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Roundtable: staff predictions for the Big Ten season

This may come as a surprise to you, but our writers think Ohio State and Wisconsin should meet in the B1G Title Game again.

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

As the Big Ten season rapidly approaches, our writers were asked about their predictions for the season. There appears to be a consensus that the Wisconsin Badgers and the Ohio State Buckeyes are the two best teams in the conference, but after that there is a lot of discussion.

B1G West champion

Tyler: Wisconsin

Owen: Wisconsin

Ryan: Wisconsin

Bob: Wisconsin

Matt: Wisconsin

Drew: Wisconsin

Neal: Wisconsin - going for the sweep

J.J.: Wisconsin

B1G East champion

Tyler: Ohio State

Owen: Ohio State

Ryan: Ohio State

Bob: Penn State

Matt: Ohio State

Drew: Ohio State

Neal: Ohio State

J.J.: Penn State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game

B1G Champion

Tyler: Ohio State

Owen: Ohio State

Ryan: Ohio State

Bob: Wisconsin

Matt: Ohio State

Drew: Ohio State

Neal: Wisconsin

J.J.: Wisconsin

Player of the Year

Tyler: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Owen: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Ryan: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Bob: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (but I’ll add that Graham Mertz has a great shot as FOTY)

Matt: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Drew: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Neal: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

J.J.: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Offensive Player of the Year

Tyler: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Owen: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

Ryan: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Bob: uhhhh Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Matt: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Drew: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Neal: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue - dangit Owen!

J.J.: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Defensive Player of the Year

Tyler: Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin

Owen: Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern

Ryan: Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin

Bob: Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin

Matt: Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin

Drew: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

Neal: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

J.J.: Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin

Kent State v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Coach of the Year

Tyler: Paul Chryst - Wisconsin

Owen: Lovie Smith - Illinois

Ryan: Paul Chryst - Wisconsin

Bob: Paul Chryst - Wisconsin

Matt: Ryan Day - Ohio State

Drew: Tom Allen - Indiana

Neal: Paul Chryst - Wisconsin

J.J.: Paul Chryst - Wisconsin

Does a B1G team make the CFP? Which one?

Tyler: Yes, I believe the stupid Ohio State Bucknuts make it and get the doors blown off by Alabama or Clemson. I think their offense can carry them to the playoff, but I don’t think they’ll get by one of the two powerhouses with what they have on defense. If Tuf Borland is still their middle linebacker by then, it’s curtains for OSU.

Owen: Yes, Ohio State

Ryan: Yes, Ohio State

Bob: Yes, why not Wisconsin AND Ohio State 3 and 4, respectively

Matt: Yes, Ohio State

Drew: Yeah, probably. It’ll be Ohio State, sadly.

Neal: Yes, riding this Wisconsin pick.

J.J.: Yes, Wisconsin. Hope springs eternal. Go Badgers.

Biggest surprise in the B1G

Tyler: I think the biggest surprise in the league will be Indiana. Tom Allen has a great group back at the key positions. He’s got a dynamic QB, and they return their left tackle, center, and right tackle. That should give you a solid building block. Beyond that they’ve got they’re leading rusher and top three receivers back. On the other side of the ball they bring back nine starters as well. This is the best team Indiana has had in awhile, and I truly believe they could finish second in the East division if Michael Penix Jr stays healthy. I am super interested to see what they do against Penn State in the opener.

Owen: Illinois goes 5-3 and makes a bowl, ties for 3rd in B1G West

Ryan: Purdue will reach a bowl game following a 4-8 (3-6 B1G) finish in 2019. Purdue doesn’t play Ohio State, Penn State, or Michigan, which will certainly make their trek through the season smooth. Not to mention, Rondale Moore opted back in, which is going to be huge for them.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Minnesota at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bob: Well, I think Penn State takes a big step forward this season as evidenced by my prior picks. Penn State’s pass defense was suboptimal in 2019, but they return the secondary and I think that turnaround will be key. I also think the offense could be interesting given PSU stole Kirk Ciarrocca from Minnesota to be the Lion’s offensive coordinator My capacity to be surprised is over. I guess Northwestern has a weirdly good season out of nowhere every 2-3 years, so the Wildcats are due, but I’m done predicting anything good out of Evanston.

Matt: I think the Big Ten will be much more pass happy this year. With a lot of teams not returning their top running back (no returner recorded over 1,000 yards from a year ago), and some really talented wide receivers in the conference I think that the forward pass will make its presence felt more in the conference in 2020. Hell, the Badgers might even pass a lot more this season it seems.

Drew: Adrian Martinez was named Nebraska’s starting QB for Week 1. He will not have the most passing yards for the Huskers this year, Luke McCaffrey will.

Neal: It feels like I’m just adding on here, but I agree with Ryan. Purdue will be feisty and competitive this year. They have the offensive talent led by Rondale Moore and the schedule sets up nicely to sneak into a bowl game.

J.J.: Penn State beats Ohio State, (Halloween night game in Happy Valley? I don’t care if there’s no fans in the stadium. That place will be going insane. Give me chaos) wins the B1G East, and looks like a genuine national title contender up until they lose to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Biggest disappointment in the B1G

Tyler: I mean Rutgers is going winless so that has to be the biggest one right? Oh wait we expect that every year, fair enough. Maryland? They’ll beat Rutgers and that’s it. Really though, I expect that as well. I think the biggest disappointment could be Penn State? Obviously I am high on Indiana, so that would mean them pulling off an upset against the likes of either Penn State or Michigan. Both teams have holes, but to me Penn State benefited from turnovers last year and they lost a few keys guys on that defense where they might not have the same luck. Four of their wins came by seven points or less. A few bounces here or there and things could easily have fallen off the rails. Thankfully for them it didn’t, but I don’t feel like they got better into 2020. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and silly for thinking it, but I have some doubts there.

Owen: Penn State struggles, goes 5-3, 4th in B1G East

Ryan: B1G Championship weekend, when the league will pit it’s 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, and so on, Nebraska and Rutgers will square off in a battle of the winless teams, both checking in at 0-8 on December 19.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 03 Maryland at Rutgers
Greg Schiano gives this prediction a thumbs up.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bob: Is it wrong to say that the biggest disappointment is if the season doesn’t make it past November?

Matt: I think Michigan will disappoint folks this year. They are hard to gauge currently, but Harbaugh’s bunch have a tough crossover schedule with Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as their traditional opponents in the East. Add in the fact that Indiana could be salty this year, and I think the Wolverines may take a step back from their current top-20 ranking.

Drew: Brian and Kirk Ferentz face no punishment for their accused racist practices at Iowa, but (silver lining!) they do suffer on the recruiting trail and start a decline down the B1G West standings.

Neal: Count me among those that are not sold on Minnesota. Rashod Bateman is fantastic and the offense should be as good as last year, but the defense lost several key contributors and seems likely to take a step back.

J.J.: As a New Jersey native, it pains me to say this, but relative to expectations? Rutgers. Just about everyone I know was fired up by the Schiano hire, and rightfully so- but he doesn’t need to right a drifting ship, he needs to rebuild a burning one from scratch. Even with as much roster turnover as he’s already done, there are still growing pains that will be had, and there’s still a tremendous gulf in talent between the Scarlet Knights and the rest of the Big Ten. Sorry everyone at home- I can’t see them winning more than 2-3 games at best.