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CFN 2012 Final Season Rankings - Big Ten
Posted Jan 15, 2013

Which teams had the best seasons? Here's CFN's final ranking based on who earned it on the field.

CFN 2012 Season Rankings

Big Ten Rankings

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19 
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC

- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

The Formula's Components: 
1. Wins. - If you win, everything else falls into place. Each win counts as 1.
2. Quality Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with a winning record. Each win counts as 1.
3. Elite Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each win counts as 1 with a road win over an Elite team getting an extra 0.5. Also counting as 1 is a road win over a team that finished with three losses or fewer (but the extra 0.5 isn't added). A win over a team that finishes with three losses in a bowl game counts as one.
4. Bad Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with three wins or fewer or a loss to a FCS (DI-AA) team. Each loss counts as minus-1. Take away an additional 0.5 for a Bad Loss at home.
5. Bad Win - The number of wins to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a win over a D-IAA team. Each win counts as minus 0.25. 
6. Elite Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each loss counts as 0.25.
7. Point Differential - Points for minus points against divided by 100. 
8. Winning Percentage - To take losses into account, winning percentage is in the mix. Total wins is the tie-breaker followed by winning percentage.

NOTE: This is based on who had the best season. This isn't a ranking of who the best teams were.

The number next to the team is the overall rank.

10. Ohio State (12-0)  2012 CFN Score: 19.97

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 18
2011 Final Season Ranking: 53
2011 CFN Final Score: 9.41
2010 CFN Score: 23.85
2009 Final Season Ranking: 7
2009 Final Score: 21.99
2008 Final Season Ranking: 12
2008 Final Score: 17.80
Key Stat: The Buckeyes finished tenth in the nation in rushing.

Here's the problem: the Big Ten wasn't very good. Ohio State might have gone unbeaten, and many Buckeye fans think their team would've belonged in the BCS championship if it was eligible, but the really, really good win came against ... Michigan? Wisconsin? Nebraska? There were some nice victories, but OSU didn't exactly have to navigate its way through the SEC East. Even so, it was a terrific first season under Urban Meyer to set the tone for what looks like a blinding-bright future.

16. Nebraska (10-4)  2012 CFN Score: 18.72

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 33
2011 Final Season Ranking: 22
2011 CFN Final Score: 15.19
2010 Final Season Ranking: 16
2010 CFN Score: 17.60 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 17
2009 Final Score: 15.77
2008 Final Season Ranking: 35
2008 Final Score: 13.58
Key Stat: The Huskers were fourth in the nation in pass defense.

If it's possible to erase the 70-31 ugliness of the Big Ten championship loss to Wisconsin, and if it's possible to get over getting bombed on by Aaron Murray and Georgia in the Capital One Bowl loss, it really was a great year. With the thrilling win over Northwestern, the strong performance against Michigan, and with several great comebacks, the Huskers showed they're going to be major players in the Big Ten for a long time. Now it's time for the defense to rock again; the team went 10-0 when allowing 28 points or fewer and 0-4 when allowing more.

27. Northwestern (10-3) 2012 CFN Score: 15.21

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 63
2011 Final Season Ranking: 84
2011 CFN Final Score: 5.12
2010 Final Season Ranking: 64
2010 CFN Score: 11.56
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 53
2009 Final Season Ranking: 47
2009 Final Score: 11.56
2008 Final Season Ranking: 49
2008 Final Score: 10.74
Key Stat: Northwestern was 114th in the nation in sacks allowed in 2011 and 22nd in 2012.

The Wildcats might have gone to a few Rose Bowls and might have a few Big Ten titles under their belts, but this could still have been considered one of the greatest years in the program's history. It could've been truly special had the secondary not blown it late against Nebraska and Michigan, but ten wins and a bowl victory over Mississippi State are a really big deal for a school that's used to coming close, but not being able to get over the hump. Beating Syracuse and Vanderbilt early were terrific - the Cats were 2-0 against the SEC.

