The 2023 college football season is getting closer and closer as we now hit June on the calendar. Some teams in the Big Ten are heading in the right direction, while others — not so much.
Here’s a look at each team’s stock going into the 2023 season:
Big Ten East
Michigan: Trending up
The past two seasons of Michigan football have been two of the best this century. The Wolverines hit rock bottom in 2020 after a disastrous 2-4 COVID year. Expectations were low for the program and many expected Harbaugh to be gone after 2021 if another bad season occurred.
Now, things have been completely flipped upside down. Michigan has beaten Ohio State two years in a row, won the Big Ten two years in a row and made the College Football Playoff two years in a row. On top of that, the Wolverines are bringing back 81% of its returning production from last season, good for No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 5 in the nation. Expectations are as high as ever in Ann Arbor.
Ohio State: Trending down
Take the trending down for the Buckeyes with a grain of salt. With how that program has been over the last 20 years, not winning the Big Ten or beating Michigan the past seasons equates to trending down, even with the CFP appearance last year.
99% of programs in the country would kill to be Ohio State, and the Buckeyes should be right there at the top competing for a national championship this year. However, if Ryan Day loses to that team up north again, his seat is going to get mighty hot.
Penn State: Trending up
Penn State may have been the most overlooked team last season. The Nittany Lions were a good 4th quarter away from probably getting the 4th spot in the CFP. If Penn State holds on to beat Ohio State, I think they get that spot.
The Rose Bowl opened up a lot of eyes. The Nittany Lions were extremely impressive against the Pac-12 champs and proved to a lot of people how talented Penn State was and still is.
After a season with only two losses, both against CFP teams, the expectations are high in Happy Valley. New QB Drew Allar showed a lot of promise last year and should help Penn State contend for the Big Ten title.
Maryland: Trending up
It feels like every year Maryland gets closer and closer to being a real tough out in the Big Ten East. The Terps did almost take down Michigan in Ann Arbor last year.
With QB Taulia Tagovailoa back again this season, Maryland might just be able to continue to be more of a threat in the conference. The Terps finished 4-5 in conference play last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that change to a winning record this season.
Michigan State: Trending down
Things were all sunshine and rainbows in East Lansing on Halloween weekend of 2021. Man have things changed since then. Mel Tucker appeared to be the guy in EL, but now it’s unclear if that’s the case.
Michigan State fell off quite a bit last season, going 5-7 (3-6 B1G) after an 11-2 season the year prior. Spartan fans are beginning to question the massive contract that Tucker received, and if he has another rough season, things are not going to be looking good for the Spartans.
Indiana: Trending down
The Hoosiers looked like they were finally turning a page in 2020 and becoming one of the better teams in the conference. In fact, if the Big Ten stuck to their preseason rules, Indiana would’ve represented the Big Ten East in the 2020 Big Ten championship. Instead, the conference found a way to get Ohio State there.
Since then, the Hoosiers followed up their solid 2020 year with a 3-9 record in 2021 and a 4-8 record in 2022. Not great.
Rutgers: Trending up?
This one is tough. Rutgers is very bad, and they always have been since joining the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights aren’t winning games, but the competitiveness is getting there. Let’s look at some past games against Michigan for example:
In 2016, the Wolverines beat Rutgers 78-0. In 2021 however, Rutgers had the ball down by a touchdown in the 4th quarter with a chance to tie it. In 2022, Rutgers led at halftime. The Scarlet Knights are getting there.
Greg Schiano is doing a good job making the Scarlet Knights look more like a competent Big Ten program.
Big Ten West
Purdue: Trending down
Purdue won the West last season and went to the Big Ten championship game, but the Boilers are still trending down.
First of all, winning the West last season wasn’t really anything to brag about. The third place team in the East would’ve won the West.
Second, the Boilers lost head coach Jeff Brohm. That is a tough blow as he had gotten Purdue into a pretty good spot. We’ll see how Purdue responds, but I doubt we see them in Indy this year.
Illinois: Trending up
Bret Bielema has done a terrific job turning around the Illinois program. The Illini were on the same par as Rutgers, and then finished in second place in the West last year. Illinois nearly took down the Big Ten champs as well.
The Illini did stumble a bit down the stretch, losing four of its last five after starting the season 7-1, but it was still a great season. There is definitely a reason to be optimistic in Champaign.
Iowa: Trending up
The Hawkeyes were a win against Nebraska away from a second straight Big Ten West title, but Iowa fell just short. However, after a couple of good transfer snags that the Hawkeyes got from Michigan, Iowa should be right there at the end of the season in the thick of the West division hunt.
Let’s not sugarcoat this, Iowa’s offense last year was abysmal, and if it weren’t for the additions of Cade McNamara and Erick All I would have put trending down. However, the Hawkeyes always have a solid defense, and I think the offense can be more competitive with those transfer additions.
Minnesota: Trending up
Minnesota is another team in the West that was right there until the end last year but came up just short. Still, a nine win season for the Gophers was impressive.
PJ Fleck has done a great job so far and is regarded as one of the better coaches in the country. I expect the Gophers to continue to improve.
Wisconsin: Trending up
The Badgers had an uncharacteristically bad season last year, but with Luke Fickell coming in as the new head coach, expectations are high. Braelon Allen is coming back and Wisconsin will likely get back to its brand of smash-mouth football. Wisconsin is certainly one of the best bets for taking the West crown next season.
Nebraska: Trending down
While Nebraska also has a new big name coach coming in, I’m not quite ready to say the Huskers are trending up. In Wisconsin’s case, last season was an outlier, but the Huskers have just been plain bad for awhile.
Matt Rhule was a good hire, but he’s got a lot of work to do to get Nebraska back to a place that is going to satisfy that fanbase.
Northwestern: Trending down
The good news for Northwestern fans: it can’t get much worse. Last year’s 1-11 season was rock bottom for the Cats, but there’s no denying that Pat Fitzgerald is a good coach. He’s taken Northwestern to the Big Ten championship twice and has had some solid years in Evanston.
If Northwestern has another season like last year, however, people may start to question if it’s time to move on to a different coach.