Tallying Up the 2021 Big Ten Ratings: Who’s Playing In Indy?

I used to know who I thought was going to be playing in the Big Ten Championship Game this year, but then I found out I didn’t.

That’s part of the problem and part of the fun of picking my Big Ten division champs this way. My preconceived notions get checked-and-balanced by the positional previews. Then I find myself in disagreement with myself and we end up not talking for days.

This is one of those days.

Not only did I disagree with myself on one of the division winners, I nearly disagreed with myself on both. In fact, I believe this is the first time ever I’ve ended up with a tie for one of the division winners.

Just to refresh your memory, each position was ranked within the division and those rankings were then compiled for a total team score. If a team was ranked 1 in QBs, 2 in RBs, 1 in RECs, 5 in OL, 3 in DL, 1 in LBs, 4 in DBs, 3 in ST, 2 in SCHED, and 3 in HC, then their score would be 25. This then determines the order of finish, with the lowest score being the division winner.

This is the ninth year I’ve done these ratings and only once have I failed to correctly pick at least one of the teams (2016).

Having Ohio State in the Big Ten East has certainly helped my accuracy — though the two times I did not pick the Buckeyes to win the division they ended up going undefeated or winning the national title.

So with that in mind, let’s see how this year’s Big Ten is going to shake out. If you don’t want spoilers, stop reading right now.

We will start with the Big Ten West, where the Iowa Hawkeyes are apparently going to surprise some people this year.

Nebraska (tie)21101647
Purdue (tie)17131747

Until I tallied these ratings, I thought Wisconsin was going to win the Big Ten. Now I feel silly for thinking that.

It is notable that Wisconsin and Iowa are the only two teams that didn’t rank seventh in any category, though both did rank sixth once.

Anyway, maybe the Badgers can land in a nice Florida bowl game on New Year’s Day for their effort.

Nebraska was hurt by a difficult schedule and a coach still searching for his footing. The offense surprisingly seems to be an issue as well. It seems a bit odd to see the Huskers having a higher rating defensively than Northwestern, but who am I to argue with me?

And anyway, this has never been about trying to pick the fifth-place teams in the divisions, so we don’t need to worry about all that.

Here are the full results and ratings for each position in the Big Ten West.


So now let’s turn to the Big Ten East, where something happened that I did not expect.

Ohio State (tie)581326
Indiana (tie)134926
Penn State1071027
Mich St (tie)22211457
Maryland (tie)22152057

I was very surprised about this. Only ONE point separated Michigan and Rutgers. Amazing.

Actually, we’ll get back to that in a bit, but first we need to talk about the winner of the division. I think this is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with a tie. I do expect the Buckeyes to win in Bloomington, so that’s why Ohio State is in the top spot.

It is no surprise that the Buckeyes have the top offense in the division, and maybe not a surprise that they ended up with the No. 3 defense. There is definitely room to grow, however.

Indiana’s defense led the way with the top linebackers, top secondary, and second-best defensive line. It was almost a clean sweep. Getting that initial top rating at quarterback over Ohio State was a nice touch as well. And even though most people expect big things from CJ Stroud this year leading the Buckeyes, I just couldn’t put Ohio State No. 1 at quarterback with a group that had never thrown a pass before.

I should start doing these ratings at midseason to avoid stuff like that.

Also, Penn State may be getting ignored a bit here, though I do think their ratings were likely the result of the lack of talent among the other schools. The Nittany Lions were ranked two or three in every category except schedule, where they were fifth.

Here are the full ratings for the Big Ten East.

IndianaMarylandMichiganMichigan StateOhio StatePenn StateRutgers

It is no surprise that Ohio State, Indiana, and Penn State all had top three offenses, defenses, and head coaches.

Indiana, Penn State, and Michigan were the only teams in the East that didn’t rank seventh in at least one category. (Ohio State ranked seventh in schedule.)

So there you have it. Ohio State vs. Iowa for the Big Ten Championship this year. It will be the first ever championship game meeting between the two teams.

If you’ve missed any of the positional breakdowns to this point, you can find all of them below.

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 Teams – East | West
Schedules – East | West
Head Coaches East | West