I love the preseason.

I mean, not as much as I love the regular season when there are actually games, but I love digging through rosters, schedules and media narratives and figuring out what I believe and what I don’t believe. That’s fun to me. Everyone is still undefeated, and fanbases are brimming with optimism. And hey, maybe you’ll be the one to predict LSU coming out of nowhere to win it all in 2019, or that Arkansas and Michigan State would reach the top 20 in their coaches’ second seasons. Or that Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma would struggle out of the gate. There’s just no telling what could happen at the start of a new year.

But what usually happens is that the season starts, and you just look stupid.

On that note, here are the 5 takes I’m already regretting and punting on:

1) Wisconsin is going to win the Big Ten and go to the College Football Playoff

OK, so the spirit of this one was correct, even if I flubbed the team. I figured that this would be the year that Ohio State was finally dethroned and that someone else from the B1G would make the CFP.

I landed on Wisconsin because I bought into the hype that last year was a fluky year given all the COVID issues, and that at full strength, the Badgers were damn near unstoppable (remember that shellacking of Michigan in Ann Arbor?). I figured that Graham Mertz’s shoulder and the absence of Wisconsin’s starting wideouts were the primary reasons why the Badgers struggled so mightily last year. With Mertz healthy, those wideouts back and Jalen Berger ready to break out, Wisconsin would get back to winning double-digit games. The Badgers didn’t have to play Ohio State in the regular season, yet they still had resume-building opportunities with Notre Dame (featuring the QB that they decided wasn’t good enough to start!), Penn State, Iowa and Michigan.

But as you’ve seen, I was terribly, terribly wrong about Wisconsin. The defense is still great, but the offense is even worse than last season, if that’s possible.

The Badgers (1-2) very well could still win the Big Ten, as the West is a mess aside from Iowa. But after watching them in the first month of the season, I’m willing to take the L on that prediction.

2) Michigan State will be last in the East

In my defense, if I would’ve known No. 17 Michigan State (4-0) would’ve been this good, I wouldn’t have picked it last! I knew Kenneth Walker III was going to be great, because he put up good numbers at Wake Forest. I thought Payton Thorne had potential, based off some positive performances near the end of last season.

But I didn’t realize the offensive line — a point of weakness the last couple seasons — was going to be terrific. And the line is the backbone of every good offense (ask Wisconsin and Iowa). Take a guy like Matt Carrick, who has gone from being below average in the Big Ten to being one of the top guards in all of college football this season.

And the Spartans have played just well enough on defense to win games. Jacub Panasiuk and Drew Beesley have been beasts on the edge. I think the Spartans could finish in the top 3 in the loaded East, and that’s with Rutgers and Maryland also looking very good.

3) Indiana can challenge Ohio State in the East

I thought Ohio State’s 21-game Big Ten winning streak was going to come to an end, and I stand by that. But I don’t think it’s going to be Indiana that does it. Most certainly not. I believed the Hoosiers would start 2-2, and they have. But it’s been an ugly 2-2. Michael Penix Jr. does not look like the same player, and that’s understandable given he’s now been through 3 season-ending injuries, 2 of which were torn ACLs to his right knee.

I had Indiana at 9-3 this season (winning 7 straight after a 2-3 start), and that includes a win over Ohio State. I’m technically still on track, but I’m definitely punting on that prediction.

4) Ryan Hilinski will be the most impactful B1G transfer

Looking back at my Top 25 list, it actually looks pretty good at the top. Walker has been as advertised for Michigan State, DE Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State) and WR Samori Toure (Nebraska) have been difference-makers for their respective programs. There aren’t a ton of misses.

But then you get to No. 1, South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski. Yikes.

I thought Hilinski, the No. 2 pro-style QB in the 2019 class, would easily win the starting job at Northwestern and take over just like Peyton Ramsey did in 2020. But Hilinski got beat out by another former transfer, Hunter Johnson, and it turns out, he wasn’t even the backup. That job belonged to Andrew Marty. Hilinski only got in against Duke after Marty got hurt. After playing against Duke and Ohio (2 of the worst defenses Hilinski will see all season), Hilinski has a completion percentage of 51.9 and is averaging only 4.5 yards per attempt, with no TD passes.

Yeah, I don’t think he’s going to be the best B1G transfer anymore.

5) Bret Bielema wins the most games of any first-year Power 5 head coach

In my defense, there weren’t a ton of options: Josh Heupel (Tennessee), Bryan Harsin (Auburn), Steve Sarkisian (Texas), Clark Lea (Vandy), Jedd Fisch (Arizona) and Shane Beamer (South Carolina). And with the way Illinois started off in beating Nebraska in Week 0, I was feeling pretty good about that one.

But the Illini have lost 4 straight and appear to be on their way to a 3-win season. The best bet is Sarkisian, as Texas (3-1) could most certainly win a good number of games in what looks like a down year for the Big 12.

All I know is that it won’t be Bielema, who has his work cut out for him in Champaign.