The Big Ten will take its turn in the preseason spotlight Monday and Tuesday in Chicago when its players and coaches will make the rounds at the Marriott speaking to the assembled members of the media.
There are burning questions throughout the conference, which didn't place a team in the College Football Playoff for the first time since its inception in 2014. Scott Frost came over to help rebuild Nebraska, Jim Harbaugh needs to come through with a big season at Michigan, and Penn State and Ohio State are monsters that cast big shadows over the league.
What should you keep an eye on?
1. Does Michigan have its perfect recipe? In case you've been sleeping under a rock, you've heard about the Shea Patterson saga by now. Harbaugh convinced him to transfer from Ole Miss, and the majority of the offseason conversations centered around Michigan's quest to get him eligible after he bailed from Oxford amid NCAA sanctions. Now that he's ready to go, what does Harbaugh expect out of Patterson? Is there a real battle among he, Dylan McCaffrey, Brandon Peters and others? What do other coaches know about Patterson? In such a critical year for Harbaugh, quarterback questions seem to be the annual talking point with the Wolverines.
2. Frost Advisory: What does an undefeated season at UCF earn you? If you're Scott Frost, a one-way ticket to Lincoln to take over the fledgling program you once played for. Frost is back with Nebraska, hoping to kickstart the Cornhuskers after Mike Riley couldn't get the job done. With his high-octane, tempo-based offense in tow, can he bring excitement back to the program? There aren't as many road blocks in the Big Ten West as there are in the East, so the timetable for Frost to get things cranked up should be accelerated if he's as good as advertised.
3. Is Dwayne Haskins the real deal? Ohio State's quarterback battle to replace J.T. Barrett came to a quick close this spring, when Haskins was tabbed as the man. That ultimately led Joe Burrow to head to LSU as a graduate transfer, making it Haskins' job unless something strange happens. How good is Haskins, really? He threw for 565 yards, four touchdowns and one interception last year, and he stepped in for an injured Barrett last year to lead a comeback over Michigan. But what is he like with the spotlight on him? How will coach Urban Meyer tweak his offense to fit Haskins' strengths? Is he capable of the kind of season that could draw the attention of NFL folks?
4. Can Penn State contend post-Saquon? Penn State was a monster the last two seasons with Saquon Barkley leading the charge as one of the nation's top running backs. But with Barkley -- along with several other former Nittany Lions stars -- off to the NFL, does Penn State take a step back? Coach James Franklin has the luxury of getting star quarterback Trace McSorley back, Miles Sanders in to help soften the blow from Barkley's departure and depth up front on both sides that has taken a while to develop. With the buzz around Michigan, Ohio State and Frost's arrival, Franklin's squad seems to be flying under the radar. How does that sit with Franklin? Is that a blessing for the Nittany Lions?
5. Big Ten Power: Coaches will always say that their conference is the best in the country this time of year, but it's pretty easy to tell if they actually mean it. The Big Ten coaches might actually mean it this year. The Big Ten East is a monster with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan, and the West boasts a Wisconsin team that was within a few minutes of the College Football Playoff last year. Throw in the always-dangerous Northwestern, Frost's upside at Nebraska and a competitive Purdue (yes, you read that correctly) under Jeff Brohm, and there might be a lot of chest-pounding going on inside the Marriott this week.