2024 Big Ten Power Rankings: Ohio State and Oregon Headline a Deep Conference

Our Big Ten Power Rankings examine a conference loaded with talent, with the race to the top set to be competitive between teams old and new.

Bring on the change in 2024. Our Big Ten Power Rankings look at a conference with a ton of transition from coach movement to the transfer portal. The season can’t get here soon enough, but for now, we take an early look at how the teams stack up.

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2024 Big Ten Power Rankings

18) Purdue Boilermakers

Seeing Purdue struggle last year under new head coach Ryan Walters shouldn’t have been a surprise. Jeff Brohm’s departure was always going to set the program back, but now Walters gets a chance to make his mark on the team.

Hudson Card and Devin Mockobee return to lead the offense, but they’ll have to find a replacement for the explosive Deion Burks (Oklahoma). The defense also took some big hits from the transfer portal, and the schedule doesn’t do them many favors. Purdue has to face Notre Dame, Oregon, Ohio State, and Penn State in the 2024 campaign.

17) Indiana Hoosiers

Curt Cignetti has work to do to get Indiana back on track, but he hammered the transfer portal to infuse talent into the roster. He brought several former James Madison players in to establish a winning mindset for the Hoosiers, but this is a different challenge from the one he faced in Harrisonburg.

There’s a chance that Indiana could start the season 4-0, though the UCLA game on the road could be tough. If Cignetti can get his team to buy in quickly, then the Hoosiers should surprise people. The second half of the schedule will be tough, and that will show this staff how far they’ve come or how far they need to go.

16) Northwestern Wildcats

David Braun sparked some excitement into this program a year ago, and it’s why he got the official head coaching job for Northwestern. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get easier for him in the new Big Ten, demonstrated by their position in our 2024 Big Ten Power Rankings.

The Wildcats avoid three of the four new schools and get a Washington team under new leadership in the first month of the season (hello, upset?). Their toughest tests will be Ohio State and Michigan, though the rest of the schedule should be manageable.

15) UCLA Bruins

With Chip Kelly off to Ohio State, DaShaun Foster inherits a tough situation with his program. His team welcomed him with open arms, so there should be plenty of buy-in early during his tenure. The roster features some nice key pieces, but the schedule doesn’t do them any favors.

After facing Hawai’i and Indiana, the Bruins face LSU, Oregon, and Penn State in consecutive weeks. The second half is where we’ll see how this team stacks up compared to the rest of the Big Ten, but even games like Nebraska, Rutgers, and Iowa won’t be easy.

14) Michigan State Spartans

This is a reminder that Jonathan Smith’s turnaround of Oregon State took a few years to get off the ground, and it might be the same with the Spartans.

Granted, this staff hit the transfer portal hard to address some concerns, so it shouldn’t be the same struggle Smith’s former team endured.

All eyes are on quarterback Aidan Chiles, who followed Smith from Oregon State, and his performance this year will give us a glimpse of what his future looks like. Smith and his staff added instant-impact players like linebacker Jordan Turner (Wisconsin), tight end Jack Velling (Oregon State), and defensive end Quindarius Dunnigan.

The non-conference schedule shouldn’t be too challenging with FAU, Prairie View A&M, and Boston College. Michigan State doesn’t play Penn State for the first time since 2013 but must face Ohio State and Michigan.

They also get Oregon right after they face the Buckeyes, so it will be choppy waters early in the season for the Spartans.

13) Minnesota Golden Gophers

P.J. Fleck’s program is rooted in culture, but we’ll see how much culture can help them in a conference that continues adding talented teams. After a disappointing season, the fanbase started to grumble a little more than usual, so this year becomes vitally important for Fleck’s future.

Quarterback will be under the spotlight even more than usual after last year. New Hampshire transfer Max Bosmer comes in after a career year in 2023, but we’ll see how well he transitions to the FBS level.

The rushing attack appears set with returner Darius Taylor, while transfers Sieh Bangura (Ohio) and Marcus Major (Oklahoma) bolster the running back room.

The biggest question is the schedule. North Carolina comes to town to start the season. Early games against Iowa, Michigan, and USC won’t be easy, and the Gophers end the year with Penn State and Wisconsin. If Fleck can get everyone rowing early and often, there’s a chance this team surprises the conference.

12) Illinois Fighting Illini

If Luke Altmyer can take a step in his development, the Illini offense will be in good hands. New playmakers must elevate the offense, but there are pieces returning that will be fun to watch. The defense also took some big hits over the past few years, so the depth chart remains in flux.

Kansas headlines the nonconference slate, but Illinois at least has a home-field advantage. Trips to Penn State and Oregon won’t be easy either, and the schedule sees some easier games disappear with the abolition of the Big Ten West. Bret Bielema faces a challenge, but expectation levels are low right now.

11) Rutgers Scarlet Knights

It shouldn’t take long to figure out how legitimate Rutgers will be this year. Games against Howard and Akron must result in wins, but that’s as easy as the schedule gets. The next stretch includes trips to Virginia Tech, Nebraska, and USC while hosting UCLA and Wisconsin.

Rutgers had a solid duo in quarterback Gavin Wimsatt and running back Kyle Monangai in the backfield last year, and the rushing attack figures to be prominent again. The defense will be tested in Big Ten play, but they’re a tough group that can be difficult to play against.

10) Washington Huskies

Washington lost a ton of talent from its depth chart, and new head coach Jedd Fisch takes over a tough situation. From the new conference to the roster turnover, the Huskies might need some time to get back on track, resulting in their preseason position in our 2024 Big Ten Power Rankings.

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Will Rogers’ turbulent relationship with the transfer portal appears settled, helping to answer the question of who will play quarterback for the Huskies in 2024. However, they lost a substantial amount of veteran talent — not to mention coaching staff — from one of the hottest offenses in college football.

