clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

USA Today Hands Out Letter Grades For Big Ten Football Teams

How Did Rutgers Do?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, Paul Myerberg of USA Today Sports wrote an interesting article that assigned a letter grade for all 130 FBS schools for the 2017 season.

The article was measuring how teams performed in 2017 compared to the preseason prediction for each of them. Based upon this metric, Rutgers received a respectable C+. Not bad, but certainly not great. It means that we did a little better than expected, but just barely. But, how did our Big Ten brethren do? That is, did they exceed, meet, or disappoint their pre-season expectations?

Let’s take a look by grade and see how they fell:

A+ (Teacher’s Pet)- Wisconsin

Wisconsin certainly did exceed almost everyone’s expectation for 2017. While expected to be able to compete in the weaker Big Ten West, they absolutely did better than that, and finished with a division title, as well as a convincing win in the Orange Bowl over #10 Miami. They finished the season with an enviable 13-1 record.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Wisconsin vs Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A (Really Good Students): #5 Ohio State, #9 Penn State, #16 Michigan State

So, these schools all did very well in 2017. Michigan State recovered from a 3-9 record in 2016, and wound up with a 10-3 record in 2017, as well as a Holiday Bowl victory over #18 Washington State. Ohio State narrowly missed being in the playoff this year, and finished with a convincing win over #9 USC. Penn State ended their season 11-2, losing only to the other two teams that got an A, OSU, and MSU.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A- (Good Students): Purdue, Northwestern

Purdue made it back to a bowl game this season for the first time in five seasons, finishing with a 7-6 record for first year head coach Jeff Brohm. While they did stumble a bit through the season, a win over Missouri at the beginning of the season, and finishing with wins against Iowa and a bowl win over Arizona.

Northwestern went 10-3 overall, finished in second place in the West division with a 7-2 record,and beat Kentucky 24-23 in the Music City Bowl. They ended the season on an impressive 8 game winning streak.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Rutgers Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

B (Well Respected Students): Iowa

While their record isn’t a lot different from 2016, the Hawkeyes claim to fame in 2017 is the amazing job they did dismantling Ohio State back in November. That not only shocked everyone, but was the event that doomed the Buckeye’s chances to get into the Playoff this year.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

B- (Solid Students): Michigan

Harbaugh’s Heroes had a good season, but was marred by losing the two games that matter most to any Wolverine, Ohio State and Michigan State. Add to that being the only Big Ten team that lost their bowl game this season, and you can see why grumbles are beginning to be heard in Ann Arbor. After all, much is expected from those winged helmets each year!

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

C+ (Really Tried): Rutgers

While a 4-8 record doesn’t sound like a great season, the Scarlet Knights did double their wins from 2016. With three conference victories this season (the most since 2014, and three more than in 2016), things may be looking up in Piscataway.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

C- (Meh): Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota

All three of these teams failed to turn heads this year. Indiana did not win the games they needed to win, and missed out on an opportunity to go to a bowl three seasons in a row for the first time. Maryland had a terrible time keeping a healthy quarterback on the field, and so went from 3-1 to 3-9. Minnesota also looked good in their 3-0 start, but badly stumbled in the stretch for first year head coach P.J. Fleck.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

D (Ugh!): Illinois

Illinois was kept from a failing grade this year only because the expectations were very low. However, they actually fell somewhat below the level of play they were expected to meet. Love Smith’s chair may be warming up in Champaign.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

F (Dunce Cap): Nebraska

There’s not much positive to say about the Cornhuskers in 2017. They were not expected to compete for the Big Ten West title, but they were certainly expected to be a competitive member of the conference. As the season progressed, the team regressed, and it cost Mike Riley his head coaching position. Now, all eyes will be on Nebraska to see if former ‘Husker quarterback Scott Frost can bring some of his UCF magic to Lincoln.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Nebraska
Mike Riley trying to deal with defeat against Northwestern in 2017
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Well, there you have it, the grades as compiled by Paul Myerberg. I feel he did a great job in his ranking not only of the Big Ten, but all 130 teams in the FBS. What do you think?


Do you think these grades are deserved for the teams in the Big Ten?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Oh yeah, he nailed it!
    (98 votes)
  • 63%
    It was pretty close
    (222 votes)
  • 6%
    Eh, not so much
    (22 votes)
  • 1%
    Are you kidding me?
    (6 votes)
348 votes total Vote Now


Did Rutgers deserve a C+ for their 2017 season?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Absolutely, they improved and somewhat exceeded expectations
    (271 votes)
  • 16%
    No, they did not progress enough to deserve that grade
    (61 votes)
  • 4%
    They did much better than a C+!
    (18 votes)
  • 5%
    They belonged with Illinois or Nebraska if you ask me!
    (20 votes)
370 votes total Vote Now