Welcome back to college football! Week zero is over and we can now focus all of our attention on the rest of the season.
Once again, the Big Ten has some heavy hitters that will stay in the top 25 all season. It also has a few upstarts that have historically been at the bottom that could very well cause problems for the top teams.
But hey, only two teams have played and that was a terrible game. At this point any projections outside of the top 10 is a crapshoot.
I would expect some of these teams moving up and down over the next few weeks but no real big movement until the conference slate starts up. There’s a lot that can and will happen and last year with COVID makes some of these projections tough. But, most of these teams are ranked in roughly the same spot you would expect.
The perennial Big Ten title contender comes back again with one of the best rosters and coaching staffs in the conference. Quarterback Justin Fields is off to the NFL, but freshman C.J. Stroud should have little trouble giving the Buckeye faithful any doubt in another conference title along with a playoff birth. Expect more of the same this year. Lather, rinse, repeat...lather, rinse, repeat....and then get beat by an SEC school in the playoff.
The workhorse in the west is without former coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez for the first time since the Hoover administration but that shouldn’t matter. Expect more of the same from them once again this season. They may not give you the most exciting games, but they will give you wins and that’s all you need.
Tom Allen has turned this former Big Ten bottom feeder into a major player in the conference. Too bad for them that they play in the same division as Ohio State. Unlike many teams from last year, I do not think their success was based solely on the issues related to Covid. The Hoosiers are slowly turning themselves into a football power and everyone should start taking notice. Could this coach be the one to make Indiana into a football school?
4. Penn State
Unlike Indiana, I am giving James Franklin the benefit of the doubt last season. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season for the Nittany Lions and you could blame it on Covid. They are a well coached team with talent across the board. Expect Penn State to be a top 25 team once again this season.
Harbaugh is a good coach. Michigan is a good football team. Michigan can’t beat Ohio State. This is an issue in Ann Arbor. Expect to hear this story line A LOT as the season moves along.
The Hawkeyes are brining back one of their best teams in a long time and should compete for the Big Ten West division title. Spencer Petras is back at quarterback. While he won’t wow anyone nationally he will get what needs to be done behind a top notch offensive line. Iowa is like Wisconsin but without all the cheese and more hog barns.
For some reason everyone likes to sleep on Minnesota. This is a well coached team once again with talent that can compete in the conference. PJ Fleck may not be the most liked coach in the country, but he can coach none the less. They will pull off some upsets and I imagine they will creep into the top 25 rankings at some point this season.
This team has been gutted. But that’s what happens when your degree is worth more than a third world countries GDP. The 2020 Big Ten West Champs are once again going into the season with question marks all over. Does it matter? It’s a Pat Fizgerald squad so who really knows. This team could go 3-9 like they did two years ago or pull off enough wins to take the Big Ten West once again. In all honesty, it might take a few weeks before we truly know.
Illinois is not a great team, but they’re better than they have been. Expect a few wins this season but I would be surprised if they make it over .500. Welcome back Bret!
Talent has been staying home in the state of Maryland the past couple of years and Mike Locksley just might be the coach to make the Terrapins competitive once again. I would not be surprised if they move up these rankings as the season moves along, but for now they stay near the bottom until they prove to us otherwise.
Remember when the Tennessee fanbase raised hell over the hiring of Greg Shiano? Yeah, their loss is Rutgers gain. Greg has recruited well the past couple of years and his coaching should turn that talent into something. I do not expect Rutgers to wow anyone this season, but they should become a thorn in many Big Ten teams sides.
12. Michigan State
Mel Tucker is a good coach with a project on his hands. He came into a tough situation late last year and did the best he could with it. I would expect the Spartans to struggle again this season as they try to regain their identity on the field.
The only reason Purdue is 13 is because another team from the west lost in a very bad game. Coach Jeff Brohm had a chance to go to Louisville a couple of years ago and is probably second guessing that decision. Bob Diaco is no longer in charge of the defense so there should be some improvement there. Right? We all love Diaco...Hopefully they have the playmakers to make a difference and pull themselves out of the Big Ten basement.
Nebraska is a volleyball school.