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2022 Big Ten Preview


(Mandatory Photo Credit: Don Speck / The Lima News)


Written By: Joseph Yun


The Big Ten is under renovation as they shook the very foundations of college football by adding USC and UCLA for 2024. There are disquieting rumors that they aren't done realizing their immense power. Last season was a whirlwind as perennial superpower Ohio State fell from grace. Michigan shocked the world with a playoff appearance after years of being under OSU's seemingly eternal dominion. Who will win the duel for the ever-topsy-turvy West? Can the Wolverines repeat their good fortune in 2022 with a new cast? We all know Iowa is going to Iowa.


In case you missed the previous previews, they will be linked below:


EAST


Sept 2 (Fri.) HOME vs. Illinois (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Idaho (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. Western Kentucky (L)

Sept 24 AWAY @ Cincinnati (L)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Nebraska (W)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Michigan (L)

Oct 15 HOME vs. Maryland (L)

Oct 22 AWAY @ Rutgers (W)

Oct 29 BYE

Nov 5 HOME vs. Penn State (L)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Ohio State (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Michigan State (L)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Purdue (W)


Predicted Record: 5-7


- Tom Allen’s men need a bounce-back season in the worst way after a putrid 2-10 campaign in 2021. The schedule offers some relief with the non-conference slate offering a retooling Cincy, a potent WKU, and two relative patsies. November will be anti-climatic as it’s brutal as it gets with three consecutive dates against the Eastern division powerhouses. The Hoosiers could potentially go winless in that month. Offensively, most of the cadre returns alongside transfers such as Emery Simmons (UNC) and Cam Camper (JUCO) to help the receiver room. DJ Matthews returns as an intriguing slot/returner prospect. Throw in running back transfers Shaun Shivers (Auburn) and Trey Henderson (UNC) to lead the ground attack and Allen has something cooking. Defensively, they will be led up front by a trio of transfers in JH Tevis (Cal), LeDarrius Cox (Ole Miss), and Myles Jackson (UCLA) along with linebacker Bradley Jennings, Jr (Miami). Keep an eye out for Tiawan Mullen to make some noise on the draft front as he’s the younger brother of former Clemson corner Trayvon. There’s enough talent on hand to fight for bowl eligibility even if the schedule gets rough (which it undoubtedly will). Key swing dates will be against Rutgers and Nebraska.


Maryland (@TerpsFootball)


Sept 3 HOME vs. Buffalo (W)

Sept 10 AWAY @ Charlotte (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. SMU (W)

Sept 24 AWAY @ Michigan (L)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Michigan State (L)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Purdue (W)

Oct 15 AWAY @ Indiana (W)

Oct 22 HOME vs. Northwestern (W)

Oct 29 BYE

Nov 5 AWAY @ Wisconsin (L)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Penn State (L)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Ohio State (L)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Rutgers (L)


Predicted Record: 6-6


- The Terrapins are a long-dormant program that could use a jolt to get things going in the right direction. Mike Locksley enters his fourth season with a losing record in College Park. Maryland probably has the most intriguing quarterback-wide receiver combo in the nation. Taulia Tagovailoa returns with a pair of potential early-round draft selections in Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus. Running back Colby McDonald will look to replace the production of Tayon Fleet-Davis (who’s trying to make the loaded Chiefs roster). Jacob Copeland (Florida) and Corey Dyches will get the first chance to replace the current Titans camp standout Chig Okonkwo. Defensively, they have to replace Nick Cross (who’s reportedly getting high marks in Indianapolis.). The stop unit will be led by Ami Finau and Mosiah Nasili-Kite with Liberty transfer Henry Chibueze up front. Former Alabama transfer Vandarius Cowan returns for another go as well. Don’t get me wrong but it will be the passing attack that has to carry the water for this team. The non-conference slate is quite manageable but the closing stretch is just not fun. Expect a duel to the wire in order to achieve bowl eligibility. October is an absolute got-to-have-it month to get there. Going to Ann Arbor, Madtown, and State College is a tough ask for any team, let alone a team that’s still rebuilding like the Terps. It will be a fun watch at least.



