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Big Ten spotlight: Farrell's title pick, bold predictions

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

Football season is finally upon us and with that it’s time to break down each Power Five conference and make some bold predictions. Today we start with the Big Ten.

TAKE TWO: Was Urban Meyer's suspension the right penalty?

Paul Chryst
Paul Chryst (AP Images)

Big Ten West Champion: Wisconsin. I still don’t like the Badgers' quarterback situation, but with that offensive line, Jonathan Taylor and a very good defense, who else is going to win the West? Wisconsin could run the table, but road games at Iowa, Michigan and Penn State will be tough.

Big Ten East Champion: Ohio State. I really went out on a limb on this one as well, huh? The Buckeyes will rally around Urban Meyer, have the most talent by far in the conference and will make the playoff again.

Big Ten Champion: Ohio State. The Buckeyes will be playoff-bound and they could compete for the national title if they get quality quarterback play. This is a dangerous football team with a great mix of experience and youthful stars.

Coach of the Year: Paul Chryst, Wisconsin. Will he win it again? He will. I’m tempted to say Scott Frost or Kirk Ferentz because Nebraska will see great improvement and Iowa could be a sleeper in the West, but I’ll stick with Chryst.

Scott Frost
Scott Frost (AP Images)

Hot Seat City: Lovie Smith, Illinois. There aren’t many coaches on the Hot Seat in the Big Ten, so I’ll go with Smith over Chris Ash just because Ash has a slightly longer deal. Illinois is 5-19 under Smith and 2-16 in conference and the Illini are expected to finish last in the conference this year. Does that mean he gets fired? I doubt it, but after this season things could get ugly if they don’t surprise. I don’t see any Big Ten coach getting fired aside from possibly D.J. Durkin at Maryland for many issues, but Smith needs to win soon.

Biggest Surprise: Iowa. I like the offense, but there are some question marks on defense. Still, Iowa makes a surprise run at the Big Ten West. Ferentz is a good coach, albeit conservative, and Nate Stanley and Noah Fant lead a solid offense. The key will be the defense but the Hawkeyes step up to the task.

Biggest Disappointment: Michigan. There are a lot of expectations surrounding Michigan and quarterback Shea Patterson, but I see a fourth place finish in the division behind Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State. I had the Wolverines as my team that was “a year away” last year but I’m not sure they take the next step.

As Expected: Rutgers. A true freshman quarterback and a roster not loaded with talent could lead to another losing season. In fact, the Scarlet Knights could take a step back from last year's 4-8 mark. Only Illinois is expected to be worse, although Maryland won’t be good either.

A Year Away: Michigan. Again I will say Michigan is a year away because it will eventually break through. The coaching staff, especially defensive coordinator Don Brown, is good and the roster keeps adding talent. The Wolverines have to eventually win their division, right?

Building for the Future: Nebraska. Scott Frost can coach them up, he gets more out of players than many coaches do and he will recruit players that fit his system. It won’t be right away, but look for improvement this season and continued improvement over the next few years.

Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor (AP Images)

Conference Offensive MVP: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin. Who’s going to stop Taylor if he stays healthy? He could easily top 2,000 yards and dominate the conference once again especially with the Badgers' offensive line.

Conference Defensive MVP: Devin Bush, Michigan. Bush is a whirlwind and covers so much space he should dominate and lead the conference in tackles. His instincts are also off the charts and he will be the key to the Michigan defense.

Best NFL Prospect: Nick Bosa, Ohio State. Bosa is a freak and could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s a great year nationally for defensive linemen and Rashan Gary from Michigan could also be a top five pick, but Bosa gets the nod here.

True Freshman of the Year: Adrian Martinez, Nebraska. There will be bumps and bruises and lots of teachable moments, but I like this kid a lot and I think he has a very good freshman year. He’s the day one starter at quarterback and has some weapons around him, so a good season isn’t out of the question.

Breakout Player: Miles Sanders, Penn State. Saquon Barkley is gone and Sanders will try to fill his big shoes. He won’t be as dynamic, but he’s a very good back who can also impact in the passing game. He has a big season.