Sep 15, 2012; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez (3) looks over line during the game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Memorial Stadium in the first half. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Power Rankings: Preseason

1. Ohio State – 44 points (all first-place votes)

Ryan: A soft non-conference schedule spells a 4-0 start to the season, and the Buckeyes talent will carry them through the B1G portion of their schedule undefeated heading into their final week showdown at Michigan with a possible shot at a National Championship trip on the line.

2. Nebraska – 37 points

September 8, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez (3) rolls out to pass against the UCLA Bruins during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan (2nd): The Huskers get second billing because they return what appears to be the best offense in the Legends division, and avoid Ohio St. and Wisconsin from the Leaders division.

3. Michigan – 32 points

Ryan (5th): The Wolverines return 12 starters from a team that went 8-5 a year ago, but their schedule is littered with chances to fall down.

4. Wisconsin – 31 points

Ryan (4th): The Badgers lost their head coach, but return 14 starters from an 8-6 team that will avoid playing Nebraska, Michigan St., and Michigan from the Legends division.

5. Penn State – 26 points

Ricky (3rd): Penn State shocked the world after getting a near “death sentence” from the NCAA. Head coach Bill O’Brien will be looking to do the same thing in 2013, but only problem is that teams will not underestimate the Nittany Lions this season.

6. Michigan State – 24 points

Ryan (3rd): The Spartans return 15 starters from a year ago with 7 returning on D including #6 overall B1G tackler Max Bullough who will lead what could be the best defense in the entire league against a B1G schedule that avoids Ohio St. and Wisconsin from the Leaders division.

Nov 24, 2011; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats cornerback C.J. Bryant (13) causes a fumble by Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Justin Green (26) on a kickoff during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

7. Northwestern – 23 points

Ryan (6th): The Wildcats return 15 starters from a team that went 10-3 a year ago, and they will get a chance at another magical run when they face three of their toughest opponents on their home turf including Ohio St., Michigan, and Michigan St.

8. Indiana – 18 points

Ricky (8th): Indiana will look to improve their record in 2013, but the question will be whether or not Tre Roberson can stay healthy for the Hoosiers this season.

9. Minnesota – 10 points

Ricky (9th): Minnesota might be set up for another two B1G wins, but could squeak into a bowl game with close wins.

10. Iowa – 8 points

Ricky (10th): Besides from the NIU and ISU games, do not expect much hype surrounding the Hawkeyes in 2013.

11. Illinois – 6 points

Ricky (12th): With the Bill Cubit offensive getting most of the buzz from Illini Nation this offseason, expectations are low, but the fans are positive about their Fighting Illini.

12. Purdue – 5 points

Ricky (11th): It might be a battle between the Boilermakers and the Illini for last place in the Big Ten in 2013.

The Writing Illini Big Ten power rankings are a collection of votes from our staff. Commentary is provided by lead editor Ricky Widmer and staff writer Ryan Kraemer.

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