36. Michigan State (7-6) 2012 CFN Score: 13.27

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 7
2011 Final Season Ranking: 18
2011 CFN Final Score: 17.31
2010 Final Season Ranking: 11
2010 CFN Score: 17.56 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 66
2009 Final Score: 8.15
2008 Final Season Ranking: 28
2008 Final Score: 14.83
Key Stat: MSU was fourth in the nation in total defense.

Great year by running back Le'Veon Bell - check. Tremendous season by the defense - check. Good special teams - check. Passing game - unchecked. The offense struggled to score in clutch moments, but the defense was able to keep the season alive. Outside of the 20-3 loss to Notre Dame, the Spartans managed to lose in brutally painful fashion to Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern by a grand total of 13 points - losing each one by four points or fewer. However, there were some close victories on the right side, too, slipping past Indiana, coming back to beating Wisconsin in overtime, and finishing up with a strong win over TCU in the bowl.

42. Wisconsin (8-6) 2012 CFN Score: 12.78

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 8
2011 Final Season Ranking: 12
2011 CFN Final Score: 20.24
2010 Final Season Ranking: 13
2010 CFN Score: 19.07
2009 Final Season Ranking: 19
2009 Final Score: 15.32
2008 Final Season Ranking: 60
2008 Final Score: 8.66
Key Stat: The Badgers were 15th in the nation in total defense.

It was a better year than the 8-6 record might indicate with all six losses coming by a touchdown or less with three overtime defeats. Even though the offense didn't work as well as expected, and despite the return of Barry Alvarez to the sidelines after the departure of Bret Bielema to Arkansas, blowing away Nebraska 70-31 to win a second straight Big Ten championship game and going to a third Rose Bowl in a row was still impressive. However, the Badgers did lose to Stanford and six losses were six losses. Now it's up to Gary Andersen to try to make it four trips to Pasadena in a row.

45. Michigan (8-5) 2012 CFN Score: 12.42

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 10
2011 Final Season Ranking: 7
2011 CFN Final Score: 21.67
2010 Final Season Ranking: 50
2010 CFN Score: 10.47 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 82
2009 Final Score: 4.91
2008 Final Season Ranking: 97
2008 Final Score: 3.21
Key Stat: The Wolverines were fifth in the nation in pass defense.

The final record might have been 8-5, there might have been a loss to Ohio State, and there might have been a last-second bowl loss to South Carolina, but there's a general sense that this is a powder keg about to blow. Brady Hoke has a whopper of a recruiting class coming in, and it's going to need to step up to come up with the big wins. The schedule was brutal, facing the two BCS championship combatants - Alabama and Notre Dame - to go along with Nebraska, OSU and South Carolina, but the best win came in overtime on a prayer against Northwestern and it took a last second kick to get by Michigan State.

47. Penn State (8-4) 2012 CFN Score: 11.87

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 58
2011 Final Season Ranking: 28
2011 CFN Final Score: 13.77
2010 Final Season Ranking: T48
2010 CFN Score: 10.65 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 15
2009 Final Score: 16.76
2008 Final Season Ranking: 10
2008 Final Score: 19.29
Key Stat: Penn State was 16th in the nation in scoring defense.

Lost in the gushing over the record the depleted team was able to put together was that there weren't many truly impressive wins. Closing out with a thrilling overtime victory over Wisconsin and beating Northwestern were the only wins of note, but considering there was some thought that the Nittany Lions would've been lucky to win four games, and considering the circumstances, 8-4 was still amazing no matter what the schedule.

76. Iowa (4-8) 2012 CFN Score: 6.65

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 56
2011 Final Season Ranking: 52
2011 CFN Final Score: 9.52
2010 Final Season Ranking: 24
2010 CFN Score: 15.42 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 8
2009 Final Score: 21.36
2008 Final Season Ranking: 19
2008 Final Score: 16.19
Key Stat: The Hawkeyes 114th in the nation in total offense.

