Big Ten champ: Michigan State. The criminally underrated Spartans reach Indy again by taking down Ohio State at home.
Runner-up: Iowa can play ground-and-pound with the best, and you can't ignore a schedule devoid of Ohio State and Michigan State.
Tribune Silver Football: Ohio State's Braxton Miller would become the first in the history of the award to three-peat. (Don't sue, Pat Riley.)
Freshman of the year: Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers apparently is not related to Julius, but he might as well be. Both are freakish athletes.
Coach of the year: Mark Dantonio. With an enormous nod to Michigan State defensive coordinator defensive Pat Narduzzi.
Hot seat: Brady Hoke. If Michigan's line gets flagged for moving before the final regulation snap in Evanston, the Wolverines would have gone 2-6 in the Big Ten.
League dark horse: Maryland. It'll be embarrassing if a team that lost 63-0 to Florida State last season plays .500 ball in the Big Ten.
Big Ten champ: Ohio State. A returning Braxton Miller plus a championship coach in Urban Meyer is a perfect recipe for a conference title.
Runner-up: Iowa. The Hawkeyes aren't flashy but a favorable schedule bodes well for them to come out of the West division.
Tribune Silver Football: Miller has owned this award recently, but Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is poised for a monster season.
Freshman of the year: Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers is a potential game-changer and unlike linemen or linebackers who may need time to develop, he can contribute immediately.
Coach of the year: James Franklin. The Nittany Lions get Ohio State and Michigan State at home and have the potential to shake up the East.
Hot seat: Bo Pelini. Last season — on and off the field — didn't help Nebraska coach endear himself to the Cornhusker faithful. They will demand results.
Dark horse: Penn State. Nittany Lions' success hinges on the development of quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but he has the potential to carry a team on his back.
Big Ten champ: Ohio State. Buckeyes are equipped to make up for last season's thud to end the year.
Runner-up: Wisconsin. Badgers ground attack behind Melvin Gordon will lead the way to championship game.
Tribune Silver Football: Braxton Miller. Reigning champion is primed for a standout senior season for Ohio State after passing for more than 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior.
Freshman of the year: Jabrill Peppers' explosiveness could help the Wolverines' pass defense that regressed last season.
Coach of the year: Urban Meyer. He set high expectations for the Buckeyes, who need to edge Michigan State in the East Division.
Hot seat: Tim Beckman. Unlike his first two seasons, going winless or winning only one Big Ten game probably won't cut it in Year 3 with Illinois.
Dark horse: Northwestern. After a disappointing 2013, the Wildcats should bounce back with talented running back Venric Mark.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun