INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 05: A Michigan State Spartans cheerleader celebrates after the 16-13 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Big Ten skeptics would have a difficult time blasting the conference based on the preseason AP Poll

Fans of the Big Ten should be pleased today.

The Big Ten conference has its share of detractors. Criticisms range from being too "top heavy", with teams like Ohio State and Michigan State dominating the landscape in recent seasons, to being looked down upon due to a supposed athleticism disadvantage when compared to the likes of the SEC, Pac-12 or even ACC in recent years.

However, the preseason edition of the AP Poll says otherwise, as the Big Ten is well represented. The conference boasts four teams in total with three of those squads (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State) falling within the top 12 of the rankings.

The Buckeyes receive the benefit of the doubt despite losing virtually an entire 22-man unit to the NFL Draft, while Michigan gets a bump from returning talent like Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers, and Michigan State receives the credence associated with nearly a decade of strong performance under Mark Dantonio. Iowa rounds out the proceedings and, other than Wisconsin being left out of the top 25, there isn't a lot to complain about for Big Ten fans.

Now, we move to the actual football games, but before that, here are the full rankings:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Florida State
  5. LSU
  6. Ohio State
  7. Michigan
  8. Stanford
  9. Tennessee
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Michigan State
  13. TCU
  14. Washington
  15. Houston
  16. UCLA
  17. Iowa
  18. Georgia
  19. Louisville
  20. USC
  21. Oklahoma State
  22. North Carolina
  23. Baylor
  24. Oregon
  25. Florida