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2017 Big Ten Quick Hitters

2017 Big Ten Quick Hitters

2017 Big Ten Quick Hitters 

Each year I come up with a list of “Quick Hitters” for the Big Ten conference. Below are my initial thoughts on each team and a season win total recommendation for each division.

 

Big Ten East

Ohio State:

  • Obvious national title contender, schedule sets up well with Oklahoma at home and four winnable road games, with Michigan on the road to end the regular season.
  • What impact will former Indiana HC Wilson have as OC, with tons of talent returning and JT Barrett back?  How will their pace impact the defense?
  • Barrett had a slightly down year, will he feel some pressure, will Urban make a change if necessary?

Penn State:

  • Loved the hire of OC Moorhead and it played big dividends last year, will the league adjust or will he keep the ‘Nits rolling?
  • No reason this team doesn’t start 6-0 this season. They then hit a bye with Michigan and @ Ohio State after that.  This team will have lots of hype, can they live up to it?
  • I still think this team is going to be an OVER type squad, so look for games to pounce on.

Michigan:

  • Is Michigan back to the dominant years when they just “reloaded” under Harbaugh, it sure seems so – but Florida, Cincy and Air Force is a tricky start with an inexperienced defense and shaky QB in Speight.
  • Could see some value on UNDERS if the defense lives up to the hype and offense is slowed with Speight and the lack of returning starters.
  • This team is lined right and will not have much value ATS during the season unless some struggles ensue.

Indiana:

  • QB Lagow is back and should lead a very solid offense in Big Ten play.  Question is, how will they pace their offense with new HC Allen and OC DeBord?
  • Nine returning starters on defense, can this team keep totals under or will they simply be outclassed and be playing from behind?
  • Odd opening @ Ohio State against former HC Wilson (revenge?) but could easily win 5 of last 6 and make a bit of noise in the Big Ten East.

Michigan State:

  • The starters based on preseason projections are very young, this team is going to bounce back this year from a disastrous 2016 and will look to make a big leap in 2018.
  • Middle of the schedule is brutal after the week three off week: Notre Dame, Iowa, @ Michigan,@ Minny,  Indiana, @ Northwestern, Penn State, and @ Ohio State with no off weeks.  That stretch could wear them down big time.
  • Defense is young and lost tons of guys, can they hang and make improvement seems to be the major question as to whether there will be any spread value with Sparty in ’17.

Maryland:

  • I think this team could have some spread value as Durkin is a solid coach who will get more out of his defense in year two.
  • QB transfer Henderson from North Carolina is slated to start and could be the QB the Terps need to get to the middle of the pack in the Big Ten East.
  • Schedule is manageable with a tough finish: Michigan, @ Sparty, and Penn State – will have to sneak out a win late to improve over last year.

Rutgers:

  • Grad transfer from Louisville at QB in Bolin and star WR Grant is back from injury – They should provide some stability for the Scarlet Knights.
  • Jerry Kill is the new OC, but 8th in 8 years – keep an eye out here, he’s a legit coach, but can he make a difference with this team?
  • The went winless in the Big 10 last year and should sneak out a win or two, but doubt they will be a play on team in 2017.

Season Win Play Big Ten East – Pass

 

Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

 

Big Ten West

Wisconsin:

  • Very solid contender for the playoff, provided they don’t slip-up in Week 3 @ BYU, they should be undefeated heading into the Nov. 18th game v. Michigan in Camp Randall.
  • Solid starters back and experience with QB Hornibrook, they could be back to the “Badger Bully” mode where they cover and hit OVERS late in games by pounding the rock.
  • New DC in Leonhard – need to monitor his approach and progress during the season.

Northwestern:

  • Stability at both coordinators and with HC Fitzgerald, this team is going to exceed expectations in 2017, toughest game is @ Wisconsin and they get a bye to prepare – no Ohio State or Michigan this season.
  • Underrated RB stable with Jackson and Moten will help this team control the ball and be able to put up points, they closed last year on a roll.
  • Schedule sets up great and there are only two games they project to be the dog in ’17, really like the Chi-Town Kitties in 2017.

Nebraska:

  • The Tommy Armstrong era is over, seems like he was in Lincoln for ten years – Tulane transfer Lee at QB is getting NFL notice, will this be an improvement?
  • New DC Diaco could help this team be tougher and get them to cover numbers in Big Ten play.
  • Third year for Riley, but switching to 3-4 Defense and to a pro-style offense in the same year – will this be good or bad?  It will be a wait and see approach with the ‘Huskers in ’17, but I could see them not being a team to back.

Minnesota:

  • To me HC Fleck was possibly the top hire in the nation, he may be the guy to finally get Minny over the hump in the Big Ten West.
  • RB crew is best in the Big Ten – Smith, Brooks and McCray – Fleck surprisingly ran the ball a good amount at Western Michigan and will utilize his horses in 2017.
  • Schedule sets up nice for Fleck to get “buy-in” early, they could be 7-0 heading into October 28th @ Iowa: Buffalo, @ Oregon State, Middle Tennessee, Maryland, @ Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois.  This team should have value and could cover some numbers this season.

Iowa:

  • New OC as Ferentz’s son takes over, so they will most likely stick with the same conservative approach to offense.
  • Defense will be tough as usual, question with the Corn Hawks is can they score enough to cover numbers – again, we’ll wait and see.
  • Week one v Wyoming will be very interesting, schedule is fairly tough and I see an average season in Iowa City in 2017.

Purdue:

  • QB Blough will flourish in new HC Brohm’s offense – he had WKU rolling in each of his years as HC there and he had them averaging over 44ppg.
  • The D should improve with DC Holt and Poindexter and just how bad former HC Hazell was, but with more tempo on offense, the defense could be gassed.
  • I like new HC Brohm and his approach, this team will be improved and could surprise ATS, but the schedule is tough and they may not win as many games as some expect.  Will be interesting to watch as the season and system progress.

Illinois:

  • New QB Lawson as Lunt is finally gone, just have felt that HC Smith was an odd hire and he seems to be just collecting a pay check here – not really sure what the motivation is?
  • Big Ten slate is tough as the only winnable games could be Rutgers and @ Purdue, so this team could pack it in midway through the season – something to keep an eye on.
  • Just not a fan of former NFL HC’s taking over college programs in the twilight of their careers.  I respect Lovie, but think this team is a fade team, even with the perceived bad value on them by the markets.

Season Win Play Big Ten West – Northwestern OVER 7.5 Wins

 

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