A look at the Big Ten football teams and their chances of success this season.
EDITORS: These are embargoed until Monday, Aug. 30.
Big Ten Conference football capsules
(In predicted order of finish.)
1. OHIO STATE
Coach: Jim Tressel, 94-21 in 10th year at Ohio State, 229-78-2 in 24th year overall.
2009: 11-2 overall and 7-1 (first) in the Big Ten. Defeated Oregon 26-17 in Rose Bowl.
NCAA rankings: 68th among 120 teams in Division I-A in 2009 in total offense, 369 yards per game; fifth in total defense, 262.3.
Starters back: 10 on offense, five on defense.
Notable losses: SS Kurt Coleman, DE Thad Gibson, OL Jim Cordle.
Big question: Can junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor take another big step forward after his accuracy and decision-making improved in the second half of last season?
Outlook: If the Buckeyes handle road games against Wisconsin and Iowa, Ohio State should return to the national title game for the third time in five seasons.
Coach Tressel says: "The reality we've had for years and years at Ohio State is that we normally have a target (on our backs). We're a very capable team. We should be targeted.''
Coach: Kirk Ferentz, 81-55 in 12th year at Iowa, 93-76 in 15th year overall.
2009: 11-2 overall, 6-2 (tied for second) in Big Ten. Defeated Georgia Tech 24-14 in Orange Bowl.
NCAA rankings: 89th in total offense, 336.3; 10th in total defense, 276.5.
Starters back: Six on offense, eight on defense.
Notable losses: OT Brian Bulaga, TE Tony Moeaki, LB Pat Angerer, CB Amari Spievey.
Big question: Can Iowa recapture the magic and win the close games again this season after taking four by three points or less in 2009?
Outlook: With a rock-solid defense, quarterback Ricky Stanzi knows how to win. He's 18-4 as a starter.
Coach Ferentz says: "The strength of our football team probably overall and certainly on the defensive yard (is) the defensive line. We have four starters coming back, and a young guy, Mike Daniels, has really stepped up. We consider him a starter, too.''
Coach: Bret Bielema, 38-14 in fifth year at Wisconsin and overall.
2009: 10-3 overall, 5-3 (tied for fourth) in Big Ten. Defeated Miami 20-14 in Champs Sports Bowl.
NCAA rankings: 30th in total offense, 416.9; 17th in total defense, 305.7.
Starters back: 10 on offense, six on defense.
Notable losses: DE O'Brien Schofield, DT Jeff Stehle, FS Chris Maragos.
Big question: Who is most valuable - quarterback Scott Tolzien or running back John Clay?
Outlook: Back-to-back games against Ohio State and Iowa in October will determine how high the Badgers climb.
Coach Bielema says: "Going back to 2008, we had some high expectations. We ran into a little bit of a slide early. The majority of our players that are going to be significant players in the senior class all went through the scars of that season.''
4. PENN STATE
Coach: Joe Paterno, 394-129-3 in 45th year at Penn State and overall.
2009: 11-2 overall, 6-2 (tied for second) in Big Ten. Defeated LSU 19-17 in Capital One Bowl.
NCAA rankings: 37th in total offense, 406.9; ninth in total defense, 274.5
Starters back: Seven on offense, five on defense.
Notable losses: QB Daryll Clark, LB Navorro Bowman, DT Jared Odrick, P Jeremy Boone.
Big question: Can running back Evan Royster carry the offense until a quarterback makes the transition to starter?
Outlook: Paterno has been around long enough to know about rebuilding, but the Nittany Lions don't have much time to retool. They play at Alabama in Week 2.
Coach Paterno says: "(Playing Alabama) is a good game for us. I have a young team. Obviously, we've got some growing up to do.''
5. MICHIGAN STATE
Coach: Mark Dantonio, 22-17 in fourth year at Michigan State, 40-34 in seventh year overall.
2009: 6-7 overall, 4-4 (tied for sixth) in Big Ten. Lost 41-31 to Texas Tech in Alamo Bowl.
NCAA rankings: 38th in total offense, 406.2; 73rd in total defense, 380.8.
Starters back: Seven on offense, six on defense.
Notable losses: WR Blair White, DE Trevor Anderson, PK Brett Swenson.
Big question: Was a November fight involving players and fraternity boys a sign that Dantonio still has work to do in cleaning up the Spartans' image?
Outlook: Quarterback Kirk Cousins led Michigan State to first in the Big Ten in passing efficiency and second in passing offense last season, so there's no more quarterback platoon.
Coach Dantonio says: "As we move forward, we hope to lay a foundation on our past three years, all of which resulted in bowl games, as we compete for a Big Ten championship.''
Coach: Danny Hope, 5-7 in second year at Purdue, 40-29 in seventh year overall.
2009: 5-7 overall, 4-4 (tied for sixth) in Big Ten.
NCAA rankings: 53rd in total offense, 391.3; 69th in total defense, 376.6.
