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2018 Big Ten Standings Predictions

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From 7-1 in each division.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Cohn:

Big Ten East:

7. Indiana

6. Rutgers

5. Michigan State

4. Ohio State

3. Maryland

2. Penn State

1. Michigan

The big thing here is probably OSU ending up fourth in the division, and I just don’t know what the team looks like without JT Barrett and potentially Urban Meyer. I know it’s still Ohio State, and that should carry them because Haskins is great and they could function with me as coach, but I think an upset or two, especially against a sneaky good Maryland team, could ruin them in 2018. I’m also high on Michigan right now.

Big Ten West

7. Minnesota

6. Illinois

5. Iowa

4. Northwestern

3. Purdue

2. Nebraska

1. Wisconsin

You can’t convince me otherwise that Wisconsin doesn’t win this division. Purdue rides a wave, even without a lot of talent, to a very good season. Illinois beats Minnesota to not come in last, and Northwestern is “eh” this year. Iowa also flounders to three conference victories — two of which come vs. Minnesota and Illinois. Nebraska is stuck there for a few years.

Michael Berns:

Big Ten East:

7. Rutgers

6. Indiana

5. Maryland

4. Michigan State

3. Penn State

2. Michigan

1. Ohio State

Ohio State is head and shoulders above the competition, especially on the offensive side of the football. They have the best offensive line, the best running game and the best group of receivers in the Big Ten East. Michigan’s defense is good, scary good and will be the best in the Big Ten. That defense will be good enough to carry this team to a 10-win season. Penn State has the best QB in the conference in Trace McSorley, though Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke is turning some heads and is a legitimate pro prospect. A healthier Maryland should make some noise, and yes — they’re a lot better than Indiana and Rutgers.

Big Ten West:

7. Minnesota

6. Purdue

5. Illinois

4. Nebraska

3. Iowa

2. Northwestern

1. Wisconsin

The gap between the Badgers and whoever finishes second in the Big Ten West is pretty big, as has been the case most of the last few years. In the West, Illinois takes a step forward and Minnesota a step back as Nebraska kind of lingers and figures things out with a new head coach and new system to break in. A guy to keep an eye on is Iowa QB Nate Stanley. The Wisconsin native had just two Power 5 offers from his hometown Badgers and Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa Hawkeyes. He was the biggest, surprisingly good quarterback in 2017. Now with some legitimate expectations on his shoulders, how will he handle being THE guy from the outset?

Raul Rodriguez

Big Ten East:

7. Indiana

6. Rutgers

5. Maryland

4. Penn State

3.Michigan State

2. Ohio State

1. Michigan

The Big Ten East will have 3 S&P Top 10 Teams (Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State) two of which will make the College Football Playoff. Michigan takes the next step in 2018. I predict that a one loss Michigan will come into Columbus on Thanksgiving Weekend and beat an undefeated Ohio State team. The Buckeyes still make the playoff and end up winning the national title. Michigan State will play at high level with one of the best defenses in the country and a quarterback in Brian Lewerke who will grow into his own. Penn State takes a step back but not a significant step and remains Top 15 in S&P. Maryland will go bowling. Rutgers shows signs of progress. Indiana, on the other hand, will fall of a cliff and go winless in B10 play.

Big Ten West:

7. Northwestern

6. Minnesota

5. Illinois

4. Iowa

3. Purdue

2. Nebraska

1. Wisconsin

Things will be par the course for Wisconsin. I think they lose two road games at Michigan and at Penn State but they will go will roll through the Big Ten West portion of the schedule. I think Nebraska will be much better than everyone expects (Maybe top 20 S&P) but three road games at top 10 S&P teams (at Ohio State, at Michigan and At Wisconsin) will keep them from contending for the conference. With Purdue, I am bullish on what Jeff Brohm can do in year two despite their losses on defense. Iowa stays Iowa. The Illini and Minnesota play more competitively in 2018 but still finish near the bottom of the division. I’m sure you are wondering why Northwestern is last. I think their season will spiral south like it did in 2013. The Wildcats first three big ten games are at Purdue, at home against Michigan and at Michigan State. The likely 0-3 start in Big Ten play will demoralize the Wildcats to the point where they get upset by Rutgers, Minnesota and Illinois later in the season.

