Big Ten Football 2021-2022 Conference Preview
Welcome back folks, this being my first year as fully dedicated to Bookies Basement, and specifically college football. I plan on going through each of the Power 5 conferences throughout the Summer giving a breakdown of teams, key losses, additions, pre-season SOS and EOY conference predictions. This will all conclude with a final breakdown of the College Football playoff prediction I have. Without further ado, Lets. Eat.
College football, and most importantly, FANS are back. I think last year definitely gave us a different feel of what to expect and something we’ll likely (hopefully) never see again in our lifetime. That being said, it was a great season in the Big Ten last year with great surprises from teams such as Indiana, Northwestern, and Maryland. With great successes come great failures which is what we saw in teams such as Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska, and Wisconsin down the stretch. Lets give a breakdown of each team. I will do the East first (top to bottom) followed by the West in a separate blog. Lets fucking gooooooooooooooooooo.
I will say this once, and once only. I sincerely appreciate Ohio State football for getting us a football season last year. Even though their AD almost screwed everything up, I believe they were a big reason we had football last year (along with other teams). Now getting that out of the way – lets start with some of their key losses from last years team.
QB Justin Fields
RB Trey Sermon
TE Luke Farrell
OT Thayer Munford
C Josh Myers
G Wyatt Davis
DE Jonathon Cooper
DT Haskell Garrett
DT Tommy Togiai
LB Tuf Borland
LB Baron Browning
LB Pete Werner
LB Justin Hilliard
CB Shaun Wade
What gets me about Ohio St. is the way they recruit, it could be Urban Meyer, Ryan Day, or Jim Tressel – they just always pull in talent across the country. That being said, there’s a 3 man race at QB currently, but I would put all my money on CJ Stroud being the QB come Week 1. Dude is a monster. I watched his High School tape and the best comparison I can come up with is Zach Wilson 2.0. As you can see above, they lost 3 starters on the OLine which I’m sure they can replace, but will offer up a challenge to CJ and we’ll see how he adapts. On the flipside of the ball, all LB’s are gone LOL, however, this is OhioSt. were’ talking about here, so I don’t see that being a problem replacing them. When it comes to their
|Thu, Sep 2||@Minnesota|
|Sat, Sep 11||vsOregon|
|Sat, Sep 18||vsTulsa|
|Sat, Sep 25||vsAkron|
|Sat, Oct 2||@Rutgers|
|Sat, Oct 9||vsMaryland|
|Sat, Oct 23||@Indiana|
|Sat, Oct 30||vsPenn State|
|Sat, Nov 6||@Nebraska|
|Sat, Nov 13||vsPurdue|
|Sat, Nov 20||vsMichigan State|
|Sat, Nov 27||@Michigan|
Looking at that schedule, I see only three potential gaffes/surprises in there. Maryland and Penn State, however, both those games are at home and at Indiana will be HUGE. Oregon is overrated and a namebased team. Pretty easy schedule as they avoid Iowa, Wisconsin, & Northwestern (top 3 teams in the West last year). If they lose more than 1 game this year, consider it truly a disappointment.
I would say this was hands down the surprise of the Big Ten last year. With Penix back in the mix this year after tearing his ACL last year, this team will be dangerous. The guy was a straight game changer and started the season off to make a name for himself, and that he did. He is the reincarnation of Antwan Randle-El back in his Indiana days and I see that continuing on.
Losses (Unlike OSU where I listed everyone, I’m going to now stick to key players lost)
Stevie Scott – Starting RB last year
Whop (football name) Philyor – Starting WR
Harry Crider – Oline
Jerome Johnson/Jovan Swann – DlineJamar Johnson – Safety
While they do have the key losses above, I believe that Penix is the true key here – dude is unstoppable
and I feel like he is a sneaky Heisman pick if they can get through some of their tougher games
throughout the schedule. They also have great depth at the positions listed above, outside of the Jamar
Johnson where it looks like a Freshman is going to take the starting job.
