After a seemingly endless offseason, game week has arrived, and the Big Ten bloggers are ready to forecast the 2012 season. We study this league year-round and try to get as much of a feel for how things will play out as possible. Still, as you know, and as you love to remind us, we're occasionally off the mark (sometimes more than occasionally).
Let's get things started with the team predictions ...
Michigan State: 10-2 overall, 6-2 Big Ten
Michigan: 8-4, 5-3
Nebraska: 9-3, 5-3
Iowa: 8-4, 5-3
Northwestern: 7-5, 4-4
Minnesota: 5-7, 2-6
Wisconsin: 9-3 overall, 5-3 Big Ten
Ohio State: 10-2, 6-2
Purdue: 7-5, 4-4
Penn State: 6-6, 3-5
Illinois: 6-6, 3-5
Indiana: 3-9, 0-8
Big Ten championship: Michigan State defeats Wisconsin
Michigan: 9-3, 6-2
Iowa: 8-4, 4-4
Northwestern: 6-6, 3-5
Wisconsin: 10-2, 6-2
Ohio State: 9-3, 5-3
Penn State: 7-5, 3-5
Indiana: 3-9, 1-7
OK, OK, so we're a little boring with these -- rematch of last year's title game, Michigan State winning, etc. Let's shake things up with some individual predictions for the season, which we reserve the right to change down the line.
1. The Big Ten's run of BCS at-large bids comes to an end. The only two teams that finish with fewer than three losses are Michigan State, which goes to the Rose Bowl, and Ohio State, which is ineligible for the postseason. The SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 all get BCS at-large bids.
2. Purdue stuns Wisconsin at home but can't keep up the momentum, coming up one game short of earning the Leaders Division title.
3. Nebraska turns the tables on Michigan and Wisconsin, avenging last year's blowout losses by beating both at home. But the Huskers lose their final game at Iowa and are eliminated from the division-title hunt.
1. Michigan rallies from back-to-back losses to Michigan State and Nebraska to win its final three games, including an overtime thriller at Ohio State. The Wolverines then punctuate their season with an impressive victory against LSU in the Capital One Bowl.
2. Speaking of the bowls, the Big Ten redeems itself on New Year's Day with a 4-1 record, including a Michigan State victory in the Rose Bowl. Northwestern also records its first bowl win since 1949 in the TicketCity Bowl. The Big Ten records just its second winning bowl performance since the 2002 season.
3. Michigan State rallies to win the title game, thanks in part to Mike Sadler doing his best Brad Nortman impression and flopping on a punt, drawing a penalty on the Badgers late in the fourth quarter. Le'Veon Bell rushes for 200 yards in the victory.
Check the blog throughout the week as we break down the Big Ten's four major awards -- Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Freshman of the Year -- in video form.