Big Ten Football Previews – 2010 (continued)
Editor's Note: Here are the next set of previews ... the rest will follow as time allows.
*Note, bowl shown only from 2004 on as I did not predict the bowl berths prior to that season.
Team: Penn State Nittany Lions
Tidbits: Penn State has had double digit wins 21 times in Joe Paterno's tenure. The 159 points allowed last year was the lowest since 1986, when the Nittany Lions won the National Title.
2009 Prediction / actual: 11-1, 7-1 (T-1st), Rose / 11-2, 6-2 (T-2nd), Capital One
2008 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 5-3 (T-2nd), BCS Berth / 11-2, 7-1 (T-1st), Rose
2007 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 5-3 (T-4th), Outback / 9-4, 4-4 (T-5th), Alamo
2006 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 6-2 (T-3rd), Capital One / 9-4, 5-3 (T-4th), Outback
2005 Prediction / actual: 6-5, 3-5 (T-7th), Music City / 11-1, 7-1 (T-1st), Orange
2004 Prediction / actual: 6-5, 4-4 (T-5th), Music City / 4-7, 2-6 (9th)
2003 Prediction / actual: 7-5, 4-4 (T-5th) / 3-9, 1-7 (T-9th)
2002 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 6-2 (T-1st) / 9-4, 5-3 (4th)
2001 Prediction / actual: 5-6, 3-5 (T-7th) / 5-6, 4-4 (T-4th)
Returning Starters: 7 offense, 5 defense, 1 kicker
Key Returnees: RB Evan Royster, C Stefen Wisniewski, WR Derek Moye, WR Graham Zug, S Nick Sukay
Key Losses: QB Daryll Clark, TE Andrew Quarless, DT Jared Odrick, LB Sean Lee, LB Navorro Bowman
Prediction: Penn State will be an interesting team to watch in 2010. There is one "money" OOC tilt (at Alabama) and tough revenge trips to Iowa and Ohio State on tap. Evan Royster is the top tailback in the league, the wide receiving corps is dangerous and the interior of the line is sound. But the Nittany Lions must break in a new signal caller and a pair of tackles. Never underestimate the loss of a veteran quarterback. Defensively, Penn State loses even more starters including the entire linebacking corps. Now this is Linebacker U so expect guys like Chris Colasanti to step right up, but the talent losses might be too much for this team to perform as predicted by so many. I think Penn State takes a step back in 2010 in preparation for a fantastic 2012 - which I predict will be Paterno's last in Happy Valley...
OOC: 3-1 (The trip to Alabama could make or break the season, and don't sleep on Temple)
B10: 5-3 (Revenge will not be found in Iowa City or Columbus and Penn State finally loses at home against the Spartans)
Overall: 8-4, T-4th, Gator Bowl Berth
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Team: Michigan State Spartans
Tidbits ... The Spartans' recent bowl streak is the first three season run since Nick Saban took over in the mid 90s. The last time the Spartans missed the mark on a solid preseason Big Ten ranking and lost as many games in the waning moments was 1998 - the year before once of the best seasons in program history.
2009 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (3rd), Outback / 6-7, 4-4 (T-6th), Alamo
2008 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (T-2nd), Outback / 9-4, 6-2 (3rd), Capital One
2007 Prediction / actual: 6-6, 3-5 (T-7th), Insight / 7-6, 3-5 (T-7th), Champs
2006 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (5th), Champs / 4-8, 1-7 (T-10th)
2005 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 5-3 (4th), Sun / 5-6, 2-6 (9th)
2004 Prediction / actual: 7-5, 4-4 (T-5th), Sun / 5-7, 4-4 (T-5th)
2003 Prediction / actual: 6-6, 3-5 (T-7th) / 8-5, 5-3 (T-4th)
2002 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (T-1st) / 4-8, 2-6 (T-8th)
2001 Prediction / actual: 8-3, 6-2 (T-1st) / 7-5, 3-5 (T-8th)
Returning Starters: 7 offense, 6 defense, 1 kicker
Key Returnees: QB Kirk Cousins, RB Larry Caper, WR Keshawn Martin, LG Joel Foreman, LB Greg Jones, LB Eric Gordon, P Aaron Bates
Key Losses: C Joel Nitchman, WR Blair White, NT Oren Wilson, S Danny Fortener, PK Brett Swenson
Prediction ... Michigan State is back in the sleeper role and that is one that frankly, suits the Spartans just fine. A season ago, the QB position was unsettled. Not this time around. Kirk Cousins is the bona fide leader of the offense and the team and he has an offense loaded with weapons, including former QB Keith Nichol who has moved to wide receiver. The biggest question on offense is the front line. State needs to be able to run the ball better this season. Defensively, you'll be hard pressed to find a better corps of linebackers in the nation. And that includes two impact freshmen. The front line is solid but not spectacular. The secondary needs to tighten up and is quite young. Don't underestimate the loss of Brett Swenson. He was the best kicker in a long line of storied MSU booters. Still, the schedule sets up nicely for MSU to do some very nice things...
OOC: 4-0 (Nothing overly scary here)
B10: 5-3 (Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa prove to be the road blocks to a phenominal season)
Overall: 9-3, T-4th, Outback Bowl Berth