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Posts Tagged ‘Big Ten’

Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 7

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6


week-7-power-rankings*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Week 7
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (6-0, 3-0) Even Beat #8 Wisconsin 30-23 Sat. at Penn State (4-2, 2-1), 8pm, ABC
2. Michigan (6-0, 3-0) Even Bye Sat. vs Illinois (2-4, 1-2), 3:30pm, BTN
3. Nebraska (6-0, 3-0) Even Beat Indiana 27-22 Sat. vs Purdue (3-3, 1-2), 3:30pm, ABC
4. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-2) Even Lost to #2 OSU 23-30 Sat. at Iowa (5-2, 3-1), 12pm, ESPN
5. Penn State (4-2, 2-1) Even Bye Sat. vs #2 Ohio St. (6-0, 3-0), 8pm, ABC
6. Iowa (5-2, 3-1) Up 2 Beat Purdue 49-35 Sat. vs #10 Wisc. (4-2, 1-2), 12pm, ESPN
7. Minnesota (4-2, 1-2) Up 2 Beat Maryland 31-10 Sat. vs Rutgers (2-5, 0-4), 12pm, ESPNU
8. Indiana (3-3, 1-2) Down 1 Lost to #10 Nebraska 22-27 Sat. at N’western (3-3, 2-1), 12pm, BTN
9. Northwestern (3-3, 2-1) Up 2 Beat MSU 54-40 Sat vs Indiana (3-3, 1-2), 12pm, BTN
10. Maryland (4-2, 1-2) Down 4 Lost to Minnesota 10-31 Sat. vs MSU (2-4, 0-3), 7:30pm, BTN
11. Michigan State (2-4, 0-3) Down 1 Lost to Northwestern 40-54 Sat at Maryland (4-2, 1-2), 7:30pm, BTN
12. Illinois (2-4, 1-2) Up 1 Beat Rutgers 24-7 Sat at #3 Michigan (6-0, 3-0), 3:30pm, BTN
13. Purdue (3-3, 1-2) Down 1 Lost to Iowa 35-49 Sat. at #8 Nebraska (6-0, 3-0), 3:30pm, ABC
14. Rutgers (2-5, 0-4) Even Lost to Illinois 7-24 Sat. at Minnesota (4-2, 1-2), 12pm, ESPNU

The top four remain exactly the same as last week with Ohio State at 1.2, Michigan 1.8, Nebraska 3.4, and Wisconsin 3.6, while Penn State remains fifth, but slips from 5.2 to 5.8. That means Michigan has received one first place vote, while two of the five of us believe Wisconsin should still be higher than Nebraska despite a pair of losses to Michigan and Ohio State. We will find out a lot more about Nebraska in the next three weeks when they visit both Wisconsin and Ohio State. Penn State, meanwhile, hosts Ohio State this Saturday.

Iowa, Minnesota, and Northwestern each move up two spots after wins over Purdue, Maryland, and Michigan State, respectively. Indian drops once spot to eighth after a close loss to Nebraska, while Maryland takes the biggest tumble of the week following a three touchdown loss to Minnesota. Michigan State continues its descent, dropping for the fourth straight week, all the way to 11th. Finally, Illinois and Purdue swap spots and Rutgers remains at the bottom. Both Illinois and Purdue face tough road games against top 10 opponents, Michigan and Nebraska, so Rutgers has a chance to move out of the basement with a win over Minnesota.



Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 6

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5


*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Week 6
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (5-0, 2-0) Even Beat Indiana 38-17 Sat. at #8 Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1), 8pm, ABC
2. Michigan (6-0, 3-0) Even Beat Rutgers 78-0 Bye
3. Nebraska (5-0, 2-0) Up 1 Bye Sat. at Indiana (3-2, 1-1), 3:30pm, ABC
4. Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1) Down 1 Bye Sat. vs #2 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0), 8pm, ABC
5. Penn State (4-2, 2-1) Up 4 Beat Maryland 38-14 Bye
6. Maryland (4-1, 1-1) Down 1 Lost to PSU 14-38 Sat. vs Minnesota (3-2, 0-1), 12pm, ESPNU
7. Indiana (3-2, 1-1) Down 1 Lost to #2 OSU 17-38 Sat. vs #10 Nebraska (5-0, 2-0), 3:30pm, ABC
8. Iowa (4-2, 2-1) Up 2 Beat Minnesota 14-7 Sat. at Purdue (3-2, 1-1), 12pm, ESPN2
9. Minnesota (3-2, 0-1) Down 1 Lost to Iowa 7-14 Sat at Maryland (4-1, 1-1), 12pm, ESPNU
10. Michigan State (2-3, 0-2) Down 3 Lost to BYU 14-31 Sat. vs Northwestern (2-3, 1-1), 3:30pm, BTN
11. Northwestern (2-3, 1-1) Even Bye Sat at MSU (2-3, 0-2), 3:30pm, BTN
12. Purdue (3-2, 1-1) Up 2 Beat Illinois 34-31 Sat. vs Iowa (4-2, 2-1), 12pm, ESPN2
13. Illinois (1-4, 0-2) Down 1 Lost to Purdue 31-34 Sat. at Rutgers (2-4, 0-3), 12pm, ESPNN
14. Rutgers (2-4, 0-3) Down 1 Lost to #4 Michigan 0-78 Sat. at vs Illinois (2-3, 0-2), 12pm, ESPNN

