By Hunter Hart
In 2018, the Big Ten was left out of the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. Big Ten champion Ohio State’s 29 point loss against 6-7 Purdue proved to be the deciding factor that kept the Buckeyes out of the playoff.
Other Big Ten East powerhouses, like Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State had disappointing seasons and bowl performances and the Big Ten West was one of the weakest divisions in the Power Five, with no teams reaching ten wins and three teams that finished below .500.
However, the West boasts some of the best young coaches in football (Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck, Nebraska’s Scott Frost, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm) and the East is loaded with talent once again. Will this year be the year that the Big Ten returns to the College Football Playoff?
- Ohio State Buckeyes (2018 record: 13-1, 8-1 B1G)
Ohio State went through a complete makeover this offseason. Urban Meyer retired as the head coach after domestic abuse allegations against a former member of his staff made headlines for much of the college football season. Enter Ryan Day, the 39-year-old former Ohio State offensive coordinator. Day’s first move as the Buckeyes’ head coach was to recruit former top recruit and Georgia transfer Justin Fields to Ohio State. After securing Fields, Day modified his coaching staff, hiring several staffers from the NFL. The Buckeyes have one of the toughest schedules in the Big Ten in 2019, but Day already has Ohio State on the path to return to the College Football Playoff.
- Michigan Wolverines (2018 record: 10-3, 8-1 B1G)
Jim Harbaugh is entering his fifth year as the head coach of the Wolverines. Michigan has finished with 10 wins in three of those years, Harbaugh has failed at his most important task, beating his rivals. In his four years, the Wolverines is 2-2 against Michigan State and an abysmal 0-4 against Ohio State. The most recent loss to the Buckeyes came in a 62-39 beatdown. That loss was followed by an embarrassing bowl performance against Florida. Things need to turn around in Ann Arbor or Jim Harbaugh is going to face a very unhappy fan base. Fortunately, Michigan has its three toughest opponents at home this season. Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State all travel to The Big House to take on the Wolverines. If Harbaugh is able to win two of those games, especially the one against Ohio State, his past woes will be forgiven.
- Penn State Nittany Lions (2018 record 9-4, 6-3 B1G)
Penn State is running into the same problem as Michigan- an inability to win big games. In the past two years, the Nittany Lions are 1-5 against Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. In the same time span, Penn State is 12-0 against other Big Ten foes. The solid play against the rest of the Big Ten has landed the Nittany Lions in a New Year’s Six bowl game each of the past three seasons. That will be challenged this year as three- year-starting quarterback Trace McSorley graudates. Senior Tommy Stevens is expected to step into the starting role. His performance will be the deciding factor of Penn State’s season.
- Iowa Hawkeyes (2018 record (9-4), 5-4 B1G)
- Wisconsin Badgers (2018 record (8-5, 5-4 B1G)
- Michigan State Spartans (2018 record (7-6, 5-4 B1G)
- Northwestern Wildcats (2018 record (9-5, 8-1 B1G)
- Nebraska Cornhuskers(2018 record (4-8, 3-6 B1G)
- Purdue Boilermakers (2018 record (6-7, 5-4 B1G)
- Minnesota Golden Gophers (2018 record (7-6, 3-6 B1G)
- Maryland Terrapins (2018 record (5-7, 3-6 B1G)
- Indiana Hoosiers (2018 record (5-7, 3-7 B1G)
- Illinois Fighting Illini (2018 record (4-8, 2-7 B1G)
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2018 record (1-11, 0-9 B1G)
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org