|Sat, Sep 4||@Iowa|
|Sat, Sep 11||vsIdaho|
|Sat, Sep 18||vsCincinnati|
|Sat, Sep 25||@Western Kentucky|
|Sat, Oct 2||@Penn State|
|Sat, Oct 16||vsMichigan State|
|Sat, Oct 23||vsOhio State|
|Sat, Oct 30||@Maryland|
|Sat, Nov 6||@Michigan|
|Sat, Nov 13||vsRutgers|
|Sat, Nov 20||vsMinnesota|
|Sat, Nov 27||@Purdue|
Not to be dramatic, but that first game at Iowa will determine the season here. They win AT Iowa and it really sets the tone for the season moving forward. After that they get Ohio State at home which I’m going to assume is a Homecoming game and Bloomington will be rocking to say the least. Lastly, that game at Maryland (you’ll see a trend here with them) will be a sneaky tester. Otherwise, I see them finishing around the top of their division in the East but that first game will really have more impact than we think come towards end of the season.
Linebacker WHO? Penn State struggled last year starting 0-5 to begin play, James Franklin’s first losing season as Penn States head coach. Nittany Lion fans keep pointing to the fact that they won their last 4! Who were those 4 you ask? Michigan, Rutgers, Michigan State, & Illinois – those teams combined to go 7-21 and all were bottom of the division of both East/West at the end of the season. I don’t have faith in Clifford who had an outstanding 2019, but really showed his true colors in 2020. Their offense does return most of their weapons including their above average WR Corp. However, the front 7 is going to start anew with roster spots filling in with first time starters and transfers. Known for their LB play, they struggled at this position last year, especially with the opt out of Micah Parson. Lets take a look at their schedule and key losses.
The entire DLine (lol) besides their DT
|Sat, Sep 4||@Wisconsin|
|Sat, Sep 11||vsBall State|
|Sat, Sep 18||vsAuburn|
|Sat, Sep 25||vsVillanova|
|Sat, Oct 2||vsIndiana|
|Sat, Oct 9||@Iowa|
|Sat, Oct 23||vsIllinois|
|Sat, Oct 30||@Ohio State|
|Sat, Nov 6||@Maryland|
|Sat, Nov 13||vsMichigan|
|Sat, Nov 20||vsRutgers|
|Sat, Nov 27||@Michigan State|
The schedule does not help things at all for a potential bounce back in the 2021-22 season. Right off the bat starting at Wisconsin which I truly see as a toss up depending on what we see out of Graham Mertz (more to come on that in the West blog). Hot take alert – they will beat Auburn at home. Otherwise, following that they have to travel to Iowa, Ohio State, & Maryland. All tough games that I can see them struggling to get pressure on the opposing QB’s, and even with their great CB’s, it’s going to be a struggle.
This is my surprise team of the year if you haven’t noticed from my above comments. I love what these team did with only 5 games last year. You had a first year starter QB in Taulia (Tua’s brother) show some struggle and promise at the same time. You either had a 3 pick game like you saw against Northwestern or the comeback win against Minnesota where Taulia had 400 yards passing and 3 TD’s. Lot of returning depth and boasting one of the best recruiting classes in some time at Maryland. Let’s take a look at whose gone and whose back :
Jake Funk RB – Running game stunk out loud last year so really not a big deal
Johnny Jordan/Marcus Minor OLine – key pieces
Chigoziem Okonowo TE – sat out last year for Medical reasons
So great stat of the day, Maryland has allowed over 30 sacks a season in 4 straight years so the lost of
two OLine isn’t great news, you still have the other 3 returning starters with good depth at the position
overall. They’re OT Jaelyn Duncan will be a 1st rounder in this years upcoming draft so the talent is there,
it’s just putting the pieces together. Lastly, with a young QB I believe it to be CRUCIAL to have a solid TE
that can get you out of some tough situations, especially if the pressure is there. The fact Okonowo
came back this year and shined in the Spring game will only benefit Taulia in the long run.
