Ohio State, Michigan on collision course in Big Ten college football

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We’re 221 days (and counting) until Michigan travels to Ohio State in search of a second straight series win, something the Wolverines haven’t done since. 1999-2000.

The Big Ten’s biggest rivalry has taken center stage again as the biggest in all of college football. Seven months from now, the Buckeyes and Wolverines look destined to play for the East Division again, a berth in the conference championship and a possible College Football Playoff berth.

There’s depth in the Big Ten, including one or two other teams — Penn State, maybe one from Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State — with preseason ambitions to take on. account the race for the playoffs.

But all eyes are on OSU and Michigan. The Buckeyes and Wolverines lead the spring power rankings for the Big Ten.

1. Ohio State (2021 record: 11-2)

The Buckeyes will have options at running back. The clear starter is second TreVeyon Henderson, who went for 1,255 yards and 15 scores in 2021. His replacement, Miyan Williams (507 yards), had over 100 rushing yards in the recent spring game and should see more 100 touches during the regular season. And coach Ryan Day will try to find a role for redshirt freshman Evan Pryor, who played sparingly in 2021 but had a good spring.

2. Michigan (12-2)

Unlike nearly every other team in the Big Ten and beyond, Michigan didn’t dive deep into the transfer portal to rebuild a loss-decimated defense in graduation and in the NFL. (Only two of the nine players to record two sacks in 2021 are back.) Additionally, the Wolverines will have a new defensive coordinator in former Vanderbilt assistant Jesse Minter, who has similar coaching experience to the former UM coordinator Mike Macdonald.

3. Penn State (7-6)

The stars of a top-notch recruiting class have arrived on campus in time for spring drills and are expected to factor into the playing time debate in September. Five-star running back Nick Singleton joins survivors Keyvone Lee and Devyn Ford as Penn State looks to bolster last year’s nonexistent running game. (Another freshman, Kaytron Allen, is also in the mix.) At quarterback, five-star signee Drew Allar has a narrower path to a major role with senior Sean Clifford seemingly entrenched in the starting job. .

4. Iowa (10-4)

Spencer Petras is expected to remain as Iowa’s starting quarterback. But the Hawkeyes will take another look this offseason at junior Alex Padilla, who has made three starts in 2021, and could even open up competition to a third redshirt freshman contender Joey Labas. While pedestrian quarterback play didn’t stop Iowa from adding another Western Division championship last season, the offense needs more than 6.2 yards per attempt and just over hits than interceptions.

5. Wisconsin (9-4)

Three experienced transfers, including two from the Power Five, will help Wisconsin retool at cornerback. Jay Shaw comes from UCLA after earning second-team all-conference honors in 2021. Cedrick Dort has made 25 starts and played in 44 games at Kentucky. Transfer from Toledo and seventh-year senior Justin Clark has played 41 games and made four interceptions.

6. Michigan State (11-2)

The Badgers have also lost a player on the transfer portal who is expected to play an important role for a Big Ten rival. After playing three games last season, former Wisconsin running back Jalen Berger is the early favorite to replace Doak Walker Award-winning Kenneth Walker III as the nation’s top guard. No less than four other contenders are in the mix, including last year’s main replacement Jordon Simmons.

POWER RANKINGS: CCA | Big 12

7. Minnesota (9-4)

Both lines are due to be rebuilt after another very successful season under coach PJ Fleck. The offensive front brings back just one starter, sixth-year senior center John Michael Schmitz, but Fleck added a pair of high-impact transfers to Quinn Carroll (Notre Dame) and Chuck Filiaga (Michigan). Among the returning linemen, senior Nathan Boe has played 15 games with two starts in his last two seasons, and second Aireontae Ersery has made a start in 2020.

8. Nebraska (3-9)

A late staffing shuffle led to a change in direction on offense and breathed some life into the Cornhuskers’ recruiting efforts. After reworking his contract following three wins, coach Scott Frost handed most of the attacking control to new coordinator Mark Whipple. New receivers coach and former LSU assistant Mickey Joseph has already relied on his connections in Louisiana to rebuild his room. Running backs coach Bryan Applewhite takes over a room with no proven options but plenty of competition.

9. Maryland (7-6)

The same starting offensive line from last year’s Pinstripe Bowl win took first-team snaps in the spring, and that increased experience up front will help Maryland bolster its pass protection. A cleaner pocket should draw even more production from quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who finished with 3,860 yards in 2021 and will have an even busier receiving room at his disposal. Another benefit of this continuity will be fewer offensive penalties: Maryland averaged 6.7 penalties per game last season, good for 85th nationally and 13th in the Big Ten.

10. Purdue (9-4)

Purdue senior Aidan O’Connell didn’t have to do much this spring as the only debate over the Boilermakers quarterback situation was in which of the few contenders would play as the backup pick. title of all conferences. Outside of Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, there’s no longer a proven passer in the Big Ten. O’Connell sparked a nine-game winning season by throwing 21 touchdowns to just three interceptions in Purdue’s last six games. Barring a big year from Nebraska’s Casey Thompson, who traded from Texas, O’Connell is a sure pick to repeat with all-conference playoff honors.

11. Rutgers (5-8)

Are the Scarlet Knights ready to take the next step? Last year’s team, the second of Greg Schiano’s second term, snuck into the Gator Bowl as a late replacement for Texas A&M. Achieving six or more wins in 2022 will require some improvement at quarterback, with Noah Vedral likely to remain the starter for the third straight year. There will also be tough decisions to be made at running back, where Rutgers are auditioning a large group to replace Isaih Pacheco, and at linebacker, where the defense lost four of the top tacklers last year.

12. Northwest (3-9)

With only one rusher established on the senior roster Adetomiwa Adebawore, the Wildcats have turned to the transfer portal to bolster last year’s putrid pass rush and run the defense. Stanford transfer Ryan Johnson has 16 tackles in 2021. Former Massachusetts inside lineman Taishan Holmes is expected to contribute on first downs. Coming from the ranks of the Football Championship Subdivision, Indiana State transfer Henrik Barndt brings 14 career starts to the table.

13. Illinois (5-7)

Stability at skill positions isn’t a bad thing — Illinois brings a handful of proven contributors to coach Bret Bielema’s second season, including wide receiver Isaiah Williams and running backs Chase Brown, Joshua McCray and Reggie Love III. There will be a new offensive coordinator in former Texas-San Antonio assistant Barry Lunney Jr., however, and the Illini still have to make a decision at quarterback between Artur Sitkowski and Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito.

14. Indiana (2-10)

After giving up 5.7 yards per snap in Big Ten play, the Hoosiers overhauled the defensive front seven with six Power Five transfers. Up front, Indiana landed a strong starter in California transfer JH Tevis, who earned honorable mention all conference honors in 2021, and added depth with Mississippi transfers Patrick Lucas and LeDarrius Cox. At linebacker, UCLA transfer Myles Jackson is unproven but has potential as a rusher, senior Bradley Jennings has played 35 games with 11 starts in Miami, Florida, and second Jared Casey has made great promise in two years in Kentucky.

Follow college reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

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