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The FINAL 2020 Big Ten football power rankings

See you in August for preseason rankings.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Allstate Sugar Bowl Semifinal Game - Ohio State v Clemson Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As we bid farewell to 2020 and bowl season, here is the final edition of our Big Ten power rankings.

14. Michigan (2-4)

Last ranking: 13

Last result: No bowl game

Will Jim Harbaugh sign the rumored extension through 2026? It appears that folks in Ann Arbor are content with mediocrity and losing to Ohio State annually. If, somehow, Harbaugh does manage to land another NFL gig before finalizing his next contract with Michigan, we can re-rank the Wolverines depending on his successor.

13. Purdue (2-4)

Last ranking: 14

Last result: No bowl game

Purdue’s director of player personnel, Eron Hodges, recently announced he is leaving the program. As our friends at Hammer and Rails have pointed out, staff continuity is becoming an issue under Jeff Brohm, who has yet to string together consistency in West Lafayette.

12. Nebraska (3-5)

Last ranking: 12

Last result: No bowl game

Nebraska stumbled to another below-average season under Scott Frost. Although they finished the season with two wins in the team’s final three games, the Huskers still face a long road before reaching the initial lofty expectations set by Scott Frost. There may be no better way for UNL to reach those goals by starting out the 2021 season with a win in its opener at Oklahoma.

11. Illinois (2-6)

Last ranking: 11

Last result: No bowl game

On the bright side for Illini fans, Illinois’ 2020 collapse caused AD Josh Whitman to fire head coach Lovie Smith. As Ben stated in last week’s ranking, there should be positivity in Champaign surrounding the recent hire of Bret Bielema. He, along with Barry Alvarez, resurrected Wisconsin just over a decade ago. Although fans are skeptical about Bielema’s recent coaching stint at Arkansas, succeeding in the SEC is much harder than excelling in the Big Ten West.

10. Rutgers (3-6)

Last ranking: No bowl game

After signing an eight year contract with Rutgers in the offseason, Greg Schiano had as good of a season at Rutgers as one can expect. The Scarlet Knights finished 0-9 in conference and 2-10 overall (wins over UMass and Liberty) in 2019. An increase of three wins in conference play in just one season should be enough for Rutgers fans to have some degree of optimism.

9. Maryland (2-3)

Last ranking: 9

Last result: No bowl game

Year 0.5 of the Mike Locksley era provided improvement from 2019, even if COVID prevented the Terps from establishing any kind of rhythm. Maryland beat both Minnesota and Penn State while giving Indiana a fight in Bloomington. With quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa back in 2021, the Terps are in a solid spot.

8. Michigan State (2-5)

Last ranking: 8

Last result: No bowl game

Out of respect for the Spartans in ruining Northwestern’s undefeated season, I have decided to be generous in slotting them in at eighth. I’m hopeful that my generosity will be reciprocated with a Wildcats victory when NU plays MSU in the 2021 opener.

7. Minnesota (3-4)

Last ranking: 7

Last result: No bowl game

Minnesota dealt with a lot of turnover and a rash of opt-outs this season. Still, with Tanner Morgan, a 3-4 record qualifies as a disappointing season for the Golden Gophers. If it weren’t for fighting hard in their recent game against Wisconsin and wins in their two previous games against Nebraska and Purdue, the Gophers would be ranked lower.

6. Penn State (4-5)

Last ranking: 6

Last result: No bowl game

Four straight wins to finish the season definitely helps Penn State’s cause. But with the salary James Franklin receives as Penn State’s HC along with the resources and tradition associated with PSU, a 4-5 season is considered unacceptable in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions finished the 2020 season still needing to find a way to beat Ohio State. I just wonder how different things would be if they’d won in Bloomington.

5. Wisconsin (4-3)

Last ranking: 5

Last result: W vs Wake Forest (42-28) in Duke’s Mayo Bowl

The Badgers started their bowl game dreadfully before putting together a dominant second half to defeat the Demon Deacons. While the second half was impressive, it was not impressive enough for the Badgers to overtake Iowa’s spot at #4. In other Badger news, QB Jack Coan recently announced he will be transferring to Notre Dame. It will be the Graham Mertz show in Madison for the foreseeable future.

4. No. 15 Iowa (6-2)

Last ranking: 4

Last result: TransPerfect Music City Bowl vs. Missouri canceled due to COVID-19

The Hawkeyes’ last victory of the season over Wisconsin cements their spot at ahead of the Badgers despite their bowl game being cancelled. While many college football fans have voiced that Iowa should be ranked higher than Northwestern, two canceled games to finish won’t help its cause. Maybe next year, Iowa.

3. No. 11 Indiana (6-2)

Last ranking: 2

Last result: L in Outback Bowl vs. Ole Miss (26-20)

Jack Tuttle starting under center against Ole Miss does not excuse the fact that Indiana fell to the Rebels as a 7.5 point favorite. IU should be applauded for its 2020 season, but Northwestern’s win over Auburn combined with IU’s loss to Ole Miss gives the ‘Cats the edge for the number two ranking.

2. No. 14 Northwestern (7-2)

Last ranking: 3

Last result: W vs. Auburn (35-19) in VRBO Citrus Bowl

As I stated above, NU’s dominant performance against the mighty SEC hands the ‘Cats the number two ranking in our final ranking of the season. After a 3-9 record in 2019, the 2020 season was unquestionably a success. Now the ‘Cats gear up to repeat!

1. No. 3 Ohio State (7-0)

Last ranking: 1

Last result: W vs. Clemson (49-28) in CFP National Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl

Next: CFP Championship vs Alabama

I cannot properly put into words how impressive the Buckeyes looked in their victory over Clemson. To be completely honest, though, after watching the game, my first thought surrounded how impressed I am by Northwestern. How was NU up at halftime against this Ohio State team?!?