2019 BIG TEN EAST CONFERENCE PREVIEW
Marc Lawrence
Posted: 2019-06-24

Bowlers Welcome

Twelve Big Ten teams will square off against at least one non-conference team that participated in a bowl game last season, with 21 of all 42 non-conference games featuring opponents coming off bowl trips. Michigan and Purdue will each face bowl teams in all three of their 2019 non-conference contests, while Maryland, Michigan State and Penn State will each play two bowl opponents outside the conference schedule.

Counting conference and non-conference contests, every Big Ten team will face at least six teams that played in a bowl game last season. Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin lead the way with eight such contests, followed by Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Rutgers with seven.

Welcome Aboard

The Big Ten will welcome a pair of new head coaches to the sidelines for the 2019 campaign in Maryland s Michael Locksley and Ohio State s Ryan Day. Locksley brings over 20 years of coaching experience, including two separate stints at Maryland, totaling 10 years with the Terps. The winner of the 2018 Broyles Award, given to the nation s top assistant coach, Locksley has spent the last three years working under Nick Saban at Alabama. Day, the Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach who led the team to a 3-0 record at the start of the 2018 season, took over as head coach of the program on Jan. 2, following Urban Meyer s retirement.

Note: Team write-ups are excerpts from the 2019 PLAYBOOK Football Preview Guide magazine on sale at newsstands nationwide. The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.

BIG 10 EAST

 

INDIANA Off - *7/2 Def - 7/2 RPR: 12/25/23
TEAM THEME: FINE TUNING
With the Hoosiers stuck in neutral the past two seasons, head coach Tom Allen tweaked his coaching staff with the addition of OC Kalen DeBoer, who comes over from Fresno State where the Bulldogs posted a school record 12 victories. DeBoer also assumes associate head coach and quarterbacks coach duties. In addition, Kane Womack was named IU’s DC. The former LB coach inherits a suddenly wobbly stop-unit. Before last season, since Allen’s arrival, Indiana was the most improved team nationally in total defense (169.4 YPG). Behind a deeply experienced squad, the Hoosiers will need to get back to that standard in 2019 in order to achieve their first winning season since 2007.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Over the last 23 years, the teams for which Allen has been a member of the coaching staff have posted a combined 232-83 record (.737).

PLAY ON: at Penn State (11/16) - *KEY

MARYLAND Off - 4/2 Def - 5/1 RPR: 70/47/92
TEAM THEME: BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY
New Terrapin head coach Mike Locksley marks the arrival of Maryland’s fourth mentor in as many years. A promising 5-3 start to the season last year cratered out with four season-ending losses, including a gut-wrenching 52-51 OT defeat to Ohio State. Locksley enters from Alabama where he was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach when the Tide won the national title in 2017 and pounding the ball on the ground was his cup of tea. New defensive coordinator Jon Hoke brings 40 years of experience, including most recently with Tampa Bay in the NFL. The rebuild will take time, especially knowing that 52.1 % of starts last season were made by seniors the 13th most in the nation.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Terps are 0-11 SUATS following a win from Game Seven out the last five years.

PLAY ON: vs. Indiana (10/19)

MICHIGAN Off - *8/4 Def - 5/1 RPR: 68/30/106
TEAM THEME : HOWLING AT THE MOON II
The good news for the Wolverines in 2019 is that QB Shea Patterson decided to return for his senior season. He’ll be working under his sixth offensive coordinator in the last six years (dating back to high school) in Josh Gattis, former Alabama OC. And this one, he feels, fits his skill set the best. Michigan’s new up-tempo, no-huddle shotgun offense is called RPO, or run-pass-option, and with an array of talented wide receivers it could prove potent. Still seething over season-ending blowout losses to Ohio State and Florida, the Maize-and-Blue face a salty schedule in 2019, with non-conference tilts against three bowl teams. Expect them to be up for the challenge.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The SU winner ‘In The Stats’ is 47-5 in UM games with Harbaugh as its head coach.

PLAY ON: vs. Ohio State (11/30) - *KEY as a dog

MICHIGAN STATE Off - *8/3 Def - 8/3 RPR: 48/24/99
TEAM THEME: LOCKED AND LOADED
The Spartans return five seniors on defense who have earned All-Big Ten honors in their careers, including first-team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Kenny Willekes, who led the conference with 20.5 tackles for loss in 2018. In addition, first-team All-Big Ten middle linebacker Joe Bachie has led the team in tackles the past two seasons (100 in 2017, 102 in 2018) and returns for his third year. After fielding one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2017, the rush defense ranked No. 1 in the land last season. Should fifth-year SR QB Brian Lewerke rebound from last season’s shoulder injury, that groundwork should pay big dividends in 2019.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Mark Dantonio became the first coach in Big Ten history to record five 11-win seasons in a six-year span. Prior to Dantonio’s arrival, MSU had not recorded an 11-win season in its history.

PLAY ON: at Northwestern (9/21)

OHIO STATE Off - 4/1 Def - 9/3 RPR: 62/117/8
TEAM THEME: A NEW DAY DAWNING
Changes abound for the Buckeyes in 2019 as former assistant Ryan Day takes over the reins from Urban Meyer while Georgia transer QB Justin Fields steps in for Dwayne Haskins. Fields was a five-star prospect rated No. 1 overall by ESPN in 2018. A soft non-conference schedule finds Brutus taking on the likes of FAU, Cincinnati and Miami Ohio. Plus they will host three of their biggest foes at the Horseshoe in Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Last year’s dynmaic duo of running backs are down to just one in J.K Dobbins n 2019. Expect him to have a breakout sesaon while Day relies heavily on an ultra experienced defense.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Ohio State has played only 3 back-to-back road games in five years.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Penn State (11/23)

PENN STATE Off - 6/3 Def - 6/2 RPR: 100/116/55
TEAM THEME: DEAD LIKE ME
The Grim Reaper appears to have paid a visit to Happy Valley during the offseason and it wasn’t pretty. The team witnessed a mass exodus of underclassmen to the NFL Draft. As a result, they rank near the bottom of the barrel in returning starter production. Fifth-year senior QB Tommy Stevens is expected to replace Trace McSorley, the school’s all-time passing leader and winningest quarterback. With it, James Franklin’s coaching abilities will be put under the microscope in 2019 and we’re not necessarily sure that is a good thing, especially considering our ‘Stat You Will Like’ below. Not when they tackle 8 bowl foes, including each of their final four treks.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Franklin is 2-11 SU and 1-12 ATS away in his career against greater than .666 conference opponents.

PLAY AGAINST: at Iowa (10/12)

RUTGERS Off - *8/3 Def - 5/2 RPR: 87/32/116
TEAM THEME: ASHES TO ASHES
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising statement made by head coach Chris Ash at the conclusion of the season last year was when he said, "We're going to have the same offensive coordinator coming back." It was news given the fact that Rutgers has used 9 different offensive coordinators in the last nine years. Strange also given the fact that the Knights are coming off their worst season in a decade and a half following last year’s 1-11 debacle. Meanwhile, returning starting QB Artur Sitkowski was one of 21 underclassmen making starts last year, which should help. But if Ash fails to deliver this season, he could be residing inside a coaches urn in 2020.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Rutgers has outgained 4 foes in 36 games under Ash: Kansas, Morgan State, Norfolk State and Texas State.

PASS



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