- Our 2023 B1G Conference Preview Likes Michigan

August 25, 2023 by Staff

The conference media poll and the Congrove Computer Rankings at agree on the predicted final B1G standings, almost across the board. The only difference swaps Purdue and Nebraska for 5th and 6th in the west division.

The conference had eliminated divisions with a scheduling model for 2024 and beyond after adding USC and UCLA. Now the conference has to determine how to best fit two more Pac-12 schools into the process after also taking in Oregon and Washington.

For 2023, the projected final east division standings mirror the 2022 season's actual final results, except fort swapping Rutgers and Indiana at 6th and 7th.

At the top of the computer's east division assessment sits Michigan with a rather large separation in power rating (103.47) over its two closest competitors, Ohio State (95.50) and Penn State (92.88).

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will not serve as head coach for the first 3 games of the season after the school self-imposed the ban in the wake of an NCAA investigation related to impermissible on- and off-campus recruiting during the COVID-19 dead period, and impermissible coaching activities. The first 3 games are all at home vs. East Carolina, UNLV and Bowling Green.

Once again, the east division title is expected to be decided on the final week of the regular season when Ohio State has to visit "the Big House". Michigan has won two straight in the storied rivalry after losing 8 in-a-row and 15-of-16.

Penn State once again looks to mount a challenge. The Nittany Lions visits the Buckeyes on October 21 and host Michigan on November 11. The season finale vs. Michigan State will take place at Ford Field in Detroit.

Ultimately, the computer has Michigan winning the national championship as the 1-seed over fellow Final 4 selections USC, Florida State and Tennessee.

Rutgers could compete with Maryland and Michigan State for 4th, while Indiana is the consensus last-place pick.

The west was a jumbled mess last year as Purdue won the division with a 6-3 conference mark while Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota all finished at 5-4. This season, the projected top 3 - Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota - begin the year within 3.55 power points of each other

Illinois and Purdue are practically interchangeable at 4th and 5th, while Nebraska and Northwestern are universally expected to wind up at the bottom.

Coaching Changes

Northwestern was a late entry on the list of four Big Ten teams with a new head coach in 2024 after Pat Fitzgerald was fired on July 10. An Investigation into hazing was originally going to conclude with a 2-game suspension, but the backlash undoubtedly led to his dismissal. Not to be jaded, but a record of 4-20 over the last two seasons didn't help him out. David Braun, the defensive coordinator will serve as the interim head coach for 2023.

Nebraska went through most of the 2022 season under an interim head coach as Mickey Joseph (3-6) took over when Scott Frost (1-2) was fired after just 3 games. Matt Rhule takes over with a resume of head coaching experience that includes the NFL's Carolina Panthers and the NCAA's Baylor Bears.

Wisconsin turns to Luke Fickell, the former Ohio State player and assistant, and Cincinnati head coach. After Paul Chryst was let go following a 2-3 start, the Badgers went 5-3 under interim head coach Jim Leonhard and collected a bowl win. Fickell was 57-18 in 7 seasons with the Bearcats, and an even more remarkable 53-10 over the last 6 seasons for an .841 winning percentage.

Purdue named Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters as its new head coach to replace Jeff Brohm who returned to his alma mater, Louisville. Jeff's younger brother, Brian, served as interim head coach for a 63-7 loss to LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Jeff had marks of 30-10 (19-5, CUSA) with Western Kentucky over three seasons, and 36-34 (26-25, Big Ten) at Purdue in 6 years.

CCR = Congrove Computer Rankings
MEDIA= B1G Media Poll

1 1 Michigan
2 2 Ohio State
3 3 Penn State
4 4 Maryland
5 5 Michigan State
6 6 Rutgers
7 7 Indiana
    TEAM (West)
1 1 Wisconsin
2 2 Iowa
3 3 Minnesota
4 4 Illinois
5 6 Purdue
6 5 Nebraska
7 7 Northwestern
Wisconsin beats Iowa
CHAMPIONSHIP: Michigan beats Wisconsin