Bankroll Sports writers preview the 2009 Big Ten Conference
**2009 Big Ten Conference - Preseason Preview**
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The Penn State Nittany Lions were realistically one game away from a National Championship appearance last year. Penn State reached the #3 ranking in America and 9-0 record before losing a heartbreaker to Iowa 24-23. The loss was the difference in a National Championship opportunity compared to a Rose Bowl appearance. Penn State is considered to be leading candidate again this season in the Big Ten. Penn State should have the best LB group in America. Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman, and Josh Hull will be the biggest part of a fierce defensive unit. The Nittany Lions will sport a solid rushing attack on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Evan Royster posted over 1,200 yards a year ago. QB Daryll Clark and RB Stephfon Green add even more fear for defenses in the backfield. After losing receivers Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood, the rushing attack expected to be the forefront on success for the Nittany Lions in 2009.
The Ohio State Buckeyes were among the hottest teams in the Big Ten at the end of last season. The Buckeyes nearly pulled off a big upset over Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes lost a ton of playmakers on both sides of the ball. RB Chris Wells, WR Brian Robiskie, CB Malcolm Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis, and Brian Hartline were all highly sought after prospects in the NFL Draft. Many would think Ohio State would be in the rebuilding stages after losing so much talent. However, young quarterback Terrelle Pryor will have Ohio State poised at a run in the Big Ten again this season. Pryor started throwing the ball well at the end of the season in 2008 along with his tremendous running ability. The Buckeyes will have some very talented replacements on defense, but it will be Pryor and the offense determines how much success Ohio State experiences in 2009.
Michigan State and Illinois will be two teams with the ability to upset the top teams in the conference. Juice Williams returns under center for the Illini after throwing for over 3,000 yards last season. Williams and WR Arrelious Benn make up the best passing offense in the conference and also one of the better passing attacks in America. Michigan State returns 8 starters on defense after having a solid group last season. The Spartans defense should be solid, but the offense has concerns. Finally the Iowa Hawkeyes are poised to turn a few heads in 2009. The Hawkeyes are backed with a solid defense and a passing attack that could surprise. QB Ricki Stanzi progressed well throughout the season in 2008 and will have Derrell Johnson-Koulianos as his favorite target. Expect the passing game to give a few defenses a hard time and Iowa could again play the upset role in 2009.