A 2022 New Years resolution for every Big Ten football team


So you say you want a resolution. And 14 of them?

Join us, teary-eyed reader, as we share what each Big Ten team needs to do in 2022.

Illinois: Learn to Succeed

No team coached by Bret Bielema will ever set new academic achievement records. But Illinois could actually boast next season if their quarterback cap exceeds “sometimes adequate.”

Running back Chase Brown has a potential Big Ten season ahead of him, but that task would be a lot easier if the Illini could make sure there weren’t 8 defenders in the box at all times. Whether it’s Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito providing the boost or the development of incumbent Art Sitkowski, Illinois must do better than the 14th in the conference by the way.

Indiana: identify a new quarterback

The once promising Michael Penix Jr. era has ended in Indiana after Penix was transferred to play for former offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer in Washington. And it’s good. The offense has been built entirely around the premise of a healthy, do-it-all Penix, and that no longer seems possible.

Even though both sides were right to move on, that doesn’t mean the Hoosiers know who they’re headed to. Jack Tuttle, with 4 career TDs and 6 interceptions, is about as far from a certainty as you can be.

IU needs a starter to show off in the spring, although it will likely hang around in the August camp.

Iowa: find some semblance of offense

It remains incredible that the Hawkeyes reached the Big Ten Championship Game with this offense. Which, of course, was exposed during the 60 minutes of that game as totally incapable of winning a championship.

Yes, the Hawks need a better quarterback game. But problems are everywhere for this offense. Tyler Goodson is a legitimately excellent running back in the open field, but Iowa was still 111th nationally in rushing.

There has to be a change of caller, but given the offensive coordinator’s name is Brian Ferentz, this is unlikely to happen. Which means Ferentz has to magically become a better player.

Hey, just because you’re unlikely to come up with a resolution doesn’t mean you can’t!

Maryland: decide to arrest someone

Fresh off their first bowl win since 2010, the Terps are moving in the right direction under Mike Locksley.

Biggest obstacle remaining? Find out how to make opposing offenses move in the wrong direction. Maryland was 97th nationally in defensive scoring, allowing 30.7 points per game. Maryland can never hope for better than a 7-5 regular season if things don’t improve.

Michigan: proving it wasn’t a flash in the pan

Is Michigan Back?

Of course, I want to. But the last time we thought a traditional giant like this was “back” – Texas in 2018 – it turned out to be a mirage.

Shattering loss aside, this year’s playoff spot was a watershed moment for Jim Harbaugh at Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines have to prove they are perennial contenders for the Big Ten.

State of Michigan: construction of Keep Tuck

Spartans fans loved to say “Tuck Comin ‘” in 2021. Well, now he’s here. And long after signing a 10-year contract extension.

Now comes the business of building a program rather than a big season. Mel Tucker was liberal in sprinkling transfers to turn a bad team into a great one. It will be interesting to see what strategy he uses to make Michigan State swim with the Blue Bloods.

Minnesota: beat Iowa

A year ago we would have had an equally simple statement for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan vis-à-vis the state of Ohio.

PJ Fleck has never beaten the Hawkeyes, who have won Floyd of Rosedale 7 times in a row. The pig must return to Minneapolis.

Nebraska: Hire a special teams coordinator

How are you 1-8 in the Big Ten despite scoring the exact same number of points you allowed in conference? By having horrible special teams.

Missed goals on the field. Extra points missed. Allow blocked punts. Allow touchdown returns. The Cornhuskers did it all in 2021.

At present, Mike Dawson is still listed on the Nebraska website as the team’s outside linebackers special teams coach / coordinator. This will surely change with the practice of spring. You hope.

North-West: Do everything better

The Wildcats were 14th in the B1G for scorers and 12th for defense.

In short, they need to improve in every way they can.

Ohio State: Beat Michigan

At most, the Buckeyes will enter next season’s Michigan game with a conference loss and thus play for the Big Ten East title. For the state of Ohio, 2022 is about revenge.

Penn State: setting the course

The Nittany Lions were 13th in the Big Ten and 122nd nationally with just 3.1 yards per carry. It’s not going to cut it into the Big Ten East. Or anywhere, really.

James Franklin signed Nicholas Singleton – the nation’s No.4 running back and Pennsylvania No.2 player – which should help spark this dying part of the Penn State attack. But the Nittany Lions need to improve up front more than anything else.

Purdue: Going West

Of course, maybe it’s like a resolution like, “I’m going to run a marathon this year”. But if they really thought about it, the Boilermakers might do it. The beauty of the Big Ten West, if you’re in that division, at least, is that each of the 7 programs is capable of reaching Indianapolis within the next 5 years.

With a stable of healthy running backs in the mix, the Boilers could do more than play spoilers in 2022.

Rutgers: Win a bowl game

It should read ‘take a bowl game’, but thanks to the program’s APR score, Rutgers was able to reach that goal for the first time since 2014 as a last-minute substitute for Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl.

The next step for Greg Schiano is to earn a bowl offer on the field and then win the game. The Scarlet Knights haven’t done this since the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl.

Wisconsin: Hire an offensive coordinator

Paul Chryst tries to wear the hats of head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the same time, and it shows in Graham Mertz’s inconsistent play.

Even if Chryst wants to keep calling parts and finds someone to be the quarterbacks coach, it would be a welcome move. Mertz appeared out of date in September, contributing to a 1-3 start when the Badgers likely should have had the opposite record.

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