2013 Legends Division College Football Predictions for the Big 10 Conference
2013 Big 10 Conference College Football Predictions: Legends Division
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The Hawkeyes dropped its final six games. They also lost RB Jordan Canzeri in the first game and he missed the rest fo the season. RB Mark Weismann did well when he was healthy, but he was their best weapon. QB James Vandenberg is gone and they also lose receiver Keenan Davis. Sophomore Jake Rudock, freshman C.J. Beathard and junior Cody Sokol are all competing for the starting quarterback spots. The offense has to improve or offensive coordinator Greg Davis will be let go. The same can be said about head coach Kirk Ferentz, who is definitely on the hot seat.
Michigan loses qb/wr Denard Robinson to the NFL. Devin Gardner did get some experience under his belt last year when Robinson was injured. He has the mobility that Robinson had but has a much better arm. RB Fitzgerald Touissant will be pushed by freshman RB Derrick Green for playing time. The offense should be fine but the key will be the performance of the defensive line. They have to replace three starters to the line. The defense ranked just 51st last year against the run and generated 1.7 sacks per game. They have to replace Craig Roh and Will Campbell up front.
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Michigan State Spartans:
The Spartans were hit hard by graduation as they lost RB Le’Veon Bell, TE Dion Sims and DE William Gholston early. Bell accounted for more than 92 percent of the Spartans rushing yardage. That’s a big loss. He averaged 137.9 yards per game and had 12 rushing touchdowns. Nick Hill is the top returning rusher while there are many other options including freshmen Gerald Holmes, R.J. Shelton and Delton Williams. A new offensive coordinator arrives in Dave Warner. Senior Andre Maxwell returns as quarterback but completed just 52.5 percent of his passes. Sophomore Connor Cook, freshman Tyler O’Connor and freshman Damion Terry could all be in the mix. Cook sparked the offense in the bowl win over TCU, while Cook and O’Connor should receive extended looks in preseason.
Minnesota Golden Gophers:
Minnesota shouldn’t have a quarterback battle as Phillip Nelson did lead them to a bowl game. The sophomore completed just 7 of 16 throws against Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He has all five starters returning on the offensive line from a quality unit. Last year, their secondary ranked 12th against the pass and were fourth in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense. They lost cornerbacks Michael Carter and Troy Stoudemire so duplicating those numbers will be tough. At least DT Ra’Sheade Haegman is back for his senior season and both safeties also return.
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The defense is more of a concern as they suffered some heavy losses. The defensive line is the top priority for Bo Pelini. Then again, it might not be a bad thing considering they gave up 53.5 points in their four losses including 70 to Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game. JC transfer Randy Gregory and LB Thomas Brown are expected to fill DE Eric Martin’s role as a pass rusher. Senior dual-threat QB Taylor Martinez is back after a strong junior season and shifty RB Ameer Abdullah is a very good back, but there is not a lot of proven depth behind him. They have to stop turning the ball over (35 times), so they don’t put their shaky defense in a bad position.
The Wildcats reached 10 wins and their first bowl victory since 1949 last year. Their offense is led by one of the best all-purpose backs in the nation in Venric Marc. He led the Big 10 with 167 yards per game in 2012. He’s also a threat on returns and as a receiver. QBs Kain Colter and Trevor Simien return as part of a two-quarterback system that actually worked (most don’t). They led the league in turnover margin at +14 but they have to replace three offense lineman starters. Right tackle Jack Konopka and center Brandon Vitabile are expected to return as starter. Replacing tackle Patrick Ward and guards Brian Mulroe and Jack Deiters will be key to their success.
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