Yet again Ohio State and Michigan hold the top two spots, but for the first time this season Michigan received a first place vote. Wisconsin and Nebraska remain three and four, though they swapped spots during their bye weeks. Penn State made the biggest jump of the week, moving up five spots after topping Maryland. Maryland, Indiana, and Iowa are clustered together in the next wave, while Michigan State continues its slide all the way to the 10th spot this week after losing big to BYU. The Spartans rank higher than only Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, and Rutgers. The latter two battle each other for the cellar this Saturday.



Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 5

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4


*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Week 5
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (4-0, 1-0) Even Beat Rutgers 58-0 Sat. vs Indiana (3-1, 1-0), 3:30pm, ESPN
2. Michigan (5-0, 2-0) Even Beat #8 Wisconsin 14-7 Sat. at Rutgers (2-3, 0-2), 7pm, ESPN2
3. Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1) Even Lost to #4 Michigan (7-14) Bye
4. Nebraska (5-0, 2-0) Even Beat Illinois 31-16 Bye
5. Maryland (4-0, 1-0) Up 3 Beat Purdue 50-7 Sat. at Penn State (3-2, 1-1), 12pm, BTN
6. Indiana (3-1, 1-0) Up 3 Beat #17 MSU 24-21 OT Sat. at #2 OSU (4-0, 1-0), 3:30pm, ESPN
7. Michigan State (2-2, 0-2) Down 2 Lost to Indiana 21-24 OT Sat. vs BYU (2-3), 3:30pm
8. Minnesota (3-1, 0-1) Down 2 Lost to Penn State 26-29 Sat. vs Iowa (3-2, 1-1), 12pm, ESPN2
9. Penn State (3-2, 1-1) Up 1 Beat Minnesota 29-26 Sat vs Maryland (4-0, 1-0), 12pm, BTN
10. Iowa (3-2, 1-1) Down 3 Lost to Northwestern 31-38 Sat. 16 Minnesota (3-1, 0-1), 12pm, ESPN2
11. Northwestern (2-3, 1-1) Up 2 Beat Iowa 38-31 Bye
12. Illinois (1-3, 0-1) Up 2 Lost to #16 Nebraska 16-31 Sat. vs Purdue (2-2, 0-1), 3:30pm, BTN
13. Rutgers (2-3, 0-2) Down 1 Lost to #2 Ohio State 0-58 Sat. vs #4 Michigan (5-0, 2-0), 7pm, ESPN2
14. Purdue (2-2, 0-1) Down 3 Lost to Maryland 7-50 Sat. at Illinois (1-3, 0-1), 3:30pm, BTN

Ohio State and Michigan have held the top two spots all five weeks to date. Wisconsin and Nebraska remained unanimously No. 3 and 4 despite Wisconsin’s loss to Michigan and Nebraska’s still perfect record. Maryland and Indiana are the biggest climbers, each jumping three spots after dominating Purdue and knocking off Michigan State, respectively. The Spartans drop two spots to seventh after losing at IU. Iowa falls three spots after a home loss to Northwestern, who moves up two spots to No. 11. There’s a pretty steep drop off between the No. 11 and 12 spots as Illinois, Rutgers, and Purdue round out the rankings.


First Look: Rutgers

Monday, October 3rd, 2016


It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Michigan passed it’s first major test of the season. Their reward? A road trip to New Jersey. Rutgers lost 58-0 to Ohio State on Saturday to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. The line in Vegas opened at 26.5 points in Michigan’s favor. Can the Scarlet Knights rally around the primetime matchup and keep it within four touchdowns? Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare four games into the season.

