Big Ten Football: Re-Ranking the Big Ten Based on Ohio State Turmoil
Big Ten Football 2011: How Have Our Latest Power Rankings Changed After Ohio State's Latest Scandal?
Football in the Big Ten conference in 2010 was unlike any other season we've encountered.
A three-way between Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State marked the first time the Big Ten conference shared a three-way tie heading into bowl season, and with the inauguration of the newly-shaped divisions within, we aren't likely to see that happen again.
Moreover, Ohio State's confounding array of suspensions and injustices have left the Big Ten conference as wide open as it's ever been heading into 2011.
Which teams' stocks are on the rise? Will the Buckeyes make it through the first five weeks of action? Does Wisconsin have another Rose Bowl appearance in store?
These, and many other questions, will be answered in our much-too-early Big Ten power rankings as spring football heats up.
Let's get started!
12. Indiana Hoosiers
2010 record: 5-7 (1-7)
Jim Tressel or not, the Hoosiers aren't likely to make a serious run at a Big Ten title next season.
Losing their senior quarterback, Ben Chappell, who threw for over 3,200 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, will only set Indiana back against Big Ten competition, as sophomore quarterback Edward Wright-Baker looks to take over the reigns of the Hoosier offense.
On the positive side of things, junior running back Darius Willis is a serious talent with much to give to a lacking Hoosier offense. Whether or not he plays up to his capabilities is yet to be seen, however, Hoosier fans should be excited nonetheless.
Along with losing key positional players such as wide receiver Tandon Doss, the Hoosiers are in line to yet again finish at the bottom of the Big Ten next season.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers
2010 record: 3-6 (2-9)
The bottom-feeders of the Big Ten last season, Minnesota finished their 2010 campaign with just two victories against in-conference opponents.
However, what can be determined about this abysmal Gophers squad is that a bright future may be in store just a few years down the road, under the leadership of junior quarterback MarQueis Gray.
Addition of serious talent at the wide receiver position in Da'Jon McKnight could, in turn, lead to success for Minnesota as early as next season. But the true lack of a running game will hold back this underachieving group next season.
If success is to be had in 2011, the Gophers will need to establish a running game early on.
Don't count on it, though.
10. Purdue Boilermakers
2010 record: (4-8) 2-6
Ending the 2010 season on a six-game losing streak isn't what Boilermaker fans are accustomed to.
A rich tradition in football success, Purdue may be back on track towards making a run at a Big Ten title sooner than most might think. Sophomore quarterback Rob Henry has a bright future ahead of him after a successful 2010 freshman season, and junior wide receiver Antavian Edison could be a breakout player to watch next season.
But for improvement to be attained next season, the Boilermakers must be able to use a balanced attack against the solid defenses the Big Ten has to offer. Remember: Purdue was torched by Ohio State 49-0 in Columbus—their worst loss to an in-conference opponent in the last decade.
Fortunately for the Boilermakers, a solid recruiting class headlined by defensive playmakers will make their way on campus next season.
9. Northwestern Wildcats
2010 record: 7-6 (3-5)
After a successful 2009 season in which Northwestern football was re-established, the Wildcats managed a mediocre 7-6 2010 season.
Their 2010 campaign wasn't quite up to snuff, however their star pupil, quarterback Dan Persa, wowed NFL scouts by throwing for over 2,500 yards and 15 touchdowns to go with a near 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The 6'1'', 205-pound Persa also managed to yield a 159.04 quarterback rating—one of the best in the entire country.
These Wildcats could be on the verge of something special this season, and head coach Pat Fitzgerald believes his squad has all the capabilities to make some noise in the Big Ten.
Nevertheless, for Northwestern to compete in 2011 they'll need serious production out of sophomore running back Mike Trumpy—who rushed for 530 yards and four touchdowns in his freshman season.
8. Penn State Nittany Lions
2010 record: 7-6 (4-4)
How many more seasons can Joe Paterno remain the head coach of Penn State? Is Matt McGloin truly the future for the Nittany Lions at quarterback? Who will replace Evan Royster in the backfield?
These are just a few of the many questions surrounding the Penn State football program that could be in the midst of a decline. And when Penn State found itself on the losing end of their Outback Bowl matchup with Florida, one can only imagine what was going through the mind of Paterno.
