1. New faces, new places
Maryland coach D.J. Durkin was Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator last year. Rutgers coach Chris Ash was co-defensive coordinator for Urban Meyer. Harbaugh replaced Durkin with Don Brown, who oversaw Boston College’s nation-leading scoring defense. Meyer replaced Ash with Greg Schiano, former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach.
2. Limegrover heads home
Matt Limegrover is a Pittsburgh native, so he was thrilled to land at Penn State as the offensive line coach after getting fired as Gophers offensive coordinator. Limegrover has a critical job, as Penn State ranked 12th in the Big Ten in rushing last season and gave up 39 sacks.
3. Circle these dates
It would be stunning to see Penn State or Indiana challenge for the division title. This most likely will be a three-team race between Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan. So these are the three dates to circle: Oct 29 (Michigan at Michigan State), Nov. 19 (Ohio State at Michigan State) and Nov. 26 (Michigan at Ohio State).
4. Budding first-rounders?
The Big Ten East produced six first-round draft picks this year: Joey Bosa (No. 3), Ezekiel Elliott (4), Jack Conklin (8), Eli Apple (10), Taylor Decker (16) and Darron Lee (20). In his “Way Too Early 2017 Mock Draft,” ESPN’s Todd McShay is less bullish on the Big Ten. He has Michigan State’s Malik McDowell (No. 15), Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers (23), the Gophers’ Mitch Leidner (25) and Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan (31).
5. Home-field edge
The Big Ten is moving to a nine-game conference schedule for the first time since 1984. East Division teams play five at home, four on the road, this year. They’ll want to take advantage, as the West Division teams get five at home and four on the road next year.