College football rankings 2011 are usually all about the teams, but this time we're taking a look at the fans.
Not all fan bases are created equal—that much is certain—and in every conference, there's some great groups of fans and some that leave you wanting more. With that in mind, we're taking the new-look Big Ten and breaking down the fans from top to bottom.
As always, if you have any thoughts, make sure to leave them below. Who do you think has the best fans in the Big Ten?
We can be honest and say that Northwestern football fans haven't had much to cheer for.
When you have an all-time winning percentage that hovers around 44 percent, you're not going to have an energized fanbase. However, the diehards that do hang around are passionate and always seem to take the losing in stride.
Maybe it's from being around the Chicago Cubs and that team's fans for so long.
Look, we all know Indiana is traditionally a basketball school.
That's fine, not every school can be a great football school and that's just the reality of the situation. Some schools just have their niche in the world of college athletics and that just happens to be basketball, since the school has seen success there.
If only we could say the same for the football team.
Illinois has had some recent success as a program, but let's face it, there's not much to write home about.
The fans are good, but in the Big Ten, where there are some seriously dedicated fans, the Illini come up just a bit short of expectations. Then again, when you don't have much to cheer for, there isn't much of an atmosphere to create great fans.
At least those fans will always have the memory of Illinois' run to the Rose Bowl a few years ago.
Let me just say this to the fans who brave the Minnesota weather to watch the Golden Gophers: You people are saints.
I know it can't be that enjoyable of an atmosphere with the team that Minnesota runs out there on a weekly basis, especially towards the end of the season when the temperature drops and things start getting pretty chilly out there.
It takes a rare breed to be able to suffer on so many levels just for the love of the game.
When you haven't been to a bowl game since 2007 and that bowl game was the Motor City Bowl against Central Michigan, you don't have much to cheer for as a fan base.
In fact, the Boilermakers haven't been to a big bowl game since 2004, when Purdue took on Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. The program has been going nowhere fast and it shows in the fan base. There's just a lot of apathy there.
At least Purdue will always be the Spoilermakers. There's always the hope of knocking off a top-ranked team for the eighth time in school history, so don't give up yet.
Michigan State fans are a rare breed in the Big Ten.
It's not because there's so few of them, it's because the large majority of them have become rabid because of a little brother complex with Michigan and the heartbreaking defeats that tell the story of the Michigan State program.
Finally, Sparty started to break through on the field, and if that continues, Michigan State fans are going to have a long overdue celebration.
It's never easy to go into Iowa and play.
The fans there are passionate and they will get on top of you. Even some of the best-coached teams in the conference, like Penn State, have suffered and fallen to the Hawkeyes. The fans are loud from start to finish, and with the program's recent success, they're even more excited than before.
Don't forget Iowa when talking about the conference's fanbases.
Now we're into the big boys.
Michigan packs them into the Big House every Saturday and the Wolverines have some of the most dedicated fans in the Big Ten. You have to be dedicated to deal with the Rich Rodriguez Era. Hopefully, Brady Hoke can get the program to the point where we can see bigger games taking place in that stadium.
The last couple of years have been lean for the Wolverines, to say the least.
There are few things like the entire stadium freaking out to House of Pain's "Jump Around."
Camp Randall Stadium shakes to the core when that song hits during Wisconsin home games and it's one of the best spectacles in all of college football. The fans there come early, get loud, stay late and root hard for their team.
You really can't ask for more from a fan base.
With some of Ohio State's big-game failures recently, and the subsequent taunts from SEC fans, you have to have thick skin to root for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has had a major hand on the Big Ten for the past couple of seasons and the Buckeye fans have celebrated every minute of it. From the good times to the bad, those fans have been there cheering their team on every step of the way.
Few teams have better fans than the ones in Ohio State.
There's no real shock that Penn State comes in this high.
The Nittany Lions have the best student section in the country and the "White Out" at Penn State is something to behold. The atmosphere around a game in Happy Valley is one that every college football fan should experience first hand.
Hearing the chants of "We are! Penn State!" echo throughout the stadium or feeling the foundation shake during Zombie Nation makes this group of fans some of the best in college football.
The Cornhuskers may be the newcomers to the Big Ten, but there's no denying the fans.
Those fans supported Nebraska through the best of times and the lowest points in the program's history. Not only that, but the Cornhuskers' fans are some of the most polite and respectful people in all of college football.
If only every fan base had that mentality, it would be much easier to travel as a fan.