Michigan (@UMichFootball)


Sept 3 HOME vs. Colorado State (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Hawai’i (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. UCONN (W)

Sept 24 HOME vs. Maryland (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Iowa (L)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Indiana (W)

Oct 15 HOME vs. Penn State (L)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 29 HOME vs. Michigan State (W)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Rutgers (W)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Nebraska (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Illinois (W)

Nov 26 AWAY @ “The Game” (L)


Predicted Record: 9-3


- The defending conference champions lost several high-profile draft selections including Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo, Dax Hill, and Hassan Haskins. Not to mention key losses such as Chris Hinton and Donovan Jeter. Michigan does return a majority of its offensive production including the now healthy Ronnie Bell and runner Blake Corum. The quarterback battle is raging between incumbent Cade McNamara and noted backup J.J. McCarthy. Defensively is where they take the biggest hits, losing the aforementioned pieces. October will be a key stretch as they travel to Kinnick but host Penn State and Michigan State. November is a touch more feasible outside of The Game in which Ohio State will be out for vengeance. Can the Wolverines repeat their run to Indianapolis while the defense coalesces? The non-conference slate is very easy to navigate. Jim Harbaugh will have to continue to shed his label of being noncompetitive against their chief rivals. Expect a bit of regression after such an exhilarating campaign last season.


Michigan State (@MSU_Football)


Sept 2 (Fri.) HOME vs. Western Michigan (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Akron (W)

Sept 17 AWAY @ Washington (L)

Sept 24 HOME vs. Minnesota (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Maryland (W)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Ohio State (L)

Oct 15 HOME vs. Wisconsin (W)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 29 AWAY @ Michigan (L)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Illinois (W)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Rutgers (L)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Indiana (W)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Penn State (L)


Predicted Record: 7-5


- Mel Tucker enters his third season in East Lansing with a team looking to compete for the East title with a somewhat depleted roster. The Spartans’ fate will be largely determined in October with key games against three consecutive Big Ten powerhouses on top of contender Maryland. Interestingly, both Michigan and State will be coming off bye weeks before playing each other. Both Ohio State and Wisconsin will have to travel to MSU though. November will be much more manageable for Tucker with only one quality opponent. OOC slate deviates from fun (Washington) to meh (Akron). Personnel-wise, quarterback Payton Thorne returns with receivers, Jayden Reed and Keon Coleman. In an effort to replace the uber-talented and current Seahawk runner Kenneth Walker III, they brought in Colorado transfer Jarek Broussard (who Tucker coached at CU) and former Wisconsin back Jalen Berger. Tight end Daniel Barker comes in from Illinois to replace Steelers hybrid TE / FB Connor Heyward. Defensively, they brought in linebackers Jacoby Windmon (UNLV) and Aaron Brule (Miss State) alongside EDGE Khris Bogle (Florida). Cornerback Ameer Speed comes in from Georgia. Seven wins are the bare minimum for this group with the potential for more should they escape unscathed through October.


Ohio State (@OhioStateFB)


Sept 3 HOME vs. Notre Dame (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Arkansas State (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. Toledo (W)

Sept 24 HOME vs. Wisconsin (W)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Rutgers (W)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Michigan State (W)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 HOME vs. Iowa (W)

Oct 29 AWAY @ Penn State (W)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Northwestern (W)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Indiana (W)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Maryland (W)

Nov 26 HOME vs. “The Game” (W)


Predicted Record: 12-0


- The Buckeyes have an argument for being the most talented team in all the land, much less the conference. They do have to replace key figures such as Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Jeremy Ruckert, and Haskell Garrett. To offset the losses of Wilson and Olave, they return the preeminent Biletnikoff favorite Jaxon Smith-Ngjiba, Marvin Harrison, Jr, and Emeka Egbuka. Star runner Treyveon Henderson returns as well. The point man for this wondrous offense, C.J. Stroud will likely be a top ten selection if not top five if he has the season many are projecting. The talent is massively stacked up front in the form of J.T. Tuimoloau, Taron Vincent, Jack Harrison, and Jack Sawyer. Linebackers Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers, and Terejda Mitchell roam the middle. The secondary was a weak point last season but got plenty of experience so they should be better. Ohio State’s schedule is extremely favorable and they should win every one with ease. Notre Dame and Wisconsin in September are highlights of course. October shouldn’t be too strenuous but road trips to Penn State and Michigan State await. Ryan Day should have yet another national title contender on his hands.


