How is it possible that during a week that the Big Ten went 11-3 as a conference, and all of the teams that were supposed to win won, that the power rankings were so hard to figure out? Well that’s because the three teams that lost (Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue) lost competitive games to ranked opponents and the other highly rated teams were in closer games than were anticipated. With that being said, let’s take a look at this weeks power rankings.
14. Rutgers (LW: 14)
This was a really, really hard call to make because of the progress that Rutgers showed in week one. Defensively, the Scarlet Knights were much improved and Kemoko Turay looked like a superstar in his return to the starting lineup. Kyle Bolin was serviceable in his first career start as a Scarlet Knight and Gus Edwards and Jerome Washington were as good as advertised. Questions on special teams remain and the offense looked too timid at times. I am interested to see how the offense looks with a deep threat when Jawuan Harris returns to the line-up this week. If the Scarlet Knights can avoid a Washington hangover, look for them to get their first win of 2017 (and end a 14 game losing streak) on Saturday.
13. Purdue (LW: 13)
Much like Rutgers, Purdue looked much improved this weekend taking 16th ranked Louisville to the brink in a 35-28 defeat. Their offense looked much improved under Jeff Brohm and their defense was opportunistic, recovering two Louisville fumbles on the one yard line. If Purdue (and Rutgers) continue to show improvement, the Big Ten may prove to be the top conference top to bottom.
12. Illinois (LW:12)
Illinois struggled mightily this weekend and are on the verge of taking a drop in the power rankings. They needed a blocked field goal to secure a 24-21 win over Ball State and did not show much on offense. I decided not to drop Illinois because they did win, despite Rutgers and Purdue playing much more competitive games against better opponents. If things go right this weekend, expect Illinois to drop next week.
11. Indiana (LW: 7)
For one half on Thursday night, Indiana looked like a legitimate threat to knock off Ohio State before running out of steam in the second half. Richard Lagow looked to improve his decision making from last year and Simmie Cobbs was an absolute monster, abusing the Buckeye secondary. Although they lack the depth to hang with the top of the conference (that’s the problem that most of the teams in the bottom of this group have) Indiana demonstrated that they have the top tier talent.
10: Michigan State (LW: 11)
For one week at least, it looks like Michigan State may have found a decent little quarterback. Brian Lewerke threw for three touchdowns and their defense held Bowling Green (I know, I know not exactly a world beater) to 10 points. LJ Scott and the running game struggled, but their offense looked more competitive than last year. A game this week against Western Michigan will be a good barometer for the improvement of the Spartans.
9. Nebraska (LW: 8)
Despite a win over Arkansas State, there were cracks in the Cornhuskers armor. They gave up over 500 yards in the air and allowed Arkansas State to recover an onside kick in the waning moments of the game. Despite their defensive struggles, Nebraska ran the ball very well and new quarterback Tanner Lee was adequate. The ‘huskers defense face a huge test this week when they take on Oregon.
8. Minnesota (LW: 5)
I may have jumped the gun a little bit on Minnesota last week, especially after watching them struggle against Buffalo. Their defense played well but, were only able to score 17 points in a disappointing debut for PJ Fleck. If the offense can progress, expect more from Minnesota.
7. Northwestern (LW: 6)
As you can tell, the middle of the pack was where the Big Ten faced the most trouble this week. Northwestern sleepwalked through the first half before coming in the live in the second half to defeat Nevada 31-20. Clayton Thorson impressed, throwing for over 300 yards but the Wildcats will need to show more, and start faster if they want more success.
6. Maryland (LW: 10)
The biggest riser this week comes from the team with the biggest win. The ‘Terps traveled to Texas and came away with a huge 51-41 victory. Although no one is quite sure what to make of Texas, the perception of a “lower tier” Big Ten going on the road to knock off a top 25 opponent does not go unnoticed. Their running game was explosive, and their special teams looked top notch as well. The passing game and defense needs some improvement, but they should cruise this weekend against FCS opponent Towson.
5. Iowa (LW: 9)
They are who we thought they were. A dominant running game and a staunch defense gave the Hawkeyes an impressive 24-3 win over Wyoming and top QB NFL prospect Josh Allen. They held Allen to 174 passing yards and a 57% completion percentage. Iowa seems like a team where if they can score 21 points, they are going to be in every game.
4. Wisconsin (LW: 4)
Wisconsin was almost on the list of disappointing teams in the opening weekend, but a huge second half propelled the Badgers to an emphatic 59-10 victory over Utah State. The offense was sluggish but the Badgers are so good defensively, it might not matter.
3. Penn State (LW: 3)
Saquan Barkley thrust himself into Heisman contention with a massive game against Akron in a 52-0 shellacking. Penn State was one of the few teams who was expected to dominate and actually did it. I strongly considered moving them up after Ohio State’s subpar showing, but for now the Nittany Lions remain at 3.
2. Ohio State (LW: 1)
Combine Michigan’s dominating win over Florida with Ohio State’s subpar win over Indiana and that’s how Ohio State ended up at 2. The same problems that plagued the Buckeyes on offense last season, affected them again Thursday night. JT Barrett played okay, but a lack of a deep threat (and true number one receiver) really hindered the Buckeye offense. Indiana was able to drop back and keep the Ohio State receivers in front of them and generally did a good job of it. I am super curious to see how the Buckeyes do this weekend when they take on Oklahoma in a massive game.
1.Michigan (LW: 2)
What a defensive performance from the Wolverines. Michigan held Florida to three offensive points and showed no signs of having to break in 10 new starters. Wilton Speight struggled at quarterback, but the rushing attack was top notch. If Speight can take a step forward and provide more from the quarterback position, there is no reason Michigan won’t be competing for a spot in the college football playoff come December.
There you have it folks, one week down! Let me know what you think in the comments below.