Previewing the 2020 Big Ten College Football Landscape
By Jace Garcia
With the 2020 Big Ten college football season kicking off this weekend, I decided to take a look at Big Ten and give my predictions on how the season will play out. Rather than just do another power ranking of the teams I decided to spice it up and give you a tier list and explain why I put teams wherein each tier.
Starting off the S-tier is the reigning champions who still sitting at the top looking down at their other competition and every other team is going to need to work to dethrone the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State smashed through their competition in the Big Ten last year to sadly lose to Clemson in the college football playoff. While they have key personnel losses with Chase Young, Jeffery Okudah, JK Dobbins, and KJ Hill just to name a few, they have some key returns as well in 2019 Heisman finalist Justin Fields, defensive back Shaun Wade, and offensive lineman Wyatt Davis. They also add an interesting new tool to the offense in the form of Oklahoma transfer running back Trey Sermon. To be the best you have to be the best and the best team in the Big Ten is the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Next, I have the A-tier which are teams that can compete for the Big Ten title and should give Ohio State the best run for their money. The top team in A-tier are the Nittany Lion from Penn State, while they do not have their top receiver, KJ Hamler, and tock pass rusher, Yetur Gross-Matos, from last year both moving on to play in the NFL, they are also without their star linebacker in Micah Parsons who chose to sit out the season due to COVID-19, I think quarterback, Sean Clifford, and running back, Journey Brown, should put the team on their back and carry the Nittany Lions to success in the 2020 season. Next, I have the PJ Fleck led Golden Gophers of Minnesota. The losses of safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and wide receiver Tyler Johson are big, quarterback Tanner Morgan will fill the hole Johnson left with a possible bigger stud of a wide receiver in Rashod Bateman. Last but not least I got the Wisconsin Badgers, who might have suffered the biggest loss in all of the Big Ten in losing their star running back Jonathan Taylor is why I have them at the bottom of the A-tier. I think it will be a stretch but if Wisconsin can change their identity of the run-heavy team that they have always been in the past and play around the two senior leaders in quarterback Jack Coan and tight end Jake Ferguson, they can compete for the top spot.
Then we have the B-tier with Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska, these are teams that will compete with every team they face and will give the S and A-tier teams a good game and possibly get a win against them. After that, we have the C-tier, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Maryland, and Northwestern, all these teams have some solid players but are going to end up in the middle of the pack, they can possibly compete in some games against the top teams but do not expect them to pull out the win. And to round it out I have the D-tier with Illinois and Rutgers, while Illinois has shown some growth over the past couple of years, every other team in the Big Ten is just better and as for Rutgers, they are Rutgers.
The Big Ten season kicks off Friday with Wisconsin hosting Illinois. Then on Saturday Nebraska goes on the road against number 5 ranked Ohio State, Michigan State hosts Rutgers, number 8 ranked Penn State visits Indiana, Purdue is home against Iowa, and Maryland takes on Northwestern. The big matchup in the opening week is the College Gameday game of the week where the 18th ranked Michigan Wolverines visit the 21st ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. It is great to have Big Ten football back and it should be an exciting season.
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