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Penn State vs. Illinois: How weak is the Big Ten?

Penn State University will open conference play on Saturday afternoon when the school travels to Champaign to challenge the University of Illinois.

After opening the season with back-to-back losses on the road, the Nittany Lions rebounded with consecutive victories at home, in which the team handily defeated their opponents. Illinois will also be entering the game at 2-2, with lopsided final scores – regardless of result – in each of their contests to this point. In terms of the Big Ten, the conference has yet to open play, but many have observed that the historically deep segment of college football is somewhat lacking this season.

Coming into this weekend's slate of games, the conference is a combined 6-9 against BCS leagues, including Notre Dame, and all six victories came against sub-.500 teams. In addition, only three Big Ten teams are ranked in the AP Top 25, which is the fewest teams in the poll since September 1992. No. 14 Ohio State is the highest ranked of those three teams. That's not even mentioning the embarrassing events on Sept. 8, which were highlighted by Penn State missing four field goals and having an extra point blocked in a 17-16 loss to Virginia.

While Sept. 8 may have been brutal, there still may be worse days ahead for the Big East. Via PennLive.com:

That day – Saturday, Sept. 8 – was awful.

But Tuesday, Jan. 8 – the day the final polls of the season are released – might be even worse.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.