The Big Ten had a fantastic 2016, though that is mostly due to the conference’s traditional powers all having great seasons. The middle and bottom of the league still poses an issue, and as a result there’s a big difference between the top and bottom coaches on this list. A number of coaches are making their debuts on here because there was a decent amount of turnover in the league since last year. Bill Cubit, Kevin Wilson, and Tracy Claeys were all forced out under controversy and as a result the rankings will be a little wonky.
If you want to check out what I wrote on each coach about this time last season, look no further.
I think I’ll have to amend the rules now. We’re so far back in time that going undefeated isn’t enough. There are going to be undefeated teams every year because the game is so decentralized. So now, to be considered the best in the country, a team should go undefeated AND demonstrate that they beat some of the best competition in some way. Also, teams that don’t claim seasons as national championship years probably didn’t deserve it, so I’m really gonna be skeptical about awarding titles to teams unless they have a clear reason for it.
We move on the Big Ten West. God I’m really not hoping they
don’t all suck. I have a feeling they do.
Murray State (9/3), North Carolina (9/10), Western Michigan (9/17)
I guess for the modern Illinois program this is a pretty
good schedule. North Carolina is a solid team and it will be a tall task for
the Illini to beat. Western Michigan works as a regional Group of 5 school.
Murray State takes up the obligatory FCS slot. I guess Illinois is one of those
teams who are going to play a lower division opponent right up until the
conference forces them not to do so.
Miami (OH) (9/3), Iowa State (9/10), North Dakota State (9/17)
I know the Big Ten is trying to stop playing FCS teams, but
they should seriously consider making an exception for North Dakota State. They’re
the best non-conference team Iowa is playing next year!!!! Iowa State is a fun
rivalry game, so that checks the appropriate boxes. Miami of Ohio aren’t that
close to Iowa but they’ll do. NDSU are the four time reigning FCS Champions,
honestly that’s super cool.
Oregon State (9/1), Indiana State (9/10), Colorado State (9/24)
Yeah this feels exactly like a Minnesota schedule. If you’re
the Gophers you schedule about as beatable a Power 5 opponent as possible, and
Oregon State fits the bill. I like the B1G-PAC games so I don’t mind that much.
Though Gary Andersen hasn’t lost to Minnesota yet. Colorado State almost beat
the Golden Gophers 10 times last season, and they might be the most competitive
team of the non-con slate. Indiana State is the obligatory FCS team.
Fresno State (9/3), Wyoming (9/10), Oregon (9/17)
Boy this Oregon game might bite Nebraska in the butt. It
looked pretty good right up until Bo Pelini left. Mike Riley probably thought
he was done losing to the Ducks, oh well! Still, with Oregon’s potential rebuilding issues, they might slip up in Lincoln. Wyoming is a semi-regular Husker
patsy, and Fresno State isn’t an unfamiliar face either. It’s not your daddy’s
Cornhusker non-con slate, but these aren’t the classic blackshirts either.
Western Michigan (9/3), Illinois State (9/10), Duke (9/17)
Yeah this also feels like a Northwestern schedule. Though I’m
still somewhat bitter that they cancelled four of the five remaining games they
had scheduled against Stanford right after they beat the Cardinal last season.
Duke is a classic NU non-con opponent, a well-regarded, private school that has
often sucked for long stretches of time. But not now! Hooray! Western Michigan
and Illinois are par for the course 11th and 12th games
for the Wildcats. At least they’re somewhat local which might help attendance.
Well since Purdue has been terrible lately I guess this makes
sense. Eastern Kentucky is a barely regional FCS program, so that’s not
absolute zero. Nevada doesn’t make a ton of sense, but Ball State is playing
Indiana so I guess they didn’t want to double up. Cincinnati is a very quality
G5 program, and really should be in the P5, so that salvages this slate.
vs LSU (in Green Bay) (9/3), Akron (9/10), Georgia State (9/17)
THEY DID IT! WISCONSIN DID IT! THEY GOT AN SEC TEAM TO
ACTUALLY COME TO BIG TEN TERRITORY!!! What a joyous occasion. All they did was
not have to host the game at Camp Randall. I love the novelty of playing a
college game at Lambeau. Akron and Georgia State are very average G5 teams but
it kinda doesn’t matter with the LSU game on the schedule.
For the first time I haven’t given out a solid A. The Big
Ten West for the most part is filled with uninspiring non-conference games.
There’s a really really good chance that none of these games will feature two
ranked teams. This is a Power 5 conference, that’s not supposed to
I didn’t give out any really bad grades either, but that’s
because I try to adjust the grading scale based on how good a team is. Since
the B1G West has a host of bad teams that kinda explains that as well.