|Sat, Sep 4||vsWest Virginia|
|Sat, Sep 11||vsHoward|
|Fri, Sep 17||@Illinois|
|Sat, Sep 25||vsKent State|
|Fri, Oct 1||vsIowa|
|Sat, Oct 9||@Ohio State|
|Sat, Oct 23||@Minnesota|
|Sat, Oct 30||vsIndiana|
|Sat, Nov 6||vsPenn State|
|Sat, Nov 13||@Michigan State|
|Sat, Nov 20||vsMichigan|
|Sat, Nov 27||@Rutgers|
The schedule itself looks promising, always look to the difficult Road games as you’re gonna get that 12th man at home. I see there one true test on the road coming AT Ohio State, otherwise you get Indiana, Iowa, & West Virginia at home. Think of this… if they win week 1 at home against WVU, they then get the following games, Howard (trash), Illinois (trash), & Kent State (not so much trash, but still trash) and you’re off to a 4-0 start before hosting Iowa at home. Building that momentum for a team that proved it can take down anyone (while also losing to anyone) is going to be crucial for this team. Look for them to finish anywhere between 1st and 3rd in the conference. Final prediction will be at the end of the article below.
I believe the key to success in D1 College football truly comes down to QB Play and I just don’t know if Rutgers has that in Noah Verdal. He is a much less valued Alex Smith in comparison to NFL players. Guy just either can’t or won’t throw the ball down field. He’s got the weapons as in WR Bo Melton, and a solid running game with Pacheco in the backfield, so I don’t know if it’s first year Schiano not trusting his QB or within the QB himself. Verdal threw for just over 170 yards twice last year, both games resulted in losses.
No real key losses as the team returns the starting OLine, WR and RB Corp.
|Thu, Sep 2||vsTemple|
|Sat, Sep 11||@Syracuse|
|Sat, Sep 18||vsDelaware|
|Sat, Sep 25||@Michigan|
|Sat, Oct 2||vsOhio State|
|Sat, Oct 9||vsMichigan State|
|Sat, Oct 16||@Northwestern|
|Sat, Oct 30||@Illinois|
|Sat, Nov 6||vsWisconsin|
|Sat, Nov 13||@Indiana|
|Sat, Nov 20||@Penn State|
|Sat, Nov 27||vsMaryland|
The schedule doesn’t do Rutgers many favors as they’re on the road against, Northwestern, Indiana, & Penn State. Their non-conference is nothing to laugh at either with the Temple/Syracuse/Delaware games to start the season. Sure, they do get home against Ohio State and Maryland but in my opinion Rutgers just isn’t at that level of the program to make those games competitive regardless of being home/away. This aint the Big East anymore Schiano and Ray Rice ain’t coming to save you any time soon. The program will get there, just need some time (as in years).
How many more disappointing seasons will Harbaugh get? Michigan had a number of transfer outs, and per usual, a good recruiting class. However, as was the case with Rutgers, do they have the QB play to get back to the prestigious program that we once knew, we’ll see. They started off 2020 with Joe Milton at QB and it proved to be an unsuccessful tenure. At the end of the season though, we got our first views of Cade McNamara. While they do have a 5-Star Freshmen at QB, everything I’ve read shows that McNamara will be the starter come week 1, which I believe is the Wolverines one shot at having a (more) successful season then in years past.
Key Departures :
There were a lot………… almost too many to mention. It seems as though Harbaugh has trouble keeping his players in the program year in, year out. When you have the hype/expectations that Michigan does on a yearly basis and they’ve been performing the way they have, it’s not as surprising to see folks want out.
