Big Ten bold predictions: Michigan football, MSU will be surpassed by Indiana

Frank Bodani, Mike Carmin, Graham Couch, Mark Emmert, Chris Iseman, Chad Leistikow, Zach Osterman, Jeff Potrykus, Bill Rabinowitz, Rainer Sabin, Orion Sang and Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read

Our Big Ten experts in the USA TODAY Sports Network make bold predictions entering the 2020 college football season.

Frank Bodani, York Daily Record: Minnesota will build on its success from 2019 by winning the Big Ten West division, playing in its first Big Ten title game and taking Ohio State to the wire.

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Mike Carmin, Lafayette Journal & Courier: Rutgers will find one victory during the nine-week season. Crossover games against Illinois and Purdue along with matchups against Michigan State and Maryland provide the Scarlet Knights a legitimate chance to give Greg Schiano a little momentum in his first season.

He's baaackkk. Greg Schiano ball returns to Piscataway on Saturday, and the guess here is he scores an upset (or two) in 2020. And by upset, we mean just win a game. Rutgers hasn't won a Big Ten game since Nov. 4, 2017, when it topped Maryland, 31-24.
He's baaackkk. Greg Schiano ball returns to Piscataway on Saturday, and the guess here is he scores an upset (or two) in 2020. And by upset, we mean just win a game. Rutgers hasn't won a Big Ten game since Nov. 4, 2017, when it topped Maryland, 31-24.

Graham Couch, The Lansing State Journal: Indiana finishes second in the Big Ten East, behind only Ohio State.

Mark Emmert, The Des Moines Register: Lovie Smith guides Illinois to a 5-3 record in his fifth season at the helm. Quarterback Brandon Peters leads a prolific passing attack featuring wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe in shootout wins over Purdue, Minnesota and Nebraska, and the Illini give Ohio State its biggest scare of and undefeated season.

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Chris Iseman, Asbury Park Press: Ohio State might boast the most talent in the Big Ten by far, but this is a weird year. The Buckeyes won’t go undefeated but still will make the College Football Playoff as expected.

Strike the Heisman pose? Justin Fields is a contender -- and maybe the favorite -- for college football's top individual honor. But can he and Ohio State avoid an upset in the regular season? It may not matter, either way. The Buckeyes seem destined for the College Football Playoff.
Strike the Heisman pose? Justin Fields is a contender -- and maybe the favorite -- for college football's top individual honor. But can he and Ohio State avoid an upset in the regular season? It may not matter, either way. The Buckeyes seem destined for the College Football Playoff.

Chad Leistikow, The Des Moines Register: All 14 teams will complete the nine-game season without a coronavirus interruption, and all 14 head coaches will return to their respective institutions for the 2021 season.

Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star: In a weird year, the West wins the Big Ten title game for the first time since the divisions were realigned. AND Ohio State still goes to the playoff. Like I said, weird year.

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Michigan and Nebraska, coached by former quarterbacks who returned to their respective alma maters in an attempt to rekindle memories of past glory, will fail to win division titles. As a result, the respective fan bases will begin to wonder if the right man is in charge.

Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch: The Big Ten protocols will hold up better than expected and few games will be canceled. Given that there's no margin for error since the season is starting so late, let's hope this turns out to be an accurate prediction.

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Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press: After slogging through a 3-9 season in 2020, Northwestern and head coach Pat Fitzgerald will negotiate a turnaround. With Indiana grad transfer Peyton Ramsey in charge and a new coordinator calling plays, the Wildcats should be able to make dramatic improvements on offense after finishing last season fifth-worst in scoring.

Jack Coan's foot injury may reshuffle the pecking order in the Big Ten West in 2020.
Jack Coan's foot injury may reshuffle the pecking order in the Big Ten West in 2020.

Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press: Minnesota will overtake Wisconsin and win the West. The Badgers lost a lot on offense and quarterback Jack Coan is injured; Minnesota has the lethal combination of Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman, and this is the year of offense. Row the boat (at least until the Gophers play Ohio State).

Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press: The West will be more competitive than mediocre, but the Jack Coan injury damages Wisconsin’s chance as much as the schedule-makers hurt Nebraska’s. Enter Minnesota as the dark horse. As many holes as the Gophers need to fill on defense, they have the most dynamic offensive passing tandem in QB Tanner Morgan and WR Rashod Bateman, all five OL back and the motivational dynamo that is PJ Fleck.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Big Ten bold predictions: Michigan football, MSU surpassed by Indiana