Penn State (@PennStateFBall)


Sept 1 (Thurs.) AWAY @ Purdue (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Ohio (W)

Sept 17 AWAY @ Auburn (L)

Sept 24 HOME vs. Central Michigan (W)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Northwestern (W)

Oct 8 BYE

Oct 15 AWAY @ Michigan (W)

Oct 22 HOME vs. Minnesota (L)

Oct 29 HOME vs. Ohio State (L)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Indiana (W)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Maryland (W)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Rutgers (W)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Michigan State (W)


Predicted Record: 9-3


- Penn State has some reloading to do, especially on the defensive side after a litany of Nittany Lions defenders left for the pros. Rookies like Jesse Luketa, Arnold Ebiketie, Jaquan Brisker, and Tariq Castro-Fields. Offensively, they lost star receiver Jahan Dotson and lineman Rasheed Walker. However, it's not all bad news as quarterback Sean Clifford returns. Mitchell Tinsley, Parker Washington, and KeAndre Lambert-Smith will attempt to replicate the lost production of Dotson as a trio. Adisa Isaac, Nick Tarburton, PJ Mustipher, and Curtis Jacobs are the core front seven members returning. Joey Porter, Jr is the big name to watch on the defensive side and could be an early-round selection. PSU returns the favor to Auburn by traveling to The Plains in late September. October will be an interesting month as they play both Michigan and Ohio State. November should relatively easy with three inferior opponents and a tough out in Michigan State. Outside of the trip to Auburn, the other two non-conference games are easily winnable if they don’t mess it up. With the right breaks, the Nittany Lions should be in the nine to ten win range.


Rutgers (@RFootball)


Sept 3 AWAY @ Boston College (L)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Wagner (W)

Sept 17 AWAY @ Temple (W)

Sept 24 HOME vs. Iowa (L)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Ohio State (L)

Oct 7 (Fri.) HOME vs. Nebraska (L)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 HOME vs. Indiana (L)

Oct 29 AWAY @ Minnesota (L)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Michigan (L)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Michigan State (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Penn State (L)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Maryland (W)


Predicted Record: 4-8


- Greg Schiano’s return to Piscataway has been relatively good given the state of the program after his initial departure. He’s imported a ton of transfers such as WR Sean Ryan (UCLA), WR Taj Harris (Syracuse), OT Willie Tyler (Iowa Western CC), OG Curtis Dunlap, Jr (Minnesota), and DB Rani Abdulaziz (Central Connecticut). Which has efficiently upgraded the depth issues encountered by the Scarlet Knights in years past. Former Wisconsin receiver Aron Cruickshank returns for yet another season. Running back Kyle Monangai gets the first shot at replacing the ultra-athletic Isaih Pacheco (who’s battling for a spot with the Chiefs). Defensively, safety Avery Young is the name to watch for draft prospects. The non-conference portion is easy enough to take two of three. However, November might be a winless month if the breaks don’t go their way. October will need to be a winning month if they want to compete for bowl eligibility this season. Do come back in 2023 if they made any tangible progress.


WEST

Illinois (@IlliniFootball)


Aug 27 HOME vs. Wyoming (W)

Sept 2 (Fri.) AWAY @ Indiana (L)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Virginia (L)

Sept 17 BYE

Sept 22 (Thurs.) UT-Chattanooga (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Wisconsin (L)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Iowa (L)

Oct 15 HOME vs. Minnesota (L)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 29 AWAY @ Nebraska (L)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Michigan State (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Purdue (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Michigan (L)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Northwestern (L)


Predicted Record: 2-10


- Head coach Bret Bielema enters his second season with the Illini, still struggling to cobble together an effective program. Where are the wins coming from with the daunting gauntlet of a schedule? The non-conference slate features two of its likely three or four wins. October isn’t going to be fun at all in Champaign with the three Western powers looming. November might be a slog as well with two Eastern contenders and a game Purdue squad. It’s going to be a long and brutally tough march to the end of the season for the Illini. Check back in 2023 for any semblance of progression.



