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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 1

Let’s get weird

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 West Virginia at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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.

The first week of the 2023 season is in the books, and we’ve already get some shakeups. Let’s get to it!

1. Penn State

As alluded to in today’s MMQB (shameless plug), Penn State put together the strongest opening-weekend statement in defeating West Virginia 38-15. The top 3 in these rankings will likely shuffle throughout the season, but right now, Penn State has set the tone early on.

2. Michigan

A 30-3 win over ECU is fine, especially since it was almost a shutout if not for a late Purple Pirate field goal. But back-to-back B1G champs should aspire to more than fine against the likes of ECU.

3. Ohio State

What was that?? Indiana is not a team well-known for defensive prowess, yet they held the Buckeyes to just 23 points. I’m sure OSU will be fine and shake off their rust to somehow go 12-0 as is tradition, but man, not a strong start.

4. Wisconsin

A 38-17 win over Buffalo is also fine but you’re not going to rise in these rankings with fine.

5. Iowa

Y’know I almost dropped Iowa in these rankings after their 24-14 win over Utah State. A win is a win, yes, and as also mentioned in MMQB (shameless plug #2) sometimes that’s all that matters. But that was not a good win, and while the West is weak as ever, Iowa is going to have its hands full winning the division, let alone whoever they might play from the East.

6. Maryland

38-6 win over Towson doesn’t move the needle either way, I’m afraid.

7. Minnesota

Minnesota managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, securing a 13-10 win over Nebraska. Not sure if this is an indictment of Nebraska for still being Not Good™ or of Minnesota for barely beating a team that is Not Good™.

8. Michigan State

Beating Directional Michigan 31-7 is just another day at the office for a B1G team.

9. Illinois

Like Iowa, I almost moved Illinois down after barely escaping Toledo 30-28. I’ll leave the Illini for now, but they’re on the hot seat.

10. Rutgers

Well hey there Rutgers! Welcome to the middle of the pack! A 24-7 win over Northwestern is a solid, conference win, even if NW is probably the worst team in all of the Power 5 (4?).

11. Indiana

Ah the winner of the coveted Lose-A-Game-You’re-Supposed-To-But-Look-Competitive-In-Doing-So-Therefore-You-Move-Up-In-These-Rankings Award. The LAGYSTBLCIDSTYMUITRA Award. Good for you Hoosiers!

12. Nebraska

The more things change, the more they stay the same for Nebraska. New coach, newfound way to lose a one-score game.

13. Purdue

Goodness me, Purdue, what the hell? A 39-35 loss to Fresno State is a quick way to get to the bottom of these rankings. Or, it would be if it weren’t for our residents at the bottom.

14. Northwestern

I pondered on whether losing Pat Fitzgerald would be addition by subtraction. So far, it looks like subtraction by subtraction, as the Wildcats got laughed out of the stadium by Rutgers.

Two dots make a line, and when a bunch of lines start crossing paths, we’ve got squiggles!

Penn State takes over the top spot, with Michigan and Ohio State only looking so-so. Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, and Minnesota all hold steady. Michigan State moves up, while Illinois clings to its spot. Rutgers and Indiana played well in a win and a loss, respectively, to move up. Nebraska and Purdue played increasingly poorly to move down. Northwestern may as well start putting up the “Live, Laugh, Love” décor, because they’re going to be pretty comfy down in the basement.

On to week 2!