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BTN 2015 Preseason Football Unit Rankings

BTN's Tom Dienhart evaluated and ranked all of the units in the Big Ten in their respective football divisions. Who leads the East and West? Who is walking around with their head down?

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Dienhart just posted his final unit rankings of every Big Ten unit in their respective football divisions. I summarize and give you my own comments based on his rankings. Now you can say that my conclusions aren't fair because I treat all units as equal and I don't consider coaching (#1 Jerry Kill!) or schedule. True, but it gave me the answer I wanted! You've been warned, so take it with quite a few grains of salt.

If you want to read Dienhart's articles directly, and I recommend that you do, here is a link to his last article which itself has links to all of the articles.

Because I am a fan of the Gophers, I'll start with the East.....for some reason.


Big Ten East Division

Big Ten Unit Rankings - 2015 Preseason

2015 Preseason Big Ten Football Unit Rankings by Tom Dienhart - East Division

1. Ohio State

  • Highest Grade: First (WR/TE, QB/RB, LB, DB)
  • Lowest Grade: Third (ST)
  • Average: 1.57
  • Comments: No surprise here except perhaps that they aren't #1 at everything and even drop to #3 in one category. OSU runs a full point ahead of the nearest East team.

2. Michigan State

  • Highest Grade: First (OL, DL)
  • Lowest Grade: Third (DB)
  • Average: 1.57
  • Comments: Again not a big surprise. MSU strength is in the trenches followed by the guys in the middle with their weakness being in the speed area....and like OSU in special teams.

3. Penn State

  • Highest Grade: Second (WR/TE)
  • Lowest Grade: Sixth (OL)
  • Average: 3.57
  • Comments: A full point behind MSU (2 points behind OSU) there strength is being above average in many categories. Offensive line is their weakness so we will see how that works out for their strengths (WR/TE, QB/RB). Special teams is another weakness.

4. Michigan

  • Highest Grade: Third (OL)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (ST)
  • Average: 4.57
  • Comments: Again, another full point behind the team ahead of them. Surprised to see their OL as their strongest unit but if not them, who. Will their newest Michigan Man get these players to play up this year?

5. Indiana

  • Highest Grade: Second (ST)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (DB)
  • Average: 4.57
  • Comments: Only .29 points behind Michigan. Special teams are their strength...and then I guess offense. Good luck with defense.

6. Maryland

  • Highest Grade: First (ST)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (OL, WR/TE, DL, LB)
  • Average: 5.57
  • Comments: Yes, special teams! How B1G. Defensive Backs rule. That's all there is, right?

7. Rutgers

  • Highest Grade: Fourth (WR/TE)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (QB/RB)
  • Average: 4.57
  • Comments: No love for the new guys. Below average all around. How are the WR/TE supposed to catch the ball without support from the QB & RB?

Big Ten West Division

2015 Preseason Big Ten West Football Unit Rankings

2015 Preseason Big Ten Football Unit Rankings by Tom Dienhart - West Division

1. Minnesota

  • Highest Grade: First (OL, DB)
  • Lowest Grade: Third (WR/TE, QB/RB)
  • Average: 2
  • Comments: Welcome to Lake Woebegone (I hate that show), where all of the units are above average. How dare Minnesota not be #1 in special teams? Better DEAD than RED and WE HATE IOWA!

2. Wisconsin

  • Highest Grade: First (QB/RB, LB)
  • Lowest Grade: Forth (ST)
  • Average: 2.14
  • Comments: Ha, Ha, number 2! Special teams held them down but otherwise Wisconsin would have squeaked out as the #1 overall over Minnesota. The offense could be very dangerous (for the West)....but the axe (and the bacon if we can distract your guards with some cheese) is going to be in Minnesota for Christmas.

3. Nebraska

  • Highest Grade: First (WR/TE, DL, ST)
  • Lowest Grade: Fifth (LB, DB)
  • Average: 2.71
  • Comments: Nebraska rounds out a close top 3 (despite having the most #1 units), less than a point behind the front runner (GO GOPHERS!). Fitting as they lost to both Minnesota and Wisconsin last year. Top notch skills on offense but their offensive line might hold them down.


  • Highest Grade: Third (OL, DB)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (WR/TE)
  • Average: 4.43
  • Comments: Best of the worst? Offensive Line and Defensive Backs are the strength of this team. Floyd says hello and wants me to let you know he is only going to spend one night in Iowa before going back home to Minnesota. PS we hate you.

5. Purdue

  • Highest Grade: Third (LB, ST)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (DB)
  • Average: 5.29
  • Comments: This one is a shocker. Will Purdue come out of the basement? Not so quick, only .71 points separate the bottom 3.

6. Northwestern

  • Highest Grade: Fourth (DL, DB)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (LB)
  • Average: 5.43
  • Comments: (Stage direction, Picard does a face palm). What happened? Defense is the strength yet also the greatest weakness. How did they defeat Wisconsin and almost beat Minnesota last year?

7. Illinois

  • Highest Grade: Fourth (WR/TE)
  • Lowest Grade: Seventh (OL, QB/RB, ST)
  • Average: 6
  • Comments: The new redacted. How they hell did they beat Minnesota last year? They lowest average score. Do not try to take any of our assistants to become your new head coach, you hear me!

So what do you think. What did Dienhart get wrong? What did I get right? What is the best position unit of each team?