The 2020 college football season finally felt like is was whole again on Saturday — sorry Pac-12.
The Big Ten kicked off on Friday night and had a full slate on Saturday for everyone’s viewing pleasure. There were the usual blowouts that come with the territory but overall, it was a great weekend of football. Even if you didn’t think so, the excitement of seeing Big Ten teams on your television should have gotten you through the day.
Now it gets fun. We have seen every team play and can finally judge them based on their actions on the field rather than on paper. There is a dominance of power in the conference but as we saw on Saturday, anything can happen.
Here are the Big Ten power rankings heading into Week 2 of the schedule.
1. Ohio State (1-0), Preseason: 1
Last Week: W, 52-17 vs. Nebraska
This Week: at Penn State (7:30 PM, ABC)
The Buckeyes got off to a slow start against Nebraska but were able to turn it on as the game went on. Justin Fields finished 20-21 for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The offense looked strong and this led them to 52 points. Ohio State rushed for 215 yards in the game as well. It is championship or bust this season. Ohio State is one of the three best teams in the country. A blowout victory in their first game keeps the Buckeyes comfortably in the top spot in the power rankings.
2. Michigan (1-0), Preseason: 6
Last Week: W, 49-24 at Minnesota
This Week: vs. Michigan State (Noon, FOX)
Victory over ranked team, victory on the road, statement victory. Michigan checked all three boxes in Week 1. They went on the road and completely dominated Minnesota. Jim Harbaugh has struggled to get these statement wins but there was no drama in this one. The Wolverines scored 35 points in the first half. Joe Milton handled the big moment with 225 yards and a touchdown but the rushing attack stole the show. Michigan totaled 253 rushing yards. They looked good in all three phases. Michigan will look to pickup another blowout victory in a rivalry game against a poor Michigan State squad.
3. Wisconsin (1-0), Preseason: 3
Last Week: W, 45-7 vs. Illinois
This Week: at Nebraska (3:30 PM, FS1), Cancelled
Wisconsin picked up the first win of the Big Ten season on Friday night over Illinois. Graham Mertz entered Wisconsin as the highest-ranked quarterback recruit in school history and he performed like it in this one. He finished with 248 passing yards and five touchdowns while leading the Badgers to 45 points. Unfortunately, the opening win was quickly derailed by a positive COVID test from Mertz. He will now have to miss 21 days. Jack Coan is out indefinitely after foot surgery. For now, Wisconsin will remain in the top-three, but we will see how they play with a backup quarterback once they return to action.
4. Indiana (1-0), Preseason: 7
Last Week: W, 36-35 vs. Penn State
This Week: at Rutgers (3:30 PM, BTN)
Indiana did something on Saturday that they have only done one other time in their history — beat Penn State. Indiana propelled themselves into the national rankings with an overtime victory over the Nittany Lions. And it was not a perfect performance from Indiana. They struggled offensively for three quarters but the defense kept them in it forcing three turnovers. Michael Penix Jr. led the Hoosiers on a game-tying drive by going 8-9 for 71 yards. And of course, the two-point conversion in overtime. Was he in? It doesn’t matter anymore as Indiana picked up the win.
5. Penn State (0-1), Preseason: 2
Last Week: L, 36-35 at Indiana
This Week: vs. Ohio State (7:30 PM, ABC)
Penn State beat themselves in Week 1. With three turnovers and over 100 yards in penalties, it is hard for any team to win a game. And they should have. A bonehead decision from James Franklin to not take a knee at the end of the game proved costly. Regardless, Penn State had an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter and allowed a touchdown and two-pointer. The rushing attack of the Nittany Lions is a concern. The running backs for Penn State averaged 3.7 yards per carry against Indiana.
6. Purdue (1-0), Preseason: 8
Last Week: W, 24-20 vs. Iowa
This Week: at Illinois (Noon, BTN)
Jeff Brohm was not on the sideline. Rondale Moore was not in the huddle. Purdue was still able to beat Iowa in their season-opener. David Bell finished with 13 catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns. The Boilermakers have some of the best wide receivers in the conference. They could have even cracked the top five in these rankings but we do not know the status of Moore and when he will return. Regardless, and upset-victory over Iowa without the head coach and best player is extremely impressive.
