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Overachiever or underachiever? Ranking all the Big Ten teams

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

OVERACHIEVER OR UNDERACHIEVER SERIES: Monday: National | Tuesday: ACC | Wednesday: SEC | Thursday: Big 12 | Friday: Big Ten | Saturday: Pac-12

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Rivals.com’s NFL Draft-based analytic series examines the Big Ten, which produced one of the country’s biggest overachievers (Northwestern) and one of one its biggest underachievers (Illinois). The league placed its share of teams above and below the median, yielding a more balanced result than leagues such as the Big 12 and SEC.

As a refresher, the study is a measure of overachieving and underachieving based on NFL talent each college team has on its roster juxtaposed with the program’s number of wins, top 25 finishes and titles produced over a 10-year period. We used the formula below, which was created by Rivals.com's Rob Cassidy and statistician D. Kyle Burkett on every Power Five conference team, and the median score among them was used as the basis to determine just how much each team overachieved or underachieved, based on its NFL talent.

The formula is as follows:

Talent Efficiency Score = ((Wins/3)+(AP Top 25 Finishes x 3) + (Power Conference Title x 6) + (Group of Five Conference titles x 3) + (National titles x 9)) / TOTAL DRAFT PICKS

NOTE: In the case of a split conference title, the points were divided among all winners

1. NORTHWESTERN - 1.534 above the median

Pat Fitzgerald
Pat Fitzgerald (AP Images)

RECORD: 77-51

TOP 25 FINISHES: 3

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 12

One doesn’t need a complex algorithm to discover that Northwestern has spent the decade getting the most out of its talent, but the numbers back up the obvious. Since 2009, the Wildcats have had just 12 players drafted by NFL teams, a number that’s good for second-to-last in the Big Ten, but head coach Pat Fitzgerald has still managed to win 10 games on three occasions. Northwestern went 10-3 in 2015 and sent just five players to the NFL Draft in the three years that followed. The Wildcats’ spot on the top of this list is indisputable.

2. MICHIGAN STATE - 1.183 above the median

RECORD: 93-39

TOP 25 FINISHES: 7

CONFERENCE TITLES: 2.33

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 26

Like Northwestern, the Spartans also have the reputation of a program that does more with less. Turns out, such a reputation is well earned. Michigan State finished seventh among all Power Five teams in this study and did so by winning three conference championships despite ranking seventh in the Big Ten in draft picks. The Spartans’ most recent Big Ten title came in 2015 and produced just eight selections in the following three drafts. In-state rival Michigan produce 17 in that same timeframe.

3. WISCONSIN - .582 above the median

RECORD: 101-34

TOP 25 FINISHES: 8

CONFERENCE TITLES: 2.33

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 37

Another solid overachiever, Wisconsin has captured three conference titles over the span of this study and done so while producing fewer NFL Draft picks than programs such as North Carolina and Miami. That’s not to say the Badgers don’t put talent in the league. Thirty-seven is a significant number of draft picks, but the program’s three conference crowns combined with the fact that it has finished eight of the last 10 seasons ranked in the top 25 placed Wisconsin solidly above the average.

4. MINNESOTA - .494 above the median

RECORD: 61-66

TOP 25 FINISHES: 0

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 11

Minnesota produced the Big Ten’s fewest NFL Draft selections. And while the Golden Gophers haven’t had many dominant moments over the last decade, they’ve been bowl eligible seven times since 2008. Minnesota won seven games in 2008 and had just two players selected in the next three NFL Drafts. They went 8-5 in 2014 and saw just seven players drafted in the three drafts that followed the effort. There’s something to be said about being consistently competitive with a relatively shallow talent pool, and Minnesota’s standing in this study says it.

5. OHIO STATE - .224 above the median

RECORD: 112-21

TOP 25 FINISHES: 9

CONFERENCE TITLES: 3.83

NATIONAL TITLES: 1

NFL PICKS: 61

You don’t have to struggle to produce NFL talent to overachieve. Winning at an elite level is hard, and the fact that the Buckeyes have won five Big Ten championships in 10 years helped them “overcome” their 61 draft picks to finish slightly above the median in the study. The program has thrived even in years where NFL talent has been scarce by Ohio State standards, as the Buckeyes produced just 13 draft picks in the three drafts following their 12-0 finish in 2012.

6. PENN STATE - .020 above the median

James Franklin
James Franklin (AP Images)

RECORD: 89-40

TOP 25 FINISHES: 4

CONFERENCE TITLES: 1.5

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 38

The study says Penn State performed to their talent level over the last decade, as the schools started and finished the sample with 11-win seasons. Obviously, the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal impacted data set. Still, James Franklin has led the team to back-to-back 11 win seasons while seeing just seven players selected in the last two NFL Drafts.

7. NEBRASKA - .053 below the median

RECORD: 85-47

TOP 25 FINISHES: 4

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 31

Like Penn State, Nebraska finds itself hovering around the median. And while the Cornhuskers are just below it, the numbers suggest that they come close to playing up to their talent level. Nebraska’s last 10-win season came in 2010, and just eight Huskers were drafted in the three years that followed. UNL has spent most of the last 10 years on the upper level of mediocrity but they’ve done so without a heap of NFL draftees.

