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Big Ten Power Rankings - 2021 Finale

Untiiiiiiiiiiil we meeeeeeeeeeet agaiiiiiiiiiiin

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The last of the bowl games have been played for the Big Ten, with the conference going a competitive 6-4 in their 10 games. Though considering one of those was 5-7 Rutgers against the ACC runner-up, I think it’s actually not too bad at all!

One last time for the 2021 season, let’s get to it!


1. Ohio State

Just when you think the Buckeyes couldn’t possibly pull another rabbit out of a hat, they do. Utah came to play in the Rose Bowl, putting OSU down multiple touchdowns multiple times. Without a slew of starters, and without a playoff appearance, you’d think it highly likely Ohio State would just roll over. Think again! All of the stacked recruiting classes paid off, as the youngsters outshone the Pac-12 champs, and came away with a 48-45 victory.

2. Michigan

I’m actually breaking my own rule and putting the body of work at #2 for the Wolverines, because their play against Georgia in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl was pitiful. It wasn’t until garbage time that Michigan managed to score a touchdown, when the game was well put away. The 34-11 loss is yet another black eye for the conference, who has seen multiple teams lose by 3+ scores now in the playoffs.

3. Michigan State

It seemed like the Spartans were all but done for against Pitt in the Peach Bowl, at one point going down 21-10. But MSU rallied and came away with a 31-21 win, even without the services of Kenneth Walker III. Must be nice!

4. Iowa

I won’t actually fault Iowa for their 20-17 loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. All season long, everyone knew who the Hawkeyes were, and this game was just another one in a long list of mud fights. Just so happens that Iowa pulled Will Levis down into the mud with them, and between you and me, I do NOT want to mud wrassle with Levis Smash.

5. Wisconsin

The Badgers defeated Arizona State 20-13 in the Las Vegas Bowl, but it puts an end to an otherwise unspectacular season for Wisconsin.

6. Purdue

The Boilermakers put together one of the more exciting games of the bowl season, as they took on Tennessee in the Music City Bowl. The two teams traded four touchdowns over the last 5 minutes, before the game headed to overtime. A controversial call on a 4th-and-goal from the 1 resulted in no touchdown for the Vols, and Purdue Pete won it 48-45. I do so love fun college football.

7. Minnesota

Not quite a scorigami, but the Golden Gophers defeated West Virginia 18-6 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, which is certainly a sentence.

8. Maryland

A pretty strong end to the season for the Terrapins. First, needing a win to secure bowl eligibility, Maryland defeated Rutgers 40-16. Then, in the Pinstripe Bowl against Virginia Tech, the Terps came away with a 54-10 victory. Not too shabby for Mike Locksley and his crew.

9. Penn State

Yes, the entire defense sat out. Yes, Jahan Dotson sat out. But I watched teams across the country shrug off their personnel losses and put together gutsy bowl performances. Then I watched Penn State completely forget how to defend the run in the second half of a 24-10 loss to Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. A forgettable end to a forgettable season.

10. Rutgers

In one of the stranger games of the bowl season, 5-7 Rutgers was selected to play ACC runner-up Wake Forest in the Gator Bowl, due to the fact that the Scarlet Knights had the highest APR of any 5-7 team. The game went about as well as you’d expect, with Wake getting a 38-10 win, but still! Wacky college football is best college football.

11. Illinois

No postseason for the Fightin’ Berts, we’ll see what 2022 brings for the Illini.

12. Nebraska

Has there ever been a better 3-9 team in history? I’d actually like to know.

13. Northwestern

Not much to say for NW, though given that they had a terrible 2021, they should be considered favorites to win the West in 2022.

14. Indiana

The Hoosiers are going to need to answer a lot of questions before the 2022 season gets here.


The bowls are done, and we get one more set of squiggly lines for 2021.

Ohio State surges back to claim the season’s top spot, while Michigan takes a dip. Michigan State also climbs, while Iowa tumbles. Wisconsin, Purdue, and Minnesota hold serve, while Maryland and Penn State flip flop. Rutgers, Illinois, Nebraska, and Northwestern stand pat. Indiana claims the Worst of the B1G Award™ for 2021.

See you all again when the 2022 season starts!