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A very early Big Ten football power rankings for 2023

Not that the college football season is officially over after the Georgia Bulldogs took home their second-straight national championship, we can focus our attention on the 2023 season.

In fact, we’ve already taken a very early look at Ohio State’s football schedule for next year, and continue to look at the NFL draft declarations as they come out. But why stop there? We’ll have more content that points the compass toward the offseason and what’s in store, and some will focus on the Big Ten as a whole.

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We’re kind of kicking that off with our way-too-early gaze into the crystal ball to see what the Big Ten power rankings might be next season. It’s a collective effort here among our writers. Will Michigan take home the crown for the third straight year? Can Ohio State retake its perch among the top? What about Penn State and maybe some other surprise teams?

Here’s how we think things will shake out when we get deep into 2023 with our very early Big Ten football power rankings.


Northwestern Wildcats

Sep 3, 2021; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald reacts after a play against the Michigan State Spartans during the fourth quarter at Ryan Field. Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

1-11 (1-8 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

It’s been two-straight miserable years for Pat Fitzgerald and Chicago’s Big Ten team. There’s a good chance things might look the same in 2023 with so many unanswered questions.


Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen watches from the sideline during the fourth quarter of the NCAA football game at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Ohio State won 54-7. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

4-8 (2-7 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

After a fantastic 2020 season, the Hoosiers have failed to rinse and repeat even with expectations that things were on an upward swing under Tom Allen. Instead, momentum has been lost, and recruiting has been a real challenge for two years now.


Rutgers Scarlet Knights

WATCH: What Rutgers' Greg Schiano said about Ohio State after the game

Sep 10, 2022; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano watches the action against the Wagner Seahawks during the second half at SHI Stadium. Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

4-8 (1-8 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

The talent level and culture have gotten better under Greg Schiano, but it still won’t be anywhere where it needs to be to get over the hump and start to win more for Rutgers. You wonder if the ceiling has been met in Piscataway.


Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue Boilermakers tight ends Paul Piferi (89) and Payne Durham (87) celebrate Piferi’s touchdown on the Indiana State Sycamores defensive line during the NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

8-6 (6-3 in Big Ten) – Big Ten West champions

Why the Ranking

It’ll be a year of transition in West Lafayette. New head coach Ryan Walters has the daunting task of bringing in a new staff and culture, all while trying to usher in a new quarterback. That’s not normally a winning equation.


Minnesota Golden Gophers

Nov 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minn., USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach PJ Fleck leads his team out onto the field before the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Huntington Bank Stadium. Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

9-4 (5-4 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

Head coach PJ Fleck might surprise folks with all the boat rowing in the offseason, but a lot of guys are moving on from a veteran squad. The culture is a good one, but there’s a lot to replace.`


Nebraska Cornhuskers

Dylan Widger USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

4-8 (3-6 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

They will be ushering in the Matt Rhule era in Lincoln, and it’s going to take a little time to get the talent and culture where he wants. Rarely is there a turnaround in one year at a program like the Nebraska one Rhule is inheriting.


Maryland Terrapins

Nov 19, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mike Locksley reacts during the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

8-5 (4-5 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

Head coach Mike Locksley believes quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will return, and that alone should be a big boost for the Terps. If Maryland can stay healthy and show more consistency in 2023, things could look even better.


Michigan State Spartans

WATCH: Michigan State coach Mel Tucker talks about playing Ohio State

Oct 1, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker reacts during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

5-7 (3-6 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

It’s unlikely the Spartans will have so many injuries to deal with next season and that alone should result in a bit of a bounce-back year. We’ll see if Mel Tucker can work some magic in the transfer portal again.


Illinois Fighting Illinois

Nov 26, 2022; Evanston, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illinois head coach Bret Bielema leads his team on the field against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

8-5 (5-4 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

Illinois won’t sneak up on anyone next season and losing running back Chase Brown is nothing to sneeze at. Still, Bret Bielema seems to have started to recreate what he had at Wisconsin in Champaign and that plays well in the Big Ten.


Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz discusses Ohio State's offensive failure

october 22, 2022; Columbus, OH; Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz coaches during the second quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Joseph Maiorana USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

8-5 (5-4 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

The big question is whether or not Iowa can find some offense in 2023 and a lot of that might ride on Michigan quarterback transfer Cade McNamara. The problem is that the same staff is coaching up players and calling plays on that side of the ball. That means scoring points might be difficult again.


Wisconsin Badgers

Joseph Maiorana USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

7-6 (4-5 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

Wisconsin brings some folks back on the defensive side of the ball that should give new head coach Luke Fickell something to build around. It won’t be fun trying to find a new quarterback, but that’ll be easier to do with the return of Braelon Allen at running back.


Penn State Nittany Lions

Ohio State Football 2020 schedule: Ranking the games by difficulty

Dec 28, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin celebrates with wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) and quarterback Sean Clifford (14) after a touchdown during the second quarterback against the Memphis Tigers at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2022 records

11-2 (7-2 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

Despite losing quarterback Sean Clifford, Penn State returns a lot of talent to a team that played awfully well down the stretch last year. A lot of hinges on 5-star Drew Allar picking things up quickly under center. The defense and running game should be really, really good.


Michigan Wolverines

Nov 26, 2022; Columbus, OH, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh yells at his team against Ohio State Buckeyes in the first quarter of their game at Ohio Stadium. Credit: USA Today Sports

2022 records

13-1 (9-0 in Big Ten) – Big Ten champions

Why the Ranking

Michigan has enough coming back to make another run at a Big Ten title and spot in the College Football Playoff. However, there’s mystery surrounding where Jim Harbaugh will be and what the NCAA will do with some potential improprieties and there might be enough uncertainty to derail things.


Ohio State Buckeyes

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads his team in warm-ups prior to the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

2022 records

11-2 (8-1 in Big Ten)

Why the Ranking

He’s yet to announce, but Ohio State likely loses two-time Heisman finalist, CJ Stroud at quarterback. Despite that, there are a ton of weapons on offense to complement either Kyle McCord or Devin Brown and keep that side of the ball humming. The defense should take an additional step forward under Jim Knowles in year two. As always, a Big Ten championship and national title are part of the expectations in Columbus.


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