1993. Starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld is gone from last year’s team, along with leading rusher Jordan Howard. Strong-armed juco transfer Richard Lagow will be taking the reins of the team. He should pair up nicely with wide receiver Simmie Cobbs. Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring, total offense and passing yards last season and should continue to have one of the most potent attacks around.
The Terrapins finished 3-9 last season, including 1-7 in the Big Ten. It marked the first time in three seasons that they did not reach a bowl game. Maryland fired its head coach at midseason, and things didn’t improve much from there. Last year’s Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin steps in to coach this squad.
Michigan has yet to decide on a starting quarterback. Despite having as many as 16 returning starters, the most important position on the field is still a question mark. Coach Jim Harbaugh will eventually have to choose between leading candidates Wilton Speight and University of Houston transfer John O’Korn for the starting nod. With that being said, the Wolverines boast one of the best defensive line in the nation. This is enough to put them in contention for the national title.
Several key position players are gone off last year’s Big Ten title winning team, but the Spartans have shown their consistency in winning at least 11 games in five of the last six seasons. It’s the coach Dantonio effect. Mark Dantonio has reached a bowl game in all nine of his seasons at Michigan State and finished in the Associated Press top 10 in each of the last three seasons.
Expectations in Columbus are nothing short of a College Football Playoff appearance year after year, regardless of talent lost. Only a handful of teams in the country have recruited as well as Urban Meyer, who will have a cadre of blue-chippers at his disposal. Meyer also has the best returning quarterback in the Big Ten, J.T. Barrett. The junior QB chipped in 11 touchdowns in the air and another 11 on the ground last year despite splitting reps with the since-departed Cardale Jones for much of the season.
The Nittany Lions are coming off their third consecutive seven-win season. With running back Saquon Barkley, Penn State has a sensational athlete on an otherwise abysmal offense. He ran for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns last season. His 15 runs of 20 plus yards tied for sixth most in the Power 5.
The Scarlet Knights won four games last year despite off-the-field controversies involving player arrests, their then head coach earning an in-season suspension for meddling in academic affairs, the loss of star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton to a knee injury and the continued error-prone leadership of former athletic director Julie Hermann. The school wisely cleaned house in the offseason, bringing in coach Chris Ash and reinforcing their defense.
NCAA CFB Previews