Starters back: Six on offense, six on defense.
Notable losses: QB Joey Elliott, RB Ralph Bolden, DT Mike Neal, CB David Pender.
Big question: After winning four of its last six games in 2009, can Purdue get a boost from quarterback Robert Marve, the transfer from Miami who won the battle over Metermora's Caleb TerBush?
Outlook: The Boilermakers must overcome three injuries at running back in spring drills, including an ACL tear to Ralph Bolden, the team's top ground gainer.
Coach Hope says: "Thank God it's finally football season. We ended last year with some momentum.''
Coach: Pat Fitzgerald, 27-23 in fifth year at Northwestern and overall.
2009: 8-5 overall, 5-3 (tied for fourth) in Big Ten. Lost 38-35 to Auburn in Outback Bowl.
NCAA rankings: 40th in total offense, 404.1; 47th in total defense, 350.5.
Starters back: Eight on offense, six on defense.
Notable losses: QB Mike Kafka, WR Zeke Markshausen, CB Sherrick McManis, S Brad Phillips.
Big question: Is this the year when Northwestern scores its first bowl victory since 1949?
Outlook: Establishing a running game is as paramount as gaining trust in first-year starting quarterback Dan Persa. This might always be a program underrated in the preseason.
Coach Fitzgerald says: "We have a good plan on developing quarterbacks. Our system is quarterback-friendly.''
Coach: Rich Rodriguez, 8-16 in third year at Michigan, 113-78-2 in 18th year overall.
2009: 4-8 overall, 1-7 (tied for 10th) in Big Ten.
NCAA rankings: 59th in total offense, 384.5; 82nd in total defense, 393.3.
Starters back: 10 on offense, eight on defense.
Notable losses: RB Brandon Minor, DE Brandon Graham, CB Donovan Warren.
Big question: Can the Michigan defense overcome the broken leg suffered by cornerback Troy Woolfolk in preseason practice?
Outlook: The raw numbers under Rodriguez aren’t good - admitting to four major NCAA violations, 0-2 vs. Ohio State, 0-2 vs. Michigan State and 1-1 vs. Notre Dame. The clock is ticking.
Coach Rodriguez says: "The last two years, there have been quite a lot of experiences, a lot of drama. Our guys have stayed focused. There's a lot of hungry football players in Ann Arbor.''
Coach: Ron Zook, 21-39 in sixth year at Illinois, 44-53 in ninth year overall.
2009: 3-9 overall, 2-6 (ninth) in Big Ten.
NCAA rankings: 47th in total offense, 393.5; 91st in total defense, 403.2.
Starters back: Five on offense, seven on defense.
Notable losses: QB Juice Williams, WR Arrelious Benn, OT Jon Asamoah, DT Josh Brent.
Big question: With the offense looking better under Paul Petrino, can defensive coordinator Vic Koenning put together a unit that will keep Illinois in games past halftime?
Outlook: In the coaching staff overhaul, the coordinator hires were strong, but Illinois must overcome a rookie quarterback, major holes on defense and a rugged schedule to save the coach.
Coach Zook says: "Not throwing anybody under the bus, but it wasn't working. We weren't doing the things we were capable of doing. We made some serious mistakes on evaluating personnel or we weren't getting players capable of playing as a group.''
Coach: Bill Lynch, 14-23 in fourth year at Indiana, 95-90-3 in 18th year overall.
2009: 4-8 overall, 1-7 (tied for 10th) in Big Ten.
NCAA rankings: 72nd in total offense, 365.0; 88th in total defense, 401.0.
Starters back: Eight on offense, four on defense.
Notable losses: OT Roger Saffold, DE Jammie Kirlew, LB Matt Mayberry, CB Ray Fisher.
Big question: Can a dynamic offense, led by quarterback Ben Chappell and running back Darius Willis, make the Hoosiers competitive?
Outlook: This is likely the last chance for Lynch, even at a school where football doesn't seem that important.
Coach Lynch says: "Our theme this year has to be finish, because we have so many games last year where we were competing and had the lead in the fourth quarter in the Big Ten and didn't finish the job.''
Coach: Tim Brewster, 14-24 in fourth year at Minnesota and overall.
2009: 6-7 overall, 3-5 (eighth) in Big Ten. Lost 14-13 to Iowa State in Insight Bowl.
NCAA rankings: 109th in total offense, 306.5; 63rd in total defense, 369.1.
Starters back: Nine on offense, two on defense.
Notable losses: WR Eric Decker, LB Nate Triplett, LB Lee Campbell.
Big question: If Brewster's such a good recruiter, then shouldn't the Gophers be taking a big step forward?
Outlook: Quarterback Adam Weber must improve to keep pressure off a defense that lost all of its front seven, but it's an uphill battle with non-conference games against USC and Northern Illinois.
Coach Brewster says: "We know that we're going to be playing one of the most challenging schedules in America. Our players are going to have to be prepared.''