While the Wisconsin Badgers were making an appearance in the Rose Bowl, following the 2012 season, Ohio State knew that at the very least it should have been them taking the field in Pasadena. After building a 12-0 record, the Buckeyes season came to an end with no postseason possibilities due to NCAA sanctions. Instead, they watch the Badgers make a default appearance in the conference championship game and then go on to the Rose Bowl.
Now that the sanctions are lifted, Urban Meyer has Ohio State going into the 2013 season with a chip on their shoulders. They were hands down the best team in the conference in 2012 and with key returners this fall they're more than happy to produce a repeat performance this fall and reap the benefits.
Quarterback Braxton Miller looks to have a larger role in the Heisman conversation after finishing fifth in the voting last season. He'll have four returning offensive linemen in front of him along with Carlos Hyde (970 rushing yards in 2012) and Devin Smith (20.6 yards per reception average in 2012) to help him guide the offense. Miller set a school record last season with 3,310 yards of total offense. He could very easily surpass it this fall.
The question marks with Ohio State are on the defensive side of the ball where the Buckeyes lost their entire line from last season. All-American corner Bradly Roby and all-conference linebacker Ryan Shazier return to lead the defense but there are significant holes around them that need to be filled.
Big 10 Leaders Division Predictions
Standing in the way of the Buckeyes winning the Leaders division will be Wisconsin. The Badgers won't go away without a fight and you can bet that they have their September 28th trip to Columbus circled on the calendar. New Badgers head coach Gary Anderson is cloned in the same mold that made great Wisconsin teams in the past. He's going to run the football and preach defense, defense, defense. The problem is that he won't have the talent pool, depth or experience as Urban Meyer this season.
Big 10 Legends Division Predictions
The other side of the division will see Michigan and Nebraska fight it out to represent the Legends in the conference title game. Michigan starts the post-Denard Robinson era with Devin Gardner and has experience and depth issues at the receiver position. However, most college football fans will remember the horrible end of the 2012 season for Nebraska's defense. With multiple new starters, the Huskers have to prove that they can rebound from pitiful performances in the conference championship and bowl games. Until they do, advantage Michigan.
Who wouldn't want to see a great college football rivalry play out in the conference championship game?
Big 10 Championship Prediction
|Ohio State over Michigan|