Rutgers & Michigan statistical comparison
Rutgers | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 21.8 | 44.4 108 10
32.4 12.4 97 | 6
Rushing Yards 964 1,049 1,137 561
Rush Avg. Per Game 192.8 209.8 51 36
227.4 112.2 115 24
Avg. Per Rush 4.3 | 4.9
5.3 3.3
Passing Yards 701 1,171 982 677
Pass Avg. Per Game 140.2 234.2 123 69 196.4 135.4 32 2
Total Offense 1,665 2,220 2,119 1,238
Total Off Avg. Per Game 333.0 444.0 116 51 423.8 247.6 84 5
Kick Return Average 21.7 15.5 61 124 21.5 19.9 76 | 48
Punt Return Average 14.0 21.5 20 2 9.1 13.0 81 108
Avg. Time of Possession 26:40 33:05 108 22 33:20 | 26:55
3rd Down Conversion Pct 35% | 47% 101 28
36% | 15.0% 50 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 11-82 | 9-66
75 46
11-53 | 20-133 60 | 4
Touchdowns Scored 13 | 30
22 | 8
Field Goals-Attempts 6-7 4-9
3-5 | 2-5
Red Zone Scores (9-12) 75%|(23-27) 85% 107 | 61
(11-17) 65%|(4-6) 67% 9 12
Red Zone Touchdowns (4-12) 33%|(19-27) 70% (10-17) 59%|(3-6) 50%
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ 20.9 33.6 114 40 30.5 6.8 72 1

Michigan goes from one extreme to the other in terms of opponent. Whereas Wisconsin featured one of the nation’s best offenses, Rutgers features one of the worst. In fact, Rutgers features the Big Ten’s worst defense and worst offense.

The Scarlet Knights have beaten Howard (52-14) — which currently ranks 106th in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) — and New Mexico (37-28) — which currently ranks 94th in S&P+ — and lost to No. 14 Washington (13-48), Iowa (7-14), and No. 2 Ohio State (0-58).

Offensively, Rutgers averages just 21.8 points per game, which ranks 108th nationally and second to last in the Big Ten. In the three losses, Rutgers has scored just 20 points total. They rank 116th nationally in total offense (last in the Big Ten), 123rd nationally in passing offense (last in the Big Ten), and 51st nationally in rushing (6th in the Big Ten). In addition, Rutgers converts just 35 percent of its third downs, which ranks 101st nationally and 12th in the Big Ten, and has scored touchdowns on just 33 percent of their 12 red zone trips.

In the three losses, Rutgers has averaged just 267.7 total yards — 130.3 passing and 137.3 rushing. The rushing number is even worse considering they have averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Against Ohio State this past Saturday, Rutgers managed just 116 total yards, going 3-for-16 passing for 33 yards and rushing for just 83 yards on 2.2 yards per carry.

Defensively, Rutgers isn’t much better, ranking 97th nationally in scoring defense (last in the Big Ten), 84th in total defense (last in the Big Ten), 115th in rush defense (last in the Big Ten), and 32nd in pass defense (7th in the Big Ten). The Rutgers defense has held just one opponent under 350 yards and that was Howard, who gained 253. New Mexico put up 462 yards and Ohio State 669, including 410 on the ground, averaging 7.7 yards per carry on 53 carries.

FBS quarterbacks have completed 62.5 percent of their passes against Rutgers’ defense, but have thrown the ball just 28 times per game. Washington’s Jake Browning and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett each tossed four touchdown passes. But opponents have averaged 43 rushes per game while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Three of five opponents have had a 100-yard rusher on Rutgers’ defense. Howard’s Anthony Philyaw rushed for 112 yards on 22 carries (5.1 ypc), New Mexico’s Lamar Jordan had 101 yards on 14 carries (7.2 ypc), Iowa’s Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels combined for 161 yards on 6.4 yards per carry, Ohio State’s Mike Weber 144 yards on 14 carries (10.3 ypc). Ohio State’s Demario McCall also nearly got there with 85 yards on 10 carries (8.5 ypc).

Rutgers’ only hope in this one is if Michigan has a letdown game after a big win and on its first time away from Ann Arbor this season. But even that likely won’t be enough for the Scarlet Knights to win the game, especially without their only real playmaker, Janarion Grant, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The main excitement will be whether or not Michigan can beat Rutgers worse than Ohio State did.

Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 4

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

week-4-power-rankings*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Ohio State and Michigan remain in the top two spots for the fourth straight week. Ohio State gained all the No. 1 votes and Michigan gained all the No. 2s. Wisconsin leaped two spots after their 30-6 thumping of Michigan State, who fell two spots to fifth. Nebraska remained fourth. Minnesota moved up one spot after a respectable non-conference win over Colorado State, while Iowa fell after an uninspiring 14-7 win over Rutgers. Maryland and Indiana both jumped Penn State, who was throttled by Michigan. Like Minnesota, Purdue picked up a nice non-conference win over Nevada and moved up two spots to 11th. Might as well give Darrell Hazel a contract extension at this point. Rutgers dropped one spot after losing to Iowa. Northwestern and Illinois round out the standings. The Illini earned all of the last place votes.

Big Ten power rankings – Week 4
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (3-0) Even Bye Sat. vs Rutgers (2-2, 0-1), 12pm, BTN
2. Michigan (4-0, 1-0) Even Beat Penn State 49-10 Sat. vs #8 Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0), 3:30pm, ABC
3. Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0) Up 2 Beat #8 MSU 30-6 Sat. at #4 Michigan (4-0, 1-0), 3:30pm, ABC
4. Nebraska (4-0, 1-0) Even Beat Northwestern 24-13 Sat. vs Illinois (1-2), 3:30pm, ESPN2
5. Michigan State (2-1, 0-1) Down 2 Lost to #11 Wisconsin 6-30 Sat. at Indiana (2-1, 0-0), 8pm, BTN
6. Minnesota (3-0, 0-0) Up 1 Beat Colorado St. 31-24 Sat. at PSU (2-2, 0-1), 3:30pm, BTN
7. Iowa (3-1, 1-0) Down 1 Beat Rutgers 14-7 Sat. vs Northwestern (1-3, 0-1), 12pm
8. Maryland (3-0, 0-0) Up 1 Bye Sat. vs Purdue (2-1, 0-0), 3:30pm, BTN
9. Indiana (2-1, 0-0) Up 1 Lost to Wake Forest 28-33 Sat vs. #17 MSU (2-1, 0-1), 8pm, BTN
10. Penn State (2-2, 0-1) Down 2 Lost to #4 Michigan 10-49 Sat. vs Minnesota (3-0, 0-0), 3:30pm, BTN
11. Purdue (2-1, 0-0) Up 2 Beat Nevada 24-14 Sat. at Maryland (3-0, 0-0), 3:30pm, BTN
12. Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) Down 1 Lost to Iowa 7-14 Sat. at #2 Ohio State (3-0, 0-0), 12pm, BTN
13. Northwestern (1-3, 0-1) Up 1 Lost to #20 Neb. 13-24  Sat. at Iowa (3-1, 1-0), 12pm
14. Illinois (1-2, 0-0) Down 2 Bye Sat. at #15 Neb. (4-0, 1-0), 3:30pm, ESPN2

Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 3

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2


*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Michigan and Ohio State remained the top two this week, but the Buckeyes earned all five first place votes, while Michigan State gained some ground on the Wolverines. Nebraska made the biggest leap from 6.0 to 4.0. Wisconsin and Iowa both fell a couple of spots after squeaking by Georgia State and losing to North Dakota State, respectively. Minnesota, Penn State, Maryland, and Indiana all stand roughly equal in the middle of the rankings. Rutgers jumps two spots to 11th, just ahead of Illinois and Purdue, while Northwestern stays in the cellar despite a win over Duke.

Big Ten power rankings – Week 3
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (3-0) Even Beat #14 Oklahoma 45-24  Bye
2. Michigan (3-0) Even Beat Colorado 45-28 Sat. vs Penn State (2-1), 3:30pm, ABC
3. Michigan State (2-0) Up 2 Beat #18 ND 36-28 Sat. vs #11 Wisconsin (3-0), 12pm, BTN
4. Nebraska (2-0) Up 1 Beat #22 Oregon 35-32 Sat. at Northwestern (1-2), 7:30pm, BTN
5. Wisconsin (3-0) Down 2 Beat Georgia State 23-17 Sat. at #8 Michigan State (2-0), 12pm, BTN
6. Iowa (2-1) Down 2 Lost to NDSU 21-23 Sat. at Rutgers (2-1), 12pm, ESPN2
7. Minnesota (2-0) Even Bye Sat. vs Colorado State (2-1), 12pm, ESPNU
8. Penn State (2-1) Up 1 Beat Temple 34-27 Sat. at #4 Michigan (3-0), 3:30pm, ABC
9. Maryland (3-0) Up 1 Beat UCF 30-24 2OT Bye
10. Indiana (2-0) Down 2 Bye Sat. vs Wake Forest (1-0), 3:30pm, BTN
11. Rutgers (2-1) Up 2 Beat New Mexico 37-28 Sat. Iowa (2-1), 12pm, ESPN2
12. Illinois (1-2) Down 1 Lost to WMU 10-34 Bye
13. Purdue (1-1) Down 1 Bye  Sat. vs Nevada (2-1), 12pm, ESPNN
14. Northwestern (1-2) Even Beat Duke 24-13 Sat. vs #20 Nebraska (3-0), 7:30pm, BTN

Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 2

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

big-ten-power-rankings-week-2*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

The top six remain the same from last week, but Week 3 provides an opportunity for movement with Ohio State visiting 14th-ranked Oklahoma, Michigan State visiting 18th-ranked Notre Dame, and Nebraska hosting 22nd-ranked Oregon. Penn State and Northwestern were the biggest losers from Week 2, each falling two spots with losses to Pittsburgh and Illinois State, respectively. Northwestern finds itself in the cellar as the Big Ten’s only two-loss team.

Big Ten power rankings – Week 2
1. Ohio State (2-0) | Even | Beat Tulsa 48-3 | This week: Saturday at #14 Oklahoma (1-1), 7:30pm, FOX
2. Michigan (2-0) | Even | Beat UCF 51-14 | This week: Saturday Colorado (2-0), 3:30pm, BTN
3. Wisconsin (2-0) | Even | Beat Akron 54-10 | This week: Saturday vs Georgia State (0-2), 12pm, BTN
4. Iowa (2-0) | Even | Beat Iowa State 42-3 | This week: Saturday vs NDSU (2-0), 12pm, ESPN2
5. Michigan State (1-0) | Even | Bye | This week: Saturday at #18 Notre Dame (1-1), 7:30pm, NBC
6. Nebraska (2-0) | Even | Beat Wyoming 52-17 | This week: Saturday vs #22 Oregon (2-0), 3:30pm, ABC
7. Minnesota (2-0) | Up 1 | Beat Indiana State 58-28 | This week: Bye
8. Indiana (2-0) | Up 1 | Beat Ball State 30-20 | This week: Bye
9. Penn State (1-1) | Down 2 | Lost to Pittsburgh 39-42 | This week: Saturday vs Temple (1-1), 12pm, BTN
10. Maryland (2-0) |Up 1 | Beat FIU 41-14 | This week: Saturday at UCF (1-1), 7pm, CBSSN
11. Illinois (1-1) | Down 1 | Lost to North Carolina 23-48 | This week: Saturday vs WMU (2-0), 4pm, ESPNN
12. Purdue (1-1) | Up 1 | Lost to Cincinnati 20-38 | This week: Bye
13. Rutgers (1-1) | Up 1 | Beat Howard 52-14 | This week: Saturday vs New Mexico (1-1), 12pm, ESPNN
14. Northwestern (0-2) | Down 2 | Lost to Illinois State 7-9 | This week: Saturday vs Duke (1-1), 8pm, BTN

Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 1

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.


Big Ten power rankings – Week 1
1. Ohio StateBeat Bowling Green 77-10 | This week: Saturday vs Tulsa (1-0), 3:30pm, ABC
2. MichiganBeat Hawaii 63-3 | This week: Saturday vs UCF, 12pm, ABC
3. WisconsinBeat #5 LSU 16-14 | This week: Saturday vs Akron (1-0), 3:30pm, BTN
4. IowaBeat Miami (OH) 45-21 | This week: Saturday vs Iowa State (0-1), 7:30pm, BTN
5. Michigan StateBeat Furman 28-13 | This week: Bye
6. NebraskaBeat Fresno State 43-10 | This week: Saturday vs Wyoming (1-0), 12pm, ESPN2
7. Penn StateBeat Kent State 33-13 | This week: Saturday at Pittsburgh (1-0), 12pm, ESPN
8. MinnesotaBeat Oregon State 30-23 | This week: Saturday vs Indiana State (1-0), 12pm, ESPNN
9. Indiana – Beat Florida International 34-13 | This week: Saturday vs Ball State (1-0), 3:30pm, ESPNN
10. IllinoisBeat Murray State 52-3 | This week: Saturday vs North Carolina (0-1), 7:30pm, BTN
11. MarylandBeat Howard 52-13 | This week: Friday at Florida International (0-1), 7:30pm, CBSSN
12. NorthwesternLost to Western Michigan 21-22 | This week: Sat. vs Illinois St. (1-0), 3:30pm, BTN
13. PurdueBeat Eastern Kentucky 45-24 | This week: Saturday vs Cincinnati (1-0), 12pm, BTN
14. RutgersLost to #14 Washington 13-48 | This week: Saturday vs Howard (0-1), 12pm, BTN

Comparing the Big Ten’s returning production from 2015: Defense

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Don Brown Michigan

Yesterday we outlined how each team’s returning offensive production compares throughout the Big Ten. Today, it’s time to take a look at the defensive side of the ball and tie it all together.