Jaylen Mayfield – Oline (NFL Draft)
Kwity Paye – Def End (NFL Draft)
Cameron McGrone – LB (NFL Draft)
Then…. You’re transfer out list :
· Quarterback Dylan McCaffrey* — Northern Colorado
· Quarterback Joe Milton
· Running back Christian Turner
· Running back Zach Charbonnet — UCLA
· Wide receiver Giles Jackson
· Offensive lineman Zach Carpenter — Indiana
· Defensive end Luiji Vilain — Wake Forest
· Linebacker Ben VanSumeren — Michigan State
· Linebacker William Mohan
· Defensive back Hunter Reynolds
· Punter Will Hart
2021-22 Schedule :
|Sat, Sep 4||vsWestern Michigan|
|Sat, Sep 11||vsWashington|
|Sat, Sep 18||vsNorthern Illinois|
|Sat, Sep 25||vsRutgers|
|Sat, Oct 2||@Wisconsin|
|Sat, Oct 9||@Nebraska|
|Sat, Oct 23||vsNorthwestern|
|Sat, Oct 30||@Michigan State|
|Sat, Nov 6||vsIndiana|
|Sat, Nov 13||@Penn State|
|Sat, Nov 20||@Maryland|
|Sat, Nov 27||vsOhio State|
And again, like Rutgers – this schedule doesn’t do the Maize and Blue any favors. Western Michigan and Northern Illinois should be solid non-conference wins but I just don’t see it against Washington, even though it’s at home. You do have Wisconsin, Penn State, & Maryland away – which will all be tough games and I feel safe to say we can chalk up another loss to OSU to end the year. Overall, I still think Michigan needs to work on A) Retaining talent/players B) Get rid of Harbaugh, this aint the Pac 12 and Stanford, & C) Get a solid, pocket passing QB – don’t get me wrong, McNamara is an above average QB but just isn’t the one to take this team anywhere close to the College Football playoffs, let alone a Big Ten Title game.
What once was… I remember D’Antonio taking this program and it would be an almost guarantee 8-9 wins each year in the Big Ten. Things have definitely changed, not only with now 2nd year coach Mel Tucker, but the once consistently “good” team, has struggled as of late. MSU had 27 players transfer out this Summer (Lol), it must be something with the water out in Michigan, but I digress. QB play was a struggle last year with Rocky Lombardi (top ten football name) and ended out the season with Payton Thorne who provided some glimmers of hope. It looks like he’ll be starter next year, while they did have a transfer come in from Temple – I think it’s Thorne’s job to lose. Otherwise, they have 9 new starters on Offense, which with Spring Practice, can hopefully put something together and get some team chemistry built prior to week 1.
There are way too many players that transferred out to list them all, but to be honest – no real
impact/playmakers lost for what they have.
2021-22 Schedule :
|Fri, Sep 3||@Northwestern|
|Sat, Sep 11||vsYoungstown State|
|Sat, Sep 18||@Miami|
|Sat, Sep 25||vsNebraska|
|Sat, Oct 2||vsWestern Kentucky|
|Sat, Oct 9||@Rutgers|
|Sat, Oct 16||@Indiana|
|Sat, Oct 30||vsMichigan|
|Sat, Nov 6||@Purdue|
|Sat, Nov 13||vsMaryland|
|Sat, Nov 20||@Ohio State|
|Sat, Nov 27||vsPenn State|
When you get @ Miami as part of your non-conference, it’s going to be a rough start to the season most times. While I do have faith that Horne will be efficient. In the two games he played in to finish out the season he threw for almost 500 yards with 3 TDs and 2 Picks. Otherwise, looking at this schedule I see maybe 2-3 wins as a ceiling for this group. Mel will eventually come around and bring the team with him, just not this year in my opinion.
Final Conference Prediction
Penix Jr. is the real deal – if he can stay healthy, with the returning starters they have – I really like Indiana to make a move this year. I always think Justin Fields was underrated so that loss at the QB position will hurt more than people think. As stated above, I see Maryland as the breakout team in the conference (both East & West) with Taulia having a great season start-to-finish. Penn State will struggle with their missing DLine and inconsistent QB play. While I think Cade McNamara will be above average, too much change on the Michigan team for the chemistry to really flow – Harbaugh plays Defense first football and prides himself on it, I just don’t see it this year. Michigan State and Rutgers are in that rebuilding phase with 2nd year coaches. They’ll get there some year… just not this one.
Most importantly folks, Lets. Eat.
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