Biggest concern: Matt McGloin did a terrific job at QB last year, but now he’s gone — as are three All-Big Ten selections on defense — Jordan Hill, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges.
Telling quote: “Coming from pro football, I definitely have to learn more patience with all these young players.” — O’Brien, on his quarterbacks.
Schedule analysis: The nonconference slate looks easy at first glance, but three opponents played bowl games last year — Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl), Central Florida (St. Petersburg Bowl) and Kent State (GoDaddy.com Bowl).
Coach: Darrell Hazell (first year); 2012 record: 6-7, 3-5; bowl game: Oklahoma State 58, Purdue 14 (Heart of Dallas Bowl); starters returning: offense 5/defense 9
Spring star: RB Akeem Hunt. He averaged 8.0 yards per carry as a sophomore and rushed 19 times for 134 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.
Biggest concern: Besides adjusting to a new coaching staff, the Boilermakers need to find a new quarterback. Senior Rob Henry is one possibility, but a more intriguing option is true freshman Danny Etling.
Telling quote: “We’re going to keep that position [quarterback] open probably until two weeks before we play Cincinnati in the [opener], so the competition continues.” — Hazell
Schedule analysis: Purdue’s three Big Ten wins last year came against Iowa, Illinois and Indiana — and the Boilermakers get to face each of them in November.
Coach: Gary Andersen (first year); 2012 record: 8-6, 4-4; bowl game: Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14 (Rose); starters returning: offense 8/defense 7
Spring star: RB Melvin Gordon. Montee Ball has graduated, but the Badgers shouldn’t miss a beat. James White averaged 6.4 yards per carry last year, and Gordon averaged 10.0 yards per carry, including 216 yards in the Big Ten title game.
Biggest concern: Bret Bielema’s sudden departure for Arkansas threw AD Barry Alvarez into a coaching search. The Badgers landed Andersen from Utah State, and while the early reviews are positive, coaching changes can be tough.
Telling quote: “We’ve hit it off as a team with Coach Andersen from the get-go. He’s a player-oriented coach, and everybody’s got a lot of respect for him.” — linebacker Chris Borland
Schedule analysis: Arizona State (Sept. 14) and BYU (Nov. 9) highlight the nonconference slate. In Big Ten play, the Badgers will miss Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska. The talent is there to return to Pasadena, but it’ll be tougher now that Ohio State is eligible.