With the exception of the conference championship game, another Big Ten football season is in the books.

Quite a bit was learned in the 127th year of Big Ten football, along with some reinforcement of things we already knew.

First and foremost, the end of divisional play can’t come soon enough. There are 3 10-win teams in the B1G this season, but Michigan is the only 1 that will play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Purdue, which finished a respectable yet modest 8-4 and 6-3 in conference play, will play for the league title by virtue of winning the West Division.

This model will exist for another year before hopefully giving way to something more effective when USC and UCLA join the B1G in 2024.

But this story isn’t about the future. It’s about the present. Or more accurately, the past.

Let’s look at what we learned from each program this season.

Illinois: Trust Bret Bielema

Illinois has been a volatile program for decades — several peaks and even more valleys for every coach who sets foot in Memorial Stadium.

Bret Bielema could offer the Illini the closest thing they’ve had to stability since 4 winning seasons under John Mackovic from 1988-91. Illinois needs to make sure Bielema sticks around, and do its best to keep defensive coordinator Ryan Walters in the fold as well.

Indiana: A never-ending curse

The IU football experience can best be summed up by quarterback Dexter Williams getting carted off the field after a non-contact injury while driving the Hoosiers to a potential 14-3 lead over rival Purdue. Williams, who finally gave the Hoosiers an offensive spark since being placed in the lineup, is just the latest in a long line of injured Indiana quarterbacks.

Look no further than Michael Penix Jr., who was one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season. All he needed to stay healthy was to escape the Hoosier football hex.

Iowa: Find a QB coach

The Hawkeyes nearly MacGyvered their way to a Big Ten West title. And if Spencer Petras and Cooper DeJean aren’t injured early against Nebraska, perhaps Iowa still makes it to Indianapolis.

But Brian Ferentz, at the very least, cannot carry on as quarterbacks coach. If Kirk insists on keeping his son on as offensive coordinator, the least he can do is find someone who has actually played or previously worked with the most important position on the field.

Maryland: Trapped in the East

The Terrapins are trapped in amber until they can escape the hegemony of divisional play.

Maryland had its best roster since joining the Big Ten, but had no chance playing in a division with Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Yet as the Terps showed in a back-and-forth game against Purdue, they are capable of hanging around with the best in the West.

Given the current schedule, Maryland will be stuck floating between the boundaries of 5-7 and 7-5 every season.

Michigan: The new sheriff in town

It’s pretty simple. Michigan is now the alpha program in the Big Ten until someone can wrestle it away from the Wolverines.

Michigan State: Next year will tell us about Mel Tucker

Last season, Michigan State caught every good break on its way to a top-10 finish. Mel Tucker looked to be on top of the world, or at least ascending rapidly in the Big Ten.

This year, every bit of bad injury luck struck the Spartans defensively, and a 5-7 disappointment followed. Mel Tucker appears to be massively overpaid, or at least descending rapidly in the Big Ten.

Next season will be the referendum on where things actually stand for Michigan State. And Tucker’s buyout will go down another $9.5 million.

Minnesota: Consistent, but unspectacular

Minnesota is in a very good place. The Gophers have a chance to go 9-4 for the second straight season, and reach 9 wins for the third time in the past 4 years.

But can PJ Fleck get the program to a great place?

The inability to beat Iowa continues holding Minnesota back from its perceived ceiling. The Gophers haven’t finished consecutive seasons ranked in the Top 25 since 1962. Achieving that should not remain impossible.

Nebraska: Help is on the way

Mickey Joseph did a wonderful job of making sure the Cornhuskers didn’t pack it in after Scott Frost was finally fired. But now it’s Matt Rhule’s turn to take the baton and finally get this program back to the ranks of respectability.

If he’s done that at Temple and Baylor, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to do it at Nebraska.

Northwestern: Help wanted

The Wildcats haven’t won a game in the United States since Oct. 16, 2021. It’s a stunning descent for a program that played for the Big Ten championship in 2018 and 2020. This year marks Northwestern’s worst season since 1989 — truly the dark ages for the program.

Pat Fitzgerald means far too much to the program to be forced out, but he needs to make wholesale changes to his coaching staff to keep the Cats competitive in the modernizing and increasingly monetized Big Ten.

Ohio State: The problem wasn’t fixed

The Buckeyes spent a whole season appearing to have solved the defensive issues that overwhelmed them against Michigan a year ago. They didn’t.

The Wolverines are still the more physical team, and Michigan’s offensive staff coached circles around Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles on Saturday.

Penn State: Alone on Nittany Island

After back-to-back underwhelming seasons, James Franklin has Penn State back ahead of everyone in the Big Ten — except for Michigan and Ohio State.

The Nittany Lions would already be a Playoff team if the field was expanded to 12 teams this season. Ironically, the young Lions will probably be a top-4 team by the time it actually does expand to 12.

Either way, Penn State fans will take it.

Purdue: More physical than you realize

A year ago, the Boilermakers finished dead last nationally with 2.8 yards per carry.

Freshman walk-on Devin Mockobee, perhaps already the program’s best mixture of speed and explosiveness since Mike Alstott, has emerged to make Purdue a more complete offense.

The Boilermakers will finish a respectable 8th in the B1G in yards per carry this season thanks to Mockobee’s 5.0 ypc. It’s made all the difference in earning Purdue its first division title.

Rutgers: The unthinkable Greg Schiano hot seat

A 30-0 shutout loss to Maryland closed the door on an embarrassing season of offense for the Scarlet Knights. And if things don’t turn around next season, Rutgers will be left contemplating the unthinkable — scrapping Schiano 2.0.

Rutgers finished the season with an average of 11.6 points per game against Big Ten opponents. That’s unspeakably bad.

The only team in the country with a lower scoring average in conference play this year? Northwestern at 11.5 points per game.

Wisconsin: Find a new quarterback

Jim Leonhard is expected to earn Wisconsin’s full-time head coaching job. His first order of business should be finding a new quarterback in the transfer portal.

Fittingly, Graham Mertz’s penultimate throw of the season was a totally off-target interception that seemingly ended the game for Wisconsin. (Thanks to a Minnesota missed field goal, that was not quite the end, but Mertz was injured on the Badgers’ last-ditch final possession.)

Paul Chryst’s inability to develop Mertz was a huge factor in Chryst’s firing. Now it’s time for all sides to move on.