Happy Birthday Joe
Leave one wolf alive....and the sheep are never safe
Thanks, I had a nice birthday evening with the family.
Surprised no one is picking scUm to win the Legends this year. Hoke has recruited well and my pick would be them. I'd love to do back to back games this year vs. TSUN to close out the old before bringing in the new.
I think TTUN is the team to beat this year in that division. Northwestern will be tough but I haven't seen the defensive toughness in that team to be consistent over a long period. Nebraska is a crap shoot for the defensive reasons too and I still am not truly impressed with taylor Martinez regardless of his stats. For curiosities sake, I wonder what Michigan State will look like this year. (Bollmaned)
If schedule strength were equal, Michigan should be a slight favorite, but the schedules aren't.
I see Michigan, NW, Nebraska, and Michigan State as being fairly interchangeable "on paper," but I give better odds to Nebraska and MSU because they have more favorable schedules.
To favor Michigan's chances, you have to believe that they are at least a few notches above their rivals in the Legends division.
There are some merits to returning starters but like you mention for Purdue, that entirely depends on who those starters are. You can discount the incoming recruits because they are just Freshman and realistically, how many Freshman actually make a difference on a team? Yes, you can point to the most recent Heisman recipient but he was a RS Freshman at that. Ultimately what I think the greatest gage for improvement from one year to the next is your key players development and how long have they been in the system, have they made the playbook and the schemes with adjustments second nature? Have they physically put in the work to be the type of player that supports their role on the team? Not you per se, Joe, but others are guilty of looking at a team and seeing what they lost and automatically discount that loss as a weakness for said team. Having that mentality, the quality of football played will always get worse. With that mindset nobody steps up and improves their game to be better than the guy before him.
When I look at a team, I like to look at the trends of that team and how they played their games. Where has their focus been in recruiting and coaching? Wisconsin will be very hard to predict, just like we were because they have almost an entirely new coaching regime. We look at what they have in current players but what will they be asked to do? Northwestern has made great strides and I think they will be dangerous in any game that they set their hearts to win in. They haven't focused on any specific position or seemed to change a lot on the defensive side of the ball. The team I see making the greatest strides in the B1G is Indiana. I don't necessarily think they will be an immediate threat but Wilson has been recruiting the defensive side of the ball hard and made some aggressive hires recently. It is really a wait and see but a lot can be said for a team and their recruiting strategies and hiring as to what direction they are climbing.
To do the type of analysis and predictions you suggest, though, we'd have to be very familiar with the developmental "arc" of all the key players in the various programs. Even then, it can be difficult to predict if that soph/junior who has been working hard the last few years is ready for a "break out," is a true gamer or more of a practice field star, etc.
I agree that the returning starter stat, by itself, is pretty limited, but if used in combination with other factors, ca be useful. Given the respective state of the programs, if Bama were returning only, say, 11 starters, that'd be much different than if, say, Kansas St. were returning 11. So, we'd look at past recruiting classes, whether the programs have tended to rebuild or reload after years with big graduation (or losses to NFL) numbers, etc.
Phil Steele's predictions are among the best in the business, but he still misses the mark on many of his predictions.
As for Indiana, I'll be curious to see how they do when they get a bit of a target on their backs. If they start the season 5-0 after playing all home games against Ind St, Navy, BG, Mizz, and PSU, they will get other the attention of other teams. Then, in the final 7 games, they play @MSU, @Michigan, @Wisc, and @Ohio State. I could easily see them getting ground down during the second half of the season and then falling apart.
Can see Brasky ahead of Hoke and Co, but Nerdwestern ahead of them is surprising.
This will be an even more intriguing read next year, with Rutgers and Maryland aboard and Penn State mired down.
The Nerds from Evanston should have beaten that school up north last year. They will do it this time. The Evanston Nerds are far smarter than the ones in a-squared, anyway.
It's too bad the divisions aren't sticking with the same teams, with either Maryland or Rutgers going to the East or West division respectively. As it's currently set up, all we really have to worry about is Wisconsin. With the new realignment, our division is going to be much tougher sledding.
I think playing in a tough division will seriously help us, and the conference. In terms of recruiting I can see a team in the west division rising out of mediorcity to become a solid #3 behind Nebraska and Wisconsin. Northwestern is the concensus pick, but I seriously think Darrel Hazell at Purdue is going to be a great fit and a success. He will do what Hope couldn't.... recruit. I feel sort of bad for Indiana, just when it seems they are turning a corner, the get put in the east lol. It will def be tough sledding playing Michigan, PSU, Sparty, and a possible dark horse power program in Rutgers (fertile recruiting ground). I'm excited as ever for the conference moving forward. Maybe someday when we add Texas and Notre Dame the west division will be better.
Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.
+1 for the Linus pic
-1 because he went to the wrong OSU
Nice catch; I was wondering if anyone would recognize him.