B1G West Contenders

Auger

HR All-American
Sep 14, 2007
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I've been following the local media and coach speak for all the B1G West teams since the beginning of Spring reading all the weekly stories. College Football and Basketball is about all I follow anymore. Some interesting tidbits from each team have me feeling more and more optimistic about Iowa this fall. I think only Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota are true contenders in the B1G West race. Purdue seems to have holes all over and this is the most pessimistic I have ever heard Brohm and Nebraska hasn't yet figured out you need to be good to great in the trenches to compete in the B1G.

Wiscosnin is always the popular pick to win the West and seem to get the benefit of the doubt (for good reason) from the national media every year. I feel as though Wisconsin has come down the earth a lot in the last few seasons. Depth concerns have lead to them not always being able to plug and play new guys every season like they're used to. This season they seem to be having some issues at key positions with just that.

On offense OL at this point still has a lot of questions. WR nobody has really stepped up. At TE there have been consistency issues trying to replace Mr. Consistent Jake Ferguson. At RB everyone expects Allen to be one of the best in the nation but behind him is a giant question. Mellusi isn't 100% yet after tearing his ACL. Often injured Guerendo isn't his old self and behind Mellusi and Guerendo there is basically nobody not even a skilled TrFr RB.

Things have been even more interesting on Defense where Wisconsin is used to plug and reload every offseason. On the DL they feel confident at 2 (NT Benton is a stud) of the 3 DL starters but have major concerns with depth and consistency. Wisconsin has to replace 2 starters on the DL. At LB they have Herbig who is a stud. Goetz who had a good season last year is the new starter at the other OLB spot. However there are two glaring holes at both inside LB positions. Most of the talk is solely on the two new starters and trying to get consistent play out of them. The backups have mostly been barely talked about by media and coaches. Wisconsin lost a lot of talent at DB. DB is where they brought in some transfer help but as of today very little is being said about the progress of the new DB's. It's hard to get a read on where the position unit is at.

The past few seasons we have seen some chinks in the Wisconsin armor. They aren't reloading like they used to. Last year they had some depth issues at OL, DL, and DB. They replace a lot of starters this year. With all the questions they still have heading into fall camp at key bread and butter position groups for them I would not be shocked to see them struggle again this year and drop games they wouldn't normally be dropping. Can Iowa beat them though is a different question? Even mediocre Wisconsin teams Iowa has trouble with.

Minnesota
is a team I think could be a surprise this year. They lost a lot of key talent last year but they also bring back some key talent. Unlike Wisconsin the rodents brought in a lot of transfers to compete at areas of question. Minnesota unlike Nebraska understands the importance of winning the trenches in the B1G. They have developed a lot of talent along the OL and DL under Fleck. They return some top talent along the OL and DL and have brought in Power 5 transfers on the OL and DL and given their ability to develop talent along those lines I think at minimum you will only see a slight drop in talent along those lines.

The skill positions on offense will be big question marks heading into the season. Ibrahim, Potts and Williams are an imposing RB trio. However as of right now there are still questions on if those three will be at 100% by season start. Once RB's go through a major injury history says keeping those RB's healthy is a challenge. There is a safety valve in ultra talented TrFr Zach Evans but this unit could either be top 3 in the B1G and a load for teams to stop or they could struggle with health and really cripple the Gopher offense. RB is a really really big question for the Gophers.

WR is a position the Gophers have a ton of talent at. However they did little with that talent last year. Dylan Wright at 6'3" 215 is highly watched by NFL scouts. He has all the gifts to be one of the better B1G receivers. CAB is one of the more consistent WR threats in the B1G West. Combine them with Jackson, Brown-Stephens, some talented youngsters and a top 15 TE in Spann-Ford and Minnesota has the best receiving talent in the B1G West. Can the return of Ciarrocca get the most out of that talent? With the RB's Minnesota has the highest upside in the B1G West on offense is with Minnesota. They have some big question marks though with the health of the RB room and if Ciarrocca and Morgan can better utilize the receiving talent this team has.

On defense with what they have lost, what they have returned, what they brought in through transfers and the talented youngsters they had last year I would only expect a slight drop-off from last year. They lost major talent at all three levels. They return major talent at all three levels. They brought in talented transfers at all three levels and they had young talent at all three levels step up late in the season. The D's biggest issue will be can they provide a pass rush?