9) Maryland Terrapins

Maryland better take fall practice seriously, because the schedule isn’t giving them time to warm up in 2024. UConn, Michigan State, and Virginia grace their calendar in the first three weeks, and the Terps need a strong start if they want to hit their win total.

Conference play gives the Terps a break as they won’t face Michigan or Ohio State for the first time since joining the Big Ten. Arguably, the quarterback position remains their biggest question after the departure of Taulia Tagovailoa to the NFL Draft. The answer will play a huge role in their success this year — and ultimate standing in our Big Ten Power Rankings.

8) Iowa Hawkeyes

All eyes are on new offensive coordinator Tim Lester after a disappointing 2023 season on that side of the ball. The formula shouldn’t change much, however. Iowa still needs to run the ball and complement the ground game with the passing attack.

The staff ensured the offensive line would be ready for that challenge. They got former Alabama offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor to return home, and he’ll be an instant impact player. The Hawkeyes defense should be stout again, and the schedule isn’t overbearing.

7) Wisconsin Badgers

It’s a big year for Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin Badgers.

They’re trying to prove they can compete in the new Big Ten, and the schedule allows them to make plenty of statements. That also means they must be at their best, which was sometimes an issue in the 2023 campaign.

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The Tyler Van Dyke experience heads north to run Phil Longo’s offense. If the former Miami (FL) QB can return to his 2021 form, the Badgers offense won’t be fun to defend. Ches Mellusi returns after a season-ending injury and will run with a big chip on his shoulder.

If they don’t get caught looking ahead, Wisconsin should start 2-0. A huge test awaits as Alabama comes to Camp Randall in September, and that could be a statement game if the Badgers can find a way to win. After that, two of their toughest game are at home, so the schedule is manageable.

6) Nebraska Cornhuskers

Here we go again. Nebraska optimism is on the rise this offseason, and once again, it’s for good reason.

The Cornhuskers took steps in the right direction in their first year under Matt Rhule, and the program is following in the footsteps of their head coach’s previous college teams.

It started this offseason when they signed five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola to their 2024 recruiting class. They also added receivers Isaiah Neyor (Texas) and Jahmal Banks (Wake Forest) from the transfer portal. If Raiola is ready for the spotlight early, watch out.

The schedule sets up nicely for this team, too. A big home test looms against Colorado in September, but this team could be 7-0 when they head to Columbus on October 26. The final stretch is tough, but an undefeated start would build a ton of confidence in this program to handle it.

5) USC Trojans

The Miller Moss era got off to a great start in the Holiday Bowl, and he’ll need to tap into that energy at the beginning of the year. The schedule for the first half of the season is brutal.

A neutral site game against LSU kicks off the 2024 season, and the Trojans must also face Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State. The second half isn’t much easier as the final stretch includes Nebraska, UCLA, and Notre Dame.

Lincoln Riley made some changes in the offseason, but how quickly will we see results? The defense must take a step forward this year, especially if the offense needs a little time to get started.

4) Michigan Wolverines

It seems odd to have the defending champs this low in our preseason Big Ten Power Rankings, but that’s what happens when you lose as much talent as they did on top of a coaching change.

The Michigan Wolverines should still contend under new head coach Sherron Moore, but it won’t be as easy this year.

MORE: 2024 Big Ten Football Schedule 

The Wolverines saw 18 players from last year’s team get invites to the NFL Combine, meaning there’s a ton of talent that won’t suit up for this team next year. The biggest question for this team lies with the quarterback position, and we’ll find out soon enough who replaces J.J. McCarthy.

The defense returns plenty of talent to repeat its success from last year, but they’ll have a new defensive coordinator running the show. Defensive tackles Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant give them a good foundation, and cornerback Will Johnson is a future first-round pick.

3) Penn State Nittany Lions

Everything’s in place for Penn State to make a title run this year.

They still must face Ohio State but don’t see Michigan or Oregon on their schedule. With the amount of returning talent on the roster from last year’s team, James Franklin has his eyes on a memorable season.

Drew Allar determines how high they go. With new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki calling plays, the fanbase hopes that means positive things for their young, promising quarterback. The offense has talent in the run game, but can the passing attack keep pace?

The defense is again loaded with talent, with junior linebacker Abdul Carter leading the way. Everything is there for the Nittany Lions to do something special, but they have to take a step forward at certain positions — and win the big games.

2) Oregon Ducks

Dan Lanning isn’t messing around and is ready to show that in the Big Ten.

Oregon gets multiple opportunities to make statements, specifically when they face Ohio State and Michigan, and anything less than a playoff berth will be a disappointment.

We get our first look at new quarterback Dillon Gabriel in Will Stein’s offense. Oregon also added Texas A&M wide receiver Evan Stewart from the transfer portal, so the passing attack appears in good hands. Backup running back Jordan James becomes the starter after rushing for 759 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.

The Ducks defense also added talent from the transfer portal and will feature three new players in the secondary. This group showed flashes of greatness in 2023, and they have high hopes coming into this year.

1) Ohio State Buckeyes

Ryan Day expects a championship this year, and he made the changes necessary to help this team reach that goal. The hiring of Chip Kelly appears to be a home run, and the Buckeyes added several key players through the transfer portal.

Former Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins shocked everyone when he entered the portal and chose Ohio State. He joins TreVeyon Henderson in what will be one of the most electric backfields in the country. Kansas State quarterback Will Howard comes to campus from the portal to compete for the starting spot.

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There are not many changes on the defensive side of the ball, and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles looks to build upon a group that has played extremely well over the past two years. The Buckeyes also got Alabama safety Caleb Downs from the transfer portal, and he should be a star in Knowles’ system.

Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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