Since the Wisconsin Badgers landed in the newly realigned Big Ten West, it seems as most of us (myself included) in Bucky Land haven’t paid that close attention to the other division, the Big Ten East. With the exception being of how tough of a division it is. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State all land in the East, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief that Wisconsin is in the West instead.
But lets dive into the Big Ten East a little more, shall we?
Joining the aforementioned teams are newcomers Maryland and Rutgers. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney wants more of and east coast presence and well, those two teams are prime examples of that. Sorry Rutgers, but I don’t see you making much noise right away. Maryland? Well I think they’re better off and may surprise some teams, but I think it will take a couple of years before they start thinking of contending for a spot in the conference championship game.
And how could I forget, Indiana is in this division as well.
The division crown is going to come down to three talented teams: Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Those are three talented teams that will always be at the top of the Big Ten East. And anytime those teams face each other, it’s going to provide some great television, great drama and most importantly could be a game of the year.
But don’t sleep on Penn State and new head coach James Franklin. Call me crazy, but I think the Nittany Lions have something brewing in Happy Valley. It may not show this year or next but keep an eye on Penn State.
Michigan travels to East Lansing and Columbus this season. Not an easy task by any means, but in the Big Ten anything can happen. They also have to travel to New Jersey to take on Rutgers for their first B1G clash and welcome Maryland before facing Ohio State at the end of the season. Brady Hoke is looking to improve on a 7-6 record from one year ago.
The Buckeyes first two Big Ten games are on the road against Maryland and home against Rutgers, getting the two newbies out of the way quickly. They also play three road games in a four game stretch-at Penn State, vs Illinois, at Michigan State, at Minnesota. That could possibly be the most important-and grueling-stretch if Urban Meyer and Ohio State wants to make it back to the conference championship.
Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State squad is my pick to win the Big Ten East and maybe even the Big Ten. After a Rose Bowl victory last season, the Spartans are one of the better teams in the country along with Ohio State. Before conference play even starts the Spartans have to travel to Eugene, OR to take on a great Oregon Ducks team. That right there will be a huge test and could really tell a lot about this team.
They also have to travel to Byrd Stadium to take on Maryland, but home games against Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State could have the Spartans back in the Big Ten championship game.
I’m glad Wisconsin resides in the wild, wild West. The Badgers do not have to face Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State until 2016 when (surprise!) they face all three in consecutive weeks to open up conference play.
Lucky for us in Bucky Land, that’s still two years away. I’m happy with just facing Maryland and Rutgers the next couple of seasons.