Big Ten: PFF Ranks All FBS Programs Ahead of the 2021 Season

Pro Football Focus ranked all FBS teams ahead of the 2021 college football season, and it including six Big Ten programs in its top-25. Indiana ranked at No. 24, which was good for fifth in the Big Ten.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Pro Football Focus conducted a simulation using its own college football metrics to rank all 130 FBS programs across the country. The rankings included individual conference and national championship odds for the top-25 teams.

PFF ranked six Big Ten Conference teams in its top-25, including two inside the top-10. Ohio State was the top-ranked team from the league, coming in at No. 3 in the nation. PFF noted the Buckeyes had a 13% chance to win a national title and a 48% chance to be crowned Big Ten Champions for the fifth season in a row. 

There was a steep drop in championship odds between Ohio State and Iowa, which came in at No. 9. The Hawkeyes open with 2% odds to win the National Championship and a 17% chance to take the Big Ten title for the first time since 2004, according to the metrics.

The Indiana football program ranked No. 24 overall, which was good for fifth in the Big Ten Conference. 

PFF Big Ten Rankings

  • Ohio State Buckeyes, No. 3
  • Iowa Hawkeyes, No. 9
  • Wisconsin Badgers, No. 14
  • Penn State Nittany Lions, No. 19
  • Indiana Hoosiers, No. 24
  • Michigan Wolverines, No. 25
  • Minnesota Golden Gophers, No. 38
  • Northwestern Wildcats, No. 42
  • Nebraska Cornhuskers, No. 51
  • Maryland Terrapins, No. 56
  • Michigan State Spartans, No. 70
  • Purdue Boilermakers, No. 80
  • Illinois Fighting Illini, No. 82
  • Rutgers Scarlet Knights, No. 108

Here's what PFF had to say about each of the Big Ten programs ranked in its top-25:

Ohio State

"Justin Fields may have gone lower in the 2021 NFL Draft than we all thought he should have, but make no mistake: He was wonderful last year for the Buckeyes in an abbreviated campaign and will be hard to replace. We have Ohio State winning the Big Ten a bit more than the market-implied number, which includes an over 30% hold, but less than what you would need to have the team winning it at current market numbers (-125, 55.8 percent breakeven). As is the case with the other two favorites above, this is a wait-and-see team in the marketplace for season-long bets."

Iowa

"This is one of the teams we’re sticking our neck out for. Many people, after the Hawkeyes' 0-2 start that included two one-score losses, and no bowl game due to COVID-19, forgot that Iowa finished the season with six consecutive wins. All but one came by more than one score, which left the team ranked 15th in the country upon season’s end. In a conference where running the ball matters, the return of Mekhi Sargent and Tyler Goodson, who combined for over 650 yards after contact during an abbreviated 2020 campaign, should make Iowa a decent bet on the other side of the conference as Ohio State."

Wisconsin

"Our simulation matches the implied probability for the Wisconsin Badgers to win the Big Ten title despite our ELO ratings making them the third-best team in the conference. Our simulation likes the Buckeyes to run away with the conference more often than the betting market expectation, which makes us much lower on the second, third and fourth teams in the conference.

Wisconsin is the most likely winner of the Big Ten West but could still be a two-touchdown underdog to the team that comes out of the East. The +800 price on the Badgers finally breaking through does seem decent, though."

Penn State

"Penn State will be going back to Sean Clifford as its starting quarterback after an underwhelming 2020 that saw him earn a career-low PFF passing grade. And there is no clear plan at backup quarterback after Will Levis transferred to Kentucky.

Penn State is tied for the second-shortest odds to win the Big Ten title game, but the team doesn’t come close to its implied probability based on our simulation. It would take a performance we haven’t seen from Clifford yet for the Nittany Lions to live up to their lofty preseason expectations."

Indiana

"Indiana has playmakers returning on both sides of the ball, with our ELO rankings and simulation higher on the team than the current betting market expectation. The Hoosiers have a 5.9% implied probability to win the Big Ten title and are tied for the 24th-best odds to win the national championship. Michael Penix Jr. returning from his ACL injury to start the season should be a big boost to the Hoosiers' future outlook."

Michigan

"The Wolverines always have a tough path to get to the Big Ten title game. They have the same odds as Penn State, with Ohio State being the heavy favorite with a 71.4% implied probability to win the Big Ten East.

Michigan's chances will be heavily tied to the play of Cade McNamara, who posted a 70.7 PFF passing grade on 72 dropbacks last season. This could finally be the year that the Wolverines overtake a rebuilding Ohio State team if McNamara breaks out."

  • TOM ALLEN, Part 1: It's finally time for Indiana to be able to talk about contending for a Big Ten title, and coach Tom Allen has told his players exactly that. CLICK HERE
  • TOM ALLEN, Part 2: Michael Penix Jr. has been great when he's been on the field, but has been injured three seasons in a row. Keeping him healthy is a must. CLICK HERE
  • TOM ALLEN, Part 3: Indiana's dream season in 2020 almost didn't happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's hard for Tom Allen to think about all those great moments not happening. CLICK HERE
  • TOM ALLEN, Part 4: Indiana and Purdue tried to play twice in December, but COVID issues were ripping through both programs simultaneously. CLICK HERE
  • TOM ALLEN, Part 5: It was "nearly impossible" for Indiana football to prepare for and play against Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl. CLICK HERE
  • INDIANA 2021 SCHEDULE: Here is Indiana's complete 2021 football season, with 12 regular season games, nine in the league and three nonconference games. CLICK HERE
  • HER BOYS ARE HOME: Darnell McCullough has all of her boys staying home at Indiana, with three of them committing to the Hoosiers in the past two weeks. "Who's got it better than me?'' she says. Here's the behind-the-scenes story on how it all came together. CLICK HERE