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Big Ten Power Rankings: Preseason

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Started at the bottom. Still there.

With a new season upon us there are also two new teams in the B1G. That changes the dynamic quite a bit, especially when it comes to power rankings. Every school now has five teams it doesn't play, not two like just a few years ago.

There are still teams with high expectations and low expectations. This year is going to be a fight for everyone. Last year's Big Ten only had Illinois and Purdue as teams that did not win at least five games. Maryland and Rutgers were both bowl teams as well. Fortunately for our Boilers, we get the three fellow teams that missed bowl games in 2014 in Indiana, Illinois, and Northwestern.

It makes for a very interesting league, and a tightly packed group for power rankings:

1. Michigan State - They're the champs until someone pries it from their cold, dead hands. It is probably hard for their defense to be much better than it was last year, but that's okay. Most of the offense is back anyway and it was finally clicking at the end of the season.

2. Wisconsin - Any team with the capability to grind teams into a fine paste is worthy of the No. 2 pick from me. The Badgers will always have that power run game until proven otherwise.

3. Ohio State - I would have them at No. 2, but the loss of Braxton Miller is a huge blow even if he was the most over-rated player in college football. Too bad Kenny Guiton isn't still around. He was a better quarterback anyway.

4. Nebraska - The Cornhuskers are going to lose four games. This we know. Will they go 10-2, then lose the Big Ten title game and bowl game? Will they go 8-4 and win a bowl game? Neither is a shock, but they have lost exactly four games for six years and counting.

5. Iowa - Our Most Hated Rival now has expectations to at least contend for the West crown, so that means a 4-8 season could be in the balance. Last year they weren't supposed to do much and they went 8-5, so go figure.

6. Michigan - If the Wolverines drop one to Appy State again to begin the season I am going to laugh my ass off. This is a team that did not finish well in 2014 and seems balanced between greatness and anarchy.

7. Minnesota - The Golden Gophers had their best season in years when they were still in the running for the division title in the final two weeks. There are some good pieces for a strong defense and the ground game is strong enough to be a sleeper.

8. Maryland - Good receivers and some experience as the Terrapins as a sneaky good team in the East. Unfortunately, the Division is still brutal. Getting Wisconsin as a crossover team was not a gift.

9. Indiana - If these were based strictly on the offensive strength the Hoosiers would be much higher. The defense is still a gigantic question mark, but a smaller one is the big losses they had at receiver. If IU can't go bowling this year It is time to question Kevin Wilson

10. Penn State - The Nittany Lions enter year three of their exile and it has not been as bad as some projected. They have still won enough games to be bowl eligible each year and with a solid recruiting class they are building something for 2016 when they get out.

11. Northwestern - Last year was an anti-Northwestern year. All of the last second heroics they normally have went against them instead of for them. A comeback year looked strong until Venric Mark transferred. Now they are questionable.

12. Rutgers - The consensus last place team in the east got a hell of a welcome gift with Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin in four straight games midseason. Their best hope is an undefeated conference season and a somehow finding two conference wins for a bowl.

13. Illinois - The Fighting Illini are the forgotten team once again. With only one conference victory in their last 22 games they would be last if not for Purdue, who was that one victory last year. Don't expect a ton of wins this year, either.

14. Purdue - When you're historically bad, you start at the bottom. Six teams from the B1G play FCS teams in week 1, and unless one of them loses the Boilers are here for another week. If Purdue loses, well, let's not think about that. These might become a MAC power rankings then.

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