Illinois football has the least-talented team in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports.
On Monday afternoon, FOX College Football shared on social media a graphic of the Big Ten Conference from most talented to least talented. This ranking came from 247Sports, where they put together the order based on the recruiting ranking of each player.
The list is called the Big Ten Football Team Talent Composite. For the 2023 season, the obvious names are at the top. Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan are all in the top three. This has been a trend over the years.
When you travel down the list, the last team you will find is the Illini. We rank No. 14 in talent for the 2023 season. I wanted to dive a little deeper into the list, so I searched for it.
Illinois has six four-star and 75 three-star recruits on the roster. This comes out to an 85.25 average rating. The two teams ahead of us, Rutgers and Minnesota, each have an 85.62 and an 85.49 rating, respectively.
While this is interesting to look at, does it really mean anything at all? It is just an opinion list based on “expert’s” opinions on high school kids. It is an opinion of an opinion.
Illinois football has shown that the Big Ten Team Talent Composite rankings are flawed
Coming into the 2023 season, Illinois is at the bottom of this 247Sports list, but we are looked at as a good team in college football. The Illini started the current campaign getting three votes to be in the AP Top 25.
Let’s now look at the 2022 list. Illinois was ranked No. 13 in the Big Ten in talent, according to 247Sports. We ended the 2022 campaign with eight wins overall and had the fifth-best Big Ten record that season.
Let’s go back to the 2021 season. Illinois, once again, was No. 13 in the Big Ten in talent. We finished with the eighth-best record in the conference that year. This was the first season under Bret Bielema, and he didn’t have his players in place yet.
To add to how flawed this ranking is by 247Sports, I wanted to point out a few other teams. Nebraska was ranked No. 4 in talent in 2022. They finished No. 10 in the Big Ten at 3-6 that season. Michigan State tied Nebraska in 2022 at 3-6 in the Big Ten, and they had the sixth most talented team entering the season. Purdue was the No. 12 most talented team, according to 247Sports. They ended up winning the Big Ten West and going to the Big Ten Championship game.
The 247Sports list of the most talented teams in the Big Ten is a list. That is it. It doesn’t hold any water and, honestly, I think the title is a bit of clickbait. Stars don’t always equal talent. Illinois just had a zero-star player get picked No. 5 overall in the NFL Draft. Our preseason All-American defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton was a three-star but wasn’t even ranked in the top 1000 nationally.
247Sports should probably change the title from Team Talent to Total Stars. Big Ten Football Total Stars Composite. Yeah, that’s much better.