The Big Ten Conference is set to expand to 14 teams in 2014, and the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines are on the recruiting trail to make sure they will continue to compete for league titles.
In fact, both programs have attracted the type of prospects that will have them in competition for a berth in the College Football Playoff, also set to begin next season.
Michigan will welcome the highest-rated recruit in the entire league, but OSU has drawn in a long list of blue-chip athletes as well.
So which of the Big Ten rivals pulled in the best class? Scroll on for breakdowns of each class and the final ruling on which will win the battle for the premier group in the conference.
Class rank: National: 16, Big Ten: 2
Michigan's 2014 class isn't as strong as it once promised to be, but it will still end up among the best groups in the nation.
The Wolverines pulled in one of the most highly anticipated prospects in the class, 5-star and No. 1 athlete Jabrill Peppers. He projects as a defensive back, but his returning and playmaking skills could have him playing in all three phases in Ann Arbor.
He's the lone 5-star and will be joined by several promising 4-star and 3-star recruits.
The only remaining question mark for this class for Michigan is 5-star defensive end Malik McDowell.
The Southfield, Mich., native has had quite the recruiting saga. It seemed as though he was beginning to lean toward joining the vaunted Michigan State defense, but just two days before signing day, Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press reported that his parents don't want him to become a Spartan.
While his mother said she would be content with him heading to Michigan, both of his parents would prefer him to go out of state, per Rexrode:
Greg McDowell told 247Sports.com of his son’s recruitment and MSU: “You have to be somewhere you have less distractions and be around people that do what you do, go to class, be football players, be a student-athlete. That’s the environment I want him to be around, and not be in close proximity to his friends. I want him out of Michigan. I don’t care if that’s Ohio State or Florida State.”
(Malik's mother Joya) Crowe said she would be OK with her son choosing U-M but agreed that “I think it’s best he leaves the state.”
McDowell would be a tremendous late addition and more than a consolation prize for missing out on top strong-side defensive end Da'Shawn Hand.
Class rank: National: 2, Big Ten: 1
Ohio State's 2014 class is highlighted by 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan. The No. 1 inside linebacker in the country, McMillan is already enrolled at OSU and could provide an immediate replacement for All-American Ryan Shazier, who headed off to the NFL.
With McMillan as the headliner, OSU addressed major needs on the defensive side, particularly in the secondary. After finishing 11th in the Big Ten in pass defense, the Buckeyes added a skilled trio of defensive backs: 4-star corners Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore and 4-star safety Erick Smith.
This class might not have the flash of a player like Peppers, but it is one of the deepest groups in the nation.
Ohio State is close to having its class finalized, but there are a few recruits left on the board.
However, the big one is undoubtedly McDowell.
Michigan has a strong class, highlighted by the top recruit in the entire conference: Peppers.
However, even the No. 3 overall prospect in the nation isn't enough for the Wolverines' recruiting class to compare to that of the Buckeyes.
OSU has a 5-star of its own and nearly double the number of 4-star commits heading into national signing day.
The Buckeyes stocked up on both sides of the ball, adding several key defenders and offensive skill players. As a result, they have the Big Ten's best class by a wide margin.