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Big Ten Power Rankings - Bowl Games

How do things look as we head into the off season?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Ohio State at Penn State Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello there and welcome to the Big Ten Power Rankings! Each week we’ll rank how the teams across the conference are playing, in the hopes of seeing just who is a contender, and who is a pretender over the course of the season.

The rules are few, but resolute:

  • Teams are ranked by how they’re playing at that time. Not body of work, not rankings in the polls, but simply how each team is playing at that point in the season.
  • The approach to the rankings is not necessarily on the field results (though those do count, as an obvious, tangible data point), but more generally if the two teams played at a neutral site 100 times, which team would win 51 times (or more).
  • These rankings are subjective. As the author I get to follow the rules as closely or loosely as I want to, and if you don’t like the rankings, you’re wrong.

The bowl games - and thus the 2022-23 season - is in the books, so let’s take one last look at how the teams ended up before the long slog until late August!

1. Ohio State

I really pondered what to do with OSU. They did finish the season with two losses, no conference or national championships to their name. And yet, were it not for a last-second missed field goal against #1 Georgia, the Buckeyes would have headed to LA for the national championship - and given how thoroughly UGA beat TCU, I have a hard time envisioning the Buckeyes not being the national champions right now. For that reason alone, I think OSU is worthy of the top spot.

2. Penn State

Not for nothing, but PSU is the reason the sport needs an expanded playoff. There are very few teams this year that would see PSU as their matchup in the playoff bracket and say “no sweat.” Even with injuries and opt outs, the Lions were playing some of the best football in the country at season’s end, very much indicative of their #7 ranking in the AP Poll and their 35-21 smashing of #8 Utah in the Rose Bowl which was not as close a game as the score would indicate. James Franklin has built, bit by bit, a very strong roster, and appears set to make some serious noise in 2023.

3. Michigan

Easily one of the upsets of the year. No disrespect to #3 TCU, but it was evident that the Horned Frogs benefited from playing in a weak Big 12 this year - and even then, they needed multiple second-half, multi-score comebacks to attain their record. To make the playoffs is a commendable feat, to be sure, and one that PSU has not yet accomplished - but they simply weren’t one of the four best teams, and for Michigan to lose to them says a lot about the Wolverines. Michigan is also facing uncertainty with head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines are good, no doubt, but they take a tumble in these final rankings.

4. Maryland

The surprise team of these rankings, Maryland upended #23 NC State 16-12 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, probably the second best win for the B1G in the postseason. The Terrapins are a talented bunch, though being in the B1G East does them no favors. Next year could be a pivotal one for the Terrapins and Mike Locksley.

5. Minnesota

The 28-20 win over Syracuse in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl went pretty much exactly as expected. Workmanlike, efficient, and not in any way flashy - for what it’s worth, all three statistical leaders on offense (passing, rushing, and receiving) were Syracuse players. Perhaps it’s no wonder that Kirk Ciarrocca has left for the banks of the Raritan.

6. Purdue

And then there’s Purdue, who climbed all the way to an appearance in the B1G Conference Championship Game, only to get smashed by #17 LSU 63-7 in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl. The only points the Boilermakers scored were in the fourth quarter, well after the game was in hand. Jeff Brohm’s departure could have immediate impacts on the Boilermakers’ future.

7. Iowa

A 21-0 win over Kentucky in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl which featured a shutout, and not one but two defensive scores can only be described as the most Iowa bowl game of all time. And that’s all I have to say about that.

8. Wisconsin

The Badgers took down OK State 24-17 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, but the biggest news for Wisconsin is the hiring of Luke Fickell, who should reinvigorate the Badger program. Also coming to Madison is Phil Longo, who had helmed the UNC offense the last few years, which if you weren’t paying attention, turned into an air raid setup. These might not be your granddad’s Badgers come August.

9. Illinois

The Illini had #22 Mississippi State on the ropes through three quarters, but 16 unanswered points in the fourth resulted in a 19-10 loss in the ReliaQuest Bowl. Still, Bret Bielema did wonders with Illinois in his first season there, and should make the Illini a tough out going forward.

10. Michigan State

Idle, and frankly things are looking a bit bleak in the B1G East for MSU.

11. Nebraska

Idle, but we’ll see if new head coach Matt Rhule can turn the Cornhuskers around.

12. Indiana

Idle, nothing super notable to report here.

13. Rutgers

Idle, though the hiring of Kirk Ciarrocca is an interesting one. Rutgers still won’t explode on people offensively, but they may be just a tad more competent and disciplined.

14. Northwestern

Idle, nothing else to say.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and squiggles never brought to mind?

OSU sits atop the B1G throne once more, but Penn State is right on their heels. Michigan tumbles after a big loss and head coaching uncertainty, while Maryland is a big surprise. Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois are the bowl teams from the West, and all had reasonably successful years (though keep an eye on the Badgers). Michigan State is the first team to miss a bowl, and playing in the East is making their outlook tough. Nebraska has a new coach, Indiana hangs out, while Rutgers has a new offensive coordinator. Northwestern has some serious questions to answer in 2023.

On to the off season! Until August, this is the power rankings signing off!