Every team has one -- a wild-card guy who could be great or inconsequential, or anything in between. Here are the 14 biggest X factors in the Big Ten for 2016.
2015 ScheduleAll times ET
LB Hardy Nickerson Jr., who led Cal with 112 tackles last season, should make a smooth transition to Illinois, where his dad is the coordinator.
Woody Hayes, Fielding Yost and Bo Schembechler lead the way for all-time great Big Ten coaches.
There's a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in Columbus, and Ohio State fans know the success of their offense rests with J.T. Barrett. Who are the Big Ten's other indispensable players?
Illinois football player Jarrod "Chunky" Clements pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor battery stemming from a fight at a party in March.
Bob Zuppke, who led the Illini to four national titles, is No. 1 on our list of Top 5 coaches at Illinois.
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot led Illinois with eight sacks in 2015, ane the arrival of Lovie Smith should mean more big things from him.
How do Big Ten coaches think 2016 will play out? With anonymity assured, they dish on why Michigan is the team to beat, how J.T. Barrett could struggle again and more about the league.
why not live in Fantasyland for a bit? Here are potential matchups for the totally nonexistent 2016 SEC/Big Ten challenge.
Illinois faces a tough schedule in coach Lovie Smith's first season, so a win against Purdue could create some early momentum.
The collection of coaching acumen in the Big Ten East is astounding. Mark Dantonio has a leg up on his competition in at least one area.
The Big Ten-SEC rivalry is real, but many Big Ten officials don't view the two leagues as diametrically opposed, even if it's how they're portrayed.
As Big Ten teams settle into the offseason, questions from fans focus on some new faces on the sidelines and Wisconsin's tough schedule.
The last month of the regular season is going to be a stiff test for Lovie Smith's first team with the program.
All five of the Big Ten's safeties played in a much different era, led by a Buckeyes great who was perhaps the hardest hitter of them all.
Headed by a college and NFL legend, the Big Ten's all-time best linebackers are ridiculously talented and accomplished.
Archie Griffin has two Heismans, but can he beat out Red Grange or Ran Dayne for the top spot in the top-5 Big Ten running backs of all-time?
It should come as no surprise that Jim Harbaugh is quickly taking Michigan's quarterback situation from a weakness to a strength.
How B1G could a new Big Ten be?
In the spirit of conference expansion chatter, our Ryan McGee has an idea. He shook up the Big Ten, added four schools and juggled the divisions to help create a more balanced CFB map. Which teams are in the new East and West? Flipping the field
Mitch Sherman ESPN Staff Writer
Between the ESPN networks and BTN, Big Ten-scheduled night kickoffs in 2016 feature Nebraska in a league-high five games, followed by Ohio State (4), Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State (3), Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Rutgers (2), Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Minnesota (1).
Despite suffering two key injuries to offensive playmakers, Illinois appeared to have a productive spring as the team adapted to Lovie Smith's system.
After signing a top-five class in 2016, Ohio State has take the lead in the Big Ten with the 2017 class.
The University of Illinois will begin the search for a new mascot nine years after it retired Chief Illiniwek under pressure from the NCAA.
Illinois vs Murray State Racers
Memorial Stadium (Champaign, IL) - Sat 9/3