SCBeerman, thanks for the rundown.
Here is my take on the BigTen, for what it's worth.
This is a season where a lot is new in the conference. The addition of Rutgers and Maryland top the list of changes. The old Leaders and Legends divisional alignment is gone, replaced with more straight-forward "East" and "West" divisions.
Big Ten East-
Ohio State: Up until yesterday, the Buckeyes were the favorite to win the conference. Now, senior QB and Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller has apparently suffered a season-ending injury, leaving the offense in charge of one of two young QB's with essentially no game experience. However, Urban Meyer has a pretty good resume, and there is no shortage of athletic talent on the Buckeye roster. Their D-line may be the best in the nation, but they have some gaps to fill at LB, DB, and Offense. They might still be able to win the conference, but their Vegas Odds just plummeted.
Michigan State is now the new favorite to win the East, and probably the overall favorite in the conference. While the Defense lost a few key starters, there is young talent to fill the gaps, probably with even more speed this year. Pat Narduzzi's defensive track record is pretty solid. For a change, MSU's Offense looks loaded, with an experienced RS junior QB Connor Cook, a proven RB in Langford, and more talent at receiver than coach Dantonio knows what to do with. Combine that with one of the best duo of kickers in the nation, and this could be another special year for the Spartans. They will have to face a tough early road challenge in Eugene, Oregon, in week 2, however.
Michigan hopes to clean up their offensive woes by stealing OC Doug Nussmeier away from Alabama. There are still questions in the O-line and in the backfield, but the defense looks to be greatly improved, so the Wolverines have realistic hopes of 9 wins this season. If they don't win at least 8, Brady Hoke's large rear end will likely be in a very hot seat.
Penn State welcomes new coach James Franklin, who has brought a younger vibe to State College. Serious or not, he has even hinted about changing the uber-traditional PSU unis to something more akin to Oregon or Maryland (yikes!). The Nittany Lions will again be hampered in the depth department due to their probation and reduction of scholarships, but there are hints that the NCAA may decide to lift the sanctions this year, so we will find out in the next month or so if the post-season is a possibility. On the field, Penn State has one of the best young QB prospects in the nation in Christian Hackenberg. This team won't win them all, but has enough fire power to upset a good team or two.
Indiana looks to be significantly improved. Their offense has been very effective in recent years, but this year their D might be upgraded from pitiful to "average", which means they have the chance to surprise somebody. 6 wins and a bowl game would be a welcome finish for the perennial underachieving Hoosiers.
Rutgers comes into the conference with some modest talent, but will have to play road games at Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska and Maryland, with home games against Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and Indiana. Plus there are non-conference road games at Washington State and a more-dangerous-than-usual Navy. Welcome to the Big Ten, Rutgers!
Maryland has talent and speed on both sides of the ball, so a finish in the upper half of the division is a possibility for the Terrapins.
Wisconsin is the slight favorite in the West, but it is not unanimous. They face an early test in Week 2 against LSU in Houston, a game which will undoubtedly sway the national perception of the conference one way or another. They are solid at most positions, but still haven't settled on a QB yet.
Nebraska isn't talked about much, but I think that's how Bo Pellini prefers it. They are probably co-favorites to win the West. A non-conference home match up with the Miami Hurricanes, and an early conference road trip to Michigan State will tell us how serious the Huskers can be this year.
Iowa is a wild card this year. They have a solid team on both sides of the ball. But even more importantly, their schedule is a gift from the gods, avoiding Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State entirely. It is quite possible they could be 10-0 going into their final two games AT HOME against Wisconsin and Nebraska. If they can avoid any mid-season stumbles, and finish strong, the question may be, "will the committee think their schedule is good enough to get them into the final field of 4?".
Northwestern has suffered some off-season turmoil, and will likely take a step back from the lofty expectations of the past two years. They can still be a dangerous team, but probably not one of the top 3 in the West.
Minnesota will also likely struggle to be relevant this year, losing some key players from last year.
Purdue hopes to be slightly improved, but that's not saying a whole lot.
Illinois has tried to shore up their roster with a plethora of JUCO transfers. Coach Beckman hopes this will work, or otherwise he is gone.