7. Northwestern (1-0), Preseason: 9
Last Week: W, 43-3 vs. Maryland
This Week: at Iowa (3:30 PM, ESPN)
Northwestern was done a favor by the conference after a 3-9 season in 2019. They were given Maryland in the opener and were able to get their feet wet. Northwestern totaled 537 yards of total offense in a 43-4 victory. Patrick Ramsey played well but the Wildcats rushed for 325 yards and four touchdowns. Drake Anderson led the way with 10 carries for 103 yards and a score. Do not buy into Northwestern just yet but they looked good in the opener. Their matchup with Iowa this week will be a nice measuring stick game.
8. Minnesota (0-1), Preseason: 4
Last Week: L, 49-24 vs. Michigan
This Week: at Maryland (Friday Night, 7:30 PM, ESPN)
Minnesota did not just lose to Michigan, they were completely torn apart on their home field. Their defense struggled, they could not stop the run, and their offense was pedestrian. Heading into Week 2, the Gophers have some work to do but they have a big get-well opportunity against Maryland on Friday night.
9. Rutgers (1-0), Preseason: 14
Last Week: W, 38-27 at Michigan State
This Week: vs. Indiana (3:30, BTN)
The return of Greg Schiano was a massive success. Rutgers is no longer in the basement after snapping their 21-game losing streak in Big Ten games. They did not play a perfect game but the defense forced seven turnovers and the Scarlet Knights were able to score 38 points. Spirits should be high heading into their home-opener against Indiana. Could they keep it close against a team coming off an emotional win over Penn State? This game will say a lot about Rutgers.
10. Iowa (0-1), Preseason: 5
Last Week: L, 24-20 at Purdue
This Week: vs. Northwestern (3:30 PM, ESPN)
Iowa’s offense was less than impressive in the opener. They suffered a bad loss to a short-handed Purdue team. Spencer Petras finished 22-30 for 265 yards and did not throw a touchdown. The Hawkeyes cannot afford to begin 0-2 this season which makes their game against Northwestern a must-win contest.
11. Nebraska (0-1), Preseason: 10
Last Week: L, 52-17 at Ohio State
This Week: vs. Wisconsin (3:30, FS1), Cancelled
Nebraska lost the scheduling sweepstakes and was given Ohio State in the opener. The Cornhusker defense needs to improve and improve quickly. They allowed 52 points in the opener. They will have a week to figure things out with their game against Wisconsin being cancelled. Basically, Nebraska needs help on both sides of the ball.
12. Illinois (0-1), Preseason: 12
Last Week: L, 45-7 at Wisconsin
This Week: vs. Purdue (Noon, BTN)
No one expected Illinois to win this game but they should have competed better than they did. They scored just seven points and Brandon Peters finished with just 87 yards on 8-19 passing. The Illini will play their first home game of the season against a Purdue team that they defeated a season ago.
13. Michigan State (0-1), Preseason: 11
Last Week: L, 38-27 vs. Rutgers
This Week: at Michigan (Noon, FOX)
A head coach usually gets a grace period in the beginning of his first season. That is not the case for Mel Tucker after an embarrassing loss to Rutgers. The Spartans entered this game as double-digit favorites in East Lansing and ended up with seven turnovers and an 11-point loss. Yes, Michigan State has a new head coach, new quarterback, and new wide receivers but this does not excuse the complete lack of preparation. Michigan State is in danger of this season getting away early as they prepare to travel to Ann Arbor.
14. Maryland (0-1), Preseason: 13
Last Week: L, 43-3 at Northwestern
This Week: vs. Maryland (Friday Night, 7:30, ESPN)
Maryland is officially in the basement after one game and it looks like they will remain there over the course of the season. They were outgained on the ground 325-64 in the loss. They were unable to get in the end zone with Taulia Tagovailoa running the show. He went 14-25 for 94 yards and three interceptions. It is not good right now in College Park.