Which Big Ten Program Has the Best Group at Each Offensive Unit Heading Into 2018?

By David Wertheim on June 16, 2018 at 8:45 am
Trace McSorley

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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Ohio State is expected to be very good in 2018. With Dwayne Haskins at the helm, and poised to lead the Buckeyes in a different direction than the J.T. Barrett read-option offense, returning their elite running backs and top six wide receivers, as well as a defense expected to be stalwart once again, Ohio State is poised for a special year.

However, the Buckeyes certainly are not the best team all-around. Here is a look at the (arbitrary) best Big Ten team for each offensive unit as we inch closer to the 2018 college football campaign.

Quarterback: Trace McSorley, Penn State
 

As good as you think Dwayne Haskins or Shea Patterson or Adrian Martinez may be, the nod goes to the Big Ten's leading passer from last season. McSorley led the league with 3,228 passing yards and a 65.3 completion percentage, and finished second with 28 passing touchdowns.

Although McSorley loses his three biggest weapons in running back Saquon Barkley, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, and tight end Mike Gesicki, McSorley is talented enough to lead Penn State to another run towards a Big Ten title.

Honorable Mention: Wisconsin's Alex Hornibrook, Michigan's Shea Patterson

Running Backs: J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, Ohio State

A program isn't usually fortunate enough to have one proven elite running back return to school, let alone two, but that exactly the situation Ohio State is in with sophomore J.K. Dobbins and junior Mike Weber this season.

Last year, Dobbins burst onto the national scene with 1,364 rushing yards and seven touchdowns to pace the Ohio State rushing attack, while Weber followed up with 10 touchdowns of his own. Without J.T. Barrett's "Ol' Reliable" legs, however, Ohio State will likely be forced to use Weber and Dobbins more in sticky situation without having to rely on the quarterback.

Thus, the situation arises where one of the backs fatigues. That doesn't seem to be a huge problem though, as the other one can easily step in.

One problem exists in Ohio State's quest for Big Ten running back superiority, and his name is Jonathan Taylor and he resides in Madison, Wisconsin. The Big Ten's leading rusher last year, Taylor is set to run behind all five of his offensive linemen from last year, although we will get to them in a second...

Honorable Mention: Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, Michigan State's LJ Scott

Wide Receivers: Nebraska

While you may not have heard much about them, two Nebraska wide receivers had excellent seasons a year ago, and they both return in 2018: Stanley Morgan and J.D. Spielman.

Morgan finished second in the Big Ten in receiving yards and led the league in touchdown with ten (including one against Ohio State) while the shifty Spielman finished fourth in the league in receiving yards, and put up a 200-yard, one touchdown performance against Ohio State. Together, they form a dynamic duo expected to help usher in a new quarterback, as well as a new coach.

Honorable Mention: Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota

Offensive Line: Wisconsin

This was probably the easiest pick of them all. Wisconsin has long been known for its elite offensive lines which have produced NFL studs recently such as Joe Thomas, Travis Frederick, Kevin Zeitler, Ryan Ramczyk, and many more.

This year, the Badgers have something special in the works as they return their entire offensive line starting group. Yes, the Wisconsin Badgers return all five starting offensive linemen, a sight which is incredibly scary to even the most formidable of defenses.

With David Edwards at right tackle, Beau Benzschawel at right guard, Tyler Bladasz at center, Jon Dietzen at left guard, and Michael Dieter protecting the blind side, the Badgers will have some significant holes for Jonathan Taylor to run through and for Alex Hornibrook to pass behind.

Look out, Big Ten. The Badgers are coming for you.

 Honorable Mention: Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State

Next week, we will take a look at the defensive units and which Big Ten team is expected to lead the way in those areas.

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