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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 1

The first week is in the books - can we glean any information from it?

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of real, honest to goodness football has been played! How did the teams in the Big Ten look? Well, some good, some bad, and some ugly. Let’s take a look.

As a reminder, this isn’t a ranking of teams based on record, or place in the polls, but rather my assessment of how the teams are playing at the time. If two teams met on a neutral field and played 100 times, a team that wins 51 times gets ranked ahead of the team that wins 49 times.

Let’s see what we got this week, shall we?

1. Ohio State

The Buckeyes looked like they were about to drop 100 points on FAU, going up 28-0 in the first quarter. Then Ohio State just kind of... stopped? Granted, they pulled a lot of their starters, but FAU tightened up, and over the final 45 minutes of the game, the Owls outscored the Bucks 21-17. So a win, but a not very satisfying one? Not much to make me think much different than I did a week ago - OSU is the favorite until otherwise proven, but they’re not invincible.

2. Michigan

Similarly, Michigan had a mostly underwhelming win over Middle Tennessee State, with a final score of 40-21. They did enough to win, but also looked mortal in their first week. Army next week will be a game to keep an eye on.

3. Penn State

The first team on the list to have a complete and utter blowout of their opponent. Sure, it was a bad FCS team, but Penn State has played bad teams before, and hasn’t scored this many points since the 1990s. This team can be good, assuming the offense continues to iron out the wrinkles.

4. Iowa

The first change in our standings, as Iowa takes a step up the ladder. They had a solid 38-14 win over Miami (OH), but their placement here as more to do with a certain other team falling from grace a bit. The Hawkeyes did what they needed to, and looked solid doing it, no more, no less.

5. Wisconsin

The biggest riser this week in the rankings, the Badgers completely demolished USF 49-0. Jonathan Taylor continued to live up to his hype, and Wisconsin firmly planted themselves as one of the top two teams in the West.

6. Michigan State

On the one hand, Sparty held Tulsa to negative 73 yards of rushing, which is absurd. On the other hand, despite that stat, MSU only defeated the Golden Hurricane 28-7. Consider me underwhelmed.

7. Maryland

Like Penn State, Maryland went out and destroyed a weak FCS opponent, only the Terrapins were able to shut out their opponent (grumble grumble). The Terps have some talent, can they sustain it all season?

8. Northwestern

Tied for the biggest fall this week are the Wildcats. Sure, they played on the road, and sure, it was a very close game until the end, but regardless, Northwestern takes a tumble in these rankings. You need to generate more than 7 points to win games, home or away, ranked opponent or not.

9. Nebraska

I came thisclose to dropping Nebraska in these rankings, but in the end, they did tally a two-touchdown win. But for a team that is supposedly a playoff contender, the Huskers looked like anything but. I’ve got my eye on you Big Red.

10. Minnesota

Can you hear that whooshing sound? That’s the entire state of Minnesota exhaling after sneaking by South Dakota State 28-21. The Jackrabbits gave the Gophers all they could handle, but Minny got the dub. They stand pat for the week.

11. Indiana

A tighter-than-necessary win over Ball State would have kept the Hoosiers in the same spot as last week, but for their rivals struggles in week one.

12. Illinois

Easily the best win in the bottom half of the conference, the Illini routed Akron 42-3. There are moves to be made at this end of the rankings, let’s see how high Illinois can climb.

13. Purdue

And THAT sound is half of the state of Indiana realizing that there may not be a single Big Ten bowl team at the end of the season. The Boilermakers lost on a last second field goal to Nevada, 34-31. It’s a rebuilding year, but it’s going to be an ugly one.

14. Rutgers

Oh Rutgers. Only you can take a game in which you win by 27 points and have me keep you in the basement. In case you’re curious why I kept the Scarlet Knights down here, it’s the fact that UMass was up 21-7 in the first quarter before RU finally woke up. You can’t play like that and expect me to reward you, regardless of the final score.


All right, all right, all right, let’s see what we got going on after one week of action!

The top three remain the same, with Iowa and Wisconsin rising out west. Michigan State and Maryland are now neck and neck, while Northwestern has dropped after an opening week loss. Nebraska and Minnesota keep their original rankings, while Indiana and Illinois rise at Purdue’s expense. Rutgers.

Let’s see what week two brings us!