Training camps are in full swing, and rosters are taking shape across the Big Ten. Soon enough, there will actually be some games to enjoy and break down.
Until then, the Big Ten reporting crew is taking stock of the position groups around the conference to help set the table for what should be another fascinating season. Who has the top units, who might emerge this fall, and who has some serious issues that must be addressed?
Our series continues with the offensive line.
Best of the best: Indiana and Michigan
The Hoosiers have quietly had one of the best offensive lines in the country the past couple of seasons, and last year that unit led the way for the Big Ten's best offense while only allowing a league-low 13 sacks. All-America guard Dan Feeney returns, as well as right tackle Dimitric Camiel and promising young left tackle Brandon Knight. This should be another outstanding group in Bloomington this fall.
The Wolverines' offensive line was a liability as recently as two years ago. But experience and the Jim Harbaugh system have turned this group completely around. Four starters are back, led by the versatile Mason Cole, who will move from tackle to center. Depth could be an issue, and Michigan needs to run the ball better. But few Big Ten teams have as much experience up front as this one.
Next up: Iowa and Wisconsin
The Hawkeyes could easily qualify here for best of the best. Iowa is a program driven by its offensive line, and that group was a key cog in last year's 12-2 season. Losing Rimington Trophy finalst Austin Blythe and all-conference guard Jordan Walsh stings a bit, but the line is still in good shape with tackles Boone Myers and Cole Croston and guard Sean Welsh returning.
Wisconsin's offensive line did not live up to the program's elite standards in 2015, because of injury and youth. But the Badgers appear poised to get back to that level in 2016. The youngsters have grown up, all-conference performer Dan Voltz is back from injury and transfer Ryan Ramczyk has impressed at left tackle. This could be another great Wisconsin O-line in the making.
Ohio State and Michigan State should also continue to be strong up front despite losing multiple starters and a combined three All-Americans between them.
Sleepers: Minnesota and Maryland
Golden Gophers head coach Tracy Claeys has put a huge emphasis on the run game, and junior-college transfers Vincent Calhoun and Garrison Wright have earned starting nods along with returning tackle Jonah Pirsig. This group is physically huge and hopes to develop a nasty streak this season.
Maryland's line is a fairly young crew, outside of senor Michael Dunn. But the program has recruited well at the position, including former blue-chip prospect Damian Prince. The Terrapins are still working on finding the right mix, but the raw tools are there for a strong position group.
Illinois could also be better than expected up front, though depth is razor thin.
Problem for a contender: Penn State and Northwestern
The Nittany Lions will almost certainly improve substantially on the offensive line, both because of astronomically better depth and experience and because Joe Moorhead's new offensive system won't ask them to block as long. Still, the ugly stats -- 83 sacks allowed in the past two years -- are inescapable. And until this group actually silences the criticism, it belongs in this category.
Northwestern won 10 games a year ago despite an inconsistent, at best, offensive line. Pat Fitzgerald does have four seniors up front to work with, including center Ian Park and right tackle Shane Mertz, and some intriguing young talent is on hand. But the Wildcats haven't had an upper-echelon offensive line for a while now, and it's hard to keep winning at a high level in this league without one.