25 days from the first full Saturday of college football, here are 25 reasons to get excited for the B1G
Let the countdown continue.
The good news is that we’re down to 25 days until we’ll be watching nothing but college football all Saturday. That’s a wonderful, magnificent, glorious, beautiful thing for us humans.
In 25 days, we can flip off HGTV and know that there’s football to be watched from morning until the wee hours of the morning.
In honor of that, here are 25 reasons to get excited for the B1G:
1. Shea Patterson’s Michigan debut
You better believe I’m excited to see the Ole Miss transfer kick off the season in South Bend. Oh, should I wait until Jim Harbaugh says that he’s the starter? No thanks. I’m fired up to see Harbaugh have his first real NFL quarterback talent in Ann Arbor. Let’s see what the former 5-star recruit can do on an even bigger stage.
2. We’ll have some clarity on Ohio State
Right now, all we’re hearing about is the uncertainty surrounding the program. It makes it difficult to forecast how the Buckeyes will look as a program for 2018 and beyond. When OSU does reach a resolution on Urban Meyer’s status, we’ll have a better picture on what to expect from a program that’s expected to compete for a national title.
3. Noah Fant gets to shed more Iowa stereotypes
The Hawkeye tight end would be my preseason All-America pick. That’s how good he was last year. Fant is already showing up as a first-round tight end following his breakout sophomore season. He’ll be at the top of scouting reports, which means his 11 touchdown catches should take a dip, but we should still see plenty of highlight-reel plays from Fant.
4. Jonathan Taylor’s encore
Not a lot of people gave Taylor the credit he deserved for putting up 1,977 rushing yards. Or if they did, they didn’t realize it until it was too late. Call me crazy, but yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing what Taylor can do behind a Wisconsin offensive line that returns all 5 starters.
5. LJ Scott’s closing remarks
I have a feeling that the narrative is either going to go one of two ways with the Michigan State tailback in 2018. We’re either going to talk about how frustrating it is that he can’t put it all together, or we’re going to talk about him as a 1,300-yard runner who finally delivers that All-B1G season. Preseason signs point to the latter, but Scott’s potential could make or break MSU’s B1G East title hopes.
6. Jeff Brohm’s chair-throwing is BACK
I don’t get this between the months of January and August. I need it (via Big Ten Network):
7. Scott Frost’s coronation
The buzz in Nebraska is unlike anything that program has had in a long time. Scott Frost can say and do no wrong, which will be true through the season opener against Akron. I fully expect the Huskers to roll by a few touchdowns, and we’ll see at least a half dozen montages of Frost’s playing days at Nebraska.
8. More conference play to open the season!
I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved that Indiana hosted Ohio State to kick off 2017. I love, love, love, love, love, love that Purdue will host Northwestern to kick off 2018. OK, so technically this is only 23 days away, but you get the point. Two teams who won bowl games and played much better down the stretch in 2017 will get a national platform on ESPN to start the 2018 season. Make this happen every year, please.
9. An elite question gets an answer
It’s something that’s going to be asked locally before it’s asked nationally. How good can P.J. Fleck be in Year 2 at Minnesota? I mean, how elite* can Fleck be in Year 2? He set the bar for himself pretty low in his first year in the Twin Cities, but getting to the postseason is the obvious goal. Besides, the B1G West needs some spice from its coaches. The sooner he becomes a fly in the ointment, the sooner we get a more entertaining West.
10. Trace McSorley gets to crush more homers
I already outlined why I think McSorley deserves to be considered the best quarterback in America heading into 2018. Even without Joe Moorhead, Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton, McSorley should be in store for big things in 2018. He’s going to finish his career with a bunch of Penn State records, and in no time, he’ll be crushing homers.
11. This Ohio State passing game is as intriguing as its been in awhile
I can’t remember the last time Ohio State had a passer as talented as Dwayne Haskins. Cardale Jones is the obvious answer, but given the way he finished his career, it’s hard to say that he was definitively more talented than Haskins. I’m looking forward to seeing what Haskins does as the general of Ohio State’s offense, which has a wealth of experience returning at receiver. Could this finally be the year in which the Buckeyes break their 1,000-yard receiver drought? That can still happen regardless of how this Meyer situation shakes out.
12. We get to watch Maryland-Texas again
No, that wasn’t a sarcastic comment. Do you remember how awesome that season opener in Austin was last year? Maryland and Texas combined for 92 points, nearly 1,000 yards of offense and there were 5 touchdowns of 40-plus yards. It was bananas. Obviously both of those offenses struggled down the stretch — injuries played a part in that — but in terms of noon entertainment on the first Saturday of the season, a repeat of 2017 would be welcomed with open arms.
