2016 Big Ten Rankings: By Opinion
It was a wonderful season for the Big Ten, even if it ended with a clunker. Based on opinion, and taking into account individual head-to-head matchups, here are the final 2016 Big Ten rankings by opinion.
2016 Final Big Ten Rankings: By Opinion
14. Rutgers (3-9)
It was a rough first season for head coach Chris Ash, but it’s going to be a long process to get up to speed in the Big Ten East – if Rutgers can ever become something of a threat. The Scarlet Knights failed to win a Big Ten game, and weren’t even close in six of the last eight games. Again, it’s going to take a while to build this up.
13. Michigan State (3-9)
What the hell was that? The Spartans went from the College Football Playoff to a horrific disaster of a campaign with no offense, not enough timely defense, and a clunker of all clunkers with the lone win coming against Rutgers. The Spartans lost in defensive slugfests, wild shootouts, and everything in between.
12. Illinois (3-9)
Lovie Smith was supposed to come in and make the defense rock right away. Instead, the Illini closed out the year allowing 40 points or more in six of the last eight games. His team came up with a win over Michigan State to keep the season from going to a whole other level of awful, losing the last three games by a combined score of 118-24.
11. Purdue (3-9)
Call this a step back to potentially take a giant leap forward. Darrell Hazell is a great guy and an okay head coach, but he couldn’t get the ship turned around. Getting Jeff Brohm from Western Kentucky gives the program an offensive identity missing over the last few years, and it can’t come fast enough for a team that came up with just 295 points on the year. Purdue needs more depth and talent to last a full four quarters.
10. Maryland (6-7)
It might have been an ugly second half of the season – with a win over Rutgers the only bright spot – but first-year head man D.J. Durkin got the Terps to a bowl game. That’s good enough for a Step One. However, after a 4-0 start, Maryland lost five of its last seven games, and almost none of the defeats were remotely close.
9. Indiana (6-7)
The Hoosiers went to their second straight bowl game, but lost their head coach along the way. On the plus side, the defense had one of its better seasons in a long, long time, while the offense did just enough to get to six wins, even if the team didn’t beat anyone with a pulse. Maryland was the best win, Michigan State was No. 2.
8. Northwestern (7-6)
Call the season a successful disappointment. The Wildcats weren’t in the hunt for the Big Ten title like they were last year, but they won their bowl game. They lost three of their first four games, but they managed to do enough to get to six wins to earn their way to the Pinstripe. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald might have been shooting for more, but this season was strong enough.
7. Minnesota (9-4)
This would’ve been seen as a massive stepping-stone season to bigger things had it not all ended so disastrously. The Gophers had a chance to play for the Big Ten title if they’d have beaten Wisconsin, and while they lost, they played well. They managed to shock Washington State in the Holiday Bowl, beat Northwestern, and pulled off a strong nine-win year overall. And then that happened, the players boycotted, and Tracy Claeys was canned.
6. Nebraska (9-4)
Considering the Huskers had a losing season last year – and lost in every creative way possible – starting out 7-0 was great no matter what. But then they had to start playing good teams, and bad things started to happen. They lost four of their last six games, couldn’t keep QB Tommy Armstrong healthy, and the nine-win season seemed a wee bit empty.
5. Iowa (8-5)
Considering the Hawkeyes got to the Rose Bowl last season, this year was rough by comparison. However, after a rocky start, and with an ugly blowout loss to Penn State, Iowa was strong enough to blowout Nebraska and stun Nebraska. For all the positives, though, losing to Florida in a 30-3 uggo of an Outback Bowl stinks after what happened against Stanford in Pasadena. The Michigan win, however, is all that really matters.
4. Wisconsin (11-3)
The Badgers came within two plays of an epic regular season – shocking LSU to kick things off and getting by Iowa, Nebraska, and a slew of other strong teams. Losing to Michigan and Ohio State in battles was fine, but gacking away a huge lead to Penn State in the Big Ten Championship – considering Wisconsin is built to roll after getting up early – wasn’t okay. Yeah, the Badgers beat the MAC team, but remember, Western Michigan was one of just two unbeaten teams going into the bowls.
3. Michigan (10-3)
For all the positives, the Wolverines finished with a thud. Yeah, they were five points away from an unbeaten season, but that’s the problem – they were supposed to win those against Iowa, Ohio State and Florida State, and couldn’t close. Blowing out Penn State was amazing, and beating Colorado and Wisconsin was great, but once the Harbaughs had to leave the state of Michigan – no, going to Rutgers doesn’t really count – bad things happened. Fun stat: Michigan was 9-0 in-state, 1-3 outside the borders.
2. Ohio State (11-2)
The Buckeyes got the job done to get into the College Football Playoff with what they did in non-conference play – namely, the win at Oklahoma – but the wins over Wisconsin and Michigan get them to the No. 2 spot. Of course, the ranking for the best team in the conference – by opinion – should go to the team that beat Ohio State, and actually won the Big Ten East title, and the Big Ten …
1. Penn State (11-3)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, there was that 49-10 clunker to Michigan, and the loss to Pitt kept the Nittany Lions out of the College Football Playoff, but they were breathtaking at times the rest of the way. It all started by rallying back to beat Minnesota to spark a nine-game winning streak with wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin, along with a 41-14 destruction of Iowa. Beating USC and taking the Rose Bowl would’ve taken the season to a whole other level, but considering no one was picking James Franklin’s team to finish higher than fourth in the East at the beginning of the year, it was an amazing year.