Three Things: Hopes And Expectations For The West/Corn Division

 

The New Pornographers - Moves (via newpornographersvevo)

 

Video unrelated, but loved for both music and fantastic cameos.  And no, I won't refer to this division by its formal name.  Ben will be along tomorrow with his hopes and expectations for the East/Pig division.

The Mexican Standoff Between Nebraska, Michigan State, and Iowa.  Yes, I know that even the BHGP guys are anti-woofing their own team, but it's foolish to think that Iowa won't have a major influence on the division title.  Their cross-over division games are Indiana, Purdue, and Penn State (sadly, all winnable) and they get division rivals Northwestern, Michigan, and Michigan State at home.  Yes, they finish the year at Nebraska, but who knows what Iowa's offensive line and quarterback will have evolved into by then, not to mention whether Taylor Martinez will be ground into polenta by Big Ten defenses.

 

 

Michigan's Ramp Up.  Outside of the race to Indianapolis, this might be the most intriguing division storyline.  How will Denard Robinson adjust to ManBall, and how quickly can Greg Mattison build a defense out of fairy dust and bravado?  Michigan's schedule isn't exactly treacherous until the last two weekends of the season -- and even then, they'll get Nebraska and Ohio State at home.  They'll probably need one year to crawl out of the Rodriguez Crater, but be concerned if they're on your schedule.


Can Sparty Sustain Last Year's Success?  Certainly, the offensive skill positions are in good hands, but how will they rebuild the offensive line (including a new center and two new tackles)?  The defense also has its share of question marks, including the void left by Greg Jones and safety Chris Rucker.  While many eyes will be on the trio of big conference games on the final Saturday of the schedule (Iowa v. Nebraska, Michigan v. Ohio State, Penn State v. Wisconsin), don't be shocked when the most entertaining game of the weekend is a 45-44 track meet between Michigan State and Northwestern in Evanston.

Fo' Shiggles.  Predicted order of finish for the West:

Michigan State
Iowa
Nebraska
Northwestern
Michigan
Minnesota

Tempted to go with Iowa here, and it's all about the schedule (combined with the fact that I'm just not sold on Nebraska aside from DL Jared Crick and LB Lavonte David).  Michigan State has games at Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa, and Northwestern, although they get Ohio State on the last week of the Tat Five's suspensions. Iowa gets two weeks to prepare for Penn State, then doesn't have another backbreaker until November when Michigan State visits Kinnick. They're way-thin at a number of positions -- too many to get really weird and pick them to win the division.

Meanwhile, Nebraska gets saddled with the three presumed top teams in the East (Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State).  If Sparty falters (which, Sparty), the division likely comes down to the Heroes Game in Lincoln. 

Like the rest of the free world, I have no idea what to expect from Michigan.

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