Attention: college football started this week. Please stock up on beer, bourbon and bratwurst. You do not want to run out of any of these things.
If you remember last season, we here at B5Q liked to take a look every week at the advanced stats and see where each team in the conference stands. We also liked to take needless, and usually baseless, pot shots at our conference rivals. This here post combines our acknowledgement of advanced stats and all the insights that can be gleaned from them with our love of crapping on the rest of the Big Ten because each and every school not named "Wisconsin" deserves it.
Just as a point of reference: all rankings in this post are from Bill Connelly's S&P+ 2015 preseason rankings. All insults in this post are from me and hopefully haven't been edited out.
Big Ten East
S&P+ rank: No. 81
Week 1 opponent: Home against Southern Illinois
Biggest strength: Man, if Indiana wasn't so reprehensible as a basketball program I might wish the Hoosiers success on the gridiron. But, you know, Tom Crean.
If I had to select a strength for Indiana heading into the season it is... umm... look at that depth at quarterback! Nate Sudfeld and noted international art thief Zander Diamont are both back after seeing time under center for the Hoosiers. The front seven isn't half bad, either, with a slew of sophomores and juniors that got playing time last year.
Biggest weakness: Who are they going to throw the ball to/hand it off to, though? If you push through the transfer papers, it could be you! Tevin Coleman, who was my favorite non-Badger in the Big Ten last year, plays for the Atlanta Falcons now. Indiana's top three wide receivers have also moved on from Bloomington.
Schedule: A bunch of teams that are better than them except maybe Wake Forest because, woof, are the Deacons bad.
S&P+ rank: No. 56
Week 1 opponent: Home against Richmond
Biggest strength: Uniform game is always strong, if sometimes a bit unconventional. This may be controversial, but I think the Maryland flag is badass and I wish Wisconsin had something cool like it to wave.
Somehow, mind-bendingly, the Terps also continue to punch way above their weight class in recruiting (NOTE: THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DIAMOND STONE TROLLS) and could even finish third in the division in two years! They got an Oklahoma State transfer quarterback named Daxx; that's worth easily one win in my book. Still have William Likely patrolling the secondary and punt returns. Have three freshman offensive linemen that were rated four stars or higher! What in the actual fu *Mike shuts off internet access*
Biggest weakness: Lost Stefon Diggs, who was quite good. New defensive coordinator, although his last name is Dudzinski, which I'm choosing to pronounce as "Dudezinski" and don't want to be told otherwise, after having the best defense of Randy Edsall's tenure. Switching to a 4-3 defense mostly. I don't know what to think about this team TBH.
Schedule: I could see anywhere from five to nine wins for Maryland if all the bounces go the Terps' way. Should probably make it a point to beat Penn State and Rutgers and establish themselves as the Big Ten's standard bearer along the Eastern seaboard.
S&P+ rank: No. 35
Week 1 opponent: at Utah (L, 24-17)
Biggest strength: KHAKIS HARBAUGH INTENSITY HARBAUGH WEIRD TWEETS HARBAUGH! But did you guys know that Michigan got a new coach this summer? Have recruited well even while being a tire fire, just imagine what a competent coach will do! Good defense. Beat Appalachian State last year in their biggest rivalry game.
Biggest weakness: No one knows who will play quarterback, I don't care if they decided on Jake Rudock (Iowa transfer). That's gotta be a huge joke that Harbaugh is playing on us. Can't/won't beat Ohio State. A lot of the good defensive players probably got banged up trying to tackle Derrick Green in practice. Plays in the country's largest library on Saturdays, which is really an odd choice for a program with so much history. Can't they get a football-only facility in Ann Arbor already, Obama!?!?
Schedule: People always say that "a strong Michigan is good for the Big Ten." You know what I say? I hope Michigan wins six games forever and can never get the last piece of corn out of their teeth after a cookout for all eternity. Michigan sucks. Should probably enter conference play at 2-2 or worse. *crosses fingers*
S&P+ rank: No. 9
Week 1 opponent: at Western Michigan (ummm, ok?)
Biggest strength: They are good. Like, Connor Cook is good and maybe "first round in the NFL draft" good. The front seven is predictably fearsome and whoops Shilique Calhoun just sacked you. You need to have better awareness, son. The offensive line has an All-American at center. I don't know much about their secondary, but I'm assuming the people behind the departed Trae Wayans are good, too.
Biggest weakness: Lost their top receiver and top two running backs. Play in the same division as Ohio State. Lost defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to Pitt, where Paul Chryst used to be the coach, in the ultimate long play to destroy MSU's defense by Barry Alvarez.
Schedule: If they can beat Oregon in East Lansing in Week 2, they should probably be undefeated when they play Ohio State on Nov. 21. People might be excited about that game. *squeals in anticipation*
S&P+ rank: No. 2
Week 1 opponent: at Virginia Tech
Biggest strength: Well... yeah. Ohio State is good.
Biggest weakness: See strengths, please.
Schedule: NOBODY THAT'S WHO, PAWWWWL! THE BIG TEN IS TRASH AND OHIO STATE WOULD NEVER BEAT BAMA ON A NEUTRAL FIELD LEMME TELL YOU!
S&P+ rank: No. 37
Week 1 opponent: "at" Temple. I'm from outside of Philadelphia and have never met one Temple football fan in my life.
Biggest strength: James Franklin has created a nice atmosphere of success around the program without experiencing any real success, and that's got to be applauded. Christian Hackenberg is the best garbage quarterback in the nation. The defense is going to be rock solid. They could have a traffic cone at quarterback and still probably be bowl eligible with this defense.
Biggest weakness: The offense is young and wasn't very good last year. Their mascot looks like a sock puppet. Campus creamery sucks.
