Big Ten Coach of the Year - Pat Fitzgerald
He did a heck of a job getting Northwestern to 9-4 last season. If he can do it again, or even go 8-4 with a new QB in Mike Kafka (side note: best match of QB name and university ever) and a new RB, he deserves it for both this year and last year. I also considered Dantonio, but I think that they'll both have similar records, and Fitz will get the nod because Dantonio has more talent and resources.
Best Heisman Candidate - Terrelle Pryor
The only other player who I think may have a chance is Daryll Clark, but he lost his top three receivers this year, and I don't think he'll be able to put up the same numbers without them (at least in the beginning). Pryor's got a year under his belt, and I think Tressel's going to loosen the leash a bit and have him throw a bit more.
Sleeper Team To Crack The Upper Tier - Wisconsin
Too many mistakes kept them from beating Michigan, and they practically gave away the Michigan State game. They'll be better this year nearly by default, because I don't believe they'll repeat those mistakes.
Most Likely to John L. Smith (Lose it) - Tim Brewster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you've ever seen his Twitter feed, you know why the exclamation points are there. There' s no way any man can use that many and still maintain his sanity.
Also, a brief aside about exclamation points - you can use them to easily tell if a girl's in a sorority. Take the number of exclamation points used in one of her e-mails, and divide it by the number of sentences. If that number's anything around 1.5 or above, you know she's got letters somewhere in her closet. Greeks, I only kid because I was one of you back in the day, and because you know it's completely true.
Greg Jones won this award from the bloggers; however, I wouldn't consider being All Big-Ten last season coming from nowhere. Kirk Cousins was good in the brief time he played last season. If he wins the job, I can guarantee he'll be better, and light up a few defenses this year. Same with Nichol - if he wins the job, his feet are going to make him dangerous on broken plays, a skill not seen since Drew Stanton was rumbling like a drunken sailor down the field a few years back.
Most Likely to Be Highest NFL Draft Pick- Arrelious Benn
Athletic specimen, good production despite not scoring many TDs (5 for his whole career, that seems way too low), and he won't be catching passes from Juice Williams in the NFL. Sounds like a recipe for success to me.
Must See Game of the Year - OSU @ PSU
By default. MSU's rebuilding and the MSU-PSU game probably won't have the Big Ten title connotations it had last year. I'm not sure how Iowa will handle over 100,000 Penn State fans bent on vengeance. OSU will still beat Michigan up and down the field, regardless of location. The only other game that could be must see is Iowa-OSU, but then Ohio State would have to get past Penn State the week before.
Upset Special - Northwestern over Penn State
This might be a bit of a reach, but that's why they're called upset specials. A lot of "ifs" are attached here: IF Northwestern finds a running game. IF Northwestern can limit Evan Royster and force Clark to throw to inexperienced WRs. IF the Northwestern fan base shows up on Halloween to Ryan field. It's a lot to ask, but Northwestern was a 9-3 team in the regular season last year, so it's not out of the realm of possibility.
Also please rank each Big Ten team in order of predicted finish 1 through 11:
1) Ohio State
3) Penn State
4) Michigan State
- I think Ohio State's the top team in a weak Big Ten. Iowa has the toughest schedule of the contenders (@ OSU, @PSU, @MSU), but I think they find a way to win at least one of those games. Penn State's getting a big boost in Sean Lee returning from injury, but I don't know if their receivers are ready.
- The next tier: Michigan State's defense will keep them in a few games, but the running game will keep them out of contention. Northwestern will struggle to find an offensive. Wisconsin's always going to have a shot behind their OL, but who's going to handle the ball? Illinois is talented, but I can't trust the Zooker.
- The bottom tier - Michigan's offense will improve, but a new defensive scheme (their third in three years) plus a sieve-like secondary will spell trouble. Minnesota won a lot of games early last year based off turnovers; I'm betting they don't get those turnovers again and they regress. Indiana and Purdue are still going through a ton of changes, it'll be at least 2011 before things improve there.