Big 10 Football Power Rankings: 2011 Inaugural Edition


Yes,  hate the names of the two new divisions as much as everyone else. How did that atrocity happen? I don’t know, let’s not talk about it anymore and just move on to the fact that the Nebraska Cornhuskers are here now, and they arrived just in time to strengthen the Big Ten. At the exact same time that the Ohio State Buckeyes deteriorate into a real life college football version of the Western University Dolphins in the classic college basketball movie “Blue Chips.” Therefore, the overall power of the conference is close to where it was last year.

Expect a lot of conference teams to be ranked in the 30s and 20s overall in the nation. On the flipside, don’t expect many to be in the top ten or the 80s or higher either. Every team fits into one of three classes.

For the Big Ten QB Power Rankings go here


1. Nebraska Cornhuskers

B1G 10 peeps, if you don’t know the names Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead…you will. But the real talent of this team is on the D, commonly known as “the Black Shirts.” They’re led by Tackle Jared Crick, the biggest NFL talent in the conference.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

Three-headed monster is now two-headed monster at tailback. Lost some talent last year, but their talented newcomer at QB should more than make up for it. Again, they’ll have defensive play-makers in the back seven, again they’ll have dominant OL.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Is Terrelle Pryor the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD? Why would OSU disown him so bad? TPeezy must have really burnt the house down on the way out, and then pissed on the ashes. There’s got to be so much more about his character issues in Columbus than we know or we’ll ever know, for THE Ohio State University to erase him from their memories like this.



4. Michigan State Spartans

They won’t sneak up on anyone this year. So how will Mark D’Antonio handle expectations? People are calling this best team he’s ever had. There are serious questions at OL and LB, but they do have Kirk Cousins back, and possibly the most talented backfield in the conference. They’ll be really good for a “basketball school.” Or “hockey school” if you will.


5. Michigan Wolverines

Robinson is one of six Big Ten quarterbacks, and 38 nationally, selected to The O’Brien watch list.  Robinson was a semifinalist for the award in 2010, when he became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a single season.

It will be interesting to how he adjusts to a new offensive system, one that will require him to hand off more and run less. He’ll also be expected to drop back more and go through his second and third progressions more often instead of taking off running.

NU cheerleaders

6. Northwestern Wildcats

Pat Fitzgerald displayed some of his trademark intensity in the post-bowl game press conference on New Year’s Day. He emphasized a certain point about his program by raising his voice significantly. Therefore, I will type in all caps the portion of the quote spoken with an elevated tone of voice. I hope this further conveys the message.

“As I look at our junior class it’s one of the more successful in our program, starters across the board who have played multiple years AND ITS TIME THAT THEY STEP UP AND IF WE WANT TO WIN THESE KIND OF FOOTBALL GAMES AND WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS THAT CLASS HAS GOT TO STEP UP, THEY GOT TO START MAKING MORE PLAYS AND THEY GOT TO START LEADING, AND THEY GOT TO BE THE CATALYST FOR US TO BE WHERE WE WANT TO GO. AND I CHALLENGED THEM AT THE START OF BOWL PREP, A LOT OF GUYS MADE PLAYS LIKE JORDAN DID and if we want to go where we want to go it’s their time now, it’s their senior year,” he said.

Yes, this will indeed be a very talented and important group. Returning starters on the offensive side of the ball in the current junior class include QB Dan Persa, Ben Burkett, Al Netter, Jeremy Ebert (the Big Ten’s leader in receiving yardage) and Drake Dunsmore (who has NFL potential).

On the other side, 2011 senior-to-be starters include Bryce McNall, Jordan Mabin, Brian Peters, and Vince Browne (possibly the team’s leading NFL Draft prospect).

7. Penn State Nittany Lions

Joe Paterno will keep coaching here until he ties. And then keep coaching when he’s an undead zombie. Then PSU officials will import his brain into a tortoise, animals which commonly life 150+ years. So that will keep him calling the shots for another century and a half.

8. Iowa Hawkeyes

The very definition of a proverbial “rebuilding year,” yet they still have a ton of talent at DB, OL, and RB. Success will be defined by their ability to stay out of the police blotter. Out of all the teams ranked in the 2010 preseason top 25, only Pitt had more players arrested than Iowa.

9. Illinois Fighting Illini

In 2o10, they got a bowl win for the first time since 1999, a 38-14 drubbing of Baylor in Houston that kind of resembled their last bowl win, a 63-21 destruction of Virginia. The defense was pretty solid for the first half of the season, and the offense got very hot down the stretch, setting new records for points scored and total points. However, Illinois lost 3 stud underclassmen to the NFL draft who were key to the resurgence last season.

Go here for the Illini Season Preview


10. Purdue Boilermakers

In 2011, there’s again not much room for error, as they’ve lost one of the best players in the Big Ten, DE Ryan Kerrigan to the first round of the NFL. And the NCAA had no remorse for Keith Smith and his season ending injury, as the 2009 league leader in receiving was denied a sixth year of eligibility.

Go here for the Purdue Season Preview

11. Indiana Hoosiers

At least they were fun to watch last year. They threw the ball all over the place for big yards, but unfortunately at the same time, their running game and defense was a train wreck. (What else is new in Bloomington?) Oh yeah, the head coach.

Go here for the Indiana Season Preview

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Maybe another 3-9, but 4-8 with one conference could happen. Brendan Beal, a MLB transfer from Florida should help improve the LBs, but when your best DB is a guy who almost quit the team over being moved from WR to CB (Troy Stoudemire) you have serious problems in pass defense.

Go here for theMinnesota Season Preview

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter


  1. Just an FYI, It’s not “Black Shirts” it’s “Blackshirts”

  2. paulmbanks says

    Thanks, I’m trying to educate the new big ten audience on the Husker traditions.

    I used to do the same thing with “Blackhawks” when people would say “Black Hawks”

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