The 2015 college football season is set to kick off which means it is time to take a look at the preseason rankings for individual conferences. Big Ten football has been extremely competitive over the past few years, but it is going to take an even bigger spike on the competitive side of things in 2015.
Plenty of teams are capable of stepping up and competing to win the conference, although the obvious favorite is the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Despite the fact that they are the favorite, there are still ways that teams can defeat them. No team is perfect, and the other talented teams in the conference aren’t terribly far behind the Buckeyes.
That being said, who are the top five teams in the entire Big Ten before Week 1 of the season gets underway?
5. Michigan Wolverines
Despite the fact that many will disagree with Michigan being placed on this list, there is magic in the air surrounding the Wolverines’ football program. Hiring Jim Harbaugh was a huge step in the right direction for the Wolverines and it will prove to be one of the main reasons that they are competitive in the Big Ten.
Michigan does have quite a bit of talent, but they aren’t considered to have enough talent to contend with teams like Ohio State. Harbaugh has done some remarkable things throughout his coaching career, and there is a different buzz surrounding the Wolverines heading into 2015. They certainly don’t think they can win a National Championship, but they aren’t going to sit back and accept that they can’t win now.
Crazier things have happened in college sports throughout the years. Michigan may not have a lot of support as a top team in the Big Ten right now, but they are definitely underrated.
4. Penn State Nittany Lions
There is no question that Christian Hackenberg and Penn State are one of the more intriguing teams in the conference. They are expected to be a very tough team to beat, but it all hinges on just how dominant their star quarterback is capable of being. Many analysts have differing opinions on Hackenberg, but only he can prove whether or not he is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
Penn State also had one of the nation’s best defenses last season. They are expected to be stout once again this season, which will fit perfectly into the Big Ten style of football.
Assuming the Nittany Lions live up to the potential that they have on paper, they are going to contend for a spot in the Top 25. Hackenberg needs to be a major leader for his team and players need to step up around him. There is nothing holding Penn State back from having a very special season.
3. Wisconsin Badgers
Melvin Gordon was the Wisconsin Badgers’ offensive workhorse last season, and his departure has quite a few questioning just how good they will be. It is certainly a big blow for their offense, but they are more than capable of rising above the loss and contending for a Big Ten title.
Wisconsin’s offensive line is absolutely huge, which gives them an advantage against opposing defenses. Corey Clement is more than capable of racking up major yardage behind the Badgers’ offensive line, which will allow them to continue pounding the football on the ground. They still don’t have a dominant quarterback, but they will likely try to stay away from a two-quarterback system.
There are quite a few question marks still surrounding the Badgers, but they are more than capable of being one of the best teams in the Big Ten.
2. Michigan State Spartans
Connor Cook decided to come back for one more season with the Spartans, which immediately made Michigan State one of the top teams in the country. He showed superstar talent last season and the Spartans have put together an incredibly talented roster around him.
Mark Dantonio is one of the nation’s top coaches and he demands the mos tout of his players. One of the best games of the season is likely to be the Spartans’ November 21st visit to Ohio State. They are very evenly matched, although the Buckeyes are still favored to win the game at this point in time.
Michigan State did lose their long-time defensive coordinator, Pat Narduzzi, which will force them to learn some things throughout the season. They are talented enough to overcome those issues, and are going to be one of the top teams in the nation at the end of the year with a chance to be in the second college football playoff.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes were able to pull off an incredible title run last season. They survived injuries to their top two quarterbacks, but Cardale Jones stepped up to take them farther than many gave them the chance to.
There are quite a few things going in Ohio State’s favor this season, especially on the offensive side of the football. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy this season and is quite possibly the best playmaker in the country. J.T. Barrett or Jones will be a star at the quarterback position, while former star quarterback Braxton Miller will be a playmaker at the wide receiver position.
Ohio State also will have one of the nation’s best defensive units. They have playmakers at nearly ever position, which will give the Buckeyes advantages over each and every team that they play this season.
At this point in time, the Buckeyes are definitely the top team in the Big Ten.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports