Welcome back to my ongoing Big Ten positional ratings as I try to predict the two teams that will face off in the Big Ten Championship Game this December. We’ve made it through quarterbacks, running backs, pass catchers, offensive lines, defensive lines, linebackers, defensive backs, and special teams. There are no more positions to rate, but there are still schedules and head coaches. Today, we rate the Big Ten schedules. You can find links to the completed positions at the end of this piece.

Every year when I rate the Big Ten schedules, I try to come up with a formula that allows me to grade each opponent without any bias. The formula generally changes, but this year it didn’t and I don’t have a great reason why other than it was already done and that saves me some work.

The formula takes into account a number of things, including returning starters, last year’s win total, preseason All-Conference players, intangibles, wins over ranked opponents the last two years, and whether or not last year’s starting quarterback is returning.

These numbers are all gathered and punched in. However, after punching in all of the numbers this time, the formula should have been changed a bit due to how much the pandemic changed things last year and this year.

Anyway, the data for each team gets formulated and my handy-dandy spreadsheet then spits out a grade for each team. Those grades (Ohio State is a 4.5, Michigan a 2.9, and Iowa a 3.9, for instance) are input into each team’s schedule (with a half-point increase when facing that team on the road), and then those grades are tallied. The teams with the lowest numbers have the easiest schedules, which increases their likelihood for making the Big Ten Championship Game.

I’m sure I’ve explained it all rather inadequately, but I’m okay with that. Let’s get to the ratings.

East Division

1. Rutgers

Rutgers’ schedule score was 40.4, which was the third-lowest in the entire Big Ten. Three major reasons for this: Temple, Syracuse, and Delaware are the non-conference games. Winnable road games at Michigan, Northwestern, and Illinois also kept the score low. The road games at Indiana and Penn State weren’t enough to move this schedule to No. 2 in the East.

2. Michigan State

The Spartans hold this spot by just a tenth of a point with a score of 41.3. Home games against Youngstown State and Western Kentucky have done enough to take any shine off of the trip to Miami, Florida in week three. Road games at Indiana and Ohio State are as tough as it gets in the East. Seriously. My ratings have a game in Bloomington as more difficult than Happy Valley.

3. Michigan

Michigan’s 41.4 score is in part due to the MAC double-dip of Western Michigan and Northern Illinois. The home game against Washington in week two is intriguing. Road games at Wisconsin and Penn State make the schedule much more difficult (and less intriguing since we know how those two games are going to go). Northwestern and Nebraska as crossovers helped keep the score low.

4. Indiana

Indiana checks in with a schedule score of 41.7, which puts it in the middle of the East Division. Opening with a road game at Iowa is no joke, and neither is a home game against Cincinnati in week three. Traveling to Western Kentucky is kind of a joke, though. Going to Penn State in week six could have IU starting 0-2 in B1G play. Getting Ohio State at home helps the schedule a bit, as well as ticket sales.

5. Penn State

Penn State has a slightly more difficult schedule than Indiana, coming in with a 41.8 score. There are three main reasons why the Nittany Lions have the fifth-most difficult schedule in the Big Ten: road games at Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State. A home game against Auburn is a nice touch. Games against Ball State and Villanova aren’t. Getting Michigan and Indiana at home helps.

6. Maryland

Maryland’s schedule is always going to be more difficult than most because they don’t get to play Maryland. Games against Howard and Kent State really has me wondering how this is the second-toughest schedule in the East. Getting Iowa at home and road games at Minnesota and Illinois as crossovers isn’t ideal. Their schedule score was 42.4, and looking at it now, it’s just a bunch of games against above average opponents. It’s the Moneyball of B1G schedules.

7. Ohio State

Non-conference games against Oregon and Tulsa helped Ohio State secure a 42.7 schedule score, which is good for third-toughest schedule in the B1G. The road game at Indiana is another big reason the Buckeyes are at the top (bottom) spot here. Road games at Minnesota, Rutgers, Nebraska, and Michigan can’t be taken lightly. Penn State in Columbus helps ease matters a bit.


