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2022 Big 10 Conference Football Preview

Predicted Order of Finish-

East Division-

1. Ohio State- the Buckeyes are once again loaded with talent on offense led by sophomore QB C.J. Stroud who threw for 4,435 yards and 4 TD’s last year along with his top target junior Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the defense hopes to tighten the screws under new coordinator Jim Knowles after giving up over 30 points 5 times last season

2. Michigan State- key contributors on both sides of the ball return from last year’s 11-win team including junior QB Payton Thorne (27 TD’s) and All-American sophomore LB Cal Haladay, this year the Spartans won’t sneak up on anyone and will rely on transfers to replace star running back Kenneth Walker III who is off to the NFL

3. Michigan- after a 12-win season that included a win over arch-rival Ohio State, a Big 10 title, and a Playoff appearance the monkey is finally off HC Jim Harbaugh’s back heading into 2022, new coordinators will be operating on both sides of the ball without the likes of RB Hassan Haskins, and star defenders Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo,

4. Penn State- senior QB Sean Clifford who passed for over 3,000 yards along with 21 TD’s in 2021 returns and should be more comfortable in his second season with coordinator Mike Yurcich, the rushing attack was abysmal last year ranking 118th and the O-Line remains a question mark after allowing over 2.5 sacks per game

5. Indiana- the Hoosier’s defense returns 7 starters and has plenty of veteran leadership at every position led by senior LB Cam Jones, the offense which finished 123rd in scoring returns just 3 starters and Missouri transfer junior QB Connor Bazelak and new coordinator Walt Bell (formerly HC at UMass) will need time to gel

6. Maryland- Terps junior QB Tualia Tagovailoa returns after passing for 3,860 yards and 26 TD’s and will have 4 starters back on the O-Line along with a solid group of receivers, the defense gave up over 50 points 3 times a year ago and will operate under its 4th coordinator in 4 years

7. Rutgers- the Scarlet Knights showed signs of growth in HC Greg Schiano’s second season in his return to Piscataway improving their win total by 2 and losing to Big 10 champion Michigan on the road by just 7, much of O-Line must be replaced by new faces brought in via the transfer portal and the quarterback position remains unsettled heading into fall camp

West Division-

1. Iowa- the Hawkeyes return 8 starters from a defense that ranked 17th in total yards allowed last year led by senior LB Jack Campbell, the offense had its struggles in 2021 allowing 31 sacks along with 11 INT’s by quarterbacks Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla who split time under center

2. Purdue- following a 9-4 campaign in 2021 expectations are high with 15 returning starters including senior QB Aidan O’Connell who passed for 3,708 yards and 28 TD’s, however , O’Connell’s top target senior WR Milton Wright is ineligible for 2022 season and defensively the Boliermakers must replace star DE George Karlaftis

3. Wisconsin- sophomore RB Braelon Allen looks to build off a sensational freshman season rushing for 1,268 yards and 12 TD’s and will once again work behind another formidable Badger O-Line, 8 starters must be replaced on defense including an entirely new secondary

4. Minnesota- offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and QB Tanner Morgan have been reunited after the 2 helped the Gophers offense score over 34 points a game in 2019, the O-Line returns just 1 starter and HC PJ Fleck was forced to hit the transfer portal hard to fill the void on the D-line

5. Nebraska- new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple who helped elevate Kenny Pickett’s career at Pitt will have junior Texas transfer Casey Thompson to work with at quarterback along with a plethora of quality backs at his disposal, the Huskers face a brutal stretch to end the year that includes road games at Michigan and Iowa and Wisconsin at home

6. Northwestern- junior QB Ryan Hillinski and redshirt freshman Brendan Sullivan will compete for the started job and whoever gets the nod will have 4 returning lineman and a pair of quality backs in sophomore Cam Porter and Evan Hull, the defense was dreadful in coordinator Jim O’Neil’s first year allowing 213 rushing yards per game and ranking 101st in total yards allowed

7. Illinois- the Illini took a step in the right direction in Brett Bielema’s 1st season as HC finishing 5-7 and winning 4 conference games, on offense the quarterback position remains unsettled with senior Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito and Ark Sitkowski competing for the job entering fall camp

Buy- Northwestern, Nebraska

Sell- Michigan

Best Bet- Northwestern OVER total wins

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