We’re back for another B1G season! Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14. In case you missed my pre-conference season predictions, click here. As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.
Prepare to disagree…
- Michigan State. The Spartans crushed three inferior non-conference opponents and lost to a top 5 team by 19 points. That really doesn’t tell me how good they are, but I still think they are the class of the conference.
- Ohio State. I’ll admit that the Buckeyes are ranked this high partially based on reputation. Another part is the sweet take down of a fan by their strength coach. But since that former Buckeye linebacker has exhausted his eligibility, we should learn a lot about this team when they travel to Maryland to officially welcome the Terps to the league.
- Wisconsin. Much like Michigan State, we really don’t know too much about the Badgers. They too have beaten up the non-con opponents they should beat and barely lost to a top 15 team. But with Wisconsin, they may not be tested until the end of October.
- Nebraska. Yeah, the Huskers are probably too low, but I’ve been underwhelmed with the teams they have played. Don’t worry, the Huskers will have every opportunity to make a big jump Saturday night in East Lansing.
- Maryland. Kudos to the Terrapins on being the first B1G expansion team to win their debut since Penn State. Granted, it was against Indiana, but it still counts. To go 2-0, they’ll need to beat Ohio State at home.
- Minnesota. A lot of attention has been paid to Michigan practically giving away tickets to watch the Gophers, as well as the tire fire surround that program. Meanwhile, few are giving credit to Minnesota for going into Ann Arbor and taking care of business. That is what teams in the upper half of the conference are supposed to do.
- Iowa. Like the Gophers, Iowa faced a struggling team on the road in a stadium that was below capacity. But beating Purdue by two touchdowns is not as impressive to me.
- Northwestern. Raise your hand if you saw the 29-6 win over Penn State coming. No, seriously. Are the Wildcats going to rally from a 1-2 start to put together a strong season? Well…let’s wait until after they play Wisconsin before making any declarations.
- Penn State. Bad news: with a bye week coming up, the Nitany Lions have to chew on that Northwestern loss for two weeks. Good news: Penn State’s next opponent is Michigan, so they probably can take most of this week off.
- Rutgers. I feel like I have Rutgers too low as their only loss was by three points at Penn State in their conference debut. We probably won’t learn too much until October 18 (at Ohio State) as the Scarlet Knights do not play anybody the next two weeks. Oops…my bad. Rutgers hosts Michigan this week. Same difference.
- Indiana. Who is this team? Are they the ones who beat a ranked SEC team (even if it was Missouri)? Or are they the ones who lost their conference opener by three touchdowns?
- Purdue. Once again, the Boilermakers again find themselves in their familiar 12th place slot. The good news is there are now 14 teams in the conference. So they’ve got that going for them. Of course, losing to Illinois next week will change that in a hurry.
- Michigan. What a rough week for the Wolverines. First the buy two Cokes, get two tickets promotion made the program a national laughingstock. Then, they look bad at home against Minnesota. Now, there are big questions about Brady Hoke putting his players in risk. If Hoke is still employed on November 1, (they host Michigan State on 10/25) it will be a minor miracle.
- Illinois. With all that said, why aren’t the Wolverines in last place? Like Michigan, Illinois is a bad team with a coach unlikely to be employed in 2015. But here is the key difference: Michigan has enough talent on their roster to squeak out a win on athleticism alone. Illinois is rather devoid of talent – especially at the skill positions – and their defense is giving up an average of 35 points a game.