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Ranking the 2015 B1G Football Games: 77-60 Excel Strikes Back

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get a few things out of the way. First off, I blame excel for my absolute inability to count in the first piece. I know I commented on this before, but it's generally acknowledged that I am not an excel genius, I just pretend to be. Secondly, yes, we are probably basing most of these ranking on what games we would prefer to watch and that's probably unfair to the bottom half of teams, but come on people. When you're ranking a game like Ball State at Northwestern vs. Bowling Green at Maryland, there's only so much distinction you can make. So, that's sort of what's happening. Oh, and while there was some collective thought process on tiers, most inter-tier (what you're seeing here) was up to the specific 'writer' because ranking 112 games isn't exactly super fun. Also, I can't wait until we get to the Top Ten and we all realize I miscounted again and jump from like #14 to 10. That will be super fun.

Anyhow, in honor of my absolutely terrible excel skills, I'm comparing games 77-60 to excel functions. Because nothing says Big Ten football like a good spreadsheet... you know, to count the punts. Note, this will probably be the most absurd rankings piece I've ever done and I just did a Bright Eyes piece. Let that be a warning to you. Also, in case you've missed the first two sets:

116-100* (112-96 in reality): In which we invoke the spirit of Bright Eyes

95-78: In which we use Pokemon moves


77-60: THE EXCEL TIER (Times EST because reasons)

77. Illinois State @ Iowa (September 5 12:00 PM): =OR()

Look, this game will go one of two ways. Either Iowa will win this in a close fashion, get no credit - despite Illinois State probably being at least as good as a second tier MAC team - and we will all laugh at them. OR (see what I did there), Illinois State will be the first FCS team to beat Iowa, it will happen at Iowa, and we will all laugh at them. Sounds like a great situation to me.

76. Bowling Green @ Maryland (September 12 12:00 PM): =PROPER()

Look at our friend Maryland inviting a MAC team like a proper B1G member is supposed to. Bowling Green was a bowl team last year. So was Maryland. Let's be honest, just like my use of this function, neither were all that impressive and neither will this game be.

75. Ball State @ Northwestern (September 26 8:00 PM): =IF(condition1, value_if_true1, IF( condition2, value_if_true2, value_if_false2 ))

Ah yes, the nested IF function. Highly valuable in creating long convoluted logic checks. Also useful in determining whether or not Northwestern is going to have a good year [aka the Chad method]. In this scenario it goes something like, "IF Northwestern finds a QB that is consistent, and IF Northwestern manages to not slip up against a team like Ball State, then maybe Northwestern is good. Otherwise LOL."

74. UNLV @ Michigan (September 19 12:00 PM): =COUNTIF()

A formula used to determine if a box should be included also corresponds with Michigan football in general this year. Game outcomes will be counted IF (and only if) Michigan wins resoundingly. Otherwise, you probably should just give Harbaugh time. Do you know how bad Hoke left things?

73. Illinois @ North Carolina (September 19 12:00 PM): =NOT()

As in, you can maybe tell yourself this is an interesting game because it's two bowl teams from last year. Or, you know, maybe the opposite is true because neither team is all that interesting and come on... you know you're not watching this.

72. Rutgers @ Wisconsin (October 31 TBD): =SUM()

As in, the SUM of all of the yards and points Rutgers will give up at Camp Randall. It's going to be a lot. Also, this game is on Halloween, and I'm already just going to assume those crazy kids in Madison will be drunk and rioting/starting the stadium on fire. If I'm a Rutgers fan, I'm just steering clear of this for all of the reasons.

71. Purdue @ Michigan State (October 3 12:00 PM): =IFERROR()

Come on. This was the only function we were ever going to use for Purdue, right? I know Spartan_HT thinks this will be a close game, but this will not be a close game.

