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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 70 43-year-old Frost is a rising star coming off a stunning two-year rehab of Central Florida that saw him lead the Knights to a 13-0 mark last season that culminated with a Peach Bowl victory vs. Auburn. That caused UCF to crown itself a "national champion." Whatever. Frost's work was impressive. Now comes the tough part: Making Nebraska relevant again on a national level. The program hasn't won a con- ference championship since taking the 1999 Big 12 title when Frank Solich was coach. Lord knows the loyal Husk- er fans deserve big things. And a powerful Nebraska pro- gram would do wonders for the Big Ten's Q-Rating as the league looks to win a national championship for the first time since 2014 after missing the playoffs last season. 3. Michigan's quest for a break- through. Fast fact: The last time the Wolverines won the Big Ten was 2004, when it shared the crown with Iowa. The last outright championship was in 2003. Really. Look it up. But when it comes to winning the offseason, Jim Harbaugh is a champion. Zany recruiting stunts, snarky Tweets, exotic spring trips overseas, satellite camps in crazy places ... Harbaugh seemingly always is in the news. That's all swell. But, Harbaugh is now three years into one of the most anticipated tenures college football has seen in 25 years — and he has yet to win a Big Ten title. Heck, he hasn't even won the Big Ten East. Actually, he hasn't even finished higher than third in his division. Oh, and Harbaugh is 0-3 vs. Ohio State and 1-2 vs. Michi- gan State, the Wolverines' two chief rivals. Michigan isn't paying Harbaugh $7 million a year for this. The defense should be off-the-charts good once again. It's the offense that has lagged under Harbaugh's watch. And, that's funny, because offense is supposed to be his bailiwick. Perhaps things will change in 2018 with the arrival of quarterback Shea Patterson, a five-star talent who was granted immediate eligibility after transferring from Ole Miss. Will Harbaugh turn him loose? And keep an eye on the line, which has something to prove. 4. Iowa's offensive mojo. QB Nate Stanley flashed potential in his first season as the starter in 2017. But he needs help. This program seems to be perpetual- ly searching for difference-makers on the edge. And the line wasn't up to its usual standards last year thanks to injury. Bad news: The top two blockers are gone in Sean Welsh and James Daniels. And add this to your "worry" list: RB Akrum Wadley has skedaddled. Iowa was 12th in the Big Ten in rushing (139.2 ypg). So un-Iowa-like. 5. Raised expectations for Michigan State. Look, there are no glaring concerns in East Lan- sing for a squad coming off a 10-win season. Most every key cog is back for Mark Dantonio, including QB Brian Lewerke, RB L.J. Scott, WR Felton Davis III, DE Kenny Willekes, LB Joe Bachie and CB Josiah Scott, among oth- ers. But now, MSU will be a hunted team. No more sneak- ing up on foes, as the Spartans may have done in 2017 when they were coming off a 3-9 season. How will the Spartans deal with the glare of the spotlight? One area to watch: The defense, as coordinator Harlon Barnett left for the same post at Florida State. He was a valued member of the staff. ORDER OF FINISH How could the standings look at the end of the season? Take a look. EAST DIVISION 1 Ohio State This is a team that has something to prove after last year's playoff snub. But how will the new QB perform? Michigan State MSU returned to recent form in 2017 and quarterback Brian Lew- erke had much to do with the resurgence.

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