West Division

1. Northwestern

Northwestern has the easiest schedule in the Big Ten by a wide margin, checking in with a score of 37.4. That’s 2.2 points lower than the next lowest B1G West team. Why is the schedule so easy? A non-conference slate of Indiana State, Duke, and Ohio helps. East Division crossovers of Rutgers, Michigan, and Michigan State don’t hurt either. The road trip to Wisconsin is the toughest game on the schedule.

2. Illinois

The Illini have the second easiest schedule in the Big Ten (39.6) thanks in part to seven home games, including tilts against UTSA and Charlotte. A road trip to Virginia is almost notable. Getting Wisconsin at home helps, but getting Purdue, Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa on the road hurts. Maryland and Rutgers as the other two East crossovers is a nice (and easy) touch, especially since both games at in Champaign.

3. Minnesota

Minnesota’s 40.5 puts them as the fourth-easiest schedule in the entire Big Ten. The Gophers certainly start strong with a home opener against Ohio State, but home games against Miami OH and Bowling Green quickly kill any hope of a difficult schedule. A trip to Colorado between the MAC games is interesting. Getting Indiana (on the road) along with OSU at home is a tough roll of the dice.

4. Wisconsin

Not that they need it, but the Badgers have the fifth-easiest schedule in the conference (40.6). The game against Notre Dame in Chicago may not be a road game, but it’s still tougher than a home game. Getting Penn State and Michigan at home helps things. Road games at Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, and Minnesota are all very manageable. Eastern Michigan and Army are the other non-conference games.

5. Nebraska

Nebraska’s schedule score of 41.7 gives them the fifth-toughest slate of any Big Ten team. The trip to Oklahoma is one major reason why. It is the toughest game on any Big Ten team’s schedule by a pretty wide margin. Getting Ohio State in Lincoln as an East Division crossover is no favor to Kevin Warren’s favorite sons. I won’t give the Huskers too much grief for playing Fordham and Buffalo. A road trip to Wisconsin is also huge.

6. Iowa

Iowa has finished comfortably with the second-toughest schedule in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes come in with a 43.4 score thanks to a trip to Iowa State, which is the second-toughest game on any Big Ten team’s schedule. A road game at Wisconsin also raises their score, as do crossover games against Indiana and Penn State. Non-conference games against Kent State and Colorado State should provide a respite.

7. Purdue

The toughest schedule in the Big Ten belongs to Purdue. The Boilers’ schedule score of 44.1 is probably more than they can handle. Purdue is even traveling to Connecticut this year, which should never happen. Road games against Notre Dame and Ohio State are heavyweights, and a trip to Iowa City isn’t exactly a vacation. Getting Indiana in West Lafayette helps, but there are some tough games on this schedule.


Rating the Big Ten

Quarterbacks – East | West
Running Backs – East | West
Pass Catchers – East | West
Offensive Line – East | West
Defensive Line – East | West
Linebackers  East | West
Defensive Backs – East | West
Special TeamsEast | West


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  1. [I]Welcome back to my ongoing Big Ten positional ratings as I try to predict the two teams that will face off in the Big Ten Championship Game this December. We’ve made it through quarterbacks, running backs, pass catchers, offensive lines, defensive lines, linebackers, defensive backs, and special teams. There are no more positions to rate, but there are still schedules and head coaches. Today, we rate the Big Ten schedules. You can find links to the completed positions at the end of this piece.[/I]

    Every year when I rate the Big Ten schedules, I try to come up with a formula that allows me to grade each opponent without any bias. The formula generally changes, but this year it didn’t and I don’t have a great reason why other than it was already done and that saves me some work.

    The formula takes into account a number of things, including returning starters, last year’s win total, preseason All-Conference players, intangibles, wins over ranked opponents the last two years, and whether or not last year’s starting quarterback is returning.

