How the heck did we get here?
Since last year’s Big Ten Championship, our world has seen a pandemic, murder hornets, a tiger king, a constant flow of memes surrounding the Nebraska Cornhuskers and a whole lot more.
Bottom line: Big Ten football is back and so are our power rankings.
Let’s take a look:
14. Rutgers (0-0)
This Week: @ Michigan State (Saturday, Noon on BTN)
A conference-only schedule is going to be rough on everyone, but it will be absolutely killer on the Scarlett Knights. They may win one game this season (if they are lucky).
13. Maryland (0-0)
This Week: @ Northwestern (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on BTN)
The Taulia Tagovailoa hype will not be tolerated in this week’s power rankings. Yes, head coach Mike Locksley has proven he can provide the Big Ten with some offensive firepower, but the defensive liability that the Terrapins carry is just too much to bear.
12. Northwestern (0-0)
This Week: vs. Maryland (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on BTN)
Northwestern may be my sleeper team of the year; injuries were absolutely killer in their 2019 campaign.
But with the new quarterback transfer from Indiana, Peyton Ramsey, the Wildcats look to improve their passing efficiency, which ranked worst in the nation in 2019.
11. Nebraska (0-0)
This Week: @ No. 5 Ohio State (Saturday, Noon on FOX)
Okay, Nebraska, you cannot threaten a possible exit of the Big Ten and expect not to be punished.
Are the cornhuskers bad? Absolutely not. They actually may be better than they were last year. But their first few games are absolute killers and will absolutely kill any momentum they had. Might as well become a Big Ten East team at this point.
10. Michigan State
This Week: vs. Rutgers (Saturday, Noon on BTN)
New year. New Coach. It is going to take some getting used to. Don’t expect too much out of Sparty in 2020.
That being said, a week one matchup against Rutgers may just be the good luck Mel Tucker needs in week one.
9. Purdue (0-0)
This Week: vs. Iowa (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. on BTN)
Jeff Brohm fanatics like to claim every year is ‘THE year’ for Purdue. But here is my question:
What the heck has Purdue done differently?
They have below-average quarterbacks. A below-average defense. They have great skill players, but is that really enough to get you to ten, hell, even eight wins? I dont think so.
Purdue — better than some, worse than most in 2020.
8. Illinois (0-0)
This Week: @ No. 14 Wisconsin (Friday, 8 p.m. on BTN)
Okay, remember when Northwestern was really good out of nowhere about two years ago? Call me crazy, that is Illinois this year.
We saw super bright spots at the end of last year with Lovie Smith’s squad, and I think we will see more of the same in 2020.
7. Indiana (0-0)
This Week: vs. No. 8 Penn State (3:30 on FS1)
It is truly make-or-break time for Tom Allen’s Indiana Hoosiers, claiming earlier this week in a press conference that losing close to a top-25 team is no longer acceptable.
The program has grown leaps and strides over the past few years, but this season will tell us a lot about Tom Allen’s progress at Indiana and what the future will hold for the Hoosiers.
6. Michigan (0-0)
This Week: @ No. 21 Minnesota (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on ABC)
Where do I begin on Michigan? Since his arrival in Ann Arbor, head coach Jim Harbaugh has underperformed and left Michigan fans constantly wanting more.
This season may become his most criticized yet. In a year where the Wolverines lack talent — and there is no such thing as an easy schedule — it will be hard for the blue and maize to win more than six games.
A big win over Minnesota on the road would send a big message to begin the season.
5. Wisconsin (0-0)
This Week: vs. Illinois (Friday, 8 p.m. on BTN)
A new year in Wisconsin, but this year the Badgers are without a star, NFL-ready running back.
The question for Wisconsin this season is finding a way to reload talent in a nine-game, Big Ten-only schedule. If they can do that, they will certainly move their way up the rankings.
4. Minnesota (0-0)
This Week: vs. No. 18 Michigan (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on ABC)
I was so close to giving Michigan this spot, but I just couldn’t do it. Minnesota was truly elite last season, and P.J. Fleck may be the fan-favorite coach in the Big Ten.
The Gophers return so much NFL talent that this roster looks ready to win now. Don’t be surprised if they run away with the Big Ten West.
3. Iowa (0-0)
This Week: @ Purdue (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. on BTN)
Whoa! Iowa above Michigan and Wisconsin?! Can you believe it?!
It is really only because there was so much turnover this year in the Big Ten and the difference between Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota really looks to be razor thin this year.
Iowa takes the third spot this week, but a close win or a loss to Purdue could quickly change that.
2. Penn State (0-0)
This Week: @ Indiana (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. on FS1)
The Nittany Lions are looking to be one of the strongest teams that James Franklin has had during his tenure in Happy Valley.
However, with star running back Journey Brown likely out for the entire 2020 campaign, the question now becomes who is the stand out player for this year’s squad?
Indiana isn’t the biggest of competition for week one, but if the Nittany Lions are caught sleeping, it could be a long opening day for James Franklin.
1. Ohio State (0-0)
This Week: vs. Nebraska (Saturday, Noon on FOX)
Justin Fields. Ryan Day. Ohio State.
That is all.
So, there you have it. The Big Ten is officially back and this season is sure to bring a lot of excitement. A conference-only schedule is going to be difficult on everyone from the top to bottom of the conference.
While we don’t know exactly what will happen or what this season will look like, one thing is for sure: this is going to be fun.