Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Big Ten season with the team rankings.
Preview 2018: Big Ten Team Rankings
This is NOT a prediction of how the teams will finish. They’re the rankings of how good the teams are going into the season.
Please scroll down for the Big Ten rankings done by total conference, ranking 1 through 14.
Big Ten Rankings: East
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Should be ranked here because … the defense is still going to be devastating. Nick Bosa and the pass rush will dominate, the running back tandem of JK Dobbins and Mike Weber is among the nation’s best, and as always, the Ohio State talent level hasn’t slipped a bit.
Should be ranked lower because … can Dwayne Haskins really be the next great Buckeyes quarterback? Yeah, probably, but he’s still unproven. That’s nitpicking, as is worrying about an O line that’ll be dominant, but needs to replace a few key stars.
2. Michigan State Spartans
Should be ranked higher because … as always, the defense is going to be outstanding – the linebacking corps is going to be a terror – but it’ll be QB Brian Lewerke, RB LJ Scott, and the offensive backfield that will take over games.
Should be ranked lower because … the offense could be among the best under Mark Dantonio, but the rest of the receiving corps has to be strong around Felton Davis. The line has to find a few all-stars around tackle Luke Campbell, too.
3. Michigan Wolverines
Should be ranked higher because … the defense will be every bit as strong as last year’s dominant force – DT Rashan Gray might be college football’s best pro prospect – and with QB Shea Patterson eligible, there will be a real, live offense, too.
Should be ranked lower because … the offense still has to prove it. The pieces are there, the talent is there, the coaching is there, but all those things were in place the last few years, too. The offensive line should be good, but there have to be a few all-stars.
4. Penn State Nittany Lions
Should be ranked higher because … there’s no taking any step back on the defensive front seven. With the infusion of young talent coming in – like LB Micah Parsons – a good situation is even better. Trace McSorley might be the best quarterback in the Big Ten.
Should be ranked lower because … the offensive front can’t be a sore spot. That’s a bit of an overstatement for last year’s line, and it’ll be okay, but without Saquon Barkley around now, the front five has to be great. McSorley needs time to work.
5. Maryland Terrapins
Should be ranked higher because … the offense should be terrific if the quarterback situation is healthy. After building up the talent level over the last few years, D.J. Durkin has a team that can do more than just compete with the big boys. The linebacking corps will be a major plus.
Should be ranked lower because … it’s assumed the quarterback health will make all the difference, but this is still an unproven group. The O line needs to be strong in fall camp, but it’ll need to be a big positive without any star power.
6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Should be ranked higher because … the defensive back seven can hang with another in the conference. The linebacking combination of Trevor Morris and Deonte Roberts is a factor, and the secondary is as strong as any in the conference. The offense will actually open it up this year, too.
Should be ranked lower because … the lines aren’t going to be up-to-snuff, and the skill players are just okay. It won’t be a slow-and-go style anymore, but there aren’t a whole lot of weapons. The Scarlet Knights will have to win on D.
7. Indiana Hoosiers
Should be ranked higher because … the offense should still be able to hang with anyone in the division – on the right day. Nick Westbrook and Luke Timian are the main men in an outstanding receiving corps, and now the Hoosiers have a quarterback in Arizona transfer Brandon Dawkins who can be a difference-maker.
Should be ranked lower because … there are a LOT of losses on the defensive side. This isn’t exactly a talent factory for linebackers, so losing a player like Tegray Scales hurts. The line is good, the safeties are great, but the D will take a step back.