8. MARYLAND - .224 below the median

RECORD: 52-73

TOP 25 FINISHES: 1

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 18

Maryland has finished in the top 25 just once since 2008 despite having five players selected in a single draft in 2009. The Terrapins aren’t among the worst performers nationally or anything of the sort, but the study suggests they’re normally a bit more talented than their win total indicates.

9. RUTGERS - .229 below the median

RECORD: 63-63

TOP 25 FINISHES: 0

CONFERENCE TITLES: .25

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 20

Rutgers and Maryland have spent the last 10 years undeforming at nearly the same, small level. The Scarlet Knights’ run in the old Big East helped prop up their score, but the 20 draft picks the program has produced rank higher than schools such as Northwestern and Georgia Tech, programs that have been much more competitive over the course of the study.

10. MICHIGAN - .275 below the median

Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh (AP Images)

RECORD: 74-53

TOP 25 FINISHES: 4

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 34

The early part of the sample is what banished Michigan to the underachievers’ list. Going 3-8 in 2008 despite having eight players drafted in the following three years hurt. As did 2014’s 5-7 finish. Michigan’s 34 draft picks rank fifth in the Big Ten, but the Wolverines have finished just four of the last 10 seasons in the AP Top 25.

11. PURDUE - .277 below the median

RECORD: 42-81

TOP 25 FINISHES: 0

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 13

Purdue seems to be righting its ship under second-year head coach Jeff Brohm, but the pre-Brohm Era was unkind to the Boilermakers in this study. Purdue has had at least one player drafted in every draft included in the sample but lost double-digit games twice and never finished inside the top 25.

12. INDIANA - .330 below the median

RECORD: 43-79

TOP 25 FINISHES: 0

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 14

Indiana was bowl eligible just twice during the sample and never won more than six games, so the fact that they produced just 14 draft picks seems fitting. The fact that the program had five players drafted in the two years following 2009’s 4-8 campaign is notable.

13. IOWA - .372 below the median

RECORD: 82-48

TOP 25 FINISHES: 3

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 37

Iowa is tied with Wisconsin for third in Big Ten when it comes to draft picks produced but has won 19 fewer games and failed to win a single conference title. So while the Hawkeyes have won double-digit games twice in the last nine seasons, their failure to turn draft success into any sort of trophy hurt them in the study. Since 2008, Iowa has finished in the top 25 on just three occasions.

14. ILLINOIS - .716 below the median

RECORD: 44-79

TOP 25 FINISHES: 0

CONFERENCE TITLES: 0

NATIONAL TITLES: 0

NFL PICKS: 23

The Ron Zook era hurt Illinois. The Illini managed to go 3-9 in 2009 but put an impressive 12 players in the draft in the ensuing three years. Illinois has lost nine or more games four of the last 9 seasons and have become bowl eligible on just three occasions. When you consider that the program has produced the Big Ten’s eighth most draft picks over the same time span, it’s obvious why the Illini were determined to be one of the country’s biggest underachievers.

POWER FIVE RANKINGS

On Monday, we revealed the rankings for all Power Five teams (excluding Notre Dame), breaking down the top and bottom five in detail. Here is the complete Power Five ranking, with No. 1 being the biggest overachieving program based on success vs. the NFL talent on its roster and No. 64 being the most underachieving program:

1. Duke (4.312)

2. Oklahoma State (1.751)

3. Iowa State (1.645)

4. Northwestern (1.534)

5. Kansas State (1.384)

6. Oregon (1.187)

7. Michigan State (1.183)

8. TCU (.910)

9. Georgia Tech (.768)

10. Texas Tech (.764)

11. Auburn (.699)

12. Virginia Tech (.645)

13. Stanford (.583)

14. Wisconsin (.582)

15. Alabama (.550)

16. Minnesota (.494)

17. Texas (.452)

18. Oklahoma (.449)

19. Clemson (.408)

20. Vanderbilt (.336)

21. Florida State (.274)

22. Baylor (.264)

23. Ohio State (.224)

24. Washington State (.212)

25. Louisville (.206)

26. Washington (.205)

27. Arizona (.194)

28. West Virginia (.168)

29. Utah (.151)

30. Ole Miss (.045)

31. Missouri (.026)

T32. Arizona State (-.004)

T32. Kentucky (.004)

34. Penn State (–.020)

35. Nebraska (–.053)

36. Mississippi State (–.059)

37. Pittsburgh (–.132)

38. Syracuse (–.142)

39. Texas A&M (–.158)

40. Kansas (–.187)

41. USC (–.205)

42. South Carolina (–.207)

43. Colorado (–.220)

44. Maryland (–.224)

45. Rutgers (–.229)

T46. Virginia (–.270)

T46. Wake Forest (–.270)

48. Michigan (–.275)

49. Purdue (–.277)

50. NC State (–.280)

51. Boston College (–.283)

52. Georgia (–.321)

53. Tennessee (–.328)

54. Indiana (–.330)

55. Florida (–.342)

56. Oregon State (–.367)

57. Iowa (–.372)

58. LSU (–.405)

59. Arkansas (–.495)

60. UCLA (–.557)

61. Miami (–.609)

62. North Carolina (–.644)

63. Illinois (–.716)

64. California (–.751)