Christopher Smith

Kickoff Countdown: 2013 Bold Predictons

Created on Aug. 26, 2013 2:58 PM EST

2013 Bold Predictions: Big Ten

The Picks

Division Champs: Ohio State (Leaders), Nebraska (Legends)
Conference Champ: Ohio State, despite scares in Ann Arbor and Evanston (Northwestern), eventually take the Big Ten Conference in a shootout against Taylor Martinez and Nebraska.
Top Heisman Candidate: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Offensive Player Of The Year: Miller
Defensive Player Of The Year: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State. Two other linebackers, Michigan State's Max Bullough and Wisconsin's Chris Borland, won't be far behind Shazier.
Coach Of The Year: Urban Meyer, Ohio State. Penn State's Bill O'Brien took Coach of the Year honors in 2012. Now it's Meyer's turn to be in the spotlight after his team arguably was robbed of a spot in the national title game due to the previous regime's NCAA violations.
Biggest Upset: Northwestern over Michigan. On Nov. 16, the Wildcats will host the Wolverines, who should still be in the hunt for the Leaders Division and the Big Ten. Northwestern will dash their hopes and avenge last year's 38-31 overtime loss in Ann Arbor.
Emerging Star: Adrian Amos, S, Penn State. In the spirit of trying to name someone on absolutely no one's radar, Amos was a solid cornerback for Penn State last season. However, a move to safety will highlight his ability to offer support in the run game and to ball hawk from sideline to sideline. 
Game Of The Year: Ohio State at Michigan
Biggest Disappointment: Penn State. The Nittany Lions lost their veteran quarterback, Matt McGloin, and top defensive players Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, to the NFL. Their replacements are greener than Beaver Stadium's field. Despite a lot of talent at skill positions, Penn State could have a losing season.
Coach On The Hottest Seat: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa. Ferentz signed a 10-year contract extension after the Hawkeyes won their first nine games of the 2009 season and won the Orange Bowl. That contract pays Ferentz at least $3.5 million every season, making Ferentz one of the highest-paid coaches in the NCAA. However, the Hawkeyes went 4-8 last season, just 2-6 in the conference and lack the most important thing in college athletics: talent. While Iowa would owe Ferentz a $15 million buyout if they fired him following the season, they might be forced to if the Hawkeyes flop again.

A Six Pack Of Bold Big Ten Predictions

1. Penn State's Allan Robinson goes from big-play threat to just another receiver without McGloin.

2. Rumors start to swirl in October that Ferentz is on the chopping block, which finally happens in November.

3. Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard and Bullough each pick off Taylor Martinez on Nov. 2, but an inept Spartans offense can't pull off the upset.

4. Michigan's Devin Gardner emerges as a huge offensive star and picks apart Notre Dame's dominant defense on Sept. 7, making it the Big Ten's biggest out-of-conference upset.

5. The Indiana Hoosiers make it to a bowl game and win with a high-powered offense and another year of experience on defense.

6. Wisconsin already will have lost one Big Ten game before its Week 5 battle at Ohio State. Yes, the Badgers will lose in a sloppy game to the Purdue Boilermakers in Week 4.

Compiled by Big Ten contributor Shawn Annarelli.

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