Big Ten Football: Can Anyone Topple The Ohio State Buckeyes?
Three things were seemingly guaranteed in 2013: death, taxes, and the eventual crowning of Ohio State as 2013 Big Ten Champions. However, as USC showed this past year, not everything always goes as expected in the world of college football.
Although no one is saying that Ohio State isn’t the odds on favorite to take home the conference championship, here are the teams most likely to give them a “run for their money.”
Five years ago if you told me, or anyone with a scintilla of college football knowledge, that Northwestern would potentially be a contender for a Big Ten title, we would have laughed incredibly hard. However, these Wildcats are a new breed. To their advantage they return star quarterback Kain Coulter and running back Venric Mark. They will probably have to defeat Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska in order to play in the conference title game, but this is a team that would’ve beaten both Michigan and Nebraska if it weren’t for a Hail Mary and 18-point fourth quarter comeback. Northwestern is for real.
The Cornhuskers will most likely have one of the most highly powered offenses this season. Fourth-year quarterback Taylor Martinez will have an array of weapons at his disposal in Lincoln this year. The team’s biggest question mark will be how to repair a defense that was anything but spectacular last year. The defensive line is a huge issue for the team, and they must be able to overcome this in order to have a chance at a conference championship. If the defense can match the offense’s expected proficiency, then Nebraska, should be able to have an excellent 2013 season.
Michigan and Ohio State always have a contentious rivalry. And this year should be one of the most heated, considering Michigan is the closest conceivable threat to the Buckeyes. However, the Wolverines are a deeply flawed team. They have three new starters on the offensive line and have to find playmakers at the receiver position. All signs are pointing up for Devin Gardner, but we still have to see how he performs in the glaring spotlight that is the quarterback position for the Wolverines. Their biggest advantage is that the final game of the season will be held in Ann Arbor against the Buckeyes themselves. Although it is unlikely, Michigan could potentially take down Ohio State.