Big Ten Football: 2015 preseason power rankings

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Sep 6, 2014; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Leonte Carroo (4) avoids a tackle from Howard Bison safety Julien David (24) during the second half at High Points Solutions Stadium. Rutgers defeated Howard 38-25. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Rutgers – No. 9 Maryland

11. Rutgers

In the first season as members of the Big Ten, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights weren’t quite as bad as everyone assumed they would be. In fact, Rutgers was actually solid, going 8-5 overall, albeit just 3-5 in Big Ten play.

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What positives can be taken from this? The Scarlet Knights beat all the teams they were supposed to and lost to the five best teams in the conference — Penn State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Three of those games were on the road. If this team didn’t lose Gary Nova, you can bet our writers would have given them more love.

10. Northwestern

It’s hard to believe that two years ago, Northwestern was involved in a huge Big Ten matchup with Ohio State early on in the season that many believed the winner would go on to be conference title favorites. However, the Wildcats lost and ended up losing a number of games in a row — and we all know what’s happened with the Buckeyes since.

Clayton Thorson will lead the Wildcats to begin the year and he has the ability to be a big-time quarterback in the conference. If he lives up to the hype, Northwestern could be less of a No. 10 team and more of a top-six one.

9. Maryland

Another team that began the 2014 season as a new member of the Big Ten was Maryland. The Terrapins had a little better luck than Rutgers in conference play, going 4-4, but their overall record was just 7-6, including a Foster Farms Bowl game loss to Stanford.

The Terrapins are also losing their starting quarterback from last season, along with five other offensive starters, but their recruiting efforts recently have given them a boost of confidence. The 2015 season may not be a success, but next year will be a different story.

Next: No. 8 Iowa-No. 6 Penn State