13. Matt Canada and his billion pre-snap motions are back in the B1G
If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what does. Canada’s 1-year stint at LSU didn’t work out, so he walked through the revolving door of offensive coordinators at Maryland. He’ll rejoin the conference after stops at NC State, Pitt and LSU over the last 6 years. Now, he’ll try and confuse the you-know-what out of B1G defenses.
find someone that loves you the same way matt canada loves motion pic.twitter.com/lpcXy1fMoO
— charles mcdonald (lakers 0-0) (@FourVerts) April 6, 2018
14. Rutgers might actually have a quarterback?
He’s probably not going to begin the year as the starter, but true freshman Artur Sitkowski comes in with a lot of hype. The former IMG Academy star was easily the highest-rated quarterback recruit of the Chris Ash era. Reports indicate that Sitkowski is much more polished as a passer than anyone Rutgers has had in recent memory. Here’s hoping we see Sitkowski sling it often in 2018.
15. Tom Allen’s excitement makes me excited
I’m not sure if Allen is ever going to lead Indiana to an 8-win season or anything like that, but I can guarantee that his players love playing for him. In a profession that’s diluted with me-first coaches, Allen doesn’t come across that way in the slightest. That’s just the off-the-field stuff. I never thought I’d see a competent Indiana defense. His defenses the last 2 years (1 as a head coach) have been plenty competent. And yeah, his excitement is fun to watch, too.
Tom Allen right now pic.twitter.com/QAiU9HGJWn
— Dustin Schutte (@SchutteCFB) September 30, 2017
16. Rashan Gary and Nick Bosa get their pre-NFL draft seasons
I don’t know the last time the B1G had two defensive linemen as talented as Bosa and Gary. Both are former 5-star recruits who seem destined to go in the top 10 of the NFL draft. And to their credit, both have lived up to the hype. The analytics show just how massive Bosa’s impact has been while Gary is going to be even more involved without Mo Hurst. B1G offenses are going to have all sorts of headaches trying to keep Bosa and Gary out of the backfield.
17. Key years for Nate Stanley, Brian Lewerke
Two quarterbacks who intrigue me are Stanley and Lewerke. Neither are off-the-charts talented, but in Year 2 as starters, both could become game-changers for their teams. Both Lewerke and Stanley have plenty of room to grow with their accuracy and their ability to open up the offense downfield. Both have the potential to sneak into that second-team All B1G discussion if they made those key offseason tweaks. And if that happens, obviously that would help keep their teams in the hunt for a division title.
18. Lovie beard
If Illinois plays like it did last year, I’d rather just watch a still shot of Lovie Smith’s beard for three hours.
Lovie Smith's beard is spectacular. pic.twitter.com/0tqROaLnyj
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) July 24, 2018
19. In-season Playoff debates
Yelling about Ohio State’s résumé isn’t as fun in the offseason. Getting worked up about whether an undefeated Wisconsin team is Playoff worthy isn’t the same unless it’s in the fall. I need weekly Playoff talk, even if it’s after a week in which the SEC did nothing but load up on cupcakes.
20. Bowl projections
They’re butts. Every college football outlet has ’em, and they usually stink. Except ours.
21. Jim McElwain in the B1G is happening
I’m still sort of in denial that he’s on Michigan’s staff, and that he’s going to have responsibilities for an offense that hopes to compete for a conference championship. America really is the land of second chances. We’re going to need plenty of availability sessions with McElwain. Hopefully the former Florida coach doesn’t make up death threats if the Wolverines offense struggles in the early going.
22. The Micah Parsons Project
I’ve probably made that lame connection a few too many times already and he hasn’t even played a game yet. Do people realize that the Allan Parsons Project did that legendary Chicago Bulls intro? Anyway, Micah Parsons comes in with plenty of hype of his own. The highest-rated B1G recruit of the 2018 class is expected to play right away in Brent Pry’s defense. How quickly will he become a force at Penn State? His switch to outside linebacker will be a fun one to watch.
23. B1G receivers coming off multiple torn ACLs
I don’t know how, but Mikey Dudek and J-Shun Harris still have knees and they still have eligibility. That’s an amazing feat considering they’ve both suffered multiple torn ACLs. Sorry, but I’m a sucker for the feel-good story. Last year, we saw Johnnie Dixon finally get a chance to shine after his injury-plagued career. Maybe Dudek and Harris will both stay healthy and have a few seminal moments in 2018. Harris looks plenty capable…as does Dudek. Sheesh.
Indiana's J-Shun Harris (@_Jshun_) has suffered three ACL injuries, and look at him go.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) August 6, 2018
Meanwhile, Mike Dudek is just 100-percent Mike Dudek here pic.twitter.com/f5WM8IugeC
— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) July 9, 2018
24. This new redshirt rule will be huge
So one of the things that I’m actually looking forward to is seeing is hoe this new redshirt rule plays out. Having the ability to not burn a redshirt if a player appears in less than four games is interesting. We could see a whole lot more freshman debuts than usual. If it’s a team that’s out of contention, or if it’s a team playing in garbage time, that’s suddenly a more entertaining reason to watch. Sign me up for that.
25. Saturdays loaded with college football >>>>> anything on HGTV
But you knew this.