College football is finally here. The long days of summer are over and now that school is in session, it is time for the pigskin to take the mainstage. Indiana fans specifically have a holdover activity until Hoosier Hysteria 2019 and the beginning of the 2019-2020 basketball season. The Big Ten East currently has a strong hold of the entire conference as not does the division contain the #5, #7, #15, and #18 teams in the AP preseason poll, but they also own the top 3 slots in our rankings. Let’s dig in to IndianaHQ’s 2019 preseason Big Ten Football power rankings.


Big Ten Power Rankings: Pre-Season Power Rankings

1

Ohio State

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It ain’t easy being Ohio State. The Buckeyes won 13 games, blew out rival #4 Michigan, secured a Big Ten Championship, and recorded a Rose Bowl title, yet, the one loss, a resounding 49-20 defeat to Purdue, left OSU fans asking, “”What could have been?”” Now, with a new head coach, Ryan Day, new defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, and a new quarterback, freshman Justin Fields, #5 OSU may need a few weeks to hit their stride.

    2

    Michigan

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    This season may be the most important season in a while for the Wolverines. Harbaugh enters his fifth season and there is a huge question mark in the Big Ten with Ohio State. Most believe that the Buckeyes still will take the Big Ten, but with a major coaching turnover, it is Harbaugh’s season to try to surmount the last obstacle in the Big Ten and lead his team to a potential CFP berth. The Wolverines enter the season ranked #7 in the AP and may deserve to be higher.

      3

      Penn State

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      After consecutive 11-win seasons, Penn State came back to the pack slightly in 2018, finishing 9-4, including a loss in the Citrus Bowl to #16 Kentucky. Redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford takes over at quarterback, while sophomore RB Ricky Slade will try to follow the footsteps of previous star ball carriers Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders. Junior DE Yetur Gross-Matos, a potential NFL first-round pick, will try to continue giving opposing quarterbacks nightmares after notching eight sacks last year. The Nittany Lions have a favorable schedule early, with their first major test likely coming September 27 at Maryland.

        4

        Wisconsin

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        Wisconsin is looking to change perceptions that may have lingered from last year’s 8-5 season. While the team had an impressive win over ACC’s Miami in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl to close the season, the regular season included losses to BYU and Northwestern. As one of seven teams ranked in the preseason AP poll, the Badgers have their sights on winning the Big Ten West and they will put up a challenge against the best on that side of the conference. Look for Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska to be in that race for 2019.

          5

          Michigan State

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          Michigan State suffers from a similar problem to Indiana. They are stuck in a conference with three of the most consistent and strong teams in the country – Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. Fortunately, MSU has been a rung higher on the ladder than Indiana so they nearly always make a bowl game (since 2005, they only have missed once). The Spartans lost much of their defensive starters and may struggle with depth this season. If they don’t, they will fight for the top of the Big Ten East, but if not they will be around the middle.

            6

            Nebraska

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            2nd-year head coach Scott Frost has folks excited in Lincoln. After a nightmare 0-6 start in 2018, the Cornhuskers won four of six to end their campaign, with one-possession losses at Ohio State and at Iowa. Dual-threat sophomore QB Adrian Martinez will try to build on a promising first season; some say he could be a longshot Heisman Trophy candidate.

              7

              Purdue

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              There is optimism in the air in West Lafayette with the confirmed return of head coach Jeff Brohm. Purdue has much momentum coming into the 2019 football season. With Elijah Sindelar as the uncontested starting QB for the Boilermakers, the biggest emphasis and project of the coaching staff is to reload the departing stars from last year. Purdue’s recruiting has been able to provide them second string and third string options in many positions where they have not yet previously had the luxury.

                8

                Iowa

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                After a 9-4 record in 2018 and a fourth place finish in the West Division, the Hawkeyes will be looking to take the next step to the top in the West and make it to Indianapolis. Senior quarterback Nate Stanley will once again be leading the offense but will not have tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson as targets this season after they both left for the NFL Draft. Defensively the Hawkeyes will be returning five starters from a unit that was a top 10 defense. If both sides are able to be consistent and play like Hawkeye teams in the past, then teams in the West should be on high alert.

                  9

                  Northwestern

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                  One of the steadiest programs in the Big Ten, Northwestern enters 2019 with more questions than answers. After a bumpy start last year, Northwestern finished by winning eight of ten, losing only to CFP participant Notre Dame and Rose Bowl winner Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Junior LB Paddy Fisher will lead the defense after accumulating an eye-popping 110+ tackles in years one and two. Reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year Pat Fitzgerald will have a tough task on his hands in week one: a road trip to #18 Stanford awaits.

                    10

                    Minnesota

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                    PJ Fleck enters his third season at the helm and has seen steady improvement in his team. However, a lack of consistency made a great season to a mediocre season. Losses to Maryland, Nebraska and Illinois haunted the Golden Gophers, but they still managed to make a bowl game. Minnesota does not have any sure victories, and just like last year, they can win nearly any game. If they settle down and figure out why games go the wrong way, they can make some noise in the West. Don’t be surprised if they break into the top 25 over the next several weeks.

                      11

                      Indiana

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                      After back-to-back seasons with a 5-7 record and no bowl appearances, will 2019 be the year Indiana finally breaks through? 3rd-year head coach Tom Allen will have a young but talented roster on his plate and the addition of new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer will hopefully spark the Hoosier offense. The quarterback position is up for battle between Redshirt Sophomore Peyton Ramsay, Redshirt Freshman Michael Penix Jr., and recent transfer Jack Tuttle. One thing is for sure, Indiana can lean on their running back core in returner Stevie Scott III and talented recruit Sampson James to be a big part of the offense. Only time can tell if the Hoosiers can get that one upset they need against the contenders of the conference to get things going their way.

                        12

                        Maryland

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                        Losing four straight games to end the season, Maryland’s 2018 campaign saw a 5-7 finish with no postseason appearance. Mike Locksley is the man in charge in 2019 and will be looking to bring Maryland out of the lower half of the conference. Sophomore running back Anthony McFarland Jr. will be leading the way in the backfield after a talented freshman season. McFarland rushed for over 1,000 yards and had four scores for the Terrapins’ offense in 2018. Maryland showed signs of competing last year especially with the thriller against Ohio State. However, can they compete consistently against the powerhouses in the East?

                          13

                          Illinois

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                          Coming off a 2018 season where they won the most games in a season since 2015, Illinois will be looking to keep improving in 2019. Fourth-year head coach Lovie Smith remain the head man in Champaign but will also be calling the defense as the defensive coordinator. Their 2019 season will see five of the twelve games against preseason top 25 foes and trying to fight in the West Division. The Illini’s offense was able to put up points on teams in 2018, averaging 26 points per game. However, the defense gave up almost 40 points per game and that is something that will have to be changed in 2019 if Lovie Smith’s team can get out of the bottom of the conference.

                            14

                            Rutgers

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                            For Rutgers, with a 1-11 record last year, there is really only one possible direction to go: up. The Scarlet Knights understand the road ahead of them and hope to try to at least get lucky a couple of more times in the 2019 season. The truth is that the talent in the hot bed of recruiting in the north east United States is going elsewhere. While fourth-year head coach Chris Ash is working to change the dynamic, the program is still in a rebuilding phase.


                              Featured Photo: IndianaHQ

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