Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Wolverines will hold off Badgers, Nittany Lions for Big Ten title
By Mark Schlabach ESPN.com
Peering into the crystal ball revealed the following five predictions for the 2007 Big Ten season:
1. The Wisconsin-Michigan winner takes the Big Ten title
Both teams will be unbeaten going into their Nov. 10 showdown at Camp Randall Stadium.
Jake Long, left, and Lloyd Carr are among the many who have high expectations for Michigan.
The Badgers' biggest scare will come at Penn State on Oct. 13, and they'll squeak out a win at Ohio State on Nov. 3.
The Wolverines will survive early-season shootouts against Oregon and Penn State, then the defense will hit its stride. Michigan will beat Wisconsin by a field goal, then lose to Ohio State the following week, costing the Wolverines a spot in the BCS Championship Game.
2. Iowa will bounce back
After enduring its first losing season in six years, Iowa will suffer early-season losses at Wisconsin and Penn State. But the Hawkeyes will rebound to win their last six games and finish 10-2. Coach Kirk Ferentz will become a hot commodity again for a job in the NFL.
3. Joe Paterno will coach again in 2008
The Nittany Lions will lose at Michigan and against Wisconsin, but they'll finish 10-2 and remain in the Big Ten title chase until the end. Paterno will end the season coaching from the press box in a recliner.
4. Indiana will play in a bowl game
The Hoosiers will rally around former coach Terry Hoeppner's motto of "Let's play 13" and will win eight games to qualify for their first bowl game since 1993. With quarterback Kellen Lewis and receiver James Hardy leading the way, Indiana will be 6-1 going into its Oct. 20 home game against Penn State.
5. Minnesota will be better than Michigan State
Minnesota coach Tim Brewster inherited a better team than new Spartans coach Mark Dantonio. The Gophers will go bowling in 2007; both teams will play in the postseason in 2008.
Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.