Rating the Big Ten football schedules

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Last updated: 05/13/2011 12:56 PM
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Tallying Up the Big Ten Ratings
By Tony Gerdeman

It's finally done. This months-long experiment of ranking the Big Ten position by position is now ready to be seen in tabled form.

I found myself surprised by a few of the results, namely Purdue nearly sneaking into the third spot in the Leaders division.

I was also disappointed in Illinois' ultimate ranking, as I would have expected them to be higher than fifth in their division.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Legends division was simply how easily Michigan State "won" it. If they seal up that defense, they could finally be headed to the BCS.

So go ahead and take a gander. If you have any complaints, that's completely fair. I remember when I used to be wrong too.

1. Ohio State
Quarterback 4
Running Back 3
Receiver 5
Offensive Line 1
Defensive Line 2
Linebacker 3
Defensive Back 4
Special Teams 3
Coaches 2
Schedule 5
Total 32

Offense 13

Defense 9

Other 10

It would have been nice if the Buckeyes hadn't ended up with the lowest total, but as I look at the ratings, I wonder what I could change. Could quarterback be lower? Doing the quarterback ratings before spring may have been a mistake in Ohio State's case, but who do you move ahead of them, especially since we'd be moving Michigan out of the third spot after Denard Robinson's shaky spring. The coaching rating may be a touch high given all of the uncertainty right now.

2. Wisconsin
Quarterback 8
Running Back 1
Receiver 9
Offensive Line 2
Defensive Line 3
Linebacker 1
Defensive Back 3
Special Teams 4
Coaches 1
Schedule 3
Total 35

Offense 20

Defense 7

Other 8

With the rumors of quarterback Russell Wilson possibly transferring to the Badgers Wisconsin would certainly move up a few spots, possibly even enough to overtake Ohio State, or at least tie them. The impressive thing about the Badgers for me is where they finished on defense. I find myself thinking that it may simply be too high given the loss of J.J. Watt.

3. Penn State
Quarterback 7
Running Back 6
Receiver 3
Offensive Line 9
Defensive Line 6
Linebacker 5
Defensive Back 7
Special Teams 7
Coaches 8
Schedule 7
Total 65

Offense 25

Defense 18

Other 22

It's a huge jump from second to third in the Leaders division, as we go from 35 "points" to 65 with Penn State. The Nittany Lions find themselves in the middle of the road in every ranking except for receiver. On paper, there's just very little that stands out about this team which means they'll need to maximize potential and load up on intangibles.

4. Purdue
Quarterback 11
Running Back 11
Receiver 8
Offensive Line 5
Defensive Line 5
Linebacker 7
Defensive Back 6
Special Teams 1
Coaches 7
Schedule 6
Total 67

Offense 35

Defense 18

Other 14

The rankings show Purdue with the third-worst offense in the conference, but tied with Penn State for the fifth-best defense. The quarterback and running back situations could certainly improve themselves, but I instead went with the worst-case scenarios. Why? Because of a little thing called 'history', but given how close some of the positions are, there's really no difference between Purdue and Penn State in these rankings.

5. Illinois
Quarterback 5
Running Back 8
Receiver 12
Offensive Line 7
Defensive Line 10
Linebacker 10
Defensive Back 1
Special Teams 8
Coaches 12
Schedule 1
Total 74

Offense 32

Defense 21

Other 21

Generally, a returning quarterback and an "easy" schedule is all that some will want to look at when making early predictions, so it's good that I kept myself from doing exactly that by taking everything else into account for a change. I have a natural bias towards over-rating schedules, so I'm hoping I can keep these defensive ratings in mind when it comes to my season previews.

6. Indiana
Quarterback 12
Running Back 12
Receiver 6
Offensive Line 11
Defensive Line 11
Linebacker 11
Defensive Back 12
Special Teams 6
Coaches 11
Schedule 11
Total 103

Offense 41

Defense 34

Other 28

Receiver and special teams were the only two areas not in the bottom two of the Big Ten. Coaching could certainly move up, and given Kevin Wilson's offensive history, I'd expect the quarterbacks to do the same. That being said, talent doesn't lie. The ratings show them having the worst offense, worst defense, and tied for the worst "other" (special teams, coaching, schedule). I'm starting to think John Mellencamp's money is being wasted.


1. Michigan St
Quarterback 2
Running Back 2
Receiver 2
Offensive Line 8
Defensive Line 4
Linebacker 8
Defensive Back 8
Special Teams 2
Coaches 4
Schedule 10
Total 50

Offense 14

Defense 20

Other 16

The Spartans ran away with the Legends division on the basis of their offense alone. If the offensive line comes together, the Michigan State offense could be monstrous. The defense is a concern, but finishing seventh in the defensive rankings should be easy enough for this offense to handle. The schedule, however, could be another story.

2. Nebraska
Quarterback 6
Running Back 4
Receiver 11
Offensive Line 6
Defensive Line 1
Linebacker 4
Defensive Back 2
Special Teams 12
Coaches 3
Schedule 12
Total 61

Offense 27

Defense 7

Other 27

The Husker receivers finished the spring strong, so that 11-spot may not be generous enough at the moment, but they still haven't proven anything on the field. The special teams and the schedule (both 12th-ranked) pushed a wide margin between Nebraska and Michigan State. While you may not think those are two of the more important areas to rank, being bad in both will affect every other area greatly.

3. Iowa
Quarterback 10
Running Back 7
Receiver 7
Offensive Line 4
Defensive Line 9
Linebacker 2
Defensive Back 5
Special Teams 11
Coaches 5
Schedule 2
Total 62

Offense 28

Defense 16

Other 18

The Hawkeyes almost snuck past the Huskers for second in the Legends division, and if there was an intangibles ranking (which I had intended originally), Iowa would be at the top this year. As I've repeatedly said in the past, when nothing is expected of Iowa, expect something of Iowa. Provided the injuries are limited, there's enough talent to take the division as long as the special teams don't ruin it for them.

4. Michigan
Quarterback 3
Running Back 5
Receiver 1
Offensive Line 3
Defensive Line 7
Linebacker 9
Defensive Back 10
Special Teams 10
Coaches 9
Schedule 8
Total 65

Offense 12

Defense 26

Other 27

The rankings have Michigan with the top offense in the conference, but as I said above, I think quarterback is too high right now, and with Darryl Stonum's recent troubles, the receivers take a hit as well. The numbers show the Wolverines with the fourth-worst defense, which would actually be a step in the right direction.

5. Northwestern
Quarterback 1
Running Back 10
Receiver 4
Offensive Line 10
Defensive Line 8
Linebacker 12
Defensive Back 9
Special Teams 5
Coaches 6
Schedule 4
Total 69

Offense 25

Defense 29

Other 15

When you're listed as having a worse defense than Michigan, you have to wonder how you're going to finish in the upper division. Quarterback Dan Persa can't do it all on his own, even though he may be asked to do just that. With Northwestern's schedule, I don't think I would have pegged them for fifth in the Legends division, but as the rankings show, there isn't much separation between the teams. It's wide open.

6. Minnesota
Quarterback 9
Running Back 9
Receiver 10
Offensive Line 12
Defensive Line 12
Linebacker 6
Defensive Back 11
Special Teams 9
Coaches 10
Schedule 9
Total 97

Offense 40

Defense 29

Other 28

Minnesota has the second-worst offense, second-worst defense, and tied with Indiana for worst in "Other". To put it another way, if it wasn't for Indiana, Minnesota would be Indiana, but they do have a bit more individual offensive talent, and more possibilities on defense. Of course, it's likely that these advantages would only help them against the Hoosiers.

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