Like Iowa is with Wisconsin can Minnesota get over the Iowa hump this year? I am really looking forward to this season. I really believe Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota will be the clear top 3 in the West. It will be a fun little border state battle. All three play each other in the final three weeks of the season. The crossovers are pretty even with Iowa getting @Rutgers, Michigan and @Ohio St. Minnesota has @ MSU, @ Penn St and Rutgers at home. That's two really tough road games. Wisconsin has Ohio St and MSU on the road and Maryland at home. If Purdue is going to contend it's because Iowa laid a turd again and they get PSU at home and Indiana and Maryland on the road as their crossovers. Nebraska is interesting because their schedule is pretty favorable. They should be bowl eligible by the end of October. if not Frost will be fired by then.
 
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grayhair81

HR Legend
Sep 3, 2006
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Iowa definitely is in the hunt for the West this season. QB and OL are huge concerns.
Wiscy has landed some really good O linemen in the past few classes. I suspect they will be a good unit this year. QB is their number one question as well. Mertz has not come close to living up to what was expected from him. Tanner Morgan wasn't good last season but has shown better overall performance than SP and GM.
Yes, it should be a comperitive fight for the west.
 
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desihawk

HR Heisman
Oct 1, 2002
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What holes in the trenches does PU have? As I recall their qb was quite comfortable in the pocket against us last year. Conversely if Petras had been that well protected maybe we would've put up a better fight. I'm certainly glad Bell is gone but pu did manage to have an offense in their bowl game without him.
That said, Iowa will be in a decent position to challenge but that would be regardless of the level of competition. We are quite capable of pulling out one against umich or osu and dropping a couple to sdsu and nw.
 

bulletproof90

Team MVP
Oct 9, 2010
161
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It's the biggest question I have every offseason. Winning the West is the singular measure on which I base whether an Iowa season was successful. Don't think I'll ever be happy with a season where we don't win it. Really feel like there have been a number of years recently when we should have won it but squandered it.

Iowa will be the best team in the B1G West this year. Probably hard to completely eliminate my bias but I genuinely believe that. I think how maligned the offense has been is going to light a fire under the whole group's ass and we're going to see some degree of transformation and be at least competent on that side of the ball.

The problem is the sheer number of teams who have a shot at contending. Feels like the entire division has an at least outside shot; like, everyone but Illinois. So purely by chance there's gonna be at least one non-Iowa team who you would figure to be right there at the end, which will make the margin for error slim.

Going through all of the teams, in ascending order of likelihood of winning the West, in my eyes:

Illinois: Like I said. But maybe Bielema is turning the program around?

Northwestern: I want to discount Northwestern but they've been establishing an interesting pattern, haven't they?

Nebraska: I think Frost is a joke and this team will have a losing mentality as long as he is there. But that schedule is easy.

Minnesota: Haven't followed them as closely as you have; just know they lost a lot, and that PJ Fleck is so damn corny I can't take them seriously. Our recent games with them have been tough and they have a slightly more favorable schedule, and at some point having like 8 years of experience is surely gonna make the game come easily to Morgan. Their offensive line is what carried them last year, though, and the large amount of turnover there is likely too much to overcome.

Purdue: I don't trust them to ever get over the hump of being a mediocre-to-marginally-good team to being a division winner, but they, like Nebraska, certainly got gifted by the schedule gods this year. O'Connell is solid and they should compete. Curious what makes you say Brohm is being pessimistic?

Wisconsin: Agree that Wisconsin is not quite who they used to be and yet are still the #1 threat every season. I think Braelon Allen has the makings of being one of those superstar Wisconsin RBs and he makes me nervous. Wisconsin's problem, though, is that there are question marks almost everywhere else. I've been conditioned to fear them though and I'd be hard-pressed to think we can lose to them and still win the West this time around.
 

uihawk82

All-Conference
Nov 17, 2021
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It's the biggest question I have every offseason. Winning the West is the singular measure on which I base whether an Iowa season was successful. Don't think I'll ever be happy with a season where we don't win it. Really feel like there have been a number of years recently when we should have won it but squandered it.


I definitely agree that the hawks have squandered at least 2 other West titles in the last 10 years.
 

mikesright

HR MVP
Jun 7, 2009
1,513
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I don’t have a great feel for how this year could go for Iowa or even the West pecking order. Personally I’m just hoping that this is the year Wisconsin tanks hard.

