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Scouting the Big Ten: East, West capsules

[ 0 ] July 29, 2014 |

Iowa football reporter Andrew Logue takes a quick lap around the West and East Divisions with a month to go before the opening kickoffs

EAST DIVISION

OHIO STATE

Media prediction: First

MVP: quarterback Braxton Miller

This just in: “I’ll be disappointed if the receivers aren’t ready to carry their own weight,” coach Urban Meyer said. “We’re trying to improve the surrounding cast around Braxton.”

Plays in the Big Ten title game if: Miller gets a little help from the rest of the offense, and Dontre Wilson emerges as a star at H-back.

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Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) defends against Northwestern. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

MICHIGAN STATE

Media prediction: second

MVP: defensive end Shilique Calhoun

This just in: “Win or lose, we need to gain experience from (playing at Oregon, Sept. 6),” coach Mark Dantonio said, “and be able to push through into the conference.”

Plays in the Big Ten title game if: Junior quarterback Connor Cook picks up where he left off last season. His improvement was key to Michigan State’s run to the Rose Bowl.

MICHIGAN

Media prediction: third

MVP: quarterback Devin Gardner

This just in: “It’s a shame (the Notre Dame) series is over with,” coach Brady Hoke said, “because of the national rivalry that it carried with it.”

Plays in the Big Ten title game if: The offensive line solidifies after being battered on the football field and by the Michigan media last season.

PENN STATE

Media prediction: fourth

MVP: quarterback Christian Hackenberg

This just in: “We’ve all seen across the country that walk-ons and run-ons have had a big impact,” coach James Franklin said. “They’re going to need to have that for us, as well.”

Plays in the Big Ten title game if: Franklin turns in one of the most successful debut seasons in Big Ten history.

MARYLAND

Media prediction: fifth

MVP: receiver Stefon Diggs

This just in: “We have 10 new opponents that we have to prepare for,” coach Randy Edsall said. “So the spring and summer has been a whirlwind.”

Iowa wins on Oct. 18 at College Park, Md., if: The Hawkeyes smother a Terrapins offense that ranked 84th nationally in 2013, with 26.2 points per game.

INDIANA

Media prediction: sixth

MVP: running back Tevin Coleman

This just in: “Tevin is probably as talented as any back in this league,” coach Kevin Wilson said. “I still think, the way we do things, we’re going to spread the ball around.”

Iowa wins Oct. 11 at Kinnick Stadium if: The Hawkeyes exploit a Hoosiers defense that allowed 38.8 points per game last season.

RUTGERS

Media prediction: seventh

MVP: tight end Tyler Kroft

This just in: “To me, Big Ten football starts with physicality,” coach Kyle Flood said. “You had better get your program ready for the physical battle that is going to happen up front.”

It will be a successful season if: The Scarlet Knights survive a Big Ten schedule in which they’ll likely be the underdog in every game.

WEST DIVISION

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Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon carries the ball against Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register)

WISCONSIN

Media prediction: first

MVP: running back Melvin Gordon

This just in: “Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy will come in and split the reps,” coach Gary Andersen said of his quarterbacks. “It’s going to be interesting to watch.”

Iowa wins Nov. 22 at Kinnick Stadium if: The Badgers are still shuffling between Stave and McEvoy. Gordon can’t be a one-man gang.

IOWA

Media prediction: second

MVP: left tackle Brandon Scherff

This just in: “(Scherff) is a lot like some of the other great players we’ve had,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think the thing we’re all excited about is the fact we all believe he can improve.”

Plays in the Big Ten title game if: The offense lives up to lofty expectations and the defensive secondary picks up where it left off the final weeks of 2013.

NEBRASKA

Media prediction: third

MVP: running back Ameer Abdullah

This just in: “My cat is enjoying a nap up in the room,” coach Bo Pelini said. “So he’s here in Chicago. And enjoying the Windy City.”

Iowa wins Nov. 28 at Kinnick Stadium if: The Hawkeyes can hold the Cornhuskers to 89 rushing yards, as they did last November.

NORTHWESTERN

Media prediction: fourth

MVP: running back Venric Mark

This just in: “As I look at the experience Trevor (Siemian) has, it gives me great confidence,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “If you’ve got a quarterback, you’ve got a chance.”

Iowa wins Nov. 1 at Kinnick Stadium if: defensive end Carl Davis keeps Siemian scrambling.

MINNESOTA

Media prediction: fifth

MVP: coach Jerry Kill

This just in: “Wisconsin and Iowa are very well coached, got good players,” Kill said. “But we have to step up our game.”

Iowa wins Nov. 8 at Minneapolis if: Jake Rudock continues to evolve as a quarterback, giving the Hawkeyes a significant edge against the like-minded Gophers.

ILLINOIS

Media prediction: sixth

MVP: linebacker Mason Monheim

This just in: “We have to continue to recruit the state of Chicago and the state of Illinois to the best of our ability,” coach Tim Beckman said. “And I think that comes through relationships (with) players and families.”

Iowa wins Nov. 15 at Champaign, Ill., if: The Hawkeyes bring the same sort of intensity they’ve shown in annual clashes with neighboring Nebraska.

PURDUE

Media prediction: seventh

MVP: center Robert Kugler

This just in: “I wanted them to think about that through December, as they left home and weren’t playing in a bowl game,” coach Darrell Hazell said. “I wanted to see what kind of team we had once we came back in January.”

Iowa wins Sept. 27 at West Lafayette, Ind., if: The Hawkeyes repeat their second-half performance from last year, and cut down on the drama.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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