It was a labor of obligation, and now it is finally finished.
Every position in the Big Ten has been rated within the two divisions. So much research has been done that I have forgotten key dates and information about my own life.
Schedules and coaches have been judged.
And a new addition this year — the total number of recruiting stars (generally based on the 247Sports Composite) — was gathered.
Spoiler: Ohio State has quite the star advantage.
As you know, the reason for doing this is to give you a clear picture of who is going to the Big Ten Championship Game and why.
Over the years, this practice has spit out some impressive data.
Only once — 2016 — have I failed to get at least one Big Ten Championship Game participant correct. And nearly several times have I correctly predicted both division champions.
[Teams marked with an asterisk (*) played in the Big Ten Championship Game.]
2011: Leaders – Ohio State (Some ratings were done pre-Tressel firing), Legends – Michigan State*
2012: Leaders – Wisconsin*, Legends – Michigan State
2013: Leaders – Ohio State*, Legends – Michigan State*
2014: East – Michigan State, West – Wisconsin*
2015: n/a (Busy writing a book, but rest assured, it would have been Michigan State and Iowa.)
2016: East – Ohio State, West – Iowa
2017: East – Ohio State*, West – Wisconsin*
2018: East – Ohio State*, West – Wisconsin
So how do the numbers shake out?
Before we get to the division winners, let’s look at some recruiting information.
As I was doing my ratings, I was also keeping track of the star ratings of each of the players on the roster at those positions.
Having tallied them all up, the number of stars don’t completely mirror the division finishes, and in some cases, it’s not even close.
The most interesting bit of info for me is just how closely packed the Big Ten West is. It’s not a surprise, but it’s still interesting to see it confirmed. Only 26 stars separate Nebraska and Purdue/Northwestern. Meanwhile, in the East, Ohio State is where you would expect them to be, as is everybody else.
It might also bear watching that Maryland is essentially recruiting at the level of the best in the West, and that was prior to a recruiter like Mike Locksley coming to town.
Northwestern’s success based on their numbers is pretty impressive. Amazingly, they’re only one tiny step ahead of Rutgers according to the people who rate recruits.
But does that mean Northwestern will be winning their division this year?
And neither will Rutgers.
Here’s how it all shook out.
[As a reminder, each position was ranked within the division and those rankings were then compiled for a total team score. If a team was ranked 1 in QBs, 2 in RBs, 1 in RECs, 5 in OL, 3 in DL, 1 in LBs, 4 in DBs, 3 in ST, 2 in SCHED, and 3 in HC, then their score would be 25. This then determines the order of finish, with the lowest score being the division winner.]
So congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes, your 2019 Big Ten West Champs.
This was pretty close to being Nebraska. In my initial coach ratings, I had Scott Frost at No. 2 and Kirk Ferentz at No. 3. After seeing their write-ups side by side, however, I had to go with Ferentz, thereby putting the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten title game in December.
Who will they be playing?
That’s right, your 2019 Big Ten Championship Game will be Ohio State vs. Iowa in Indianapolis.
I don’t know if this will be a revenge game or if that 2017 game has long been forgotten. I know people have tried to forget about it. (The Purdue game may have helped, ironically.)
Looking at it now, I’m not sure Michigan is actually going to have the fourth-best defense in the East, but I can’t argue with science. At some point, however, I really should add a coordinators field to this ratings thing.
Here are the complete position ratings all in one spot.
My condolences to the fans of every other team in the Big Ten this year, but at least now you don’t have to get your hopes up.