Big Ten Power Rankings following Championship Weekend
The final installment of Tradition’s Big Ten Power Rankings are here! After a wild and topsy-turvy season, the B1G schedule has concluded with Michigan once again reigning supreme and holding a 13-0 record.
On Sunday, fans will find out the field for the College Football Playoff where the Wolverines should appear no lower than No. 2 in the country. After that, matchups for the CFP and the rest of the bowl picture will be revealed.
As we brace for the mayhem of Sunday, here are the final power rankings of 2023:
14. Indiana (3-9)
Indiana fans found out the Hoosier did indeed have the pockets to ditch Tom Allen after a 3rd straight disastrous season. The two sides agreed to a reduced buyout, but IU still dished out over $15 million to move on from Allen. Now, Curt Cignetti steps in with a strong background to try and re-make the Hoosiers.
13. Purdue (4-8)
Ryan Walters’ first season as a head catch had a few highlights with plenty of concerns along the way. As a former defensive coordinator, he’ll certainly want to overhaul a unit that gave up just north of 30 points per game. The good news is the offense scored 30+ points 4 times, including 3 times during B1G play.
12. Michigan State (4-8)
The dust had barely settled on Michigan State’s Black Friday finale before the Spartans turned the page to the Jonathan Smith era. He’s a true program builder but will have to cope with a QB room that saw all 3 scholarship QBs from this season hit the transfer portal. Smith is the right man for this job, but it could be an ugly transition.
11. Minnesota (5-7)
Athan Kaliakmanis had a chance to nail down the starting QB job for the future this season, but he simply did not perform consistently enough when called upon. He confirmed plans to enter the transfer portal shortly after the season ended. However, that move is more than likely related to the fact PJ Fleck and his staff will look in the portal for a QB upgrade. The Gopher defense was also not up to par this past season in Fleck’s worst year since 2017.
10. Illinois (5-7)
In Illinois’ first season without Ryan Walters, the defense regressed to 95th nationally in points per game after giving up 29.4 in 2023. The Illini have some key pieces already in place heading into 2023, but the team will also have to replace the B1G’s Defensive Player of the Year in Johnny Newton.
9. Nebraska (5-7)
Nebraska finished the 2023 season with the 17th-ranked scoring defense after giving up just 18.2 points per game. It must be said part of that relates to playing in the B1G West, and the offense was among the worst in the country while turning the ball over at a horrific pace. The Huskers could chalk up the offensive issues to the first season under Marcus Satterfield, but running it back with the same pieces (mainly quarterbacks) in place is risky, to say the least. It will be an interesting offseason for Matt Rhule and his staff.
8. Rutgers (6-6)
Rutgers has clinched its first bowl-eligible season (the conventional 6-win way) since 2014 under Kyle Flood. Greg Schiano has proved the Scarlet Knights can get to the postseason in the B1G, including 3 conference wins this season. Now, the program needs to prove this is no flash in the pan and can string together some bowl games.
7. Wisconsin (7-5)
Chalk Wisconsin up as another B1G West program that produced solid defensive numbers alongside a horrific offense. Part of that can be attributed to injuries, and the overall performance should not be seen as an indictment of Phil Longo’s scheme. Now, it’s up to the team to get the right pieces in place on both sides of the ball heading into 2024.
6. Northwestern (7-5)
David Braun’s performance was a smashing success this season with the Wildcats winning 7 games in a non-COVID season for the first time since 2018. As a result, the former FCS coordinator turned Power 5 interim coach has landed the full-time coaching job at Northwestern. There are plenty of risks associated with that decision, but there was no way Braun could be overlooked after the 2023 results.
5. Maryland (7-5)
The Terrapins are already guaranteed a 3rd straight winning season under Mike Locksley, the first such stretch for Maryland since 2001-03 under Ralph Friedgen. Taulia Tagovailoa will leave the program with every major offensive record. The big key for Locksley will be finding the right QB to replace Tagovailoa for 2024 and beyond.
4. Iowa (10-3)
Last week: vs. Michigan, L 26-0 in B1G Championship
The magical season for the Hawkeyes could not generate additional magic in Indianapolis. The showdown with Michigan ultimately played out as expected, and it’s hard to expect more from a team as bruised and battered as Iowa at this point in the season. However, Kirk Ferentz must get the offensive coordinator hire right in the offseason. The Hawkeyes have the defense and special teams to be a regular contender for a 12-team Playoff. The offense… is not up to the rest of the standard in Iowa City.
3. Penn State (10-2)
Penn State finishes at 10-2, but offensive performances against Ohio State and Michigan forced James Franklin to make a switch at OC. In response, the Nittany Lions nabbed Kansas OC Andy Kotelnicki for the post heading into 2024. The importance of that move cannot be overstated with Penn State trying to develop former 5-star QB Drew Allar.
2. Ohio State (11-1)
It’s all about The Game for the Buckeyes. That is always the case, and Ryan Day must figure out how to right the losing streak to Michigan. Previously, the defense was clearly the issue in Columbus. Now, there is no apparent easy fix with Jim Knowles’ unit taking major strides. And in this era of quick transfer portal moves, the Buckeyes must at least ask themselves if Kyle McCord is the guy for the future if a potential game-changer at QB hits the portal.
1. Michigan (13-0)
Last week: vs. Iowa, W 26-0 in B1G Championship
In the showdown with B1G commissioner Tony Petitti, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines get the last laugh. Michigan is 13-0 and reigns in the B1G, and Harbaugh even requested the trophy for the title be awarded to injured OL Zak Zinter. Was that just a way to honor Zinter, or was it also a move of showmanship by Harbaugh to avoid receiving the trophy from Petitti? Either way, the Wolverines own this league as the B1G braces for new arrivals in 2024.