I can finally envision the scenario - Wisconsin has a couple of nice running backs that both got hurt last year, but otherwise they were nothing special last year up front, at QB, and don’t return any receivers or tight ends worth a damn. They lose a lot on defense too. Hopefully this is the year.
 

DodgerHawki

HR Heisman
Nov 19, 2002
9,688
11,554
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What holes in the trenches does PU have? As I recall their qb was quite comfortable in the pocket against us last year. Conversely if Petras had been that well protected maybe we would've put up a better fight. I'm certainly glad Bell is gone but pu did manage to have an offense in their bowl game without him.
That said, Iowa will be in a decent position to challenge but that would be regardless of the level of competition. We are quite capable of pulling out one against umich or osu and dropping a couple to sdsu and nw.
We Iowa fans judging Purdue tend to view them better than they have been, just because of how Purdue has played against Iowa specifically. Purdue took a big step forward last year, from the standpoint of not crapping the bed against terrible/bad teams like they had in every previous year under Brohm. The Big 10 games Purdue lost last year were to Minnesota, OSU and Wisconsin. The Minnesota game Purdue outgained the Gophers by about 200 yards but still lost due to turnovers and weird plays.

Karlaftis and Bell were irreplaceable type talent in that Purdue just doesn't have guys their equal coming back. No one outside OSU does that.
 

BoilerN

HR All-State
May 12, 2017
671
391
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It's the biggest question I have every offseason. Winning the West is the singular measure on which I base whether an Iowa season was successful. Don't think I'll ever be happy with a season where we don't win it. Really feel like there have been a number of years recently when we should have won it but squandered it.

Iowa will be the best team in the B1G West this year. Probably hard to completely eliminate my bias but I genuinely believe that. I think how maligned the offense has been is going to light a fire under the whole group's ass and we're going to see some degree of transformation and be at least competent on that side of the ball.

The problem is the sheer number of teams who have a shot at contending. Feels like the entire division has an at least outside shot; like, everyone but Illinois. So purely by chance there's gonna be at least one non-Iowa team who you would figure to be right there at the end, which will make the margin for error slim.

Going through all of the teams, in ascending order of likelihood of winning the West, in my eyes:

Illinois: Like I said. But maybe Bielema is turning the program around?

Northwestern: I want to discount Northwestern but they've been establishing an interesting pattern, haven't they?

Nebraska: I think Frost is a joke and this team will have a losing mentality as long as he is there. But that schedule is easy.

Minnesota: Haven't followed them as closely as you have; just know they lost a lot, and that PJ Fleck is so damn corny I can't take them seriously. Our recent games with them have been tough and they have a slightly more favorable schedule, and at some point having like 8 years of experience is surely gonna make the game come easily to Morgan. Their offensive line is what carried them last year, though, and the large amount of turnover there is likely too much to overcome.

Purdue: I don't trust them to ever get over the hump of being a mediocre-to-marginally-good team to being a division winner, but they, like Nebraska, certainly got gifted by the schedule gods this year. O'Connell is solid and they should compete. Curious what makes you say Brohm is being pessimistic?

Wisconsin: Agree that Wisconsin is not quite who they used to be and yet are still the #1 threat every season. I think Braelon Allen has the makings of being one of those superstar Wisconsin RBs and he makes me nervous. Wisconsin's problem, though, is that there are question marks almost everywhere else. I've been conditioned to fear them though and I'd be hard-pressed to think we can lose to them and still win the West this time around.
Agreed on Purdue. I didn't get the pessimistic vibes from Brohm. Especially when this is probably his deepest, most complete team at Purdue.
 

nbanflfactory

HR Heisman
Aug 22, 2021
6,497
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Iowa definitely is in the hunt for the West this season. QB and OL are huge concerns.
Wiscy has landed some really good O linemen in the past few classes. I suspect they will be a good unit this year. QB is their number one question as well. Mertz has not come close to living up to what was expected from him. Tanner Morgan wasn't good last season but has shown better overall performance than SP and GM.
Yes, it should be a comperitive fight for the west.
they seem to have found their next great rb too?? if so, we need someone to emerge!

should hopefully be a very interesting november for us! wis pu and mn all in november.....