Mark Schaer:

Big Ten East:

7. Rutgers

6. Indiana

5. Maryland

4. Michigan

3. Michigan State

2. Penn State

1. Ohio State

My interest in the East, although it is the superior division in every way to the West, is probably not as high as it should be. Ohio State is simply going to be too good for Penn State, who lost some important depth on offense in guys like DaeSean Hamilton and Saquon Barkley. But Trace McSorley will be able to lead his Nittany Lions over the likes of the Michigan Wolverines, who need to find a true offensive identity. Michigan State will surprise some people here, and likely get to 9 or 10 wins, depending on how things shake out. Rutgers and Indiana will be in a race for last place, and Maryland will manage one more win than both of them.

Big Ten West:

7. Minnesota

6. Illinois

5. Purdue

4. Nebraska

3. Northwestern

2. Iowa

1. Wisconsin

This race will at least be fun to watch. Wisconsin is going to cruise through the season, as I mentioned in my Big Ten Championship prediction, but they will certainly face some speed bumps along the way with Kirk Ferentz and Pat Fitzgerald having consistently-performing, albeit not outstanding, teams on the field. The real interest here is what Scott Frost does in his first year at his alma mater, and how Jeff Brohm’s Boilermakers show up after what most would consider a pretty successful first season in West Lafayette. Lovie is going to see improvement in both offense, defense, and wins, but how many wins will depend on the likes of Cam Thomas (or AJ Bush, if it comes to that). The “Row the Boat” squad up in Minneapolis will underperform after a mediocre first year under PJ Fleck. In reality, spots 2-7 are up for grabs in the West, but expect it to shake out something like this.

Austin Jabs

Big Ten East:

7. Rutgers

6. Indiana

5. Maryland

4. Michigan State

3. Penn State

2. Ohio State

1. Michigan

Michigan has the weapons they need to finally secure their first Big Ten Championship since 2004. The underlying question will be if the Wolverines can get out of their way enough to make it happen. Ohio State will still be good and has a chance to sneak into the College Football Playoff if enough teams falter down the stretch.

Big Ten West:

7. Minnesota

6. Purdue

5. Nebraska

4. Illinois

3. Iowa

2. Northwestern

1. Wisconsin

There is no doubt that Wisconsin will win the West again. They could win by three games and I would not be the least bit surprised. The talent gap at this time is far too large for some of these teams to overcome at this point. The homer in me believes Illinois can turn the corner a bit this season, I believe that Purdue and Minnesota will regress in 2018, and Frost won’t be able to find magic in Nebraska in year one.

Matt O’Neall

Big Ten East

7. Rutgers

6. Indiana

5. Maryland

4. Michigan State

3. Michigan

2. Penn State

1. Ohio State

I’ve been hearing a lot of Michigan love since last season ended and I’m just not there yet. Every guy under center since Harbaugh has been there looks like he’s been throwing with the wrong hand. I think Ohio State is just too talented. They have the fastest guys in the country every single year. They’ll slip up once somewhere, but they just have too much firepower.

Big Ten West

7. Illinois

6. Minnesota

5. Purdue

4. Northwestern

3. Nebraska

2. Iowa

1. Wisconsin

I think Illinois vs. Minnesota could be the battle for last so keep your eyes peeled there. I know Northwestern wins games, I just don’t think they’re very good. That’s my take on them. I think Scott Frost is going to super exciting and they are going to win a few big games they probably shouldn’t, but they just won’t have the continuity and consistency in year one. Iowa is usually consistent but not elite so Wisconsin wins by default again.

Kyle Huisinga

Big Ten East

7. Rutgers

6. Indiana

5. Maryland

4. Michigan

3. Michigan State

2. Ohio State

1 Penn State

Penn State makes their push back to national relevance. Michigan, even with Shea Patterson, has taken a back seat to their cousins up the road. Ohio State has all the talent in the world, but give me McSorley over any of the quarterbacks on the Buckeye’s roster. Maryland could make a charge with Kaseem Hill, but the bottom is pretty well set.

Big Ten West

7. Minnesota

6. Purdue

5. Illinois

4. Nebraska

3. Northwestern

2. Wisconsin

1. Iowa

The surprise of the conference, as an up and coming Iowa squad takes down the overwhelming favorite Wisconsin Badgers in the first conference game. Northwestern seems to trip all over themselves on their way to a 10 win season every other year, although they’ll take a step back this year. Nebraska is not quite ready, even with Adrian Martinez, but Scott Frost will get them there soon. Illinois surprises to a competitive 5-7 season, and while talent is coming, Jeff Brohm and Purdue lose too much to compete. The Fleckster brings up the rear, with a quarterback situation worse than even Illinois.

