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Big Ten Power Rankings - Preseason

After a tumultuous off-season, how does the Big Ten look?

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

1. Wisconsin (0-0)

There are a handful of teams that will contend for the top spot, but right now I’d take Wisconsin over any one else on a neutral field. Solid defense with a punishing ground game will make the Badgers a tough out all season.

2. Penn State (0-0)

The Nittany Lions lost a lot from the 2017 squad, but I firmly believe they’d win against most teams in the Big Ten on a neutral site. Trace McSorley and co. are going to make life tough for opposing defenses all year.

3. Ohio State (0-0)

Hands down the most talented team in the Big Ten, and they managed to avoid having Urban Meyer get canned. Still, they’re breaking in a new quarterback, and off-field distractions will tug at the Buckeyes’ minds for a bit.

4. Michigan (0-0)

I’m skeptical that Shea Patterson a) is that good, and b) makes it all season without injury, but the defense alone will keep Michigan in virtually every game it plays. Questionable offense may hold the Wolverines back this year.

5. Michigan State (0-0)

Apparently MSU returns 48 starters, and Brian Lewerke has been a pleasant surprise for the Spartans. Still, they feel like a team that got lucky more often than not last season, and I think they slot closer to the middle of the pack than the top.

6. Iowa (0-0)

From here through No. 10 you could really rank these teams however you want. Iowa is one of the more dangerous teams in the West (which isn’t saying much), and the Kinnick voodoo will keep them in some games they don’t belong in.

7. Northwestern (0-0)

The Wildcats were sneaky good last year, and Pat Fitzgerald has the team trending in the right direction. Like Iowa, they could catch more than a few teams off guard.

8. Purdue (0-0)

I am very high on the Boilermakers under Jeff Brohm this year. At the moment, I can’t say that I’d pick them to beat anyone ahead of them, but give them a few games and you’ll probably see them start to climb these rankings.

9. Indiana (0-0)

Team Chaos! Every year I think Indiana is going to be good, and every year I’m mostly disappointed. This team could go either way from here, but I expect them to float in this area of the rankings all season.

10. Nebraska (0-0)

I suppose if anyone can start to turn Nebraska around, it will be Scott Frost. A charismatic Nebraska guy, he’ll look to return the Cornhuskers to their former glory. While I expect them to get better under Frost, I think Big Red may be stuck in the 8-9 win range indefinitely.

11. Minnesota (0-0)

Row the boat! Fleck also has the Golden Gophers moving in the right direction, but they’re awfully unproven. While the West isn’t as strong at the top as the East, the middle-to-bottom is more stout, meaning Minnesota may languish near the bottom.

12. Maryland (0-0)

Were it not for the off-field issues, I’d peg Maryland closer to the middle of the pack. As it is, this team completely collapsed last year, and are beset by constant off-field issues. It could be a long season for the Terrapins.

13. Rutgers (0-0)

The battle for the bottom is on! Rutgers was respectable last year, and I actually expect them to improve overall. But on-field improvements may not translate to more wins, and I think the Scarlet Knights will battle for the bottom of the B1G all season.

14. Illinois (0-0)

For as bad as Rutgers and Maryland have been the last couple seasons, Illinois has been worse. Lovie Smith is currently putting together a decent recruiting class, but it may be too late - another poor season and Smith may be gone.