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Big Ten Football Power Rankings: The Beginning

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Thanks to Illinois for completing the homework

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I’d like to welcome you all back to the latest iteration of Benny’s B1G Power Rankings. For the umpteenth season in a row I’ll sift through the shit of the conference and let you know who’s brand of ass is more tolerable than the rest.

Lucky for me, two teams already decided to play with the spotlight square on them as a way to wrestle the last Saturday of freedom away from us. It made my job easier today, but hangover all that much worse Saturday afternoon. It’s not the first time I’ve written that sentence, and it won’t be the last.

1. Illinois (1-0, 1-0)

Astute readers of this space over the years will recall I’m a big facts over feelings guy, and the fact of this matter is that when you roll on over to ESPN or open up your sports apps you’ll see Illinois sitting atop the division after tricking Nebraska to cover itself with caulking agent for 3 12 hours during week zero. Illinois will own this title for approximately five days until the Buckeyes pulverize Minnesota in front of a bunch of Minnesota football recruits on Thursday night in Minnesota.

After Scott Frost realized he was in Champaign and not Dublin, it was too late. The Biels had him right where he wanted ‘em. He was completely incapacitated. All he could do was scream.

If you’re a Nebraska fan reading this, welcome! Now fuck right off to 1995.

2. Ohio State

I see no reason to think Ohio State won’t continue to hold the conference’s head above water during this nomadic period of college football, wining laurels for the remainder of the B1G to rest its heads upon.

As Iowa fans, all we can do this year is watch the Buckeyes rack up win after win and hope to catch them a stumbling if a trip back to Indy is on the menu.

While Ohio State reloads... Iowa lurks.

3. Wisconsin

I’m really tempted to put Iowa here but 1. I don’t really believe that sentiment deep down and 2. that placement would’ve been predicated on the fact I have zero faith in Graham Mertz. However, you can turn that around and ask yourself how much faith you have in Spencer Petras, and that’s sort of how you put yourself in a box of your own creation.

I don’t think Wisconsin has a return to form as Wisconsin this year, but it has an easy schedule, and just one Iowa standing in its way.

4. Iowa

Once again it’s up to Iowa to prove that it belongs mentioning in the same breath as Wisconsin (and Northwestern) when it comes to discussing the West title hunt. For the first time ever the offense is lapping the defense in practice, and for the 22nd consecutive season the Iowa football coaches have been caught feeding the media bullshit.

5. Indiana

My thing with Indiana is this: think of all the teams that were totally uncharacteristic in 2020—and how the state of the world is/was an easy (and fair) way to explain Penn State’s 4-5 record.

WELL, why can’t the same be true for teams that normally STINK but blossomed during the Year From Hell??? As much as the Michigans and Auburn’s struggled in 2020, the Indiana’s and Coastal Carolina’s were able to THRIVE in the chaos. And now that the world is in the middle of rebooting itself before it accidentally (?) unplugs the cord again, I’m not sure if there’s any lightning left in Indiana’s bottle.

Also Tom Allen isn’t a good coach and Michael Penix Jr. has no knees.

6. Northwestern

Northwestern sucks and 2021 better be the year they go back to losing to everyone again.

7. Penn State

I don’t know a thing about Penn State’s prospects this year but I do know they STUNK last year and have a bear of a schedule this year.

Seven wins seems right, which means James Franklin is going to love USC.

8. Minnesota

I often use this space to dunk on Minnesota, but today I want to take the time to talk about how its utter BULLSHIT that Minnesota is now the type of program that is getting blue-chip recruits from out of state to TRANSFER to crappy public schools in the Minneapolis suburbs.

We’re talking about MINNESOTA. The team that hasn’t beaten Iowa in almost a decade. A team who’s crowning achievement of the Fleck era is winning the Outback Bowl, which only had the opportunity to do so because Iowa had been to Tampa nine of the 11 years prior. A program that followed up a win over No. 4 Penn State in that Outback season of destiny, with a loss to... 6-3 IOWA.

But enjoy Eden Prairie, Trey Bixby! That suburb has gone downhill ever since it lost its Krispy Kreme anyway. At least it has three Cheesecake Factories. (Cheesecakes Factory?)

9. Purdue

Let’s see how Jeff Brohm does without two all-Americans on offense. I bet the results are not very good!

10. Maryland

People are high on Mike Locksley—who has a record of 8-43 as a head coach—for some reason. I am not one of those people, and I don’t think the brother of the Miami Dolphins quarterback is the golden ticket Maryland fans think it is.

11. Michigan

Sometimes, when I’m feeling sad or nostalgic, I watch Futurama, the cartoon of my youth, and drink Newcastle, the beer of my youth. The sweet nuttiness from Newcastle isn’t a taste I prefer over most other beers, but its familiarity brings me comfort.

It’s the same kind of comfort I’ll take with the familiarity of Michigan getting turned down by Matt Campbell et al, only to be forced to negotiate Jim Harbaugh’s buyout to nothingness while extending his contract at the same time.

12. Michigan State

When is Mark Dantonio coming out of retirement?

13. Rutgers

When are we trading Rutgers straight up for Kansas?

14. Nebraska (0-1, 0-1)

When are we trading Nebraska straight up for a case of Newcastle?