Last season, sophomore quarterback Matt McGloin threw for over 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns in just six games. What does his junior season hold in store? We cannot be completely sure, however the lack of talent at wide receiver will limit his capabilities in 2011.
Additionally, senior running back Evan Royster (1,014 yards, six touchdowns in 2010) is headed for the NFL draft. Can Silas Redd aid in Penn State's efforts? We'll have to wait and see.
7. Michigan Wolverines
2010 record: 7-6 (3-5)
The Michigan Wolverines opened up their 2010 season on a five-game win streak that looked as promising as ever before. However their preceding three-game losing streak opened up a flurry of doubt and scrutiny directed at none other than head coach Rich Rodriguez.
After finishing the season at an unacceptable 7-6 mark, Rodriguez was relieved of his coaching duties to bring in Brady Hoke as the new head coach.
But will a coaching change really help this abysmal roster in 2011?
Last season, Michigan ran for 238.5 yards per game—good enough to be 13th best in the nation. However, most of that yardage was due to the scrambling abilities of quarterback Denard Robinson. Will consistency be instilled into these players this season?
6. Illinois Fighting Illini
2010 record: 7-6 (4-4)
Despite losing their star running back Mikel LeShoure, who managed over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, these Fighting Illini are a team to watch this season.
In his freshman season at quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase maintained a 131.97 quarterback rating to go with 17 touchdowns. Junior wideout A.J. Jenkins also aided in Illinois's passing attack, yielding 746 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Can he help Scheelhaase again this season?
The answer to that question may be blurry at best, however the hopes and dreams of this young football team will rely on their ability to run with consistency. And for that reason alone, they aren't cracking the top five of the Big Ten heading into 2011.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes
2010 record: 8-5 (4-4)
Kirk Ferentz's crew remains as one of the most stable programs in the Big Ten over the past five years. The Hawkeyes managed to go 4-4 in conference play last season, as well as 8-4 overall under the leadership of senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
Stanzi, who will leaving for the 2011 NFL draft with fellow notable teammates Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard, was the heart and soul of Iowa's offense over the last few seasons. Who will take over the reigns of the Hawkeyes' offense? We may have a problem.
The loss of key starters from their 2010 season will prove detrimental to Iowa's chances in the Big Ten next season, and it will almost certainly be an uphill climb from here on out.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
2010 record: 12-1 (7-1)
What else did you expect?
The loss of a head football coach, starting quarterback and other key playmakers will prove detrimental to Ohio State's chances in the Big Ten next season.
Despite the clear lack of talent to begin their 2011 campaign, the Buckeyes are still good enough to be fourth-best in the Big Ten.
3. Nebraska Cornhuskers
2010 record: 10-4 (6-2)
The Cornhuskers will begin their 2011 quest towards greatness as part of the realigned Big Ten conference.
Maintaining prolific quarterback Taylor Martinez will be enough to catapult the Huskers into the top portion of our power rankings, as well as having Roy Helu Jr. in the backfield.
The key for Nebraska in 2011 will be whether or not they are able to stop the powerful ground games featured by the likes of Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio State. If they are successful in doing that, they should be able to contend for the Big Ten title.
2. Michigan State Spartans
2010 record: 11-2 (7-1)
Although Michigan State absolutely fell apart in the latter part of their 2010 season, the feeling around the Big Ten is that they will be back in contention this season.
Kirk Cousins will be back for his senior season, throwing for over 2,800 yards and 20 touchdowns in his junior season in 2010, and the Spartans' progressing ground game headlined by Edwin Baker should make for a complete package in 2011.
One concern for the Spartans in 2011 will be to shore up the void left by inside linebacker Greg Jones, one of the best defensive talents in the country just a season ago.
1. Wisconsin Badgers
2010 record: 11-2 (7-1)
Despite losing senior quarterback Scott Tolzien and running back John Clay to the NFL draft, the Badgers are more than capable of repeating as Big Ten champions in 2011.
Wisconsin boasts two of the most highly sought-after tailbacks in the country in Montee Ball and James White, who combined for over 2,000 yards and 32 touchdowns last season. Behind arguably the most physically dominating offensive lines in the country, the two could potentially carry the Badgers to new heights.
Nevertheless, the Badgers do have serious problems defensively, as seen in their 21-19 defeat at the hands of Andy Dalton and TCU's prolific passing game. If Wisconsin is to smell roses at the end of this season, they'll need to improve their lagging secondary.