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College Football

SI Conference Report: Big Ten

SI Conference Report: Big Ten
 
How They'll Finish
 ConferenceOverall
 W-LPCTW-LPCT
7-1.87510-2.833
6-2.75010-2.833
5-3.6259-3.750
5-3.6258-4.667
5-3.6258-4.667
4-4.5008-4.667
4-4.5008-4.667
4-4.5007-5.583
3-5.3757-5.583
1-7.1253-9.250
0-8.0002-10.167

Illinois WR Arrelious Benn :: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
 
Players To Watch From Unranked Teams
Arrelious Benn
WR, Jr. :: Illinois
The favorite target of QB Juice Williams, he caught 67 passes for 1,055 yards in 2008 and is a threat as a punt and kick returner.
Bryan Bulaga
LT, Jr. :: Iowa
As a 6-foot-6, 312-pounder and a starter since his freshman year, he has drawn comparisons to former Hawkeye Robert Gallery, the 2003 Outland winner.
John Clay
RB, Soph. :: Wisconsin
A 6-2, 247-pounder who blends speed and power, he averaged 5.7 yards a carry and rushed for nine TDs as a backup last season.
Jammie Kirlew
DE, Sr. :: Indiana
After finishing second in the conference in sacks with 10.5, Kirlew (6-3, 263) was the only Hoosier named All-Big Ten (second team) in '08.
Jordan Mabin
CB, Soph. :: Northwestern
The 5-11, 180-pound Mabin, who doubles as a return man, had three interceptions last season and was named a freshman All-America.
 
Big Ten Notables
Best Offensive Player
Daryll Clark :: QB :: Penn State
Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor might be more gifted, but he's not yet at the level of Clark, who directs one of the nation's most versatile backfields.
Best Defensive Player
Sean Lee :: LB :: Penn State
A second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2007, when he was second in the conference in tackles, Lee returns after an ACL tear wiped out his '08 season.
True Freshman to Watch
Tate Forcier :: QB :: Michigan
The San Diego product enrolled in January and had fans chanting his name at the spring game, when he threw for four TDs and ran for another.
Coach on the Rise
Mark Dantonio :: Michigan State
He turned a team in disarray into a winner, going 7-6 and 9-4 in his first two seasons. With 15 starters back, the Spartans could be a Big Ten sleeper.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Bret Bielema :: Wisconsin
Since Bielema burst onto the scene with a 12-1 record in his first season, the Badgers have gone 9-4 and 7-6 and have struggled offensively.
Extra Points
Minnesota is coming off its first winning season since 2005, but the Gophers lost their final five games after starting 7-1. Third-year coach Tim Brewster is junking the spread in favor of a pro-style attack. Jedd Fisch, formerly the Broncos' receivers coach, was hired as offensive coordinator, and the 33-year-old veteran of eight NFL seasons has set about fixing a ground game that last year averaged 104 yards a game and 3.1 yards per rush, both Big Ten lows ... Another team looking to improve its running game is Indiana, where third-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada is experimenting with the pistol, which combines the shotgun and the I formation. Key to this transition will be the play of redshirt freshman tailback Darius Willis, who, at 6 feet, 219 pounds, possesses size and speed ... On a Purdue offense bereft of playmakers, freshman running back Al-Terek McBurse stands out. A four-star recruit who turned down offers from Georgia Tech and Miami, the 6-foot, 204-pound native of Winter Springs, Fla., enrolled in January, only to miss spring ball while awaiting NCAA clearance. He's a threat as both a runner and a receiver.  --Mark Beech
 

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