B1G Power Rankings Week 15: Final season grades unveiled


Nov 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer runs off the field after defeating Michigan Wolverines 42-41 at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

What a weekend in college football. While a lot of attention was focused on the Iron Bowl game, deservingly, the Big Ten Conference had plenty to do with the spectacular weekend too thanks to Penn State’s upset victory of Wisconsin and Ohio State’s escape from the Big House after Michigan’s failed two point conversion.

As far as the Big Ten championship game is concerned, it put me in the camp that thinks Michigan State has more than a puncher’s chance. I think they have a 50/50 chance of knocking off the Buckeyes which would then likely allow an SEC team back into the BCS national championship game.

1. Ohio State: Ohio State fans must have been giddy yesterday because not only did they beat the Wolverines, but they also saw Alabama lose, opening up the door for a trip to the national championship game provided they can get past Sparty in the Big Ten championship game. Urban Meyer has yet to lose a game as coach of the Buckeyes, which is remarkable. The defense, however, is an area for concern. Their performance against a struggling Michigan offense was horrendous. Luke Fickell may be the worst defensive coordinator in the country.

Season Grade: A

2. Michigan State: The Spartans may be the most underrated team in the country. If I were a Buckeyes fan, I’d be very afraid of this match up. Their performance against Minnesota was outstanding and the Gophers were used as an example of how difficult it is to score against Michigan State. Just when it appeared Minnesota was about to score a touchdown in the red zone, a defensive lineman bats down a pass at the line of scrimmage to hold the Gophers to just a field goal in the entire game.

Season Grade: A

3. Wisconsin: I still have the Badgers in the top three despite their loss to Penn State at home. I’ve always been skeptical of two things for the Badgers: 1) The quarterback, and 2) the pass defense. Both were exposed by Penn State on Saturday. Badgers quarterback Joel Stave tossed three interceptions and the Badgers pass defense gave up 339 yards passing and four touchdowns to Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Season Grade: A-

4. Iowa: How about a hat tip to Kirk Ferentz who managed to bounce back from a 4-8 season a year ago to an 8-4 season this year. Just a remarkable turnaround especially given that the Hawkeyes roster isn’t loaded with talent. They dominated Nebraska and they’re trending the right way for the future. Look out for Iowa in 2014.

Season Grade: B+

5. Minnesota: Undoubtedly a fantastic season for the Golden Gophers. Despite two losses to end the season and the ineptitude on offense, there were many positives. The offense will return nearly everyone next season but will also add talent including redshirt tailback Berkley Edwards. The defense played great down the stretch and may be one of the saltiest units in the league next year. The coaching staff was fantastic this year, especially during crises.

Season Grade: B+

6. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are a flawed team. If you take away the lucky Hail Mary pass against Northwestern, then it’s a 7-5 season, not 8-4. The team was dangerously close to not even making a bowl game and I was unimpressed with Nebraska all year long. Top it off with the Athletic Director stating how he’s sticking with a coach that doesn’t want to be there anymore and you have a team on the brink of disaster.

Season Grade: C

7. Penn State: Bill O’Brien is one of the best coaches in college football. He’s covering up many flaws on this Penn State roster. I think he would be a home run hire at USC. Could you imagine quarterback guru Bill O’Brien working with those five-star quarterback recruits that the Trojans have? Perfect fit. However, I think even if Haden does place a call to gauge O’Brien’s interest, O’Brien will decide to stay put in State College. As unfortunate as Penn State fans were to have to deal with the Sandusky disaster a few years ago , they’re just as fortunate to have O’Brien in charge moving forward. Penn State will be competing for national championships again with O’Brien.

Season Grade: B+

8. Michigan: Michigan gave the Buckeyes all they could handle on Saturday. So how did the Wolverines hang so close, only to fall on a failed two point conversion? Was it because of the emotion of the rivalry? Or have the Wolverines finally found themselves as a team that they’ll be able to take with them into their bowl game? Only time will tell, but I can promise you this — the talent is there to win big next year.

Season Grade: C

9. Northwestern: The Wildcats were the trendy pick to win the Legends Division this year, but instead, they finished 1-7 in the conference and barely beat Illinois, 37-34, for their lone conference win. Injuries decimated this team, especially to their top two playmakers. Venric Mark and Kain Colter.

Season Grade: D

10. Indiana: The Hoosiers drilled Purdue in the Old Oaken Bucket game, 56-36. Despite the defensive shortcomings, I still like the trajectory of the Indiana program under Kevin Wilson. Soon enough, the Hooisers are going to turn into the team that no one wants to play.

Season Grade: C

11. Illinois: Year three will be a make or break year for Tim Beckman if he wants to remain the head coach in Champaign. I’ll give the Illini credit for showing some heart and fight at the end of a lost season.

Season Grade: C-

12. Purdue: Darrell Hazell may be the dude that looks and talks the part, but doesn’t act the part. Of the Boilermakers’ 11 losses, they were only competitive in two of them. Remember, Danny Hope took Purdue to a bowl last year. The Boilermakers didn’t take a step back, they went in reverse with a Ferrari and we have the tire tracks to prove it. I’m not giving up on Hazell yet, but his first year was not a good look.

Season Grade: F

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