The Big Ten collectively playing bad football in September is as predictable as a Donald Trump insult.

The league can’t help it. It’s inherent. Too many of its schools have never been regularly good at this sport.

No one who’s seen the Big Ten’s offerings on the Eastern seaboard or across the plains of Indiana or Illinois this month would believe it is close to the best conference in college football.

And yet, three weeks into this season, it matters not — the two top-ranked teams in college football are Ohio State and Michigan State. Neither them will face another opponent ranked in the Associated Press’ Top 25 this week until they play each other on Nov. 21.

All there is to do for the Buckeyes and Spartans is win and wait.

It must be exasperating to watch for the Southeastern Conference. But the SEC can’t say a thing right now. The Big Ten is bulletproof, living out a free ride thanks to its shut-your-mouth postseason.

Even karma is on the Big Ten’s side. When Arkansas coach Bret Bielema spoke up about the Buckeyes’ lackluster schedule, his program immediately lost at home to Toledo and Texas Tech.

The Big Ten’s 6-5 bowl and playoff record last year — 2-2 head-to-head against the SEC — did a number on the SEC and its howling pundits. Mostly, Ohio State thumped Alabama on its way to the first national championship in the history of the sport, the Big Ten’s best besting the best of the SEC. Historically, the scoreboard reads: Big Ten 1, everyone else 0.

That does not make the Big Ten a sound football conference right now, however.

Beyond the Buckeyes and Spartans — with apologies to Wisconsin — it’s primarily a mix of mediocrity and mess, made by slow rebuilds at former powers Penn State and Michigan, forgettable starts from newbies Rutgers and Maryland, and disinterest from the Big Ten’s Basketball Belt — Indiana, Purdue and Illinois.

If folks expect more, it’s on the Wolverines, Nittany Lions and Nebraska to pick up the pace. Because the combined efforts of Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue and Rutgers over the last quarter-century suggest they’re not going to be much help.

None of those six programs have more winning seasons than losings seasons since 1990, and all but Purdue have at least 15 losing campaigns in those 25 years. That’s not losing Big Ten records, but losing overall records, despite more home games than road games annually and often cushy non-conference schedules.

These are basketball schools and have-nots among the haves, places unwilling to make the necessary investment in football, in part, because fan interest doesn’t support it.

The only two unexpectedly bad results from the Big Ten Saturday were both wins — Ohio State 20-13 at home over Northern Illinois, and Minnesota 10-7 against visiting Kent State. Those two Mid-American Conference programs shouldn’t be confused as similar. The Golden Gophers’ showing against the not-so-Golden Flashes might be the most embarrassing result by the Big Ten this season.

The SEC is a deeper, better football league, a passionate land once known for racial atrocities now embracing the advantages of having a plethora of talented black athletes playing year-round football in its backyard.

It also benefits from smart scheduling which preys on uneducated perception. The SEC plays more early conference games than the Big Ten, pitting highly ranked teams against each other. When one highly ranked team beats another — even if neither is any good — reputations are boosted, untruths are born.

There is no better example of this than Texas A&M’s win at South Carolina to open last season, which bolstered the league. Texas A&M didn’t challenge itself in subsequent nonleague games, so the myth grew. Then when the rest of the league began to beat up on the Aggies, all of those teams received undue credit.

Not until Ohio State smacked ‘Bama in the national semifinals was this Ponzi scheme exposed.

Ole Miss, which won at Alabama Saturday night, appears more legit. But you get the point.

In the college football playoff era, as long as only four teams are included, depth is overrated. Because it’s unlikely any league will get more than one bid.

The Big Ten’s depth is iffy. Until the Buckeyes or Spartans lose, that’s irrelevant.

Contact Graham Couch at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.