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Big Ten Power Rankings: Pre-season edition

Power rankings byke!

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially game week for college football after another long wait. While we’re “blessed” with a bizarre week one Big Ten game, football is back and there’s plenty of reason for excitement in the Big Ten.

With regular power ranking aficionado Ben Raphel busy preparing to one-up Ken Jennings while also stockpiling jokes about Alex Trebek’s mother, I took over the power rankings for the preseason.

What is “You Suck”

14. Rutger

13. Purdue

12. Illinois

11. Maryland

We are contractually obligated to include Rutger in our rankings once this season. If they actually score against Washington, we’ll consider bringing them back. Purdue might have made a good coaching hire, but it’s going to be another ugly year starting with a waxing by Lamar Jackson.

I was once again reminded that Lovie Smith is coaching Illinois, a fact I always forget until looking up that team. I have no clue whether he’s a good college football coach, mainly because I keep forgetting he exists. Maryland is the team in this group that could flirt with a bowl game if the cards break right, but they probably won’t.

What is “Bowl Eligible”

10. Michigan State

9. Iowa

8. Nebraska

7. Minnesota

6. Indiana

5. Northwestern

Forgive me for lumping half the damn conference into one group, but all of these teams have basically the same outlook. The S&P projected wins of these six teams ranges from 5.7 (Michigan State) to 7.2 (Northwestern), so there isn’t a lot of variance.

The Spartans are the least likely of the bowl teams as they’ll need to steal a game to play in the postseason. The rest of the teams have a fairly easy path to bowl eligibility: beat who you’re supposed to beat and you’ll play in December.

Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska will battle for the first loser in the West Division this year with the latter two the more likely ones to grab second.

Likewise, Indiana’s ceiling in terms of divisional standings is fourth because the divisions are so fun and balanced and certainly not stupid and pointless. After upsetting Ohio State on Thursday, though, we’ll at least have a couple weeks of unmitigated trash talk as we sit atop the conference.

What is “B1G Title Contenders”

4. Wisconsin

3. Penn State

2. Michigan

The Big Ten is essentially a four-horse race this year, and even that comes with a caveat. Wisconsin should win the West Division and earn a spot in the Big Ten Title game in Madison Square Ga....err Lucas Oil Stadium. That will give them a one-off chance of winning the Big Ten outright and playing in Pasadena.

Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State, meanwhile, will play in the fair and not unevenly balanced East Division for a shot at the other spot in the title game. Penn State and Michigan are a step below the Buckeyes this year, but will have the added bonus of Ohio State dropping their first game of the season.

Michigan at Penn State on Oct. 21 will obviously be a huge game as well as, obviously, the finale against Ohio State. But, Penn State, in it’s current state, is simply not good enough to be a Big Ten title contender.

What is “National Title Contenders”

1. Ohio State

You know what’s really cool? One of the best team’s in the country returning one of the best quarterbacks in the country in J.T. Barrett. And that team adding an offensive coordinator that, last time he held the position, led Oklahoma to damn near 7000 yards of offense.

Oh and that team returns basically the entirety of their front seven. And still has one of the best coaches in the nation.

The coolest thing, though, is that they scored 0 points in their last game. People forget that.