Big Ten Team Season Grades: West
Illinois 2020 Season Grade: C-
The grade is based on expectations – Illinois was exactly what it was supposed to be. It was just good enough to hang around in a few games, decent enough to stun Nebraska, and awful enough to get destroyed by Penn State and Wisconsin. Even so, coming off a big bowl season in 2019, the program needed to do more.
Iowa 2020 Season Grade: B+
An argument could’ve been made that this was the third-best Big Ten team by the end of the season, and at the very least was in the top four. It closed with six straight wins, beat Wisconsin by 21, blew out Penn State and Minnesota, and … lost to Purdue to open things up, and blew a lead to Northwestern.
Minnesota 2020 Season Grade: C
After a huge 2019 the team started 2020 with a big, fat thud. It couldn’t stop a Michigan offense that – as it turned out – was awful, and then came the giant choke of a loss to Maryland. Beating Purdue and Nebraska was fun, but it was a step-back season with all the momentum gone.
Nebraska 2020 Season Grade: C
Enough. Start winning already, Nebraska. Losing to Ohio State Northwestern and Iowa this year – all on the road was fine, but losing by 18 at home to Illinois? Losing at home to Minnesota? It wasn’t a totally disastrous season, but it was yet another dud under Scott Frost.
Northwestern 2020 Season Grade: A
Yeah, there was a weird loss to Michigan State, and losing the Big Ten Championship wasn’t fun, but it’s Northwestern, and it got to the conference title game for the second time in three seasons and rolled past Auburn in a bowl. Never take winning for granted in Evanston.
Purdue 2020 Season Grade: C+-
The win over Iowa to start the season was great, and going 2-0 was wonderful, but the four straight losses the rest of the way wasn’t fun. Purdue got hosed in the Minnesota game, but if you’re losing to Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska this year, something is wrong.
Wisconsin 2020 Season Grade: C
The Badgers get just a wee bit of a break here. They’re supposed to be playing for the Big Ten Championship every year, and the D was just that good, but the offense went through one of its worst three-game runs in years scoring 20 points in three losses. COVID and too many injuries to skill parts made the season a struggle, but they win the rivalry game over Minnesota and beat Wake Forest in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
NEXT: Big 12 Team Season Grades