There are no more games left for Big Ten teams to be played, and because of that, ESPN released its final Big Ten power rankings on Monday with what some may deem as a surprise at the top.
Penn State, after a close 52-49 loss in the Rose Bowl one week ago, took the No. 1 spot. The 11-3 Nittany Lions had three first-place votes, and the writer of the article, Jesse Temple, said the overtime loss to the Trojans wasn’t enough to bump them down, while Ohio State getting steamrolled by Clemson didn’t hurt either.
The Big Ten champs defeated the Buckeyes during the regular season, which also played into it.
Speaking of the Buckeyes, they were No. 2 on the list with one first-place vote, finishing at 11-2. A 31-0 loss to Clemson didn’t help them, but making the College Football Playoff did.
Next was Michigan at 10-3 in the third spot. The Wolverines lost three of their final four games by five combined points. Temple said 2016 showed just how much work Jim Harbaugh has left to win a national title. They fell to Florida State in the Orange Bowl to close out the season.
Wisconsin then came in at No. 4. Temple said the Badgers were not supposed to be as good as they were and had a stellar year at 11-3. They topped it with a win over Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.
No. 5 was 8-5 Iowa, which had high expectations with a lot of returning players. The Hawkeyes couldn’t pull it together early and, despite rallying late in the year, ran out of gas against Florida in the Outback Bowl
The rest of the rankings:
No. 6: Nebraska (9-4)
No. 7: Northwestern (7-6)
No. 8: Minnesota (9-4)
No. 9: Indiana (6-7)
No. 10: Maryland (6-7)
No. 11: Michigan State (3-9)
No. 12: Illinois (3-9)
No. 13: Purdue (3-9)
No. 14: Rutgers (2-10)