2013 Football Conference Review: Big Ten

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

State's suffocating defense ran away with the conference.

Ohio State seemed destined to waltz into the National Title Game this year but Michigan State had something to say about that. That and other news in the Big Ten review for 2013.

~~~

Leaders Division

OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

Predicted: 12-0 (8-0)

Actual: 12-1 (8-1)

The Buckeyes did get to 12-0 so there's that. There's probably nothing worse than going from a chance to win your conference and enter the national championship and then getting neither. Such is the life of conference title games I suppose. Would it have been worse going 12-0 and not making the title game?

Ohio State will play Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

WISCONSIN BADGERS

Predicted: 8-4 (6-2)

Actual: 9-3 (6-2)

Wisconsin kind of had a game stolen from them against Arizona State and this team had the feeling of a 10-2 type of an outfit most of the season. That is until they lost to Penn State at home in their last game. Overall, this was a good first season for head coach Gary Andersen with a chance to get 10 wins after a bowl game. That would be 10+ wins in 4 out of the last 5 years for the Badgers should they win.

Wisconsin will play South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS

Predicted: 7-5 (3-5)

Actual: 7-5 (4-4)

Bill O'Brien surprised some folks in 2012 with an 8-win season but this year the Lions slid back a game. It was quite the up and down season for Penn State too. Losses to UCF, Indiana, and Minnesota. Wins versus Michigan and Wisconsin. The future of the offense looks quite bright with quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Will they be able to build quality depth next year?

Penn State is still serving a bowl ban.

INDIANA HOOSIERS

Predicted: 6-6 (3-5)

Actual: 5-7 (3-5)

This team just can't play defense. They had a couple offensive stinkers late in the season against Ohio State and Wisconsin (combined 17 points) but the Hoosiers scored at least 20 points in every other game and averaged 38.4 points for the season. You just can't win giving up 38.8 though. 5 of the Big Ten teams they faced this year scored 40 or more points. Everyone but Penn State scored at least 30 points.

PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

Predicted: 4-8 (3-5)

Actual: 1-11 (0-8)

Darrell Hazell didn't get off to the best start in West Lafayette this season. You never want to begin your career at a new school setting the record for most losses in a season. Yup, things were beyond terrible for Purdue this year and they were winning against the Irish in the fourth quarter. No wins over a FBS team, shut out in conference play, and -277 in point differential. Yikes.

ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI

Predicted: 2-10 (0-8)

Actual: 4-8 (1-7)

This is improvement for Illinois. They looked like a dead program after 2012 and came back winning 3 out of 4 games this season. There was even some talk about bowl eligibility for a while back in September. Alas, they lost 7 out of their last 8 and still had a pretty terrible season. Their win over Cincinnati was something nice to hang their hat on, though.

~

Legends Division

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

Predicted: 10-2 (6-2)

Actual: 7-5 (3-5)

Was this the most underachieving team in the country? I know what this site's comment section will say about that. How does a team with this much talent go 3-5 in the Big Ten? How does Devin Gardner throw for 745 yards, run for 92 yards, and score 10 total touchdowns against Notre Dame and Ohio State but then literally become incapable of picking up a first down for multiple games? This has to be the worst offense to ever average 33 points per game.

Michigan will play Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS

Predicted: 10-2 (6-2)

Actual: 8-4 (5-3)

Can I be real for a second? Should we recalibrate our projections for Nebraska moving forward? Is it just Bo Pelini? This team played like 3 teams in the top 50 and still went 8-4. Pelini will have the opportunity to get 9 wins (again) during the post-season but this was a big disappointment. Their schedule was super friendly this season and they tripped all over themselves.

Nebraska will play Georgia in the Gator Bowl.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

Predicted: 8-4 (5-3)

Actual: 12-1 (9-0)

Due to the increasing amount of games played over the past 15 years I believe this is Notre Dame's first win over a team with 12 wins? Will someone research that for me I think it sounds about right. Everything fell in place for MSU as their defense only gave up 12.7 points per game and they found a groove on offense once they got into league play scoring 30+ points in 5 out of their 8 games. We'll see how the program evolves and moves on in the future as the Irish come off the schedule over the next couple seasons.

Michigan State will play Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

Predicted: 8-4 (4-4)

Actual: 5-7 (1-7)

How does one emotionally recover from hoping this would be the best team of the Fitzgerald era to winning just 1 games in league play? Northwestern hasn't been that bad in the B1G since 2002, for reference. This team started out 4-0, by the way. This program has Most Improved by Phil Steele written all over it though. Five of their losses were by 10 points or fewer.

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

Predicted: 4-8 (1-7)

Actual: 8-4 (4-4)

Jerry Kill. Doing Good Things. Sure they might have the softest OOC schedule in the country that gifted them 4 wins but then they went and beat Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana, and Penn State in league play too. That's a great job by a Minnesota program that hadn't won 8 games in a decade. The Gophers played tough defense (22.3 PPG) and did just enough on defense to get by.

Minnesota will play Syracuse in the Texas Bowl.

IOWA HAWKEYES

Predicted: 3-9 (1-7)

Actual: 8-4 (5-3)

I was WAY OFF on Iowa, eh? I was beating the drum all off-season that Ferentz could be on his last season even with his large buy out but he's sticking around for longer now. Unlike most Big Ten teams they actually played 4 ranked teams. Sure they lost all of those games but still. They won all the rest and that's something for Iowa.

The Hawkeyes will play LSU in the Outback Bowl.

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