Sept 3 HOME vs. South Dakota State (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Iowa State (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. Nevada (W)

Sept 24 AWAY @ Rutgers (W)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Michigan (W)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Illinois (W)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 AWAY @ Ohio State (L)

Oct 29 HOME vs. Northwestern (W)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Purdue (W)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Wisconsin (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Minnesota (W)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Nebraska (W)


Predicted Record: 10-2


- The Hawkeyes return a good chunk of their production from last season’s team, including quarterback Spencer Petras. They do have a ready-made replacement for Tyler Goodson in runner Gavin Williams. Tight end Sam LaPorta returns to do the heavy lifting for Petras as well. Someone has the unenviable task of having to replace current Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum. Defensively, linebacker Jack Campbell and cornerback Riley Moss are the big names to watch in terms of NFL-ready prospects. Iowa has the talent, coaching, and relatively easy schedule to make a return trip to Indianapolis. The race will go down to the wire for the eternal Kirk Ferentz and his men. September will likely be an undefeated month while November will go a long way to determining the division. Western rival Wisconsin has to come to Kinnick this season. A road trip to the Twin Cities could prove to be problematic following the aforementioned duel with the Badgers. Will 2022 be another typical Iowa season or something more?


Minnesota (@GopherFootball)


Sept 1 (Thurs.) HOME vs. New Mexico State (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Western Illinois (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. Colorado (W)

Sept 24 AWAY @ Michigan State (L)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Purdue (W)

Oct 8 BYE

Oct 15 AWAY @ Illinois (W)

Oct 22 AWAY @ Penn State (W)

Oct 29 HOME vs. Rutgers (W)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Nebraska (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Northwestern (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Iowa (L)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Wisconsin (L)


Predicted Record: 8-4


- The Golden Gophers are well positioned to be that sleeper team in the West to compete for the division thanks to a quartet of super seniors. A group led by QB Tanner Morgan, RB Mohamed Ibrahim, WR Chris Autman-Bell, and TE Brevyn Spann-Ford. Yes, they do have to replace the production of EDGE Boye Mafe but they have waves of veterans to throw at the position. Veterans like Thomas Rush and Jah Joyner. Offensively, they have former Notre Dame transfer tackle, Quinn Carroll, to replace the outgoing big mountain man Daniel Faalele. John Michael Schmitz could be the next Big Ten center that garners significant praise during the draft cycle. September and October could be prosperous months but a hefty dual road trip to East Lansing and Happy Valley looms. November will be a tough ask with two of the West powers on the calendar. While the Gophers likely won’t win the division, they will probably make the race fun at least.


Nebraska (@HuskerFBNation)


Aug 27 Neutral vs. Northwestern (Dublin, Ireland) (W)

Sept 3 HOME vs. North Dakota (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Georgia Southern (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. Oklahoma (L)

Sept 24 BYE

Oct 1 HOME vs. Indiana (L)

Oct 7 (Fri.) AWAY @ Rutgers (W)

Oct 15 AWAY @ Purdue (L)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 29 HOME vs. Illinois (W)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Minnesota (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Michigan (L)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Wisconsin (L)

Nov 25 (Fri.) AWAY @ Iowa (L)


Predicted Record: 6-6


- Scott Frost needs a big 2022 campaign in order to rescue his sinking coaching stock. The Cornhuskers lost several key pieces to the NFL such as OL Cam Jurgens, CB Cam Taylor-Britt, and EDGE JoJo Domann. They do have several transfers to fill in the gaps like WR Trey Palmer (LSU), WR Marcus Washington (Texas), OL Kevin Williams, Jr (Northern Colorado), and EDGE Ochaun Mathis (TCU). Palmer, Washington, and returnee Omar Manning will be expected to make up for the loss of Samari Toure who was great last season despite a litany of offensive issues. Nebraska did lose Adrian Martinez to the portal but brought in former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson to replace him. Defensively, they have to get markedly better to even get anywhere near the infamous Blackshirt days of yore. Safety Myles Farmer is the name to watch on that side of the ball. The schedule is pretty manageable early on with a fantastically brutal finish in store. It’s entirely possible that November could be a winless month with Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa to close. Still, there are enough wins on the schedule to get the Huskers to bowl eligibility. Can a .500 season save Frost from the unemployment line after years of not delivering on his immense promise?


