Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, July 11, 2014
Who will be the most dominant college football team in the Big Ten over the next three seasons? Our friends over at ESPN recently took an in-depth look at that in their latest Future Power Rankings.
A five-man panel, which consisted of Travis Haney, Brad Edwards, Brock Huard, Tom Luginbill and Mark Schlabach, provided 1-10 ratings in five different categories, including coaching, talent, recruiting, title and power.
Here is a look at what Big Ten teams appear on the list.
3. OHIO STATE
Overall Score: 89.5/100
Brad Edwards on Ohio State: "I think the entire Big Ten is in danger of getting left behind by Ohio State. For the majority of the Big Ten schools, the most important thing has been winning a Big Ten title and winning the Rose Bowl. That still means more to them than any other conference.
"Urban came in, and he wasn't coming in with the Big Ten mentality. He was coming in with the Florida-SEC mentality. He wanted to compete for national titles. That's the attitude he's taking."
My thoughts: It's nice to see a Big Ten team crack the top 5, and with the great coaching and elite talent that keeps coming to Columbus, it's tough to argue against the Buckeyes being placed here. One key element to watch here is who will take over the quarterback reigns once Braxton Miller leaves after this season? We know how important the quarterback position is in Urban Meyer's offense. With several highly touted signal-callers already on the roster, my guess is that this will be a smooth transition and the Buckeyes will indeed be in the thick of the college football playoff race for the next three seasons and beyond.
17. MICHIGAN STATE
Overall Score: 74.5/100
Brock Huard on Michigan State: "[Mark] Dantonio is East Lansing tough. There are fake tough guys, and he isn't one of them. [DC Pat] Narduzzi and Dantonio don't need to rewrite their playbooks with fancy new schemes. They do what they do very well.
"While I don't expect them to win in Eugene [Oregon] in Week 2, I don't expect them to beat themselves, either."
My thoughts: It's interesting to see a program coming off a 12-1 regular season, a Big Ten Championship, and a Rose Bowl win, ranked all the way down at No. 17 on this list. Don't get me wrong, the Spartans will be challenged with replacing six starters from a defense that was so dominant last season, but they still have plenty of talent on that side of the ball, including preseason All-Americans Shilique Calhoun and Kurtis Drummond. On offense, the Spartans return a ton of young talent, which means MSU should be outstanding on that side of the ball for years to come. I was expecting to see this team somewhere in the 7-10 range.
Overall Score: 74.0/100
Brad Edwards on Michigan: "I can't imagine Michigan is just going to let Ohio State go, but I don't think Michigan is comfortable spending the kind of money and using the kind of resources to compete with Ohio State. I think it goes against the academic image they lean on.
"But you've got to become more of a football factory if you're going to compete on that level."
My thoughts: We are all patiently waiting for Michigan to make its return to college football glory, but will that happen over the next three seasons? Brady Hoke has done an outstanding job on the recruiting front, now it is time to see those efforts pay off out on the field. This seems like a fair ranking simply because it's hard not to remain optimistic about the program that possesses the most wins in college football history.
22. PENN STATE
Overall Score: 71.20
Mark Schlabach on Penn State: "The program is in much better shape than anyone expected. Franklin, who worked wonders at Vanderbilt, is capable of taking the next steps in Happy Valley.
"He's a guy that can build a program that's relevant again. I think (DC) Bob Shoop is really, really good and I think with Franklin's recruiting prowess that he will be able to attract really good players there despite the NCAA sanctions and everything else."
My thoughts: It's tough not to be optimistic about the direction Penn State's football program is heading. James Franklin has already made a huge impact from a recruiting standpoint, getting verbal commitments from several top-notch prospects. Also, having Christian Hackenberg under center for at least two more seasons will only help the Nittany Lions going forward.
OTHER BIG TEN TEAMS TO CONSIDER: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa.