Do you ever wake up and ask yourself, how will every single FBS team do in this upcoming season? If so, College Football News’ Pete Fiutak has you covered.
In a massive project, Fiutak assigned win total projections to every college football team. Naturally, that includes all of the Big Ten. Here’s how Fiutak sees the conference members’ win total projections shaping up in 2022.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - 4.5
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Ouch. Yet again, Rutgers finds itself projected to be at the bottom of the Big Ten. The transition has not been a friendly one for the Scarlet Knights, producing only one winning season in the conference back in 2014.
The program really hit hard times under Chris Ash, but looks to rebound with returning head coach Greg Schiano. While they made a bowl game last year as a covid substitute and finished with a 5-8 record, they stay about the same here. Maybe Rutgers is building something, but it might not show results quite yet this year. Read our 2022 schedule breakdown of Rutgers here.
Indiana Hoosiers - 5
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Poor Indiana. To end the 2020 season, they were a team ranked No. 13 in the nation and looking to keep improving with star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Now, both the ranking and Penix are gone.
Penix is looking to rebound from his torn ACL at Washington. Indiana will hope their own transfer quarterback from Missouri in Connor Bazelak can inspire a bit more on offense. They can’t possibly be as bad as they were last year again… right?
Northwestern Wildcats - 5.5
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve actually seen a lot of people out there buying into Northwestern to have a bounceback season this year. They were just in the Big Ten championship game the year prior, and that in itself was a huge recovery from their three-win campaign in 2019.
College Football News isn’t really buying a return to form for Northwestern, but they do think they’ll slightly improve by a few wins. The Wildcats definitely have to improve one of the worst passing attacks in college football, but at least the run game will be solid once again.
Illinois Fighting Illini - 5.5
Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Illinois at 5.5 wins is a very fair number. They aren’t necessarily the most talented team in the world with any real top recruits, but the squad does play hard.
They have 11 guys on their defense who work their butts off to go along with one of the better rushing attacks in the Big Ten. Quarterback Tommy DeVito could be a solid addition, too, if he can return to 2019 form and if the Fighting Illini can give him some time to throw. Watch out for one of Illinois’ wins to come against a higher-ranked opponent in an unexpected spot. Read our 2022 schedule breakdown of Illinois here.
Maryland Terrapins - 6.5
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland staying pretty much where they were last year makes sense. Taulia Tagovailoa really found his game last year, showing a good amount more consistency.
He isn’t an elite college quarterback per se, but he’s definitely one of the better ones in the Big Ten. This offseason the Terrapins did lose third-round 2022 NFL draft pick Nick Cross at safety and running back Tayvon Fleet-Davis, one of the more underrated backs in the conference last year.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 7
AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz
Nebraska is the team College Football News is projecting to take the biggest leap in the Big Ten, and it makes sense why. Nebraska was a lot better than their 3-9 record suggested, boasting a strong defense.
The offense will hopefully be improved with Texas transfer quarterback Casey Thompson at the helm. This is a make-or-break year for head coach Scott Frost. He better hope the Cornhuskers at least reach seven wins.
Purdue Boilermakers - 7.5
Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK
The first real step back on the list. Purdue shocked the world in 2021 knocking off both No. 2 Iowa (remember those fun days?!) and No. 6 Michigan State.
They weren’t quite consistent enough to be real Big Ten contenders and Ohio State really exposed some holes in that defense in the Buckeyes’ 59-31 triumph over the Boilermakers, but they were an extremely fun team to watch.
They did lose some really key players this offseason in first-round 2022 NFL draft pick George Karlaftis and third-round receiver David Bell. Milton Wright figured to be next in line as the next big-time Purdue receiver, but he was ruled academically ineligible for the season. They return a top quarterback in Aidan O’Connell, but they’re definitely a regression candidate.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - 7.5
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
This is pretty much the perfect total for Minnesota. This team is near the definition of a seven, eight-win team. Nobody will claim they are bad. They have a strong run game and head coach P.J. Fleck is one of the better coaches in college football, but they aren’t quite at that elite level.
Maybe if quarterback Tanner Morgan can return to his 2019 self where it looked like he was a future NFL quarterback, then the Golden Gophers can reach that status. But, that’s a big if.
Penn State Nittany Lions - 8
Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Penn State is an interesting team to see this low. With how strong their program is and with how they can recruit with the best of them, it is puzzling as to how they can’t seem to break into that top tier of Big Ten and Power Five teams.
They’ve been very good most years, cracking the top ten multiple seasons under head coach James Franklin, but a team like Penn State you’d think would have more national championship aspirations. They’ve been rough the past two years, battling around .500, and while eight wins aren’t bad at all, you just kind of expect more from Penn State.
Iowa Hawkeyes - 8
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
It’s funny how the same amount of wins for one team can get a totally different reaction from another. Iowa is pretty much projected to be Iowa again this year.
While not in the elite tier, Hawkeye fans will always have those couple of weeks last year in the top ten. They are a very good team that is hard to beat. Despite their typical lack of big-name recruits—although they are trying to change that a bit now—Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz just gets the most out of his players.
Michigan State Spartans - 8
Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
This is a pretty good baseline win total projection for the Spartans. After winning 11 games last year, they did lose top running back Kenneth Walker. I really do think that Wisconsin transfer Jalen Berger can be money for them out of the backfield.
With top receiver Jayden Reed returning, quarterback Payton Thorne is a big-time breakout candidate. Maybe I’m just too high on Mel Tucker and his squad, but I very much think Michigan State can surpass this win total.
Michigan Wolverines - 9
Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
On paper, this is a step back for the Wolverines, but nine wins would not be awful at all with some of the talents they lost. Both first-round quality edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo (who might have also gone in the top ten without the injury) are off to the NFL.
They’re losing some experience in the secondary as well. There are some really good young talents coming in, though, who should keep Michigan in the hunt for the Big Ten East title.
Wisconsin Badgers - 9
MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK
Is anyone surprised to see the Badgers so high on the list? Besides that COVID-impacted 2020 season, Paul Chryst has consistently kept Wisconsin at an elite standard. They are the epitome of the Big Ten.
The quarterback play is never elite, but they will run the ball on you whether you like it or not. The Badgers have one of the best running back lineages in all of college football, and sophomore Braelon Allen is the next in line. Expect the defense to once again be elite. Wisconsin versus Iowa will be a dogfight for that Big Ten West crown.
Ohio State Buckeyes - 11
Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
I mean, who else was it going to be? Eleven wins might sound a bit steep as a projected win total, but really anything less than a College Football Playoff national championship game appearance should be seen as a disappointment for the Buckeyes.
C.J. Stroud is by far the best quarterback in the conference and may be the best in all of college football. The roster is a who’s who of future NFL players, including fantastic running back prospect TreVeyon Henderson. They will be tested as no game in the Big Ten is truly a cakewalk, but this has to be the year for the Buckeyes.
Follow Jacob on Twitter: @Jacobkeppen
Let us know your thoughts, and comment on this story below. Join the conversation today.