Schedule: Holy crap, Bill C. was right. Penn State could win 10 games if it beats Michigan. That's unnatural.
S&P+ rank: No. 79
Week 1 opponent: Home against Norfolk State
Biggest strength: It is Rutgers' first year in the Big Ten and as such they could surprise some teams that haven't seen them bef... what's that? No, I don't believe you. This can't be their second season in the conference.
Anyways, Rutgers returns everybody from their skill position group (except for a tight end). They'll be breaking in a new quarterback, so support around him will be integral to their offensive success.
Biggest weakness: Besides being Rutgers and this being football season? Lost 60 percent of their offensive line and have a small defensive front seven. A lot of fast guys play there, though, but this is the "3 yards and a cloud of dust" conference, Rutgers. Welcome.
Schedule: I see five for-sure wins on their schedule, so Rutgers just has to upset someone to go bowling! That's pretty good! Could all come down to the finale against Maryland, when all of New York's rabid football fans will descend on northern New Jersey to propel New York's Big Ten team to victory.
Big Ten West
S&P+ rank: No. 63
Week 1 opponent: Home against Kent State
Biggest strength: OMG you guys, did you see they fired their coach one week before the season started?!?!?! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!
Biggest weakness: Every Illinois preview article before this season had basically the same version of this headline: "Everything Has To Break Right For Tim Beckman To Remain Illinois' Coach." AND THEN HE GOT FIRED A WEEK BEFORE THE SEASON EVEN STARTED! Way to go Illinois, you are the biggest laughingstock in a conference that includes Purdue.
Schedule: Who gives a crap? Might as well fold the team and give UAB their conference spot.
S&P+ rank: No. 57
Week 1 opponent: Home against Illinois State in their annual loss to an FCS team
Biggest strength: Man, I hate Iowa so much. They are everything that is wrong with the Big Ten. They try to play stout defense and have a strong running game, but do it so stupidly and uninspiringly that they reflect poorly on the rest of the conference. I refuse to allow Iowa a strength, although black and gold are pretty cool colors. The secondary is alright, too.
Biggest weakness: FERENTZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! And AIRBHG is always on the prowl, so don't speak too loudly. Lost most major skill position contributors. BUT, return something like seven scholarship punters.
Schedule: It is cotton-soft and Wisconsin-esque.
S&P+ rank: No. 42
Week 1 opponent: Home against No. 18 TCU (L, 23-17)
Biggest strength: Jerry Kill looks like Goldy and is a pretty awesome coach. If I didn't hate Minnesota even more than I hate Iowa, I think Minnesota could be a team that I begrudgingly tolerated. Instead, they are a team cheered on by a bunch of passive-aggressive, tater-tot hot dish-eating hillbillies that have an inferiority complex to their eastern neighbors because even though they are the "state of hockey" they still have less national championships than Wisconsin (and none more recently). The secondary is pretty stacked.
Biggest weakness: Still have a running back at quarterback and nobody at running back. Also Maxxxxxxxx Williams is gone. The last time Minnesota beat Wisconsin in football or won a hockey national championship soda cost a nickel and movies had just been made in color and Rosin had only fired me from this internet site once. Needless to say, it was a long time ago.
Schedule: TCU was a rough opener.
S&P+ rank: No. 30
Week 1 opponent: Home against BYU
Biggest strength: Mike Riley, the new head coach, has maybe won more than nine games in a season. I can't be bothered to look this up. (Ed. note: He has. Four times.) The Big Ten West has no clear-cut favorite, so maybe they can win an*WISCONSIN SCORES AGAIN*
Tommy Armstrong Jr. is a good quarterback, one of the better one in the conference even! Despite losing Kenny Bell's hair, the receiving corps is pretty strong. Wait... what team are we talking about? Nebraska's passing offense is going to be... good this year? Eric Crouch is rolling over in his bed. He doesn't have much to do anymore. De'Mornay Pierson-El (out with a foot injury for a few games) is an electric return man.
Biggest weakness: Young offensive line might not give Armstrong a lot of time in the pocket. Lots of experience on the d-line, but it might not be good experience since the d-line kinda blew last year. The running game will suffer a drop off with the departure of Ameer Abdullah.
Schedule: Four losses and nine wins seems about right for this group. The more things change, huh, Husker fans?
S&P+ rank: No. 62
Week 1 opponent: Home against Stanford in the Nerd Bowl
Biggest strength: Justin Jackson is a good running back. He was only a freshman last year. Uh oh. They'll all have an impressive network of alumni to tap into when they invariably need a job after college that isn't in football. Because they suck.
Biggest weakness: Beat Notre Dame and Wisconsin (somehow) but lost to every other half-decent team on their schedule AND Illinois. Have young, talented quarterbacks but will probably ruin them somehow. Pretty bad linebackers TBH.
Schedule: Play Wisconsin in Madison this year, so probably don't have a signature upset on the docket this year.
S&P+ rank: No. 74
Week 1 opponent: at Marshall
Biggest strength: HTTP Error 404 File Not Found
Biggest weakness: HTTP Error 404 File Not Found
Schedule: HTTP Error 404 File Not Found
S&P+ rank: No. 25
Week 1 opponent: No. 1 Alabama (at JerryWorld, y'all!)
Biggest strength: Place kicking, defense, Corey Clement. Maybe even Joel Stave! *ducks*
Biggest weakness: Offensive line (weird), wide receivers (typical), punting. Maybe even Joel Stave! *ducks*
Schedule: After they beat Alabama, Wisconsin should probably go undefeated, beat Ohio State in the BigTen Championship game and win the College Football Playoff. (Author note: the author has been day drinking while writing this post.)