Big Ten football rankings: TaxSlayer win over Iowa was mirage, Tennessee

Badgers emperors of North (and West)

Wisconsin defensive end Matt Henningsen (94) celebrates with the Paul Bunyan axe after his team blanked Minnesota 31-0 last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports)
Wisconsin defensive end Matt Henningsen (94) celebrates with the Paul Bunyan axe after his team blanked Minnesota 31-0 last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports)

Another Big Ten regular season is in the books, and only one of the 14 coaches was fired after last weekend’s games.

About one SEC coach per day either gets fired, leaves one SEC school for another, or has an agreement to be hired and then is shunned after fans go crazy because it’s not the guy they wanted.

In Jacksonville night spots after their team’s 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl rout of Iowa, Tennessee fans sounded sure they were on the way to a glorious future with Butch Jones as their coach. They were, of course, delusional.

That said, here are the final Big Ten Performance Rankings of the season. Rocky Top!

1. Wisconsin (9-0, 12-0): If West Division-champion Wisconsin were located just a little more to the north, it would have won the Grey Cup on Sunday. Heck, you’d be crazy to bet against a pack of Badger defensive players winning the Iditarod next March.

2. Ohio State (8-1, 10-2): As someone who has been clipped and clocked by TV cameras in postgame interview settings more times than I can remember (because I’ve been clipped and clocked by cameras), I sympathize with J.T. Barrett.

3. Penn State (7-2, 10-2): The Nittany Lions have scored 157 points over their last three games. Rutgers scored 124 points and Illinois 118 over the entire Big Ten season.

4. Northwestern (7-2, 9-3): The Wildcats, who began this season 2-3, are a bowl win from their third 10-victory season in the last six years. That’s basically excellent.

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5. Michigan State (7-2, 9-3): The Spartans went from 3-9 last year to 9-3 this season. Next year, they should try to do what they did this year instead of what they did last year.

6. Michigan (5-4, 8-4): At kickoff, Michigan was an 11.5-point underdog against Ohio State at the Westgate in Las Vegas. The Wolverines lost by 11. The Buckeyes have won the last six games against Michigan, but the Wolverines are 4-2 against the spread. These things matter.

7. Iowa (4-5, 7-5): A blowout of Ohio State, dull losses to Wisconsin and Purdue, a blowout of Nebraska. The Hawkeyes have the most-beautiful bookends you’ll ever see, and two coloring books between them.

8. Purdue (4-5, 6-6): The Boilermakers had three Big Ten wins over the previous four years. They won four this season in Jeff Brohm’s first year as their coach. Their average home crowd grew by 13,000 per game from last season to this. Big Ten West, beware.

9. Indiana (2-7, 5-7): The Old Oaken Bucket hadn’t left Bloomington since 2013 until the Hoosiers lost to Purdue Saturday. Big deal. I have hedge clippers that haven’t left my garage since 2004.

10. Rutgers (3-6, 4-8): During the Scarlet Knights’ 40-7 loss to Michigan State at Rutgers, fans were asked to use portable toilets outside the stadium because of water pressure issues inside the stadium. (Insert your own joke here.)

11. Minnesota (2-7, 5-7): P.J. Fleck’s Gophers were shut out by Northwestern and Wisconsin in the last two games of the season. r0w the b0at.

12. Maryland (2-7, 4-8): Penn State beat the Terrapins 66-3 Saturday. In 1917, the Nittany Lions beat the Terps 57-0. What a difference a century doesn’t make.

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13. Nebraska (3-6, 4-8): The Huskers were Northwestern-1970s-bad in November. They were Cleveland Browns-bad in November. They were Kansas football-bad. They weren’t good.

14. Illinois (0-9, 2-10): The last five teams on this list lost Friday and Saturday by a total score of 235-31. If you think the SEC is overrated, ask yourself which team from that league would lose on a neutral field to Illinois. Or Maryland. Or Rutgers. Or Minnesota. Or Nebraska. Other than Tennessee, that is.

15. Tennessee: Good luck in your future endeavors.

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