Big Ten in the Prestige Rankings

January, 21, 2009
1/21/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Being loyal ESPN.com readers, I'm sure you've noticed the Prestige Rankings being presented this week by the fine folks at ESPN Research. So far we know the FBS programs ranked between 16-119.

The scoring system for the rankings awards points for national titles, major bowl games, Heisman Trophy winners, etc., and subtracts for postseason bans, probation and other transgressions. The rankings begin in 1936, the first season of the AP Poll.

All but three Big Ten programs -- Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State -- appear in the rankings that have been released. Let's take a look.

  • No. 26 -- Michigan State (454 points)
  • No. 30 -- Iowa (368)
  • No. 33 -- Minnesota (341)
  • No. 34 -- Wisconsin (317)
  • No. 49 -- Illinois (219)
  • No. 50 -- Purdue (210)
  • No. 80 -- Northwestern (60)
  • No. 102 -- Indiana (minus-8)

I was a little surprised to see Michigan State so high, but the Spartans surged during the 1960s and have appeared in quite a few major bowl games.

Iowa has had several periods of strong success, most recently from 2002-04. 

Minnesota hasn't won a Big Ten title since 1967, but the Golden Gophers were a national powerhouse in the 1930s and 1940s and racked up points with six national championships, beginning in 1934. Though the Gophers lack prestige these days, their decorated past is reflected in the rankings.

Wisconsin has been a much more prestigious program since Barry Alvarez arrived as head coach, but the Badgers' poor history before 1990 nudges them down the Prestige Rankings. 

Illinois and Purdue are about where I thought they would be, and so is Northwestern, a program with a strong post-1995 history but a miserable run during the 1970s and 1980s. Indiana's inability to sustain success and make bowl games reflects in the Hoosiers' poor ranking. 

I would be surprised if both Michigan and Ohio State aren't in the top 5, but it will be interesting to see how things play out.

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