Big Ten football bold predictions: Michigan gets to title game ... and loses?
Big Ten media days are over, all while there still are questions to answer before the 2019 college football season kicks off in six weeks, there's plenty we learned during the conference's two-day media frenzy in Chicago.
Enough so for the Big Ten writers in the USA TODAY Sports Network to peer into their crystal balls and predict what will happen in the conference this season.
With that in mind, here are some bold predictions for the 2019 Big Ten season:
Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press
Michigan will actually beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten East for the first time, putting itself in position to win the Big Ten for the first time since 2004. Maybe that doesn’t sound bold. But Michigan has lost 14 of its last 15 against the Buckeyes.
[ Here are our top takeaways from Big Ten media days ]
Graham Couch, Lansing State Journal
I'll give you two: No.1, I really like Iowa in the West. This feels like an Iowa-type year. The Hawkeyes have more weapons than folks realize. No. 2, if Michigan State’s offense is merely above average, the Spartans are as likely a champion as anyone in the East. That’s a sizable “if”. MSU gets Michigan and Ohio State on the road, but has been better away from home against both since the current division alignment began.
Mark Emmert, Des Moines Register
Ohio State and Wisconsin will struggle at the quarterback position and will be no better than middle of the pack in their respective divisions as a result. For the Buckeyes, this will be a blip. For the Badgers, it will be the beginning of a pattern.
Chad Leistikow, Des Moines Register
There’s been a lot of division-realignment talk this week, but I think that all settles down after a big year from the Big Ten West. Nebraska is the on the rise. Iowa and Northwestern, my predicted top two, are going to be very good. Wisconsin is hardly falling apart. And Minnesota and Purdue are coming fast with bright young coaches. The West is going to outplay the East this season, as Penn State takes a big step back under James Franklin. Whoever makes the Big Ten title game (I’ve got Iowa) will give the West its best chance to win in Indy since the league expanded to 14 teams in 2014.
Josh Newman, Asbury Park Press
Ohio State will be out of the Big Ten and national-championship pictures before Halloween. The Buckeyes are at Nebraska on Sept. 28 in what surely will be a souped-up atmosphere at Memorial Stadium, then host Michigan State the following Saturday night. One loss puts Ohio State behind the Big Ten 8-ball. Two losses would qualify as catastrophic. Ohio State hosting Wisconsin on Oct. 26 also is not a layup.
Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star
Count me among those still unsure about Ohio State (though keeping a very open mind), and picking Michigan to win the East. But also count me among the lesser crowd that doesn’t see Michigan winning in Indianapolis in December. I like Scott Frost, I like Adrian Martinez more, and I just feel like Nebraska is finally ready to throw a curveball. I don’t think the Huskers are necessarily a playoff team, but given that I think only one other writer anywhere I saw had the same Nebraska-wins-the-Big Ten prediction I did, I feel safe in calling it bold.
Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Michigan gets Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines could go unbeaten in league play if they can find a way to avoid stumbling at Penn State on Oct. 19. If the Wolverines take care of business at home against Notre Dame, they will end the Big Ten’s two-year absence from the College Football Playoff.
Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
Since the Big Ten went to the divisional format in 2011, at least one team per year has either gone defeated or had one loss to capture the divisional title. That will change this year, with the winners in both divisions coming out with two losses or more for differing reasons – the East continues to be a four-team war of attrition, while the West winner will the team that elevates its play above mediocrity.
Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press
Michigan wins the conference title and gets to the playoff. The hand-wringing over uneven divisions stops.