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Friday, January 07, 2005

The Big Ten will have some high expectations going into next season. Mandel has OSU #4, UM #7, and Iowa #9. It also, beautifully, has Florida at #10, Miami "on the cusp", and Florida State nowhere to be seen. Pat Forde has UM #3, Iowa #7, and OSU #12.

Iowa really established themselves as a program to be reckoned with this year and I'll be surprised if we don't see Iowa, OSU, and UM all start the year in the AP top ten. Pollsters will dismiss one year as a flash in the pan, two years as a lucky streak, but three years in the top ten will get you noticed preseason. Iowa's going to start getting the benefit of the doubt like UM and OSU do. Minnesota and Purdue might start around 20. MSU will probably get a few votes to start the year.

I, for one, expect the Big Ten to be flat loaded next year. The top three teams should all be national contenders (pending a critical UT vs. OSU matchup next year), and Minnesota, Purdue, and MSU all have the chance to put something together. Purdue is my favorite sleeper. Kirsch is a run/pass threat who was okay as a true freshman and now has a lot more experience. They lose Stubblefield but Dorien Bryant and Kyle Ingraham return and they add 6'5" monster Selwyn Lymon. When was the last time Purdue pulled in a freakish WR like Lymon? I can't remember. They've always had little efficient guys who don't scare you at all downfield. Lymon is a deep threat.

If Stanton is fully healthy next year MSU will be a load. Their defense will probably still be terrible and they lose Rayner, but they tore some defenses up when Stanton was available. Minnesota... well, they'll probably start off really well and then flame out horribly. But they should have Maroney and Barber back.

If PSU's offense gets a clue they'll be decent.

Pity poor Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.