Ranked in Joe Christensen’s predicted order of finish, based on an early read and developments in spring practice:
Coach: James Franklin (fourth year).
2016 record: 11-3, 8-1 Big Ten.
Key returnee: QB Trace McSorley.
Spring story lines: WR Chris Godwin and DE Garrett Sickels left for the NFL draft, but much of the talent returns from last season’s Big Ten title team. McSorley was terrific as a sophomore, and Saquon Barkley might be the best RB in the conference.
Football fever temperature: 90. When last seen, this team was going back and forth with Southern California in a classic Rose Bowl showdown. That came after the thrilling comeback over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Beaver Stadium should be rocking Saturday for the annual Blue-White Game.
Coach: Urban Meyer (sixth year).
2016 record: 11-2, 8-1.
Key returnee: QB J.T. Barrett.
Spring story lines: OSU lost a national semifinal to Clemson 31-0, sending Meyer scrambling for a new offensive coordinator. He hired former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, enabling the Gophers to hire Ed Warinner as offensive line coach.
Football fever temperature: 85. Barrett does so many things well but needs work on his deep ball. This team’s fate hinges on quick development at receiver and in the secondary, which took the biggest hits with early NFL departures. The Buckeyes open at Indiana (Aug. 31) before Oklahoma visits the Horseshoe (Sept. 9).
Coach: Jim Harbaugh (third year).
2016 record: 10-3, 7-2.
Key returnee: QB Wilton Speight.
Spring story lines: The 6-6 Speight shed 20 pounds and has complete control of the offense now. There’s depth at QB with John O’Korn and spring game standout Brandon Peters. Chris Evans is ready to take on a bigger rushing load after rushing for 614 yards (7.0 per carry) last season.
Football fever temperature: 80. This will be a young team, but with so many top recruits it’s hard to imagine Harbaugh’s team falling too far. Michigan opens with Florida on Sept. 2 at the Jerrydome in Arlington, Texas.
Coach: Mark Dantonio (11th year).
2016 record: 3-9, 1-8.
Key returnee: RB L.J. Scott.
Spring story lines: Dantonio said he’s very pleased with QB Brian Lewerke’s development. WR Trishton Jackson had eight catches for 168 yards in the spring game — good news for an offense waiting for Scott to recover from offseason surgery.
Football fever temperature: 65. The Spartans were bad last year, but more like a five-win team than a three-win team. They play Notre Dame on Sept. 23, followed by games against Iowa, Michigan (road) and Minnesota (road). By then, it’ll be about football again, or at least Spartans fans can hope.
Coach: Tom Allen (first year).
2016 record: 6-7, 4-5.
Key returnee: QB Richard Lagow.
Spring story lines: Kevin Wilson hired Allen last year to revamp the defense. When Wilson was let go for alleged mistreatment of players in December, Indiana put Allen in charge. He’s a New Castle, Ind., native who steered a big defensive turnaround last season.
Football fever temperature: 60. The Hoosiers are coming off back-to-back bowl berths for the first time since 1990-91. They have nine returning starters on defense. RB Devine Redding left early for the NFL, but Lagow’s experience should help the offense.
Coach: D.J. Durkin (second year).
2016 record: 6-7, 3-6.
Key returnee: RB Ty Johnson.
Spring story lines: The Terrapins have a three-way battle at QB, but North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson is expected to get the job.
Football fever temperature: 60. Durkin’s first full recruiting class ranked No. 18 nationally in the 247sports composite and included eight four-star recruits. Durkin landed another four-star recruit among his first three commitments for 2018. If he keeps recruiting like this, Maryland could become an eventual challenger in the rugged Big Ten East.
Coach: Chris Ash (second year).
2016 record: 2-10, 0-9.
Key returnee: WR Janarion Grant.
Spring story lines: Former Gophers coach Jerry Kill took on another reclamation project when he stepped in as Rutgers offensive coordinator. Rutgers scored 15.7 points per game last year, ranking last in the Big Ten. QB Gio Rescigno has experience, and multitalented Grant is back.
Football fever temperature: 50. Rutgers was more competitive than its record last season. The Scarlet Knights lost 14-7 to Iowa and 34-32 at Minnesota.