70. Penn State @ Northwestern (November 7 TBD): =FIND()

I don't know... I'm sort of running out of relevant functions. I suppose I should have seen this coming. This game really fascinates me because if Penn State and Northwestern stay decent on defense and continue to crater on offense, we could potentially have a P00N game, so uh, that's something? I don't know... Maybe the FIND function is a joke about finding Northwestern fans. (Note, that was for the N for Nowledge joke MNWildcat)

69. Indiana @ Maryland (November 21 TBD): =XOR()

Honestly, this feels more and more like a bowl play-in game. Both teams would like to get that extra month of practices, but I have a feeling there will be an exclusive moment where we decide Maryland or Indiana gets to bowl. My guess? I think Indiana will be better than the Terps this year. If they don't pull that win off, it might be a while before they go bowling.

68. Nebraska @ Rutgers (November 14 TBD): =INDIRECT()

This is a Big Ten football game in 2015. Pretty much everyone is confused by that.

67. Ohio State @ Rutgers (October 24 8:00 PM) AND

66. Ohio State @ Illinois (November 14 TBD): =PROB()

The probability of you watching these games if you are not an Ohio State, Rutgers, or Illinois fan is not high. The probability of you watching these games if you are a fan of Rutgers or Illinois is probably not much higher. The probability of you watching this game as an Ohio State fan is highest, but let's be honest, you're turning it off at halftime.

65. Indiana @ Michigan State (October 24 TBD): =REPLACE()

This is one of those games where you could easily say something like, "Replace [Sparty] for [other good team] AND Replace [Indiana] for [mediocre teams]" and you'd have the same result. I don't see this being particularly competitive. It might have some entertainment value in that Indiana's offense going against a strong defense provides some really fascinating looks. However, Sparty's offense is going to steamroll Indiana and it will all be moot.

64. Michigan @ Indiana (November 14 TBD): =XOR (See also: Indiana @ Maryland)

That's right, I'm using the same formula twice. Look, I don't see a lot of ways that both of these teams win a lot of games this year and if either of them wants to go bowling, this is a week you circle as an opportunity to win. Not unlike the scenario Maryland finds itself in, Michigan also needs to grab wins in the East when they're available. All this in mind, I think this will be a pretty competitive game and each team plays to its strength accordingly. I'll be really interested to see how this ends.

63. Rutgers @ Indiana (October 17 3:30 PM): =ISERROR

Similar to finding errors in your data, this game provides a sort of test for Rutgers. For all the shade we've thrown at the Scarlet Knights, they still went bowling and were far from being the worst team in the B1G last year. If they want to show that 2014 wasn't a fluke, it would be good for them to win this game. Conversely, we'll be testing whether or not Indiana is for real.

62. Northwestern vs. Illinois* (November 28 TBD): =DOLLAR()

This game is being played at Soldier Field in late November because apparently both teams like the idea of playing on the worst surface ever in front of the most apathetic crowd possible. Am I being too harsh in thinking that was a dollar grab? Maybe, then again, they played for the hat at Wrigley and had to go into the same endzone like a pickup game at the park. I guess you do what you go to do.

61. Iowa @ Indiana (November 7 TBD): =VLOOKUP()

A useful tool, VLOOKUP allows you to basically snag data from a specific column so long as it matches the value to the row you are seeking out. It was - until my next and final formula - my favorite function for data lookup. So why is it here? What value does Iowa at Indiana provide? Well, if the formula was =VLOOKUP(Iowa_v_Indiana, all_the_games, fun, FALSE), the result would probably have quite a few fun outcomes. These two teams play into each other's strength/weaknesses. Iowa's defense is a strength against Indiana's offense, which is entertaining. Iowa's offense trying really hard against Indiana's defense trying really hard is also entertaining. I'll watch this game.

60. Illinois @ Minnesota (November 21 TBD): =INDEX(array, MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, 0))

So do you know what is the best function I've learned to use in Excel so far? INDEX MATCH. My buddy Alex had told me it would be so much better to use than VLOOKUP, and low and behold it is. So while I mentioned Iowa at Indiana would be really entertaining and that's why it's hooked up to a really useful function, the most useful game in this tier is the one that gave bowl eligibility to Illinois last year, and really was what held back the Gophers last year. Both teams feel confident that they can make this game useful this year, and I have a feeling it will be important for bowl positioning no matter what. Yep, not necessarily a description match, but this is a useful game in this tier, and so it gets my favorite function.