    These numbers are all gathered and punched in. However, after punching in all of the numbers this time, the formula should have been changed a bit due to how much the pandemic changed things last year and this year.

    Anyway, the data for each team gets formulated and my handy-dandy spreadsheet then spits out a grade for each team. Those grades (Ohio State is a 4.5, Michigan a 2.9, and Iowa a 3.9, for instance) are input into each team’s schedule (with a half-point increase when facing that team on the road), and then those grades are tallied. The teams with the lowest numbers have the easiest schedules, which increases their likelihood for making the Big Ten Championship Game.

    I’m sure I’ve explained it all rather inadequately, but I’m okay with that. Let’s get to the ratings.

    [HEADING=1]East Division[/HEADING]
    [HEADING=1]1. Rutgers[/HEADING]
    Rutgers’ schedule score was 40.4, which was the third-lowest in the entire Big Ten. Three major reasons for this: Temple, Syracuse, and Delaware are the non-conference games. Winnable road games at Michigan, Northwestern, and Illinois also kept the score low. The road games at Indiana and Penn State weren’t enough to move this schedule to No. 2 in the East.

    [HEADING=1]2. Michigan State[/HEADING]
    The Spartans hold this spot by just a tenth of a point with a score of 41.3. Home games against Youngstown State and Western Kentucky have done enough to take any shine off of the trip to Miami, Florida in week three. Road games at Indiana and Ohio State are as tough as it gets in the East. Seriously. My ratings have a game in Bloomington as more difficult than Happy Valley.

    [HEADING=1]3. Michigan[/HEADING]
    Michigan’s 41.4 score is in part due to the MAC double-dip of Western Michigan and Northern Illinois. The home game against Washington in week two is intriguing. Road games at Wisconsin and Penn State make the schedule much more difficult (and less intriguing since we know how those two games are going to go). Northwestern and Nebraska as crossovers helped keep the score low.

    [HEADING=1]4. Indiana[/HEADING]
    Indiana checks in with a schedule score of 41.7, which puts it in the middle of the East Division. Opening with a road game at Iowa is no joke, and neither is a home game against Cincinnati in week three. Traveling to Western Kentucky is kind of a joke, though. Going to Penn State in week six could have IU starting 0-2 in B1G play. Getting Ohio State at home helps the schedule a bit, as well as ticket sales.

    [HEADING=1]5. Penn State[/HEADING]
    Penn State has a slightly more difficult schedule than Indiana, coming in with a 41.8 score. There are three main reasons why the Nittany Lions have the fifth-most difficult schedule in the Big Ten: road games at Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State. A home game against Auburn is a nice touch. Games against Ball State and Villanova aren’t. Getting Michigan and Indiana at home helps.

    [HEADING=1]6. Maryland[/HEADING]
    Maryland’s schedule is always going to be more difficult than most because they don’t get to play Maryland. Games against Howard and Kent State really has me wondering how this is the second-toughest schedule in the East. Getting Iowa at home and road games at Minnesota and Illinois as crossovers isn’t ideal. Their schedule score was 42.4, and looking at it now, it’s just a bunch of games against above average opponents. It’s the Moneyball of B1G schedules.

    [HEADING=1]7. Ohio State[/HEADING]
    Non-conference games against Oregon and Tulsa helped Ohio State secure a 42.7 schedule score, which is good for third-toughest schedule in the B1G. The road game at Indiana is another big reason the Buckeyes are at the top (bottom) spot here. Road games at Minnesota, Rutgers, Nebraska, and Michigan can’t be taken lightly. Penn State in Columbus helps ease matters a bit.

    [HR][/HR]
    [HEADING=1]West Division[/HEADING]
    [HEADING=1]1. Northwestern[/HEADING]
    Northwestern has the easiest schedule in the Big Ten by a wide margin, checking in with a score of 37.4. That’s 2.2 points lower than the next lowest B1G West team. Why is the schedule so easy? A non-conference slate of Indiana State, Duke, and Ohio helps. East Division crossovers of Rutgers, Michigan, and Michigan State don’t hurt either. The road trip to Wisconsin is the toughest game on the schedule.

