The Big Ten regular season is over. It was filled with some great moments and a few surprises but it's sad to see it go. College football is great but it only lasts a short time.
Now we're left with the conference championships, one more week of Big XII football, one Army-Navy game, and, of course, the ginormous smorgasbord of bowl games.
As for the B1G, it will be Ohio State verses the Wisconsin Badgers. Both teams have an fairly equal chance of winning this game, but the winner doesn't seem to be getting into the College Football Playoff -- Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, and TCU seem to be the Final Four as of right now.
Now that the season's over though, it's a good time to look back and rank all these teams one last time. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments.
Record: 11-1, 8-0
The Buckeyes have beat Michigan in 12 of the past 14 years, but all is not so great in Columbus. It really does sadden and hurt me to type the next sentence. J.T. Barrett is out for the rest of the season, but worse, senior D-lineman Kosta Karageorge, who went missing earlier in the week, has been found dead. My prayers go out to the Ohio State family.
2. #11 Wisconsin Badgers - vs. Minnesota, Win 34-24 - LW: 2
Record: 10-2, 7-1
The Badgers are Indy-bound and ready to win the B1G -- they're actually a 3-point favorite as of Sunday. Their chances have surely risen due to the Barrett injury, but it'll still be a touch game. Melvin Gordon is a blazing bright beacon coming from Madison. He's broke Ron Dayne's record for most rushing yards in B1G history. He's a legend we won't forget any time soon.
Record: 10-2, 7-1
The Spartans have won 10 games in four of their last five seasons. Please tell me that the Illini can do that one day. Just blindly get my hopes up, I don't care! I want to dream about the possible future. Just don't tell me that we can't win our two biggest games of the regular season. 'Cause that would be a total buzzkill.
Record: 8-4, 5-3
Even though the Gophers couldn't keep the lead over the Badgers this Minnesota program has to be feeling good about itself. They're creating wins (on other weekends) and having fun while doing it. If you're not one of the top programs in the B1G, then this is what you want to strive for.
Record: 9-3, 5-3
Hey look, they're not 8-4! But it hardly matters now that Bo Pelini has been fired. Nebraska apparently wants more than just consistent Top-25 rankings and quality bowl games. Oh, and the Huskers did beat their rival; let's not forget about that.
Record: 7-5, 4-4
At one point, Maryland carried a 35-10 lead over their new B1G brethren/rivals. Of the two, my vote for most successful in the new conference goes to the Terps, but that loss dulls the joy by a decent chunk.
Record: 6-6, 3-5
The Illini have won the LOLHat (fairly easily I might add), secured bowl eligibility, and retained their coach for 2015. Sounds like a success. I'm over-the-moon happy with the way the season's ended and I can't wait to watch the orange-and-blue play in a bowl.
Record: 7-5, 4-4
Iowa lost to Nebraska after possessing a 17-point lead late in the third quarter. The Hawkeyes definitely didn't live up to the hype of August. They lost three of their last four, ending in fourth place in the division. Will they have the same hype next year?
Record: 7-5, 3-5
The Knights started the season strong, then battled through a difficult schedule, and have now capped it off with a very nice victory of their new B1G rival. If you're asking me, Rutgers' season has been a phenomenal success. I look forward to watching them in the future as they continue to acclimate to the B1G culture.
Record: 5-7, 3-5
They put up a fight in the early goings but Michigan was not able to trounce the Buckeyes. This has been a rough year to be a Michigan fan, but now it all comes to an end, without a bowl nonetheless. Brady Hoke is pretty much guaranteed to be fired within the week. They're all hoping that 2015 comes soon.
Record: 5-7, 3-5
Northwestern will sit at home and do nothing, simmering in dark thoughts created from the devastating loss to the rival Fighting Illini. The Wildcats came up with some illogical (understatement) wins this season against Wisconsin and Notre Dame, but it's hard to see it as a success when you can't get to 6 wins.
Record: 6-6, 2-6
Penn State's season is filled with peaks and valleys. They are going to a bowl, something that wasn't even considerable at the beginning of the year. They also had one of the best defenses in the B1G. But as great as that is, it wasn't a great season for the Lions. They won two conference games (Rutgers and Indiana) and were commonly watching as quarterback Christian Hackenberg was ducking for his life. There's still much to improve with this team.
Record: 4-8, 1-7
The Hoosiers got their first conference win of the season which also came with an old bucket. It is a bright spot to end a season that was maimed by way too many injuries. Head coach Kevin Wilson has not been able to connect all the pieces in his 4 years at the helm. Other than Hoke, I'd say Wilson is on the hottest seat entering the offseason.
Record: 3-9, 1-7
Purdue could not hold off the Hoosiers to reclaim the Old Oaken Bucket. Everyone in the country knew it was going to be a rebuilding year; no one expected much. But to get more wins than last year, including one conference win, is improvement. As an Illini fan, I would like to say to all Purdue fans: Keep the faith. Someday a bowl will come, and it'll be all the sweeter.