Post-Spring Big Ten Football Rankings 2016

    Dishing up the post-spring Big Ten football rankings. Here's how all of the conference's teams look heading into summer.

    Dishing up the post-spring Big Ten football rankings. Here’s how all of the conference’s teams look heading into summer.

    Based on how good the teams appear to be after spring ball and heading into summer, welcome to the Big Ten post-spring football rankings.

    14. Purdue

    This is a veteran team in most areas except for the offensive backfield. The Boilermakers have enough offense to get by, but the defense must finally start producing on a consistent basis. This is Darrell Hazell’s best team yet, though that’s not saying too much.

    13. Rutgers

    This could be a quirky-good team under new head coach Chris Ash. There’s no firepower in the passing game, but the defense should instantly be improved on account of the regime change – it had better be. Now the Scarlet Knights get to see what they can do without all the drama of last year.

    12. Illinois

    There might be a ton of excitement over the start of the Lovie Smith era, but there won’t be any miracles right away. The Illini don’t have the players on either side of the ball, but at least the coaching will be far, far better.

    11. Indiana

    Can the offense keep rolling without the key parts of the backfield? The coaching staff has its system in place, but this year will be the test to see if there’s any staying power after getting to a bowl game. It’ll take several shootouts to get it done.

    10. Maryland

    The Terps couldn’t stop screwing up and were never consistently good in any one area. That should change with new head man D.J. Durkin instantly improving the efficiency for a team that committed way too many mistakes.

    9. Northwestern

    The Wildcats won by playing tough defense and getting a great year out of the offensive line, but there wasn’t any offensive pop whatsoever. They found ways to get it done, but they need weapons that aren’t there.

    8. Minnesota

    Can the ground game start cranking it back up? The backs are in place, but the offense will rely on veteran quarterback Mitch Leidner to carry the way. The loss of key parts in the secondary is a really big deal.

    7. Penn State

    Remember, impatient fans, it wasn’t all that long ago that the program was nearly obliterated by the NCAA. It’s still going to take a little bit, and the offensive line is still the massive question mark, but the defense will still be terrific.

    6. Iowa

    The Hawkeyes did just about everything right on the way to its 12-0 start, but can the offense be every bit as effective and can the defense be a killer again – especially when it comes to turnover margin?

    5. Nebraska

    It’s not fair to look back on what might have been, but Nebraska really was just a few plays away from a special year. The team never quit, and now the payoff needs to come with a team that’s good enough to be a factor in the Big Ten West. Last year was weird, but now all that matters is an improved record.

    4. Wisconsin

    A heathy Corey Clement should make all the difference in the world to the running game – that and an experienced, improved line. Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook will continue to fight it out for the starting quarterback job, and they need more receiving help. Even with the loss of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to LSU, the Badgers should be salty with a potentially phenomenal defensive front seven.

    3. Michigan State

    It’s all going to start with the running game led by L.J. Scott and a slew of tremendous backs, but the offensive line needs fall camp to crank it, and Tyler O’Connor needs to establish himself as a strong starting quarterback. Six starters are gone on defense, but defensive tackle Malik McDowell should be among the nation’s best interior presences to work around.

    2. Michigan

    Wilton Speight. If he’s really the No. 1 quarterback option – and it seems that way going into the fall camp – then that’s a key part settled. Now it’s on to a running game that was just okay, and a defense that needs to crank up the linebacking play after losing three starters – Jabrill Peppers will help with that. This is a terrific team that should come close to being special.

    1. Ohio State

    Don’t get too lost in all the new starters on both sides of the ball. J.T. Barrett is a veteran quarterback with Heisman-caliber skills, while all the new offensive replacements are better than almost all the returning starters on other Big Ten teams. The defense is undergoing a gut job of talent, but the new starters were flying around throughout spring ball – the defense hardly looks like it will miss a beat.

    MORE: Post-Spring College Football Rankings, No. 1-128

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