Ohio State and Michigan may be the big names, but they'll go home without any B1G hardware again this season
The polls are coming out. The odds are set. The pundits and prognosticators have all had their say. There really isn't much more to do before the 2017 college football season kicks off, right?
Who am I kidding?
For better or worse, it's time once again for some OUTRAGEOUS* college football predictions heading into the 2017 slate.
Continuing on with our series of preseason outrageousness, it's time to take a look at the Big Ten. The nation's oldest conference had four teams right in the thick of the College Football Playoff discussion for much of the 2016 season. That won't be the case this year, as a wild Big Ten West race will leave too many teams with too many losses to contend. In the East, the defending conference champs are positioned to make it a one-team race.
Outrageous College Football Prediction for the Big Ten in 2017
Michigan loses four games but beats Ohio State
Jim Harbaugh's squad will be out of the national title picture by the end of October. After opening the season with a loss to Florida, the Wolverines will go a little over a month without losing again. But this young team will then drop games in back-to-back road trips at Indiana and Penn State. Go ahead and put an "L" in permanent marker next to the game at Wisconsin, as they’ll be looking past the Badgers toward the big game against Ohio State the following week. But rest easy, Michigan fans. Your boys will wrap up the season by giving Harbaugh his first win as a head coach against the Buckeyes. The result of that game will eliminate Urban Meyer's team from College Football Playoff contention because…
Penn State will run the table in the regular season
Going undefeated is a tall order for any team, but the Nittany Lions have the talent on both sides of the ball to get it done. On the back of the best quarterback-running back combo in the nation, Penn State will have no issues moving the ball and hanging points on the board. Defensively, All-American candidates Jason Cabinda and Marcus Allen will lead an underrated unit to dominating performances each and every week. The toughest game on the schedule is the trip to Columbus, but the Buckeyes will be coming off of an emotionally and physically taxing road game in Nebraska -- their toughest since an early season date with Oklahoma. They'll need the bye week to recover, while Penn State will spend the weekend "tuning up" for Ohio State as they host Michigan. I like momentum to win out over needed rest. Advantage, and as a result another Big Ten East title, to Penn State.
Minnesota starts 8-0 and wins the Big Ten West
P.J. Fleck will be rowing the boat all the way to Indianapolis in his first season at the helm in the Twin Cities. The players are buying into his attitude and energy – not to mention the fact that the guy can flat out coach. The Gophers will likely be favored in their first seven games. Confidence will snowball with each win right up until the trip to Iowa City on Oct. 28. On that day, look for defensive tackle Steven Richardson to dominate in the trenches, disrupting the Hawkeyes' rushing attack and any would-be timing in the passing game. Minnesota will split its last four games, and that'll still be good enough to punch a ticket to meet Penn State for all the B1G marbles.
Purdue goes bowling
Why not? David Blough might be the most underrated quarterback in the country. Markell Jones is a prototypical workhorse running back. The offensive line has a nice mix of experience and potential and the starting tight end and receivers are all seasoned upperclassmen. The defense is led by one of the most experienced linebacking corps in the conference. This team can beat Ohio, Missouri, Rutgers and Illinois every day of the week. That’s four victories. I believe the Boilermakers can split against Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern and Nebraska. Pack your bags, Purdue fans. You're going to Detroit for the holidays! (That's not a punishment. Detroit is where the Quick Lane Bowl is played.)
Michigan State wins one game, and the Dantonio era comes to an end
That's right – one game. After opening the season with a win against Bowling Green, I don't see another team on Sparty's schedule that doesn't have more talent until you get to Rutgers. And by the time that game comes around, the young Scarlet Knights will be an improved team excited for the future. The Spartans will be broken, having fallen from the top of the Big Ten mountain to the very bottom of the Power 5 ranks in only two seasons. Dantonio will be let go, and the Michigan State administration will be tasked with hiring a coach with both the ability and the desire to rebuild a program in the same state and division as Jim Harbaugh. That's going to be a tough sell.
*Remember, "outrageous" can be defined as “wildly exaggerated or improbable,” and “very bold, unusual, and startling.” These are "outrageous" predictions and should be treated as such.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also covers the Big Ten for Black Heart Gold Pants, Iowa's SB Nation blog. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.