Big Ten: Expert Predictions
Our experts get you ready for the season in the Big Ten, breaking down everything from the offensive player of the year to which assistant will be the next head coach.
CBSSports.com's panel of experts break down what to expect in the Big Ten during the 2013 season:
Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller , QB, Ohio State Buckeyes . Last season was all about his athleticism. This season he knows Tom Herman's offense through and through. He will earn a trip to NYC for the Heisman ceremonies.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ryan Shazier , LB, Ohio State. Had 115 tackles last season and will be called on to do even more as the Buckeyes replace seven starters on defense.
Top newcomer: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State Nittany Lions . Spent last season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy and will now be thrown into the mix to replace Matt McGloin. He will take his lumps early but become a star.
Coach of the Year: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern Wildcats . Wildcats were third in the Big Ten in scoring (31.7 ppg) last season and bring everybody back. This team is going to beat somebody it is not supposed to beat.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Pat Narduzzi, DC, Michigan State Spartans . The Spartans had the nation's No. 4 defense last season and were No. 1 in the Big Ten in scoring defense (16.3 ppg game). Like Kirby Smart at Alabama, Narduzzi knows he has a good situation in East Lansing. But it's time for somebody to step up and hire this guy.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes . Set to begin his 15th season at Iowa with some real questions about what direction the program is going.
Most intriguing conference game: Ohio State at Michigan Wolverines , Nov. 30. Everybody expects Ohio State to be undefeated when it gets to Ann Arbor. Could the Wolverines dash the Buckeyes' national championship hopes?
Most intriguing nonconference game: Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 7. This one will say a lot about where both teams are in 2013.
Bold conference prediction: Despite all of the predictions for an undefeated season by Ohio State, I just get this feeling the Bucks will come up flat somewhere along the way. How about an Oct. 5 trip to Northwestern?
Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State. Now that Johnny Manziel is out of the Heisman race -- wait, what? He's still eligible? Anyway, if for any reason Mr. Manziel cannot fulfill his duties, Mr. Miller will take his place. In other words, guess who just became the Heisman favorite?
Defensive Player of the Year: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State. The Big Ten's second-leading returning tackler has to be the leader for a developing front seven.
Top newcomer: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. Bill O'Brien's true freshman prize is destined to win the job this month and jump to the NFL after three years. At least that's the plan. As for not playing in a bowl game? Overrated, says his dad.
Coach of the Year: Urban Meyer, Ohio State. Just. Getting. Started.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State. At 38, Hermann is young enough to still be paying off student loans but old enough to chase a national championship in his second year under Meyer.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa. Since losing his major-bowl mojo, Ferentz (11-14 the past two seasons) always has seemed a fit for where he came from -– the NFL as an assistant. The Hawkeyes have finished higher than third once in the Big Ten since 2004.
Most intriguing conference game: Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 30. Always, but for the added reason the two rivals could meet the next week in the Big Ten title game.
Most intriguing nonconference game: Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 7. Twice more with (very bitter) feeling. The series ends in 2014. Who knows when they'll meet again?
Bold conference prediction: Ohio State will end the SEC's seven-year reign of terror.
Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State. A perfect fit for Urban Meyer's system. At least, Miller is becoming that while he learns he doesn't need to throw every pass 100 mph as the Buckeyes roll through the Big Ten.
Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Borland , LB, Wisconsin Badgers . Badgers tackling machine is an explosive athlete who is a relentless problem for every offense.
Top newcomer: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. Gifted young QB fortunately has a talented batch of tight ends to rely on as he shoulders the program.
Coach of the Year: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern. The Wildcats keep taking steps forward year by year. This season they become a steady presence in the Top 25 thanks to a fast offense.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Pat Narduzzi, DC, Michigan State. He cranks out one great defense after another year after year. His time has come, although don't be surprised if Buckeyes OC Tom Herman gets offers too as Urban's latest protege becomes a hot commodity.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Tim Beckman, Illinois Fighting Illini . He got off to a brutal start. I think he'll survive it, but he can't afford another slow start.
Most intriguing conference game: Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 30
Most intriguing nonconference game: Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 7
Bold conference prediction: A conference that used to be the Big Two (Michigan and Ohio State) and everyone else suddenly is looking like it's back to the old days as both keep piling up wins and reeling in blue-chippers.
Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State. Unless Michigan's Devin Gardner or Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez make sizable jumps in 2013, this is a one-man race. With Miller already an elite runner, Ohio State plans to expand his passing capabilities this season.
Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin. The first-team All-Big Ten player has 41.5 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks and 13 forced fumbles in his career. And here's the thing -- he could have more freedom for playmaking as an inside linebacker in Gary Andersen's 3-4 scheme.
Top newcomer: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. Hackenberg's pedigree as the nation's top quarterback recruit in 2013, coupled with Bill O'Brien's history of success coaching the position, should provide a few banner moments for the Nittany Lions. Throwing to receiver Allen Robinson doesn't hurt, either.
Coach of the year: Bo Pelini, Nebraska. Pelini has been one of the best September and October coaches in the country but can't avoid curious duds in November. The law of averages says he will experience a consistent season in Year 6.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State. He's well-respected by his coaching peers and captains an always-tough Spartans D. He wouldn't be a sexy hire for a BCS-level school, but he would be a good one.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Kevin Wilson, Indiana Hoosiers . Kirk Ferentz's contract makes him virtually unfireable, and Illinois' Tim Beckman might get a three-year leash. With 19 starters returning, Wilson needs at least a bowl appearance to survive.
Most intriguing conference game: Ohio State at Northwestern, Oct. 5. Sorry, Ohio State-Michigan, but why wait until late November for the key matchup when Ohio State playing in Evanston is a sneaky good game -- as in, the Wildcats could thwart the Buckeyes' national title hopes. Don't be surprised if both teams are undefeated entering this game.
Most intriguing nonconference game: Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 7. The Irish and Wolverines catch each other at the perfect time. Both have talent but still need to discover what that talent means at several positions. The Irish's defensive line battling Michigan's front will be entertaining.
Bold conference prediction: Northwestern upsets Ohio State at Ryan Field. Michigan is in the national title picture until the Ohio State game. Eight Big Ten teams finish with a .500 record or better.
* - Conference champion.
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