The holidays are here, and it’s time to take a look at what each Big Ten team wants for Christmas this season. We’ll start with the bottom of the conference, and work our way to the top. Let’s go!
NOTRE DAME: WIN BY LUND & DEFENSE
Notre Dame isn’t going to win by asking quarterback Leo Asiata to sling it 40+ times. Their defense is talented, but when the momentum is against them and they’re desperate to force turnovers the Fighting Irish defense can’t function at their best. Instead, they need to stop limiting tailback Vidar Lund and let him be the feature of the offense. Ask Asiata to make simple throws and play strong defense. That’s the winning formula for the Irish.
MICHIGAN: AINGE TO AR-15
To be clear, this is what Michigan receiver Albert Robertson III wants too. Quarterback Dewey Ainge is putting up a lot of passing numbers, but they’re struggling to win games. While receiver Georgio Pipino has been dynamite, Robertson could be even more so if they found a way to get him involved more. It’s difficult since defenses are doubling up on him, but the Wolverines have the offensive firepower to blow teams away, they just need to maximize it.
NEBRASKA: SCORE 65 AGAIN
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit unrealistic, but they want to play like they can score 65 again. That week one showing was impressive, where quarterback James Kovach went off and halfback Dowdy Dowell couldn’t be slowed. The Cornhuskers showed that against Alabama before turnovers hindered them. Outside of those two games this offense has struggled. Nebraska’s defense has been doing its job, but the offense has to get back to firing on all cylinders like they were against Florida.
OREGON: STAY THE COURSE
Right now, the Ducks are in control of the Big Ten’s three seed. With quarterback Devonta Cribbs airing it out and receiver Dijon Swann making big plays, while tight end Max King is extremely threatening. That’s all great, but if tailback Jimmy Tickle is left out of the loop, Oregon’s offense struggles. Not saying he needs to be the focus, but he should be featured more. Defensively, the Ducks just need to do their job, especially since doing their job includes corner Dexter Pluto generating turnovers and safeties Cai Brummer and Shaka Black are highlights waiting to happen.
USC: FLY LOW
This sounds bad, but I honestly believe this is what USC is enjoying. They’re the 3-1 team that nobody is talking about, and I think they’re okay with that. The Trojans are flying under the radar, even though quarterback Kingston Fox is a capable runner and tailback Cain Robinson is finding himself to be a major threat within the offense, an offense that has threats on the perimeter with tight end Monte Jones, and receivers Mason Winters and Jace Rosser. Then, there’s the defense with linebackers Benjamin Kaye and Maine Patterson. Yeah, this linebacking corps has Xavier Halle among their ranks, but Kaye and Patterson are the ones setting the edges and keeping offenses from getting to perimeter in the rushing game.
OHIO STATE: GO UNDEFEATED IN-CONFERENCE….AGAIN
So, the Buckeyes saw their 11 game regular season win streak come to a grinding halt last week against Texas. Fine. They’re still 1-0 in-conference, and the favorites to win the Big Ten. With tailback Frost Carlson bruising defense and signal-caller Xavier Garcia-Allen playing efficiently not only through the air but also on the ground. Oh, and the Ohio State defense has four different members in their secondary with an interception. They’re not generating the turnovers they did last season, but they’re still a stout defense. Corners Tom Pence and Juan Cantu are the best in business, and linebacker Martavis Marriott is anchoring the defense. They could realistically finish the season with a record of 10-0 in-conference under their current athletic director.