We’re breaking down each conference by division and giving you our preseason rankings. Yesterday I looked at the Big Ten – Eastern division. Today I continue with the Big Ten – Western Division.

1. Wisconsin, Regular Season Prediction (10-2)
Surprise, surprise. For the time being this is what most people expect to continue to happen in the west. The two main components of this offense, Jonathan Taylor and Alex Hornibrook are returning. The only two losses I see on this schedule are @Michigan and @Penn State.

2. Iowa, Regular Season Prediction (9-3)
The Hawkeyes will need to capitalize on a relatively easy schedule this year. The backfield is weakened with the losses of Josh Jackson and Josey Jewell but the rest of the defense is pretty much intact.

3. Nebraska, Regular Season Prediction (7-5)
Hold onto your seats Cornhusker fans. Scott Frost is back in town and ready to turn this program around. College football and the Big Ten is more fun to watch when a traditional team like Nebraska is in the national conversation. I don’t think they’ll be pulling off any upsets against their tough schedule, but I think Frost gets them to a bowl game and next season they will be ready to move up the rankings.

4. Northwestern, Regular Season Prediction (6-6)
The school’s all-time leading rusher Justin Jackson is gone. I’m not sure if the Wildcats will own up to this prediction but every year they seem to have one or two games that surprise you. Even so, they still have to play Michigan, Michigan St, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame. That’s a tall order. If Clayton Thorson can recover from his knee injury then this team might have a chance to make a bowl game.

5. Purdue, Regular Season Prediction (5-7)
Boiler up! Although I’m predicting they regress from last year’s 7-6 finish (6-6 in the regular season), Jeff Brohm has dug his team out of the western basement. However, the schedule this season doesn’t favor them playing in mid-December again.

6. Minnesota, Regular Season Prediction (4-8)
Should have stayed at Western Michigan Mr. Fleck. Everybody wants to see P.J. succeed and have a good season with the Gophers, it just doesn’t seem feasible right now in this conference. I predict they will start the season 3-0 in their non-conference schedule and then everything goes downhill from there.

7. Illinois, Regular Season Prediction (2-10)
There are a lot of people saying Lovie Smith isn’t on the hot seat yet. Well after this season I think he will be. The defense should be okay under Hardy Nickerson, but the offense doesn’t have much to offer. Keep an eye out on sophomore running back Mike Epstein.

Photo Credit: PennLive.com

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