The Best Offense in the Conference
Any discussion about offenses should start out with one most important point. The team that scores more points wins the game, not the team with the most yards piled up. Defense and Special Teams have to play their parts in successful seasons, but the offense that can avoid turnovers and finish drives will make the difference in the power packed Big Ten. On most preseason lists, three offenses will be the likeliest candidates for best in the conference: Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Before any rabid fan bases complain, the Spartans and Buckeyes may not contend for the best for a couple of reasons. Michigan State has a significant amount of experience on the line and and exceptional running back in La'Veon Bell. But the loss of Kirk Cousins is sure to have a major impact on the offense. Their defense and running game would be enough to win them the conference with a few things going their way, but they may not end up with the best offensive numbers. Ohio State should also challenge with a mobile QB like Braxton Miller and the talent surrounding him, but they lost starts at the offensive line and their top running back.
To start with, everyone who follows college football has heard his nickname: Shoelace. Denard Robinson is the main reason that Michigan is poised to be the best offense in the conference. Mobile quarterbacks are the most difficult players to stop in college football. But mobile quarterback who are as fast as he is can barely be touched. In the backfield with him is Fitzgerald Toussaint, who was second to only Wisconsin's Montee Ball with 5.9 yards/carry last year. Roy Roundtree at receiver could end up being one of the top in the country, let alone the conference. If they can overcome the graduation of an All American Center on the line and the loss of their top receiver, this offense will continue to be explosive.
For Wisconsin, it is all about the running game. Montee Ball is a 6.8 yards/carry running back and could end up a Heisman finalist. The Badgers do have to replace 3 experiences players on the line, but they consistently have one of the best in the nation. The run-oriented attack will continue to provide the power needed to get Ball back to nearly 2000 yards and his 33 touchdowns. The only question mark would be Danny O'Brien. He will have some success this year because of the type of line he will have and targets in Jared Abbrederis (WR) and Jacob Pederson (TE). But his showing last year (150/266 - 56.4, 1648 yards, 7 TD, 10 int) does not inspire confidence.
So which team will end up in the top spot? I go with Nebraska for one reason only: they are the only team to return the top QB, RB, and WR of these three. It would be difficult to see the Huskers not top last year's total yardage, especially in the passing game. Wisconsin will absolutely have more rushing yards, but the questions at QB persist. Michigan and Nebraska will likely end up +/- a hundred yards within each other at the end of the season for total offense, so going with Nebraska has to be a judgment call.