Rating the 2015 Non-Conference Slate: Big Ten

The Big Ten has a reputation as a conference of beefy linemen, and many of their schools also provide the beef in their non-conference scheduling, though after the top few it proves to be a bit lean.

  1. Nebraska (1.5 legit, 0 FCS): Brigham Young, South Alabama, @Miami, Southern Mississippi. Yes, that is the Miami in Florida, providing the Huskers with an intriguing road-trip that I am obligated to mention reminds one of the 90’s. There’s also a visit from the Stormin’ Mormons for good measure.
  2. Northwestern (1.25, 1): Stanford, Eastern Illinois, @Duke, Ball State. Stanford should provide an opening weekend barometer for both these teams. For Northwestern, it may be an early indicator if they can be a threat in the middle ranks of the Big Ten. A visit to Wallace Wade Stadium should also provide some intrigue for both sides.
  3. Michigan State (1, 0): @Western Michigan, Oregon, Air Force, Central Michigan. Michigan State isn’t the only Big Ten to have a weird away game, but considering WMU’s head coach it’s probably the more interesting of the two contests. Even though they don’t get credit for it, I also like the Air Force appearance here.
  4. Michigan (1, 0): @Utah, Oregon State, Nevada-Las Vegas, Brigham Young. If Michigan gets through this slate 4-0 in Jim Harbaugh’s initial campaign, then the Michigan hype machine will be in full force come October.
  5. Wisconsin (1, 0): N-Alabama, Miami, Troy, Hawaii. Wisconsin-Alabama is, of course, the headlining out-of-conference game of the season. Unfortunately, the rest of the schedule is nothing special (that’s the Miami in Ohio), which is why it’s only ranked fifth.
  6. Minnesota (1, 0): Texas Christian, @Colorado State, Kent State, Ohio. Indeed, it was tough to even put this schedule behind Wisconsin, as TCU+Colorado State is arguably better than just Alabama. Nonetheless, this ranking also takes into account the relative prestige of Minnesota and Wisconsin at this point.
  7. Ohio State (0.75, 0): @Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan. Urban Meyer will seek to revenge himself in Blacksburg. I am not predicting good things for the Hokies. Otherwise, this schedule is pretty thin, but Ohio State did skate into the playoff with that VPI loss and, well, it pays to be in the Big Ten sometimes. (Where “sometimes” is “most of the time”.)
  8. Purdue (0.75, 1): @Marshall, Indiana State, Virginia Tech, Bowling Green State. Purdue could be in some real trouble in the hills of West Virginia, and if that doesn’t go well for them then the rest of this schedule might not either.
  9. Maryland (0.5, 1): Richmond, Bowling Green State, South Florida, @West Virginia. Even if it’s not WVU-Pitt, I still approve of this Maryland-West Virginia game that’s been happening the pats few years.
  10. Illinois (0.5, 1): Kent State, Western Illinois, @North Carolina, Middle Tennessee State. So, remember that time Illinois fired their head coach last week? Yeah, this should be fun.
  11. Rutgers (0.25, 1): Norfolk State, Washington State, Kansas, N-Army. Rutgers just barely gets some points from Wazzou, but otherwise there’s not much here.
  12. Iowa (0.25, 1): Illinois State, @Iowa State, Pittsburgh, North Texas. Believe it or not, more milquetoast schedules exist!
  13. Pennsylvania State (0, 0): @Temple, Buffalo, San Diego State, Army. Like this one! Also, while it’s an interesting way to rekindle that rivalry, one wonders if a visit by Penn State to Temple really is more about playing in a large NFL stadium on opening weekend.
  14. Indiana (0, 1): Southern Illinois, Florida International, Western Kentucky, @Wake Forest. Given Indiana’s luck, they’ll beat Wake but lose to Western Kentucky.