Northwestern (@NUFBFamily)


Aug 27 Neutral vs. Nebraska (Dublin, Ireland) (L)

Spet 3 BYE

Sept 10 HOME vs. Duke (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. Southern Illinois (W)

Sept 24 HOME vs. Miami (OH) (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Penn State (L)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Wisconsin (L)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 AWAY @ Maryland (L)

Oct 29 AWAY @ Iowa (L)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Ohio State (L)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Minnesota (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Purdue (W)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Illinois (W)


Predicted Record: 5-7


- Pat Fitzgerald’s program has been underperforming as of late relative to program standards and coaching reputation. They did not lose anyone of significance to the NFL this draft cycle so that’s good news. At the very least, they will expect to compete for bowl eligibility given that the schedule is pretty light early. Key swing games will be against Nebraska in Dublin, Purdue, and Illinois. The Wildcats brought in several transfers such as Taishan Holmes (UMASS), Henrik Barndt (Indiana State), and Wendell Davis, Jr (Pitt). Another transfer, Ryan Johnson of Stanford fame will be expected to start and contribute immediately on the perimeter. Quarterback Ryan Hilinksi returns after transferring in last season. Another prospect to keep an eye on is tackle Peter Skronski, who will likely project into the mid to late rounds with a solid season. Expect a bounce-back season in Evanston after a horrid 3-9 campaign last season.



Sept 1 (Thurs.) HOME vs. Penn State (L)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Indiana State (W)

Sept 17 AWAY @ Syracuse (L)

Sept 24 HOME vs. Florida Atlantic (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Minnesota (L)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Maryland (L)

Oct 15 HOME vs. Nebraska (W)

Oct 22 AWAY @ Wisconsin (L)

Oct 29 BYE

Nov 5 HOME vs. Iowa (L)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Illinois (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Northwestern (L)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Indiana (L)


Predicted Record: 4-8


- Can #BoilerUp keep the good times rolling after key losses like David Bell and George Karlaftis to the NFL ranks? The school that invented “Basketball on Grass” might be hard pressed to replicate numbers but they do have the talent to try. Talent like QB Aiden O’Connell and receivers Charlie Jones (Buffalo), TJ Sheffield, and Milton Wright. Defensively, Jack Sullivan has the unenviable task of trying to replace the aforementioned Karlaftis. DBs Corey Trice and Christopher Jefferson are the other names to watch during this draft cycle on the defense. The schedule is tough prior to the bye with road trips to Minnesota, Maryland, and Wisconsin in October along with opening up with Penn State. November lessens somewhat so it will be an important month if the Boilermakers want to fight for bowl eligibility. Purdue’s ceiling might be five wins best case scenario.


Wisconsin (@BadgerFootball)


Sept 3 HOME vs. Illinois State (W)

Sept 10 HOME vs. Washington State (W)

Sept 17 HOME vs. New Mexico State (W)

Sept 24 AWAY @ Ohio State (L)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Illinois (W)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Northwestern (W)

Oct 15 AWAY @ Michigan State (L)

Oct 22 HOME vs. Purdue (W)

Oct 29 BYE

Nov 5 HOME vs. Maryland (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Iowa (W)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Nebraska (W)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Minnesota (W)


Predicted Record: 10-2


- The Badgers are on target to return to their rightful place among the elites of the conference. They did lose some talents like Jack Sanborn, Kendric Pryor, Jake Ferguson, and Leo Chenal. It’s not like they are bereft of talent, either. Enigmatic and inconsistent quarterback Graham Merz returns to lead a receiver room that features Keontez Lewis (UCLA), Skyler Bell, and Dean Engram (son of Seahawks legend Bobby). As always, the offensive line is where some big prospects reside. Prospects such as Tyler Beach, Nolan Rucci, and Joe Tippmann. It’s not all bad news for the defense as it retains Keenau Benton and Nick Herbig to go along with transfers Jay Shaw (UCLA), Kamo’i Latu (Utah), and Cedrick Dort (Kentucky). The non-conference schedule is light on big competition. Playing Ohio State right off the bat might be a preview of things to come and a good litmus test for Paul Chryst’s men. October looks to be another comfortable winning month before having to face the other West contenders in November. Unfortunately, they do have to travel to Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Expect a tight division race to the wire with the Badgers.


East Champion: Ohio State


West Champion: Wisconsin


Conference Champion: OHIO STATE

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