The preseason thought was the Iowa was going to be bad, but the schedule was going to be worse, so even though it wasn't going to be the best Kirk Ferentz team, everything was going to be fine with no Ohio State or Wisconsin on the slate. Instead, after a 4-2 start, the offense went completely into the tank finishing 11th in the Big Ten in both yards and points on the way to a six game losing streak to close things out. The Hawkeyes battled with Nebraska, but was blown out by Penn State and Michigan and suffered the indignity of losing to both Indiana and Purdue.

78. Minnesota (6-7) 2012 CFN Score: 6.37
2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 61
2011 Final Season Ranking: 97
2011 CFN Final Score: 2.66
2010 Final Season Ranking: 91
2010 CFN Score: 3.32
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 71
2009 Final Season Ranking: 70
2009 Final Score: 7.09
2008 Final Season Ranking: 71
2008 Final Score: 6.59
Key Stat: Minnesota was 108th in the nation in total offense, but 12th in pass defense.

The second season in the Jerry Kill era was a tremendous success, even with a heartbreaking loss to Texas Tech in the bowl game to close out the year with four losses in the final five games. A 4-0 start gave the Gophers enough of a head start to make up for the problems late, and the improvements on defense were a great step forward for a program on the way up.

80. Purdue (6-7) 2012 CFN Score: 5.88

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 41
2011 Final Season Ranking: 58
2011 CFN Final Score: 8.55
2010 Final Season Ranking: 79
2010 CFN Score: 5.64
2009 Final Season Ranking: 71
2009 Final Score: 7.02
2008 Final Season Ranking: 85
2008 Final Score: 5.03
Key Stat: Purdue led the Big Ten in kickoff returns.

It was a year of good mental toughness, overcoming a 3-6 start by winning the final three games of the year - including two on the road at Iowa and Illinois - but everything fell apart in an ugly bowl loss to Oklahoma State. Danny Hope was canned and Kent State's Darrell Hazell was brought in for next year, but the defense has to be far better and the offense more consistent.

95. Indiana (4-8) 2012 CFN Score: 3.29

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 72
2011 Final Season Ranking: 114
2011 CFN Final Score: -1.08
2010 Final Season Ranking: 88
2010 CFN Score: 4.35
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 70
2009 Final Season Ranking: T99.
2009 Final Score. 2.61
2008 Final Season Ranking: 105
2008 Final Score: 2.48
Key Stat: The Hoosiers were 116th in the nation - and dead last in the Big Ten - in rush defense.

Thanks to Ohio State and Penn State being ineligible, there was actually a time in mid-November when the Hoosiers had a home game with a chance to take the Big Ten's Leaders division by storm. And then the fun quickly stopped as Wisconsin ran wild in a 62-14 win to spark a run of three losses to close things out. However, Kevin Wilson got four wins out of the revamped team including back-to-back close battles against Illinois and Iowa. IU lost four games by four points or fewer - losing to Ball State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Navy by a grand total of ten points.

111. Illinois (2-10) 2012 CFN Score: 0.32

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 37
2011 Final Season Ranking: 57
2011 CFN Final Score: 8.68
2010 Final Season Ranking: 41
2010 CFN Score: 11.47 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 98
2009 Final Score: 2.78
2008 Final Season Ranking: 69
2008 Final Score: 6.67
Key Stat: The Illini was second-to-last in the nation total offense and scoring offense.

Ron Zook left enough talent for new head coach Tim Beckman to win right away. At the time, beating Western Michigan to open up the season seemed impressive, and getting blown away by Arizona State didn't seem like that big a deal with a 44-0 win over Charleston Southern the next week. But that was it, losing nine straight to close out the year, getting blown away by everyone by double digits except Purdue in a 20-17 loss. The defense didn't utilize its speed and athleticism up front, and the offense failed to move the ball, having even more problems than it did over the second half of 2011.