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Big Ten 2020 Football Season Record Predictions, Preview

Twenty-one writers. One spreadsheet. Here’s how the Big Ten standings shake out in 2020:

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

It’s October and the front page of Off Tackle Empire is chockablock with football previews and an absolutely brilliant Power Poll:

That means it’s time to tell you how the Big Ten will shake out in 2020. Assuming every team will pull off a full 8-game schedule, we’ve gone and predicted the full Big Ten standings.

Twenty-one (!!!) writers voted. You can see the full ballot at the bottom.

Big Ten West

1. Wisconsin Badgers (6.2-1.8)

High: MC ClapYoHandz, 8-0
Low: Five tied, 5-3
σ = .87

No Jack Coan? The OTE writers still think that regardless of Graham Mertz, Chase Wolf, or Danny Vanden Boom, it’ll be business as usual for the badgers—though perhaps not in the convincing fashion they’ve tended to over the last half-decade.

Also, it’s Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek and my word this program is exhausting.

T-2. Iowa Hawkeyes (5.3-2.7)

High: Candystripes and the Iowa Cohort, 7-1
Low: Five tied, 4-4
σ = 1.01

Will they stand for the Anthem? Will they kneel for the Anthem?

Somehow that’s become the storyline around Iowa football, inspiring thousands of Facebook comments and sunglasses-in-truck selfie-takers to vow that they’ll quit Hawkeye football if one of them uppity folks gets any ideas.

That’s where we’re at in Iowa City. Not Chris Doyle and Brian Ferentz and Kirk sitting at the top of the pyramid, either oblivious to or complicit in it all.

Tyler Goodson will run the ball a lot, Spencer Petras will throw it when Goodson doesn’t pick up enough yards. Presumably there’s a tight end or seven, too. Also Keith Duncan.

T-2. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5.3-2.7)

High: LPW and Thump provide cover for WSR, 7-1
Low: Candystripes, 2-6
σ = 1.15

Tanner Morgan gets Rashod Bateman back, and Mohamed Ibrahim will take over running the ball.


WSR will be by shortly with a non sequitur about your team’s defense. You will receive no answer to that question.

They also have an Aussie punter. I’m jealous.

4. Purdue Boilermakers (3.7-4.3)

High: Candystripes and the Iowa Cohort, 7-1
Low: Brian Gillis and MCClapYoHandz, 2-6
σ = .91

More optimism on the Boilers that I’d expected. I assume most folks believe Rondale Moore can be the rising tide that lifts the boat of Jack Plummer. Purdue gets a friendly crossover slate in Rutgers and at-Indiana, plus West also-rans Northwestern and Nebraska at home.

Can’t ask for much more than that.

5. Northwestern Wildcats (2.9-5.1)

High: Eight tied, 4-4
Low: Beez, BrianB2, Candystripes, and Creighton, 1-7
σ = 1.18

Peyton Ramsey starts at QB with new OC Mike Bajakian almost certainly an upgrade over the departed Mick McCall. But with the loss of Joe Gaziano and a couple key opt-outs on a defense still bolstered by Paddy Fisher, can the ‘Cats revive their high-wire balancing act in 2020? A friendly crossover could make sure that happens.

T-6. Illinois Fighting Illini (2.3-5.7)

High: baboreally and Creighton, 4-4
Low: Five tied, 1-7
σ = 1.01

Here’s word from Thump tonight:

We’re winning between 1 and 3 games and I honestly don’t think I care. This is all for Ohio State players and fans.

It’s not for me. I don’t get to go to Champaign. I don’t get to tailgate, I don’t get to hope against hope for the best when they run by Grange Rock. I don’t get to stand there alone with 5 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter booing a cowardly punt.

But if all I cared about was watching my team Compete For A Title On TV, I wouldn’t be a fuckin’ Illini fan.

(I will definitely be contributing regularly, barring a 56-0 Friday night, in which case i’ll pretend to be out for a week.)

T-6. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2.3-5.7)

High: ZuzuRU and Dead Read, 5-3
Low: Stew and WSR, 0-8
σ = 1.45

The most variance in the conference by a mile: in an uncertain West, Adrian Martinez—and understudy Luke McCaffrey—will have to recapture that high-flying offensive magic and make up for the loss of the Davis Twins on the defensive line.

Big Ten East

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (7.9-0.1)

High: 8-0
Low: 7-1
σ = .36

Ohio State will probably be very good. Thus concludes the tweet.

(Perhaps a preview coming from GF3. He says hello, but he doesn’t miss you.)

2. Penn State Nittany Lions (6.6-1.4)

High: pkloa, 8-0
Low: Coray Seifert, 5-3
σ = .68

The Fightin’ Second Fiddles are back, having now lost Journey Brown to an undisclosed medical condition in addition to a long list of graduates and transfers, but returning Big Boy Pat Freiermuth, a deep offensive line, and QB Sean Clifford.

Can Linebacker U reload? Can Noah Cain fill Brown’s shoes? Or is a reset in order...

3. Michigan Wolverines (5.0-3.0)

High: Seven tied, 6-2
Low: pkloa and Thump, 3-5
σ = .95

When the Wolverines are closer in average to the Hoosiers than the Nittany Lions, you know things aren’t great in Whoville.

It’s the Joe Milton era at QB, with a bevy of talented backs to help Jim Harbaugh’s squad move the ball on the ground. After that? Perhaps better to enjoy the uncertainty...

4. Indiana Hoosiers (3.7-4.3)

High: Beez and Thump, 5-3
Low: Dead Read, 2-6
σ = .80

Finally, the year that Michael Penix Jr. and the Charlie Brown that is Indiana football give that ball a good thump—

5. Michigan State Spartans (2.5-5.5)

High: babaoreally, BrianB2, and Candystripes, 4-4
Low: beez, Dead Read, and WSR, 1-7
σ = .80

So...Mel Tucker, huh?

Anyway, there’s Rocky Lombardi and a retooled wide receiver group and I’m sure this will all be fine.

6. Maryland Terrapins (1.6-6.4)

High: 87townie, 3-5
Low: pkloa and Thump, 0-8
σ = .75

This is a football team that opens the season as double-digit dogs to Northwestern. What more do you need to know? Oh yeah, Taulia Tagovailoa at QB—possibly. Or Lance LeGendre. Can either throw? WE’LL FIND OUT! But the offensive does return a number of playmakers at wideout like Jeshaun Jones and Dontay Demus Jr., along with an experienced interior three on the offensive line.

So...maybe points?

DJ and Brian have been busy working and getting married and shit. I don’t think to each other, necessarily. But I’m not sure.

7. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1.0-7.0)

High: ZuzuRU and pkloa, 3-5
Low: Eight tied, 0-8
σ = .75

Greg Schiano! Rutgers about to rock the Big East, y’all.

With transfers in Aron Cruikshank at WR and Noah Vedral at QB, perhaps the Scarlet Knights take a step forward in 2020. A “step forward” is a win, though, so...

That’s what we’ve got for you!

If this all works out, here’s how the final week of power-matching would shake out:

Big Ten Championship: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
2 vs. 2: Iowa vs. Penn State
3 vs. 3: Minnesota vs. Michigan
4 vs. 4: Purdue vs. Indiana
5 vs. 5: Northwestern vs. Michigan State
6 vs. 6: Illinois vs. Maryland
7 vs. 7: Nebraska vs. Rutgers

That’s a lot of rematches. Let’s hope something gets interesting.

Final Record Predictions by Writer:

Let us know your predictions in the comments!