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Big Ten preseason power rankings

Is Ohio State really the cream of the crop? Dave Miller

Print This August 27, 2013, 02:45 PM EST

With the start of the 2013 college football season just a few days away, let's take a look at some power rankings for the Big Ten.

1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have a very friendly schedule in 2013, and quarterback Braxton Miller continues to improve as a passer. The defensive front remains a bit of a concern, although sophomore ends Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence could be poised for breakthrough seasons.

2. Northwestern: The Wildcats gave away a few games in the fourth quarter in 2012 and still managed to make a New Year's Day bowl appearance. Pat Fitzgerald's squad hosts Ohio State under the lights in October in a game that could have national implications.

Devin Gardner US PRESSWIREDevin Gardner is poised for a big year in Ann Arbor.

3. Michigan: Quarterback Devin Gardner enters a season filled with high expectations, but the Wolverines will have to play without star outside linebacker Jake Ryan until at least mid-October. Greg Mattison will likely be able to get enough out of the defense so that the Wolverines can compete for a Legends division crown.

4. Michigan State: The Spartans defense will be strong once again, perhaps even better along the line than even last year's group. But can Andrew Maxwell and this offense be even average? He needs much more help from his playmakers than he received in 2012. The schedule isn't terrible, so MSU could surprise.

5. Nebraska: If Taylor Martinez and the offense can drastically cut down on their turnovers, it can be one of the best units in the country. The major concern for Bo Pelini and his staff, though, is the defense. Will the inexperience of the Huskers 'D' be too much to overcome?

6. Wisconsin: Gary Andersen has taken over for Bret Bielema, and the run game will once again be productive with James White, Melvin Gordon and Co. Never sleep on the Badgers in the Leaders division.

7. Penn State: Second-year head coach Bill O'Brien worked wonders with Matt McGloin last season, so the Nittany Lions should be able to get respectable play out of the quarterback position whether junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson or true freshman Christian Hackenberg is under center. The Nittany Lions will need to replace several leaders on defense from 2012, however.

8. Minnesota: Third-year head coach Jerry Kill and his staff will try to continue the momentum this fall after making the postseason in 2012. Sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson hopes to improve the team's aerial attack, but is there enough material on defense to return to the postseason?

9. Purdue: The arrival of Darrell Hazell has been a smooth transition thus far. Running back Akeem Hunt should be in line for a very good season if he stays healthy, and the secondary may be one of the best in the Big Ten.

10. Iowa: Could this be the type of Hawkeyes squad that overachieves when many believe there are too many questions to overcome? Jake Rudock won the starting gig at quarterback, but are there enough weapons at receiver? Expect a healthy dose of Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock at running back.

11. Indiana: The Hoosiers will score points, and their group of receivers is the envy of Big Ten offensive staffs. Kevin Wilson's team could sneak into a bowl game, but the defense has to be somewhat respectable.

12. Illinois: Nathan Scheelhaase will have a chance to toss the football around in new coordinator Bill Cubit's offense and try to improve a unit that finished last in the Big Ten in scoring in 2012, but will the team's JUCO players make an immediate impact on defense?

Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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