The Big Ten season is officially over.
After 14 weeks of competition and a championship game, there will be nine teams representing the conference in bowl games this season.
For many, it was a successful season but none more than Michigan. The Wolverines were crowned Big Ten championships after taking down Iowa. Michigan also beat Ohio State to earn a spot in the game.
There were plenty of highs and just as many lows for Big Ten teams this season. Now that the schedule is complete, we can take one final look at the conference-wide power rankings.
1. Michigan (12-1, 8-1 Big Ten)
Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal): Miami, FL vs. Georgia
You beat Ohio State, you likely win the Big Ten Championship. This is what Michigan was finally able to do under Jim Harbaugh. Basically, the victory over Ohio State was the Big Ten title game. The winner of the West was not going to compete and it was indeed a snooze fest with the Wolverines winning 42-3. Now, Michigan and Harbaugh will have a chance to show what they can do against the SEC in the playoff.
2. Ohio State (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
Rose Bowl: Pasadena, CA vs. Utah
Ohio State remains second and for good reason. Two losses on the season and the Buckeyes were gashed on the ground in both. This is what happened against Michigan and kept them out of the Big Ten title game. With that being said, Ohio State was still one of the best teams in the nation and will represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.
3. Iowa (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten)
Citrus Bowl: Orlando, FL vs. Kentucky
This is by default. Iowa was a no-show against Michigan on Saturday but did enough to come out of the Big Ten West. It was a roller coaster season for the Hawkeyes, who were ranked as high as No. 2 at one point. All in all, this was an impressive season from Iowa and one they can be happy about. Now, a bowl victory would just put the cherry on top.
4. Michigan State (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
Peach Bowl: Atlanta, GA vs. Pitt
The Spartans came out of nowhere this season. Mel Tucker was given an extension and the spartans were a top-25 team. However, the blowout loss to Ohio State was a measuring stick game that showed there is still plenty of work to be done. Michigan State will finish up in the Peach Bowl against a very good Pitt team.
5. Minnesota (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten)
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Phoenix, AZ vs. West Virginia
Mohamed Ibrahim went down with an injury in Week 1 and this impacted Minnesota severely. Despite the loss, this was a team that should have finished 10-2 on the season. The Golden Gophers should still be pleased with their season but losses to Bowling Green and Illinois can't happen. This will leave a bad taste in the mouth of the Gophers moving forward but a bowl win can wash it away. A victory against West Virginia will keep Minnesota rolling into next season.
6. Wisconsin (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten)
Las Vegas Bowl: Las Vegas, NV vs. Arizona State
There are some programs that can accept 8-4 and some that cannot. Wisconsin is a program where 8-4 will not bring joy. The Badgers began the year losing three of four and turned it around a bit heading into the final week of the season. A 10-point loss to Minnesota kept them out of the conference title game. Graham Mertz is just not very good but the defense certainly was. Anyway, onto the Las Vegas Bowl for Wisconsin.
7. Purdue (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten)
Music City Bowl: Nashville, TN vs. Tennessee
Purdue won eight games this season for the first time since 2007. The road to get there was a bit confusing. This is a team that had big wins over Iowa and Michigan State but looked inept against Minnesota and Illinois, in a 13-9 victory. Either way, by the standards of Purdue football, this was a great season.
8. Penn State (7-5, 4-5 Big Ten)
Outback Bowl: Tampa, FL vs. Arkansas
Losers of five of their last seven games, another disappointing season — let’s give our mediocre coach a 10-year extension. That sounds about right for the Nittany Lions. James Franklin led Penn State to 7-5 this season. Yes, they should have beaten Iowa if Sean Clifford was healthy. Well he returned the very next week and the team lost at home to Illinois. No excuse there. Penn State entered the season in the top tier and exited in its usual position of just slightly above average.
9. Maryland (6-6, 3-6 Big Ten)
Pinstripe Bowl: Yankee Stadium vs. Virginia Tech
Maryland was the final Big Ten team to earn qualification to a bowl game and did so by dominating Rutgers on Saturday. This does not mean that it was an impressive season for the Terrapins. This bowl game is a consolation prize for being slightly better than the worst teams in the conference. After a 4-0 start, Maryland lost six of their final eight games, many in blowout fashion. The only one that matters was the last one and this earned them a trip to the Pinstripe Bowl.
10. Nebraska (3-9, 1-8 Big Ten)
As we make our way into the lower tier of the conference, Nebraska leads the way. Yes, 3-9 is not impressive but this was a season we may never see again. Here’s a stat — Nebraska was 1-8 in the Big Ten and their point differential was EVEN. The Cornhuskers lost eight conference games by a combined 49 points. Their lone victory was against Northwestern, who they beat by 49 points. This shows how competitive Nebraska was week in and week out. Wins are what matters but what Nebraska did on a weekly basis was more impressive than the teams below them.
11. Illinois (5-7, 4-5 Big Ten)
The preseason expectations for Illinois make this season look like a success. This was a team that was supposed to be one of the worst in the nation and they ended up with five wins — including on the road against Penn State and a dominating victory over in-state rival Northwestern. Brett Bielema just gave Illini fans some more confidence after his first season at the helm.
12. Rutgers (5-7, 2-7 Big Ten)
The fact that Rutgers was playing for a bowl game in the final weeks of the season is positive. With that being said, the mark needed to get into a bowl game is not high and the team still missed. There will be some that say this was a successful season as Rutgers continues to move forward but the offense took major steps back. They finished worse in conference play than last season and did not compete in most games against the top teams in the Big Ten. They also had a putrid performance against Northwestern. This might be a bit harsh but Rutgers has a lot of work to do offensively. Thankfully they scheduled light at the beginning of the season to have a chance to qualify for a bowl during the final week.
13. Northwestern (3-9, 1-8 Big Ten)
It was a huge letdown season for Northwestern, who won the Big Ten West a season ago. They were not expected to be as successful as 2020 but the Wildcats certainly did not expect a 1-8 finish in conference play. This was a team that looked like it gave up weeks ago. There should be no question about the head coach. Pat Fitzgerald is the man for the job and he will lead his team into 2022.
14. Indiana (2-10, 0-9 Big Ten)
Injuries were too much for Indiana to overcome during a winless season in Big Ten play. Michael Penix Jr. has entered the transfer portal. Changes in Bloomington are coming and after this season, there needs to be many made.