Optimism is never higher for teams than it is right now, when prediction columns like this one are churned out on a daily basis. Instead of trying to predict where every team will end up, how about we take the optimistic approach.

What is every Big Ten team’s best case scenario?



Best case: 6-6 overall (3-5 in Big Ten)

How could .500 be a team’s best case scenario? Well, when you haven’t done it in eight years, it’s certainly going out on a limb.


Best case: 7-5 (4-4 in Big Ten)

It’s not a fun time to be rebuilding in the East. The Terps could still hover around .500 in the conference, but it could need a win at Iowa or Rutgers to do so.


Best case: 8-4 (5-3 in Big Ten)

Home games against Michigan State and Ohio State, plus trips to Minnesota and Penn State will make for an awfully difficult road in Jim Harbaugh’s first season.

Michigan State

Best case: 11-1 (7-1 in Big Ten)

If Sparty doesn’t trip up at least once with that schedule, feel free to troll.

Ohio State

Best case: 12-0 (8-0 in Big Ten)

Double-digit favorites in all but one Big Ten game tell you all you need to know about the Buckeyes’ preseason expectations.

Penn State

Best case: 10-2 (6-2 in Big Ten)

Every game besides road tilts at Ohio State and Michigan State are winnable. If the Penn State offense plays as well as advertised, James Franklin’s group will be in line for a New Year’s Day bowl.


Best case: 7-5 (3-5 in Big Ten)

That home slate isn’t kind. Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State all come to Jersey. A soft non-conference schedule should get the Scarlet Knights back to a bowl.



Best case: 5-7 (2-6 in Big Ten)

The Illini did get a road game against Purdue, but outside of that, the regular season finale might be its only other shot at a conference victory.


Best case: 10-2 (6-2 in Big Ten)

Easy now. I get that 10-2 might seem lofty for the Hawkeyes, but the schedule is favorable. Again. Outside trips to Lincoln and Madison, what games aren’t winnable?


Best case: 9-3 (6-2 in Big Ten)

The Big Ten’s toughest overall schedule goes through Minneapolis. If the Gophers can pass tough home tests against Michigan and Nebraska, they’ll be in good shape to compete for a West crown.


Best case: 9-3 (5-3 in Big Ten)

Like Iowa, the Huskers have as favorable schedule — only determined by preseason expectations — as any. Nebraska could find itself in a slew of borderline conference games in the West, all of which are winnable.


Best case: 6-6 (4-4 in Big Ten)

The Wildcats could be looking at a mountain to climb to get to bowl eligibility. The Wildcats don’t have an overwhelming home slate, though, and they avoid Ohio State and Michigan State.


Best case: 5-7 (3-5 in Big Ten)

Five wins might seem like a disappointing year, but with one Big Ten win in two years, it’s not. Conference games against Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern could be Purdue’s best chance to rise out of the Big Ten basement.


Best case: 10-2 (7-1 in Big Ten)

The Badgers are a different team on the road, as shown by last year’s Big Ten-opening loss at Northwestern. Still, a split of road tests at Minnesota and Nebraska could put the Badgers in the driver’s seat to make another Big Ten Championship.