    [HEADING=1]2. Illinois[/HEADING]
    The Illini have the second easiest schedule in the Big Ten (39.6) thanks in part to seven home games, including tilts against UTSA and Charlotte. A road trip to Virginia is almost notable. Getting Wisconsin at home helps, but getting Purdue, Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa on the road hurts. Maryland and Rutgers as the other two East crossovers is a nice (and easy) touch, especially since both games at in Champaign.

    [HEADING=1]3. Minnesota[/HEADING]
    Minnesota’s 40.5 puts them as the fourth-easiest schedule in the entire Big Ten. The Gophers certainly start strong with a home opener against Ohio State, but home games against Miami OH and Bowling Green quickly kill any hope of a difficult schedule. A trip to Colorado between the MAC games is interesting. Getting Indiana (on the road) along with OSU at home is a tough roll of the dice.

    [HEADING=1]4. Wisconsin[/HEADING]
    Not that they need it, but the Badgers have the fifth-easiest schedule in the conference (40.6). The game against Notre Dame in Chicago may not be a road game, but it’s still tougher than a home game. Getting Penn State and Michigan at home helps things. Road games at Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, and Minnesota are all very manageable. Eastern Michigan and Army are the other non-conference games.

    [HEADING=1]5. Nebraska[/HEADING]
    Nebraska’s schedule score of 41.7 gives them the fifth-toughest slate of any Big Ten team. The trip to Oklahoma is one major reason why. It is the toughest game on any Big Ten team’s schedule by a pretty wide margin. Getting Ohio State in Lincoln as an East Division crossover is no favor to Kevin Warren’s favorite sons. I won’t give the Huskers too much grief for playing Fordham and Buffalo. A road trip to Wisconsin is also huge.

    [HEADING=1]6. Iowa[/HEADING]
    Iowa has finished comfortably with the second-toughest schedule in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes come in with a 43.4 score thanks to a trip to Iowa State, which is the second-toughest game on any Big Ten team’s schedule. A road game at Wisconsin also raises their score, as do crossover games against Indiana and Penn State. Non-conference games against Kent State and Colorado State should provide a respite.

    [HEADING=1]7. Purdue[/HEADING]
    The toughest schedule in the Big Ten belongs to Purdue. The Boilers’ schedule score of 44.1 is probably more than they can handle. Purdue is even traveling to Connecticut this year, which should never happen. Road games against Notre Dame and Ohio State are heavyweights, and a trip to Iowa City isn’t exactly a vacation. Getting Indiana in West Lafayette helps, but there are some tough games on this schedule.

    [HR][/HR]
    [HEADING=1]Rating the Big Ten[/HEADING]
    [B]Quarterbacks[/B] – [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-quarterbacks-east-division/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-quarterbacks-west-division/’]West[/URL]
    [B]Running Backs[/B] – [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-running-backs-east-division/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-running-backs-west-division/’]West[/URL]
    [B]Pass Catchers[/B] – [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-receivers-east-division/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-receivers-west-division/’]West[/URL]
    [B]Offensive Line[/B] – [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-offensive-lines-east-division/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-offensive-lines-west-division/’]West[/URL]
    [B]Defensive Line[/B] – [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-defensive-lines-east-division/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-defensive-lines-west-division/’]West[/URL]
    [B]Linebackers [/B]–[B] [/B][URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-linebackers-east-division/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-linebackers-west-division/’]West[/URL]
    [B]Defensive Backs[/B] – [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-defensive-backs-east-division/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-defensive-backs-west-division/’]West[/URL]
    [B]Special Teams[/B] – [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-special-teams/’]East[/URL] | [URL=’https://buckeyescoop.com/rating-the-2021-big-ten-special-teams/’]West[/URL]

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