Welcome to a new episode of Land-Grant Holy Land’s I-70 podcast. On this show we talk all things Big Ten football and basketball. After every week of action, we will get you caught up on all the conference’s games and look ahead at the matchups, storylines, and players that you should be paying attention to in the next week. My name is Jordan Williams, and I am joined by my co-host Dante Morgan.
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We are a few weeks away from the start of the 2022-23 football season, so it is time to switch gears from off-season talk to diving headfirst into real football content. What better way to start football season than ranking teams and picking games?
In our season preview series, we rank the Big Ten into four tiers: Non-bowl tier, lower-bowl tier, New Year’s Six Bowl tier, and Contenders tier. We also predict records and finishes for all 14 teams leading to 168 games picked.
In this episode, we discuss the three or four teams that we think will make lower-ranked bowl games. Jordan believes that Mike Locksley — an overall bad coach — will stumble into back-to-back bowl games on the shoulders of his talented quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and his pass catchers Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus Jr., however, Dante disagrees.
They both agree that after a shocking 5-7 season, the Fighting Illini will reach six wins and make it to a bowl game in the second year under Bret Bielema. There may be a ceiling to what Illinois can be in the Big Ten, but behind Chase Brown and Josh McCray, they will be a tough team to face.
While Maryland and Illinois may be happy about being placed in this tier, the same cannot be said for the next two teams in this tier. After winning the Big Ten West and facing Michigan in the championship game last year, Iowa is set up to take a step back. Their defense will be good — as always — but with some losses on offense and without a change on that side of the ball’s staff, this team should lose more games than last year.
Penn State is the final team in this tier in our estimation. Their ceiling will remain limited with Sean Clifford as their starting quarterback. They should have a rejuvinated James Franklin but losing Jahan Dotson, Jaquan Brisker, and Brent Pry will be tough to deal with. This team should be better in the future, but with a tough schedule, they will not contend for the Big Ten East crown this year.
In their weekly pit stops, Dante gives a shout-out to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Chris Boswell's new contract extension, while Jordan expresses anger about the Deshaun Watson suspension and the overall process.