Big Ten Wish List: 10 things I want to see
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The eve of the Big Ten season is upon us, so check your pulse. It should be racing. Every Friday, I'll take a look at 10 things I'm excited to see in the upcoming games. Here's installment No. 1.
1. Michigan's quarterbacks: After so much speculation about who fits RichRod's system, who doesn't, who's fast and who's not, we finally get a look at Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan in a game. Expect some growing pains early on, but both quarterbacks are heady players who could grasp the spread offense better than any of us expect them to. Just the sight of Michigan in a no-huddle spread could induce some double-takes.
2. That Pryor guy: Forget about gimmick plays and custom-designed packages near the goal line or anywhere else on the field. I want to see Ohio State freshman Terrelle Pryor lead a real drive, make real decisions and showcase all of his abilities, including his supposedly improved passing skills. Pryor should get a chance in the first half against Youngstown State.
3. Juice vs. Chase: The Edward Jones Dome is the site for arguably the nation's best quarterback matchup of the day. Illinois coaches are convinced Juice Williams has made the necessary strides as a passer and a leader during the offseason. The Illini junior will try to show it as he goes up against a proven commodity, Missouri senior quarterback Chase Daniel.
4. The Spread HD: It might take a more superior opponent than Coastal Carolina to get a good read on Penn State's new offense, but Saturday should shed some light on the mysterious system and Daryll Clark's ability to run it. Clark's passing skills will be in the spotlight, and Penn State fans finally get a look at speedster Stephfon Green.
5. Javon Ringer return a kick -- Ringer could push Ohio State's Beanie Wells for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors this fall, and he won't waste time producing highlights. The Michigan State running back should be a factor on kickoff returns against Cal, and he could break a big one and make Spartans fans momentarily forget about Devin Thomas.
6. Jake Christensen -- Christensen retained his starting job but hardly got a ringing endorsement from Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who also plans to play sophomore Ricky Stanzi against Maine. Not all of what went wrong last season can be placed on Christensen, but it's time for the junior to make better decisions, show more consistency and utilize his weapons in the passing game.
7. Tramaine Brock rocks: The safety has been labeled a difference-maker for Minnesota as soon as he set foot on campus this winter. A ferocious hitter who can play either defensive back position, Brock gets his first chance to show that this will be a different year for the Gophers secondary as he goes up against Northern Illinois.
8. Martez Wilson on a blitz: Wilson makes his first career start for Illinois after plenty of preseason hype and faces one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Missouri's Daniel. The 6-foot-4, 246-pound sophomore passes the eye test and should be a dominant defender for the Illini. Now he's got to go out and prove it.
9. The wait ends for Evridge and Lewis: Allan Evridge makes his first start since 2005 as the senior left-hander leads Wisconsin against Akron. Evridge has been patient since transferring from Kansas State but can't get too hyped for the game and make mistakes. The wait hasn't been nearly as long for Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis, but it certainly felt that way after the junior lost his way this winter and had to earn his way back on the team. He makes his 22nd consecutive start against Western Kentucky.
10. Northwestern's new-look line in action: An offensive line featuring three new starters, including two redshirt freshman, is considered the only potential obstacle for a talent-stocked Wildcats offense. The front five needs a strong start against a Syracuse defense that tied for last nationally in sacks (.75 spg) in 2007.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Western Kentucky Illinois 12:00 PM ET McNeese State 22 Nebraska 12:00 PM ET Akron Penn State 12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Purdue 12:00 PM ET Howard Rutgers 12:00 PM ET Western Illinois 14 Wisconsin 3:30 PM ET Northern Illinois Northwestern 3:30 PM ET Middle Tennessee Minnesota 3:30 PM ET Ball State Iowa 3:30 PM ET Maryland South Florida 6:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 3 Oregon 7:30 PM ET Michigan 17 Notre Dame 8:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 5 Ohio State