Even though it feels like summer just started, Big Ten Media Days are just one week away. The Big Ten will be front and center on the college football landscape for a few days, and if we learned anything from SEC media days, things can get interesting (I'm looking at you, Nick Saban).
To prepare for Big Ten media days, here are the top conference storylines to watch this season:
How Nebraska can rebound from a seven loss Mike Riley debut
I'll start with the no brainer first. Nebraska football fans will look for answers on how the Huskers can improve from last year's lackluster 5-7 record. Mike Riley will join seniors Tommy Armstrong, Jordan Westerkamp and Josh Banderas in representing the Huskers at media days. Expect Riley to take a lot of questions about rebuilding the defensive line, the pass-to-run ratio, and the luck of playing Wisconsin after the Badgers face Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa. Yikes.
If Iowa can maintain its level of success from last season
Although last season ended in a disappointing Rose Bowl loss and a heartbreaker in the Big Ten Championship game, the Hawkeyes were knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff all season long. C.J. Beathard will be back under center after throwing for 2,809 yards last season with only five interceptions last season. Combine the veteran quarterback presence with another year of a favorable schedule and the Hawkeyes should be favorites to win the West division.
The announcement of the Big Ten TV deal
According to a report from the Indianapolis Star, the latest media rights contract for the Big Ten is coming, and it's going to be huge. The Big Ten could $440 million each year for the next six years, which means Big Ten school are about to get paid handsomely. The conference hopes to announce the deals with Fox and ESPN during media days.
Development of Michigan under Jim Harbaugh
Was last season's success a fluke, or did Harbaugh really just flip Michigan's program around in one season? Michigan was 5-7 in 2014. Without the freak blocked punt play in the final seconds of the Wolverine's game against Michigan State, we're probably talking about how Michigan just won a Big Ten Championship after a sub-.500 season. This season will tell whether that success is the real deal or not.
Nine conference games for the Big Ten this season
The Big Ten added an extra conference game starting this season. This should do away with one of the usual four non-conference "cupcake" games and add another quality opponent to the schedule. This should make for an extra week of interesting conference matchups and strengthen the Big Ten's chances of making the College Football Playoff. However, the days of undefeated seasons could be over as well.
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