Coaches’ poll released

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Michigan State Spartans, one of the favorites to compete for the Big Ten championship, are ranked No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll released Thursday. (The Daily News/File)

PARK RIDGE, Ill. — Less than one month away from the beginning of the college football season, five Big Ten squads are ranked among the top 25 of the preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll released this Thursday.

The Big Ten is one of only three conferences to feature more than two teams among the top 25 and is tied for second among all conferences.

Wisconsin leads the way for the conference and is ranked 10th overall after earning a share of the Big Ten Championship last season, the Badgers’ first conference title since 1999. Nebraska enters its first Big Ten season ranked 11th overall after winning 10 games last season and advancing to the Big 12 Championship Game. Ohio State also cracked the top 20 and was slotted 16th overall. Michigan State was tabbed 17th after winning a share of its first Big Ten Championship since 1990 last season. Penn State rounds out the Big Ten’s ranked contingent at 25th overall. Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern also received votes in the first USA Today poll of 2011.

The 116th season of Big Ten football kicks off with prime time home games for the defending Big Ten co-champions, with Wisconsin hosting UNLV Thursday, Sept. 1, and Michigan State facing Youngstown State Friday, Sept. 2. The conference’s remaining 10 teams open action Saturday, Sept. 3, including Nebraska’s first official game as a member of the Big Ten. Conference play will begin Saturday, Oct. 1, and will feature divisional play for the first time. The champions of each division will meet Saturday, Dec. 3, in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and televised by FOX Sports. The winner of the title game will earn the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in either the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.