Five fearless predictions
Five fearless predictions for the Big Ten season (don't forget, games start today):
1. Iowa and Ohio State will share the Big Ten title. Sorry Michigan fans, your Wolverines will be better but not quite good enough to earn a piece of the crown. Ohio State still has the most talent in the conference, and Iowa has a great schedule. Iowa wins when it hosts OSU Sept. 30, but loses three weeks later to Michigan. The Buckeyes then run the table and beat the Wolverines in November.
2. The Big Ten gets two teams in the BCS, again. The new BCS rules have made it more likely that a mid-major team like Utah or TCU sneaks into the five-game finale, but the Big Ten still has enough sway to send two teams for big paydays. Iowa wins the conference and gets the automatic bid, and OSU gets an at-large. Unfortunately, neither gets an invite to the championship game, which is reserved for USC and Miami.
3. Michigan will win 10 games this year. An early-season victory at Notre Dame should get folks off Lloyd Carr's back. The only thing keeping the Wolverines from the Big Ten title will be road losses to Penn State and Ohio State. That's still good enough for a trip to the Capital One Bowl, where the Wolverines will lose to Florida.
4. Michigan State will win eight games this year. OK, so I'm including a bowl victory, but that's good enough to get John L. Smith a three-year contract extension. With two Big Ten teams in the BCS and a jumbled mess in the middle, MSU's bowl suitors will include the Alamo, Champs Sports and Insight bowls. They wind up in Orlando, playing three days before Michigan, where they beat Steve Spurrier and South Carolina.
5. Joe Paterno finally steps down as Penn State coach. Paterno turns a sprightly 80 in December, and while he could conceivably coach another five or so years he decides to hand the reigns over to a successor of his choosing. Penn State closes the regular season with a home game (against MSU) and the Nittany Lions appear to be back atop the mountain with another fine season and plenty of young talent on the way. It's a big loss for college football, but the bright side is no other coach in the Big Ten loses his job after the season.