Ian Gold

Big Ten West

7. Minnesota

6. Illinois

5. Purdue

4. Iowa

3. Nebraska

2. Northwestern

1. Wisconsin

Wisconsin doesn’t award many upsets in the Big Ten season. They’re too physically imposing on offense, and too technically sound through the defense, and the combination usually pounds opponents into submission unless those opponents have the Badgers at an overwhelming athletic deficit. Northwestern is sadly primed for a nice year behind senior quarterback Clayton Thorson; and the rest of the West is booty. The Illinois over Minnesota pick might be more of a rooting interest than reality, but I can see Fleck taking a big step backward.

Big Ten East

7. Rutgers

6. Indiana

5. Maryland

4. Michigan State

3. Michigan

2. Penn State

1. Ohio State

I can definitely understand why Jim Delaney has to answer so many questions about parody between the leagues. In the West, Wisconsin reigns. In the East, it’s a bloodbath. Ohio State is still the class of the East, but Penn State or Michigan could stake a claim as the 2nd best team in the conference this year. Penn State has home field against Ohio State and the season on the line, similar to last year when Penn State was rolling and then had their perfect run ended in Columbus. Picking between Michigan and Michigan State is really tough, but I think Harbaugh has endured some undeserving criticism and should have the better squad in 2018. Rutgers should change their mascot from the Scarlet Knight to the Turnpike Roadkill.

Matt Rejc

Big Ten West

7. Illinois

6. Purdue

5. Nebraska

4. Northwestern

3. Minnesota

2. Iowa

1. Wisconsin

Changes are afoot in the Big Ten West, as Scott Frost’s first season at the helm of the Huskers is likely to go not unlike Mike Riley’s opening campaign and takes more than a few lumps along the way. I see PJ Fleck’s Gophers and Iowa as two programs poised to fill the void left by Nebraska. Northwestern seems destined for an underperforming year, while the Boilermakers revert to their usual place near the bottom of the conference following Brohm’s senior-laden 2017 team. The Illini still don’t have the experience or the talent to be able to make much noise in the West Division.

Big Ten East

7. Rutgers

6. Maryland

5. Indiana

4. Michigan State

3. Michigan

2. Ohio State

1. Penn State

The East Division should stack up in a much more predictable fashion, as the teams really fall into fairly straightforward categories. Rutgers, Maryland, and Indiana will be buried beneath the middle-class teams in Michigan and Michigan State, and well beneath the playoff contending teams at the top of the Division: Ohio State and Penn State.

Brandon Birkhead:

Big Ten East:

7. Indiana

6. Rutgers

5. Maryland

4. Michigan

3. Penn State

2. Michigan State

1. Ohio State

A lot has been talked about how this may be Michigan’s year since they finally have a QB in Shea Patterson. But the problem with that is, I don’t really believe Shea Patterson is really any good. He’s fine, but I don’t think he is a player who can come in and be the answer for Michigan’s offensive struggles. They will still have the lowest scoring offense out of the top four in the Big Ten East and the worst QB of the bunch by a significant margin.

I think the Spartans will sneak up on a lot of teams. They again have a good QB, Brian Lewerke, who may be the most overlooked player in the conference right now. They have Michigan and Ohio State at home of their big three games which will help. Their Big Ten road schedule is Indiana, Penn State, Maryland, and Nebraska which is very favorable minus the Penn State game. Penn State’s road schedule is also favorable (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Rutgers), but they get Wisconsin and the always potentially trap-game team Iowa in crossover. Michigan meanwhile has to play Northwestern, Michigan State, and Ohio State on the road. MSU, Michigan and Penn State are all pretty equal in my eyes in quality, but the schedule favors the Spartans.

BUT, Ohio State is the most talented team in the division. The Urban Meyer stuff doesn’t worry me too much this season. This team will still be great under a potential interim head coach Ryan Day and experienced assistants. The only teams in college football that can compete with Ohio State on a talent level are Clemson and Alabama. They will be too much for the rest of the East to handle.

Big Ten West:

7. Illinois

6. Minnesota

5. Purdue

4. Nebraska

3. Iowa

2. Northwestern

1. Wisconsin

Purdue will fall back a bit this year because of all they lost on defense, but they should be fine moving forward. But other than that, I think the division holds steady with what we saw last year. Not much has changed with the teams. Illinois and Minnesota are still in huge rebuilds. Nebraska hired Scott Frost, but the team is still a few years off from contending. Iowa will have a very Iowa season, and Northwestern has reached their ceiling of 9 or 10 wins until they prove otherwise. I think Wisconsin winning the Big Ten West is one of the safest bets out there. They are a top 10 team with a heisman candidate running back that has a great offensive line in front of him. Alex Hornibrook is solid and that defense is really good. Badgers will win the West easily again and make the debate about moving to pods even stronger.