Big Ten football: Early conference power rankings for 2020

Justin Fields of the Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Justin Fields of the Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Big Ten football power rankings
Big Ten football (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

3. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Make no mistake, Minnesota has a tough act to follow after submitting their best season in the last half-century of the program. However, P.J. Fleck returns a large core of an offense that was impressive, including two studs in quarterback Tanner Morgan and wide receiver Rashod Bateman. On that side of the ball, the Golden Gophers should be dangerous again.

Their success in the 2020 season, or at least the level of it, hinges on the defense. Minnesota will have to replace some key contributors from a unit that was sneaky great for them last season but, if they can be solid while the offense progresses a bit with Morgan maturing, don’t sleep on this team winning the Big Ten West.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions

Though we still have a few months for the hype train in Happy Valley to gain steam, it feels as if James Franklin‘s Nittany Lions are being slept on a little bit. But this team has the makings of a group that could make some big waves not only in the Big Ten but on a national level as they come off of an 11-2 season last year.

Despite some key losses on defense, linebacker Micah Parsons leads a unit that will be this team’s calling card. The key, however, will be quarterback Sean Clifford and running back Journey Brown taking a step forward to give the offense a jolt. If that happens, don’t be surprised if Penn State makes a run at the top team in these early power rankings.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ryan Day has quite a tall task ahead of him as he looks to deliver an encore of his first season as the Ohio State head coach. With Justin Fields taking over at quarterback, the Buckeyes made it to the College Football Playoff. Although they fell short of the national championship, they were clearly among the best teams in the country.

While there are big losses to contend with as Chase Young, Jeffrey Okudah and J.K. Dobbins, among others, are now in the NFL, the Buckeyes appear able to contend with them as the recruiting to Columbus remains strong. And if Fields can even be as good — if not better — than he was last year, the target will be on Ohio State’s back all season in the Big Ten.

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