A year ago, Ohio State returned the most defensive production with 74 percent of its 2014 tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and takeaways back. It paid off as the Buckeyes finished third in the Big Ten in total defense and second in scoring defense. However, the team right behind them with 71 percent returning — Illinois– finished just ninth in total defense and eighth in scoring defense. The top two defenses in the conference, Wisconsin and Michigan, began the year with just 61 percent (seventh-most) and 63 percent (fifth-most) of their 2014 production returning.

Aside from Illinois, the teams with the most returning defensive production fared better than those with the least. The seven worst defenses in the conference were the same seven that returned the least from 2014.

Interestingly, the opposite was true the previous season. Maryland, Indiana, and Rutgers returned the most production from 2013, but produced three of the four worst defenses in the conference. Conversely, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State returned the lease production and turned out four of the top six defenses. So what does that tell us? (Shrug).

Let’s take a look at what this season looks like.


Returning defense
Team Percent Returning 2015 Total Defense Rating
Purdue 79% 110
Indiana 77% 120
Nebraska 69% 64
Michigan State 65% 26
Wisconsin 64% 2
Northwestern 63% 13
Iowa 63% 22
Minnesota 60% 24
Penn State 59% 14
Rutgers 59% 111
Michigan 54% 4
Maryland 52% 90
Ohio State 46% 9
Illinois 40% 30

Entering this season, two of the three worst defenses in the Big Ten a year ago return the most production by far. Purdue, which ranked 110th nationally in total defense and 111th in scoring defense, returns 79 percent including a whopping 88 percent of its tackles for loss and 83 percent of its sacks. Indiana, which ranked 120th in total defense and 116th in scoring defense, returns 77 percent including 80 percent of its total tackles and 19 of 22 takeaways. However, the Hoosiers do have to replace defensive end Nick Mangieri, who led the team in tackles for loss and sacks.

Nobody expects Purdue or Indiana to factor into the Big Ten race for obvious reasons, but the next few teams with the most returning defensive production certainly will. Nebraska returns 69 percent of its defense which ranked 64th nationally last season. Five of the top six tacklers return as do all but three takeaways. But the Cornhuskers ranked ahead of only Michigan in takeaways.

Michigan State (65 percent), Wisconsin (64 percent), Iowa (63 percent), and Northwestern (63 percent) were all ranked among the top 26 defenses in the country and return two-thirds of that production. Wisconsin has to replace linebacker Joe Schobert, who ranked second in the Big Ten with 19.5 tackles for loss and fourth with 9.5 sacks, and safety Tanner McEvoy, who ranked second in the conference with five interceptions and also added two fumble recoveries. Michigan State has to replace defensive end Shilique Calhoun’s 10.5 sacks and 15 TFLs but returns four of its top five tacklers. Iowa lost tackles for loss leader, defensive end Nate Meier, and three of its top four tacklers but returns all but three of its 27 takeaways — a number that ranked second only to MSU’s 28 a year ago. Northwestern returns leading tackler, linebacker Anthony Walker, who led the Big Ten in tackles for loss, but will have to make up for the loss of defensive end Deonte Gibson, its sack leader, and the next three leaders in TFLs.

Minnesota, Penn State, and Rutgers all return the same amount of production at 60, 59, and 59 percent, respectively, but one of these is not like the others. While Penn State’s defense ranked 14th nationally and Minnesota’s 24th, Rutgers’ was near the bottom at 111th. Minnesota brings back 70 percent of its tackles for loss, but lost two of the top three tacklers. Penn State has work cut out in replacing end Carl Nassib and tackle Austin Johnson, who combined for 34.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks. Rutgers, meanwhile, returns all but three of its sacks, though the Scarlet Knights ranked dead last in that category last season.

Michigan brings back 54 percent of its fourth-ranked defense but has to replace its top three tacklers, linebackers Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan and safety Jarrod Wilson. But replacing tackles is much easier than replacing impact plays, and the Wolverines bring back three of their top four tackles for loss leaders and two of their top three sack leaders from 2015.

Maryland returns just over half of its 90th-ranked defense but lost linebacker Yannick Ngakoue and tackle Quinton Jefferson who were the Terps’ top two leaders in tackles for loss and sacks.

Ohio State, which returns the least offensive production, returns the second least on the defensive side thanks to six NFL Draft picks from that side alone. But like on offense, the cupboard is far from bare. Defensive end Tyquan Lewis led the team with eight sacks and was second only to Joey Bosa in tackles for loss. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan is a tackling machine who ranked fourth in the Big Ten last season. And while end Sam Hubbard only recorded 28 total tackles, 8 of them were behind the line of scrimmage, including 6.5 sacks.

Finally, Illinois returns just 40 percent of its 2015 defensive production, the least of any team in the Big Ten since at least 2014 when we started tracking. The Illini were a very respectable 30th a year ago, but lost the conference’s leading tackler, safety Clayton Fejedelem, as well as their next two leading tacklers. If there’s a silver lining it’s that 71 percent of their sacks are back, most notably linebacker Dawuane Smoot.

So what does it all mean? The following chart plots each team by both offensive and defensive production.

2015to2016 Returning Production Chart

If the trend of the past two seasons continues there are two teams in ideal position to win the Big Ten, plotting very similarly to Ohio State in 2014 and Michigan State in 2015. One is Penn State and the other is Michigan. And while both have room for optimism heading into the season Michigan is better positioned for two reasons: the two biggest weaknesses — quarterback and linebacker — have been addressed.

First, Jim Harbaugh did wonders for Jake Rudock in a short time a year ago and now he gets the luxury of having a quarterback — whether it be John O’Korn or Wilton Speight — who already has more than a year of his tutelage to build on. Looking at Harbaugh’s track record coaching quarterbacks, from Rich Gannon to Josh Johnson to Andrew Luck to Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick and most recently Rudock, it’s clear that he could essentially take a tackling dummy and turn it into a serviceable quarterback.

The second issue has been addressed by bringing in Don Brown, a.k.a. Dr. Blitz, to run the defense. He promptly moved the dynamic Jabrill Peppers to a hybrid linebacker position that perfectly complements Brown’s scheme and Michigan’s defensive strengths — the line and the secondary.

The biggest roadblock to Michigan’s title hopes is its schedule that takes the Wolverines to East Lansing, Iowa City, and Columbus in a span of five weeks. The good news is that those all fall in the latter half of the season, after Michigan works out any kinks it may have at the start of the season.

Does this mean Michigan will win the Big Ten? Absolutely not. Since we just started tracking returning production in 2014, it’s a very small sample size to draw any definitive conclusions from. And just because Michigan falls right within the returning production sweet spot that produced Big Ten champions each of the last two seasons it doesn’t guarantee anything. After all, Rutgers and Minnesota were within that sweet spot last season as well. But it should at least provide a little extra dose of optimism for a Michigan team that already enters the season with plenty of it.

Comparing the Big Ten’s returning production from 2015: Offense

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

MSU 2015(Joe Robbins, Getty Images)

With less than six weeks remaining until college football returns the Michigan hype train is in full force entering Jim Harbaugh’s second season at the helm. The main questions the Wolverines face are at the quarterback position — Harbaugh’s specialty — and linebacker where do-it-all burgeoning superstar Jabrill Peppers will step in. But how does Michigan compare to the rest of the Big Ten in terms of who’s coming back?

It’s time to take our annual look at how each team in the Big Ten compares in terms of returning production. Of course, this is just one metric to use to predict each team’s success in the upcoming season, not the be all end all, but we’ll take a look at how it panned out the past two years as well and see if we can make any predictions on outcomes this fall.

The first year we tracked this, 2014, eventual champion Ohio State returned 60 percent of both its offense and its defense from the previous season. Last season, Big Ten champion Michigan State returned 54 percent of its offense and 67 percent of its defense, or just over 60 percent of its total returning production from 2014.

The teams with the most returning production both years — Maryland in 2014 with 90 percent and Ohio State in 2015 with 81 percent — both failed to reach the Big Ten championship game. Maryland finished third in the East with a 7-6 overall record and a 4-4 conference record, while Ohio State finished second in the East with a 12-1, 7-1 record.

Will this season follow the trend of the past two? Let’s take a look at this year’s returning offensive production.


