2020 Big Ten Football Power Rankings

Like I said in last week’s blog, I’m worried about football. The COVID-19 situation across the country seems to be becoming more complicated with every passing day, and it’s getting more difficult for medical professionals to predict what can happen next week, let alone in three months.

That being said, I choose to remain optimistic about football season happening in some capacity. At this point, my guess is that it will happen without fans or with very limited fans in the stadiums, but that’s just my non-medical opinion. That wouldn’t be the ideal scenario for fans, but games on TV would be so much better than no games at all.

This week, I’m focusing on the upcoming Big Ten season. There’s going to be a lot of turnover in the league at many key positions on all the contenders. Here’s where I see them standing heading into this upcoming season.

14. Rutgers

2019 record: 2-10 (0-9 B1G)

Key returners: QB Johnny Langan (Soph.), RB Isaih Pacheco (Jr.), LB Tyshon Fogg (Sr.)

Greg Schiano has returned to Piscataway to try to bring Rutgers back to relevance. Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, the Scarlet Knights have won 21 total games, and only SEVEN of those have come against Big Ten opponents. That’s really bad. They have been the laughingstock of the loaded East Division of the Big Ten, and if Schiano is able to make them competitive in the next two to three years, it would be nothing short of a miracle. Schiano has recruited well early on, but we’ll have to wait on the results. Until further notice, Rutgers is at the bottom of the Big Ten by default.

13. Maryland

2019 record: 3-9 (1-8 B1G)

Key returners: QB Josh Jackson (Sr.), RB Anthony McFarland (Jr.), LB Ayinde Ely (Jr.)

The other addition to the conference in 2014, the Terrapins have seen a lot more success than Rutgers thus far, but that’s not saying much. Year two under Mike Locksley should show some improvements as Virginia Tech transfer QB Josh Jackson returns for his second season as the starter. The Terrapins have to make some major improvements on the defensive side of the ball, they allowed just under 35 points per game. Locksley has made some headway in recruiting, including landing five-star receiver Rakim Jarrett, but the task is tall for Maryland to become relevant in Big Ten football.

12. Illinois

2019 record: 6-7 (4-5 B1G)

Key returners: QB Brandon Peters (Sr.), DB Sydney Brown (Jr.)

Illinois has made small steps under Lovie Smith, but heading into his fifth season in Champaign, Smith has yet to have a winning season. The Illini made a bowl game last year and had a huge upset win against Wisconsin, but inconsistency down the stretch doomed their season of being more than 6-6. The 2020 schedule is very favorable, the non-conference opponents are a joke (Illinois State, UCONN, Bowling Green). A trip to Camp Randall on Halloween is the only truly tough road game, and the other challenging divisional games are at home (Iowa, Minnesota). A visit from Ohio State the second to last week of the regular season will be a tall task, but with a less streaky offense and a shored-up run defense, this could very well be an eight-win team at best.

11. Purdue

2019 record: 4-8 (3-6 B1G)