Ohio State tops a list of four Big 10 football teams analysts expect to win 10 games in 2014. The Buckeyes collected 195 votes, including 23 first place votes, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer preseason poll. Michigan and Michigan State have the second and third nods in the east division. Athlon Sports also expects Penn State to win 10 games this season. Wisconsin is expected to run away with the west division title.
The newspaper administers the poll ever since the Big Ten stopped doing one itself. The Plain Dealer sought votes from two beat writers for each of the 14 teams in the league. Only one Maryland writer responded.
Maryland and Rutgers move into the college football league of the haves and have-nots in the fall. Both schools are expected to be have-nots, according to veterans who follow the Big 10.
But the Maryland connection will make its impact on the conference. Former Terps coach Ralph Friedgen isthe Scarlet Knights new offensive coordinator. Does anyone doubt Rutgers will score often? Friedgen’s heir-apparent at Maryland, James Franklin, now coaches the Nittany Lions.
One bright spot for the Terps as they enter the 2014-campaign is the return of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. His 2013 season ended with a broken leg after seven games. Diggs had 37 receptions and the team five wins when he went down. The club finished the season 7-7 with a loss in the Military Bowl. The Big 10 named Diggs one of five players to watch in the East Division.
Michigan tight end Devin Funchess (49 catches), Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun (7.5 sacks), Ohio State qb Braxton Miller and Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (2,900 yards) are the other four. Miller was named to the Big Ten Football Players to Watch list for the third straight season. He ran for more than 1,000 yards last year while passing for 2,000 more.
Nebraska and Wisconsin lead the way with two players each on the West Division watch list. Husker running back Ameer Abdullah and defensive end Randy Gregory (9.5 sacks) are joined on the list by Badger running back Melvin Gordon and right tackle Rob Havenstein. Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff (best lineman on nation’s best line) rounds out the division’s selectees. Abdullah (1,690 yards) and Gordon (1,609) are the nation's top two returning rushers and both are in the Heisman Trophy conversation.