Throughout the 2013 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-12. Click here to see where your team was ranked last week.
Prepare to disagree…
- Michigan State. (High: 2, Low: 4). Personally, I don’t think the Spartans are the best team in the Big Ten (I think Ohio State would beat them six or seven times out of ten), but give credit to Sparty for making it through the B1G slate unscathed and winning the game that mattered most.
- Ohio State. (High: 1, Low: 2). It is hard to feel bad for the Buckeyes, but consider that in the non-expanded Big Ten (i.e. before Nebraska and the championship game) Ohio State is preparing for the BCS title game. Hopefully Urb got to enjoy the garlic butter sauce with that leftover Papa John’s pizza.
- Wisconsin. (High: 2, Low: 3). Even with that head-scratching home loss to Penn State on Senior Day, the Badgers finish third. The Badgers have to be licking their chops for their new home in the B1G West.
- Iowa. (High: 4, Low: 9). I’ve taken my fair share of shots at the Hawkeyes for being mediocre, and I’m man enough to admit that I was wrong. Yes, the Hawks are 8-4 (and at 5-3, a distant second in the Legends), but consider: Iowa’s four losses are to teams that are a combined 45 – 6 on the year. Had Northern Illinois not lost in the MAC title game, three of Iowa’s losses would have been to BCS bowl schools.
- Nebraska. (High: 4, Low: 7). 8-4 ties Iowa for the fourth best record in the conference. Given the number of key injuries, self-inflicted miscues, and first year defensive starters, 8-4 isn’t bad. Heck most of the schools on this list would gladly 8-4. But in Nebraska, 8-4, almost got Bo Pelini fired.
- Minnesota. (High: 4, Low: 12). The Golden Gophers should be proud of their season – how they fought through adversity and put together a solid 8-win season. I’m curious to see if this is the start of something or a flash in the pan.
- Penn State. (High: 5 Low: 9). While we’re giving credit, let’s be sure to recognize Penn State. Despite being shorthanded due to sanctions, the Nittany Lions put together another strong season. If they can hold onto coach O’Brien, PSU should be in great strength when they are back to full strength.
- Michigan. (High: 2, Low: 8). Part of the negative national image surrounding the Big Ten is the underwhelming performances of some of their marquee teams. Nebraska had four double-digit losses. Penn State is still fighting through the Sandusky sanctions. And then, there is Michigan. Five losses (and that near miss with Akron). Don’t read too much into the near miss against OSU – rivalry games produce strange results.
- Indiana. (High: 6, Low: 10). The Hoosiers showed some signs of life at times. They aren’t ready to contend yet (unless Michigan State’s defense decides to transfer), but they are moving in the right direction.
- Northwestern. (High: 3, Low: 11). He’d never say it publicly, but you know Pat Fitzgerald would love to know where his team would finish had they avoided injuries to so many key players.
- Illinois. (High: 9, Low: 11). This is one of those schools (like Missouri in the 80s and 90s) that really should be doing more with what they have.
- Purdue. (High: 11, Low: 12). If this was European soccer, the Boilermakers would be relegated to the MAC, and Northern Illinois would move up.
How did I do on my predictions at the start of conference play? The good news is that I nailed the Leaders Division, 1 through 6. Nostra-freaking-damous.
The bad news? Aside from Michigan State and Nebraska, I completely flip-flopped the rest of the division as my 5th and 6th place teams (Iowa and Minnesota) finished 2nd and 4th, and my 2nd and 4th place teams (Michigan and Northwestern) finished 5th and 6th.