Post Spring Standings Projection: B1G East
The B1G East has always been a loaded division in College Football, but this season, it appears to be without a doubt, the toughest in the country. It finds itself home to three legitimate playoff contenders, all of which have the talent and capability of winning a National Championship.
Michigan has gone 17-1 in conference play over the last two regular seasons, and Ohio State's only two B1G losses in the last five seasons have been to the Wolverines in the last two years. A new challenger will enter the ring this season, as Penn State looks to build off of an 11-2 season that ended with them as Rose Bowl champions. Can the Nittany Lions get back to Indianapolis for the first time since 2016, or will the East continue to run through "The Game"? Let's break it down.
7th - Indiana 2-10 (0-9)
The outlook in Bloomington is... bleak to say the least. After an amazing run during the Covid season in 2020, which ended with the Hoosiers "turning their back on the B1G", they have gone 2-16 in conference play over the last two seasons. This dysfunction has led to staff changes and a transfer portal overhaul of the current roster, but I don't see this helping Indiana's cause enough. A season opener at home against Ohio State is about the worst way a team could start a season, as the Buckeyes will be looking to flex their muscles after a disappointing CFP loss to Georgia. This is a team that I could see winning 4 or 5 games, but nothing on the B1G schedule pops out as a clear win for the Hoosiers. Tom Allen may be made available to the industry after the 2023 season wraps up.
6th - Michigan State: 5-7 (3-6)
Michigan State will likely be a reminder for many athletic directors that it should take more than one spectacular season to warrant a massive extension for a coach. Mel Tucker receiver a 10-Year, $95 Million contract extension during the 2021 season, that was immediately followed by a 56-7 loss against Ohio State. A disappointing 5-7 season during the 2022 campaign may have an ugly twin this year, as the non-conference matchup with Washington looms, and a trip to Columbus awaits in November. The only refuge the Spartans may have this year is if they can catch Michigan or Penn State on a bad day at home. Top offensive playmaker Keon Coleman just hit the transfer portal during the spring window, so Tucker will be looking to the portal for any help he can get. Maybe they are able to land some splash transfers here late, but I see tensions rising in East Lansing with a coach that makes almost $10 Million a year.
5th - Rutgers: 6-6 (3-6)
A promising start to the season against lesser opponents will unfortunately be met with a matchup against Michigan in week 4. If Gavin Wimsatt can take the leap that many think he is capable of making, Rutgers may be able to win the game against Maryland at the end of the season. With Road matchups against Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan, this is just a brutal schedule for the Scarlet Knights. I think they get to the Bye Week at 6-2, but Ohio State will welcome them to November in ugly fashion as the last month looks like one where they simply run out of steam. I see a bowl game happening for them this year though, which would be the 2nd one since Schiano took the program over in 2020. The days of Chris Ash are long gone, and Rutgers fans should be thankful for the stability that is currently within the program. Never forget how bad it can be.
4th - Maryland: 7-5 (4-5)
Maryland is a team that feels so close to breaking through to consistent Top 25 status, but being in this division is absolutely killing the Terps. Perhaps when divisions go away, they can get a break with the scheduling, but until then, the B1G East will continue to be a nightmare for them. The crossover games with the West this year should be manageable, as the toughest one appears to be a trip to Lincoln. I wouldn't be surprised if they won they game in East Lansing, and ended up getting to 8-4 on the year. This was a squad that played Michigan very tough in the Big House a season ago, and almost knocked Ohio State off at home. If they can get a little better in the trenches and on defense, I think it could end up being a really special year for Maryland Football.
3rd - Michigan: 10-2 (7-2)
This one may surprise a lot of people, but I have Michigan finishing in 3rd place, but could still very well be a team that ends up 12-0. I just really like these top 3 teams in the East. A trip to Happy Valley that will surely be a White Out game in November could be too much to overcome for the Wolverines, as a talented Penn State team is looking to take the next step. "The Game" is at home this year for Michigan, but Ryan Day and the Buckeyes will be playing for their lives this year, after dropping the last 2 in College Football's greatest rivalry. Ultimately I think this turns into a let down year for Michigan, but with the way they are recruiting in Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh has the program in its healthiest position in probably 30 years.
2nd - Penn State: 11-1 (8-1)
Penn State is a program that has been looking for an elite QB to step up to the plate and take the program to the next level, and Drew Allar may just be that guy. Their only losses last season came to Ohio State and Michigan, and a whole lot of young playmakers are coming back for the Nittany Lions. Getting Michigan at home is enough to sway the pendulum in their favor, but a road trip to Columbus will look to be too much for the first year QB. Even at 11-1, I believe Penn State will be squarely in contention for a spot in the CFP, and should be well positioned going forward as the Playoff expands to 12 teams in 2024.
1st - Ohio State: 12-0 (9-0)
This feels like a make or break year on the defensive side of the ball, and I think the Buckeyes finally push through and get a dominant season from the Silver Bullets. The defensive line should be one of, if not the best in the entire country, and trench play travels. Athletic concerns in the secondary were addressed with some portal additions, and starting linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers come back for another year. We all know the offensive output will be among the best in the country, but some concerns as to who will step up at offensive line still need answered before fall camp ends. A trip to South Bend to play Notre Dame will be a tough early test for either Kyle McCord or Devin Brown, but I ultimately see the defense pulling it's weight this year and getting the Buckeyes back to the B1G Championship game for the first time since 2020.