Returning offense
Team Percent Returning 2015 Total Offense Ranking
Nebraska 88% 34
Minnesota 85% 103
Northwestern 82% 115
Rutgers 79% 84
Maryland 79% 87
Purdue 72% 95
Illinois 71% 88
Iowa 71% 72
Penn State 54% 105
Michigan 53% 69
Indiana 45% 14
Wisconsin 43% 79
Michigan State 38% 73
Ohio State 28% 41
Returning scoring offense
Team Percent Returning 2015 Scoring Offense Ranking
Nebraska 86% 43
Minnesota 85% 106
Maryland 78% 95
Northwestern 75% 114
Iowa 75% 54
Illinois 73% 103
Rutgers 72% 78
Purdue 69% 92
Wisconsin 60% 81
Penn State 54% 101
Michigan 54% 50
Michigan State 48% 60
Indiana 40% 24
Ohio State 32% 28

Nebraska is this year’s Maryland and Ohio State with the most returning production in the conference. That returning production falls in between the Terrapins and Buckeyes in terms of the previous season’s total offense rating (34th versus Ohio State’s 9th and Maryland’s 75th) and scoring offense rating (43rd versus OSU’s 5th and Maryland’s 84th). Both of those offensive units actually went backwards the following season even with so much returning production. Maryland slid 34 spots to 109th in total offense, while Ohio State slid seven spots to 41st. It is important to note that the Maryland comparison is apples to oranges since the Terps moved from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten between the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

The good news for Nebraska is that the offense returns quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who ranked second in the Big Ten in passing last season. In 2014, Maryland had to replace quarterback CJ Brown. Last season Ohio State returned J.T. Barrett, but Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tim Beck played musical chairs with he and Cardale Jones, which held the offense back from what could have been much more potent.

Minnesota returns the second most offensive production (85 percent) and scoring (85 percent) but ranked near the bottom nationally in both categories a year ago at 103rd and 106th, respectively. Aside from leading receiver K.J. Maye, everyone of importance is back for the Gophers offense. However, the offensive line returns just one player who started all 13 games, right tackle Jonah Pirsig. That means 115 career starts are gone and only a combined 37 return.

The next four teams with the most returning production are all pretty much in the same both. Northwestern (82/75 percent), Rutgers (79/72), Maryland (79/78), Purdue (72/69), and Illinois (71/73) return a lot of offense, but all five ranked between 84th and 115th nationally in total offense in 2015. All five return their primary quarterback, so that’s good news, but they all have too big a hill to climb to make a serious challenge for the Big Ten title.

Iowa returns 71 percent of its offense that ranked 72nd last season and 75 percent of its 54th-ranked scoring offense. Quarterback CJ Beathard figures to be one of the best in a down year at the position in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes have to replace leading rusher Jordan Canzeri and two of their top three receivers. Like Minnesota, Iowa has major losses to replace along the line with All-Big Ten performers, right guard Jordan Walsh and center Austin Blythe, taking 86 career starts with them to the NFL.

Penn State and Michigan are neck-and-neck in terms of returning offensive production this season. Penn State returns 54 percent of its offense and 54 percent of its scoring, while Michigan returns 54 and 53 percent, respectively. The big difference, however, is what that production accomplished in 2015. Michigan’s offense ranked 69th nationally and 50th in scoring, while Penn State’s ranked 105th and 101st. Both have to replace their starting quarterbacks, but all bets should be on Harbaugh to produce a better one than James Franklin. Michigan returns 72 percent of its rushing and 92 percent of its receiving, while Penn State returns 78 and 85.

Indiana and Wisconsin both return approximately the same (45 percent and 43 percent of offense respectively). Offense has never really been an issue for the Hoosiers under Kevin Wilson and there’s no reason to think this year will be much different. Defense is another story. More on that later. Wisconsin has to replace quarterback Joel Stave, more than 50 percent of its receiving production, and second-team All-Big Ten left tackle Tyler Marz.

Michigan State and Ohio State round out the returning offensive production. The Spartans bring back 38 percent of the nation’s 73rd-best offensive unit and 48 percent of the 60th-best scoring offense. They have to replace quarterback Connor Cook, 65 percent of their receiving production, and center Jack Allen and left tackle Jack Conklin’s combined 85 career starts. The three-headed rushing attack of L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes, and Madre London will have to carry the load until the passing game finds its stride.

Ohio State’s mass exodus for the NFL leaves just 28 percent of its offense and 32 percent of its scoring behind. The good news for Meyer is that he still has Barrett behind center without Jones to muddle things and the Big Ten media picked Barrett as the preseason offensive player of the year. The other good news is that Meyer’s recruiting dominance over the past few seasons means he has plenty of talent waiting in the wings. Just how well it will step up is the question. Only 132 rushing yards return from the running back position (Barrett is the returning leader with 727) and only 19 percent of last season’s receiving yards return.

Stay tuned for our defensive breakdown and conclusions coming soon.