Hello there and welcome to the Big Ten Power Rankings! Each week we’ll rank how the teams across the conference are playing, in the hopes of seeing just who is a contender, and who is a pretender over the course of the season.
The rules are few, but resolute:
- Teams are ranked by how they’re playing at that time. Not body of work, not rankings in the polls, but simply how each team is playing at that point in the season.
- The approach to the rankings is not necessarily on the field results (though those do count, as an obvious, tangible data point), but more generally if the two teams played at a neutral site 100 times, which team would win 51 times (or more).
- These rankings are subjective. As the author I get to follow the rules as closely or loosely as I want to, and if you don’t like the rankings, you’re wrong.
Week 1 is in the books with essentially a full slate of games played. Let’s get to it!
1. Ohio State
OSU did OSU things to Notre Dame, which essentially involves playing uninspiring football, but simply out-athleting and wearing down opposing teams. The Buckeyes got a 21-10 win over the #5 ranked Irish, and have basically been handed the Big Ten Championship already. Next up, home vs. Arkansas State.
The Wolverines flexed their muscle against Colorado State, earning a 51-7 win. The great quarterback experiment continues for Jim Harbaugh as he says he’ll trot out J.J. McCarthy next week, before then perhaps deciding on a full-time starter by week 3? Seems weird, but you do you Jim! Next up, home vs. Hawai’i.
Similar to OSU, Wisconsin did Wisconsin things to Illinois State, winning 38-0. Stifling defense and tons of rushing, and there’s not much else to say about this one. Next up, home vs. Washington State.
4. Michigan State
Things look like they could be a bit bumpy for the Spartans, as MSU trundled along to a 35-13 win over Western Michigan. I’m sure Sparty will get things sorted out in the next few weeks, but it seemed like this batch of transfers might not be quite up to par like last year’s. Next up, home vs. Akron (Go Coach Moorhead!).
5. Penn State
The Lions weren’t pretty in their game against Purdue, but they started the season on the road against a 9-win conference team and got the win. That’ll earn you some clout in my book, even if it looked like a sure loss about six different times in the fourth quarter. Next up, home vs. Ohio.
Speaking of doing your own thing, Iowa had itself a day. The Hawkeyes beat South Dakota State 7-3 . . . and they didn’t score a touchdown. Two safeties and a field goal was all Kirk Ferentz needed, not to mention a combined 936 YARDS OF PUNTING. Next up, home vs. Iowa State (¡El Ássico!).
A very workmanlike performance for the Gophers as they defeated New Mexico State 38-0. Next up, home vs. Western Illinois.
If you ask me, Purdue should have won the game against Penn State. Were it not for their defensive backs constantly holding, OR if Jeff Brohm knew how to run the dang ball, it’s likely the Boilermakers get the win. I won’t penalize teams for a hard-fought loss. Next up, home vs. Indiana State.
A somewhat rocky start for the Terps as they defeated Buffalo 31-10. Even Vegas was a tad underwhelmed, but what does Vegas know? Next up, away at Charlotte (Wow really? Huh.).
The Scarlet Knights turned in one of the better performances in the B1G, defeating Boston College 22-21. RU tightened up defensively in the fourth quarter and held on for a big non-conference win. Next up, home vs. Wagner.
Idle. Next up, home vs. Duke.
Big Red was not super impressive against North Dakota, winning 38-17, but a win is a win. Next up, home vs. Georgia Southern.
Just like the old guy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Hoosier’s aren’t dead yet! They gutted out a tough win over Illinois, 23-20, helping them claw their way out of the basement. Next up, home vs. Idaho.
I’m sorry Illinois, but you are the weakest link. Next up, home vs. Virginia.
Hey look, the squiggly lines move!
The top 4 all stand firm, while Penn State rises, mostly due to Iowa’s offensive ineptitude. Minnesota, Purdue, Maryland, Rutgers, and Northwestern all hold steady, while Nebraska and Indiana take a jump, solely due to Illinois’ fall to the basement.
On to Week 2!