Anything can happen in what should be one of the best conferences in the country this season
The college football polls are rolling out and the odds are being set in Vegas. The preview magazines, talk shows and talking heads have all had their say.
All we need to do now is kick off another ho-hum college football season that is sure to have very few surprises and play out exactly how we all think it will, right?
You know that's not how this works.
For better or worse, it's time once again to roll out some OUTRAGEOUS* college football predictions as the 2018 season approaches.
Next up is the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten may very well be the most talented conference in the land, complete with four teams that most experts have in the College Football Playoff conversation. As talented as those teams are, anything can happen to anyone while they run through this Big Ten gauntlet.
Outrageous College Football Predictions for the Big Ten in 2018
Nebraska wins nine games
A lot of people look at the coaching change and the returning roster as negatives that will limit this team to six — maybe seven — wins. I look at it differently. The Huskers have experience in key spots on both sides of the ball. They have one of the best receiving corps in the conference, an offensive line that has never had the coaching it has now, a seasoned front seven and what is shaping up to be a pretty nice looking defensive backfield. And they have newfound confidence instilled by head coach Scott Frost. This team is going to look and act very different than what we've seen from a Nebraska football team in a very long time. This Husker squad has what it takes to steal a game from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State or Michigan State — finishing 1-3 against that group — and win the rest of the contests on the schedule.
Michigan State wins the Big Ten East
The Spartans return a ton of talent from a team that won 10 games last season. They have a dynamic playmaker at quarterback, a proven work horse at running back, an offensive line full of players with starting experience and that always stingy defense. Mark Dantonio's squad knows who and what it is, arguably more so than any team in the conference. The Spartans also get Michigan and Ohio State in East Lansing. Look for the Spartans to punch a ticket to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.
Michigan loses five games
Michigan's defense should be just fine once again, but the Wolverines are going to need to score points. Right now, there just isn't much on the offensive side of the ball that should scare defensive coordinators. Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson is supposed to be the savior at quarterback, but he'll be operating behind an offensive line with plenty of question marks. Unless the Wolverine defense can consistently hold the best offenses it faces to fewer than 17 points each week, the Wolverines are going to struggle to win eight games.
Shea Patterson is not Michigan's starter when November begins
As previously mentioned, the offense is going to sputter. There's a good chance Michigan has three losses before November. When that happens, all eyes and accusations will be on Patterson. Jim Harbaugh won't hesitate to pull the plug on Patterson in favor of sophomore Brandon Peters, who provided a spark for the team last season.
Michigan State wins the Big Ten, goes to the College Football Playoff
The Spartans will face Wisconsin for the Big Ten crown. When the two teams meet, it will be Michigan State's aggressiveness in rushing the passer that causes Wisconsin problems. When the Spartans have the ball, they'll be facing a Badger defense that hasn't played a team as physical as Michigan State. It will be an ugly game, but everything you'd expect from a B1G championship. The Spartans win and advance to the College Football Playoff on the back of a one-loss season and a title in the nation's best conference.
*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. His work has appeared on Fox Sports, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report, SBNation and SI.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.