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Illinois Football checks in at No. 80 in SB Nation’s preseason power rankings

The only Big Ten team to be positioned lower was Purdue.

Ohio State v Illinois Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

SB Nation released their massive 2016 college football preview on Monday morning, and it included a new set of national power rankings from Bill Connelly. The Illinois Fighting Illini were slotted at No. 80 overall, putting them in the ‘Tier 6’ category for "mid-major up-and-comers and power-conference dead weight."

Before I touch on Illinois, here’s a look at where every Big Ten school is positioned. While Michigan was the lone school designated as a NCAA title contender, Michigan State and Ohio State followed closely behind in ‘Tier 2’.

Note: Projected S&P+ ranks have been denoted in parentheses because Connelly’s personal set of rankings differ from the statistics.

No. 5 Michigan (6)
No. 10 Michigan State (22)
No. 11 Ohio State (14)
No. 27 Penn State (28)
No. 30 Nebraska (26)
No. 31 Wisconsin (37)
No. 33 Minnesota (42)
No. 34 Iowa (38)
No. 41 Northwestern (46)
No. 53 Indiana (56)
No. 62 Maryland (62)
No. 72 Rutgers (87)
No. 80 Illinois (76)
No. 101 Purdue (88)

So, yeah, No. 80 does seem rather low for the Fighting Illini. However, as Connelly discussed in his previous look at the team, Illinois has a very wide range of potential win totals for the upcoming season, and it wouldn’t be completely farfetched to see them make a big run.

That said, the range of potential win totals is pretty broad. Illinois is given between a 34 and 66 percent chance of winning in six games; that means that if the Illini come in a little bit below their No. 76 S&P+ projection, they could end up in the 2-10 range. And if they rise into the 50s or so, an eight-win total isn't that far away.

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep Murray State NR 33.7 97%
10-Sep North Carolina 27 -7.4 34%
17-Sep Western Michigan 65 1.4 53%
1-Oct at Nebraska 26 -14.7 20%
8-Oct Purdue 88 7.0 66%
15-Oct at Rutgers 87 0.0 50%
22-Oct at Michigan 6 -22.4 10%
29-Oct Minnesota 42 -3.1 43%
5-Nov Michigan State 22 -9.6 29%
12-Nov at Wisconsin 37 -11.4 26%
19-Nov Iowa 38 -4.2 40%
26-Nov at Northwestern 46 -8.2 32%
Projected wins: 5.0

Do you agree with Illinois’ placement in the power rankings? Make sure to cast your vote in the poll question and let us know what you think in the comments!