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Big ten football power rankings: the beginning

Hope you missed me!

2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days
Rudy Giuliani or Barry Alvarez?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Just like Manti Te’o I’m back in the news cycle, reminding everyone I’m not the only one whose relevance peaked in 2012.

I’m nearing the umpteenth year of writing something to this affect (I still have to look up effect vs. affect. Some things will never change) and I feel like I’m really hitting my stride. And I’m afraid that’s more a function of the Big Ten being on autopilot.

Honestly at this point, it’s hard not to blame the conference for keeping the status quo. In my age, I’m basically doing the same thing: wake up at 5am everyday, get Mad Online, work from 6-11, take a nap, get Mad Online over something new, move the trackpad for an hour, workout, look for a future ex wife (this is also getting Mad Online) and go to bed. Rinse repeat.

On the weekends I’ll golf and shoot between a 96 and 101, which is nice, because it’s like getting Mad Online, only it’s offline, and I paid for the privilege to do so.

I’d love to sit here and tell you about how things are going to be different this year for the Big Ten (and my dating life) but only idiots who spend too much time telling you how passionate they are for ‘Cocks would do that.

So let’s get to it! I’d love love love to agree with your argument that Ohio State won’t win the conference this year, but if I did, we’d both be wrong.

1. Ohio State

The Buckeyes went and got the best defensive coordinator available in the transfer portal and paid him 2 million bucks to make sure another starting linebacker doesn’t quit the team mid-game like last year. That by itself should tell you this is the year for the Bucks, but you must also consider its Heisman front-runner is throwing the ball to a Heisman dark horse, and also Marvin Harrison’s son.

More than anything, Ohio State’s gain is something which Michigan likely lacks, which is lightning in a bottle.

2. Michigan

I want to believe Jim Harbaugh’s dalliance with my Minnesota Vikings this offseason created some unrest in Ann Arbor, but that was sneaky overshadowed by his defensive coordinator’s decision to leave... and go work for his brother, Jon, in the NFL.

Still, I’ll never forget Blake Corum averaging 15 yards/carry against Iowa in Indy, which has earned my respect to overrate this stupid team without a smart quarterback.

3. Michigan State

I predicted a regression for Michigan State this year—and that could still happen—but after I opened a book I learned Payton Thorne passed for 27 touchdowns and 3,200 yards a year ago, and he’s back. I said it’d be impossible to replace Kenneth Walker Jr., perhaps the best back in the country last year... and so Mel Tucker went and got Jalen Berger from Wisconsin, and Colorado’s Jarek Broussard.

Tucker also got a corner from Georgia and now I’m talking myself into putting these guys at 2.

4. Wisconsin

Wisconsin went and hired a new offensive coordinator who doesn’t share the last name with anyone else on its staff, leaving the decision-makers at Iowa to wonder if that’s even legal.

Graham Mertz is Spencer Petras, but with significantly more competent coaching. Change my mind.

5. Purdue

Maybe if Iowa can beat Purdue when it matters they’ll get the benefit of the doubt here.

Listen, here’s something I’m low-key looking forward to next year: Aidan O’Connell making a push for an under-the-radar BTPOY (or even Heisman) campaign. Purdue media is going to be Tweeting out his highlights. And those clips will contain touchdown pass after touchdown pass to Tyrone Tracy and Charlie Jones.

Guess who’s Mad Online again!

6. Iowa

Listen, Iowa has 17 returning starters (so does Purdue btw) with eight returning to the most under appreciated defense ever. And do you know why we didn’t appreciate that defense?

Because its counterpart STUNK. It stunk out loud. Stunk so bad, two of its skill position players left to go play for Pur fucking due. Do you know how many touchdown passes Iowa threw in its final E I G H T games? I bet you don’t, so I’ll tell you. It’s three. Iowa threw three touchdown passes in 480 minutes of football, and two of those came against Minnesota. The last was a trick play in the bowl game.

If you tell me what makes you think this team can beat Nerbaska and Iowa State and even Minnesota in the same ways as last year, then I’ve got a rooster to sell you.

7. Penn State

James Franklin stinks and this is the year he shows his ass. Penn State has gone 11-11 in its last 22 games, and scored just 1.5 more points per game than Iowa did last year.

They got Manny Diaz to replace all-world defensive coordinator Brent Pry, who left to take the head job at Virginia Tech, inarguably a worse job than defensive coordinator at Penn State until you consider your boss is James Franklin.

8. Minnesota

Minnesota might be the only team in the entire conference whose quarterback situation I don’t envy. Lately when I’ve had a few too many, I’ve been reminded of my unalluring Minnesota accent, leaving me to lament the team at the school where I was refused to be among those like me.

9. Northwestern

I dunno, what do you want me to do, bet against Pat Fitzgerald in an even-numbered year?

10. Illinois

Illinois is the only school I was really struggling to find a place a little higher here. I’m not ready to bail on Bieleball yet, and the Illini added a quarterback who threw 27 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in 15 starts at Syracuse. And his last name is “DeVito,” so I’m going to pretend he’s Danny DeVito’s son, but at 6’2”, he most assuredly is not.

11. Maryland

Taulia Tagovailoa is still the quarterback, and Mike Locksley is still the coach, which tells me everything I need to know about Maryland.

12. Nerbaska

“Ugh, he’s still doing the Nerbaska thing?” you groan into your cornflakes. That’s right, and I’m going to until Nerbaska’s winning percentage rises above that of whoever is the AL’s reigning batting champion.

13. Rutgers

Only nine returning starters and a schedule that includes Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State BACK-TO-BACK-TO-BACK makes me think we might just see Rutgers replaced with literally any other Pac-12 school that remains following this season.

14. Indiana

Remember when Tom Allen was getting talked about for bigger and better jobs? I’d like to remind you virtually anywhere is a bigger and better job than Indiana football.

You’re welcome!