Week 1 of the college football season is in the books and all Big Ten teams have been in action.
Now, there can be a bit of a fair assessment of each squad with how it looked the first, or second for some, time out. In Week 1, all teams playing a non-conference game picked up a victory. One of the best conferences in the nation is expected to have many contenders over the course of the 12 weeks.
Conference play at a consistent level is still weeks away but let’s take a look at how the power rankings look after Week 1.
14. Illinois (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Week 1: L, 23-20 at Indiana
Throw Week 0 out the window. Illinois blew a game to Indiana who, while drastically improved from last season, is nothing to write home about. Illinois totaled 451 yards and held Indiana to 32 yards on the ground. That seems like a winning combination. When you don’t win the game, something happened and for Illinois, it was countless missed opportunities and mistakes.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Virginia
13. Nebraska (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Week 1: W, 38-17 vs. North Dakota
Week 0 was a disaster for Scott Frost and Nebraska. Week 1 was not much better for 45 minutes. Against North Dakota, the Huskers were tied at halftime and held a 24-17 lead after three quarters. Nebraska pulled away a bit in the fourth quarter but it was not enough to impress. The days continue to be numbered for Frost.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Georgia Southern
12. Indiana (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Week 1: W, 23-20 vs. Illinois
The Hoosiers already have more conference wins than they did a season ago. It was ugly throughout but a come-from-behind win is a come-from-behind win. Now, Indiana still has a long way to go and despite being 1-0, has not shown enough to get them out of the basement. Will they? That is yet to be seen but unlikely for a rebuilding program at this point.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Idaho
11. Iowa (1-0)
Week 1: W, 7-3 vs. South Dakota State
This shouldn’t even be categorized as a “Big Ten” type of game for Iowa. It’s a game in its own category that we may never see again. The Hawkeyes scored seven points against South Dakota State without a touchdown. The defense outscored the offense 4-3. We knew that Iowa was going to have an elite defense and struggle offensively but that was worse than we could have ever imagined.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Iowa State
10. Northwestern (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Week 1: BYE
Northwestern enjoyed an early bye week after coming from behind to defeat Nebraska in Week 0. We just don’t know how good Pat Fitzgerald’s team is to this point — or if they are any good at all.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Duke
9. Purdue (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Week 1: L, 35-31 vs. Penn State
Poor coaching in the fourth quarter cost Purdue its first victory of the season. The Boilermakers showed great potential against a talented Penn State team. Run the ball in the fourth quarter and Purdue is in a much better position. At the end of the day, the Boilers are more talented than teams above them right now but results matter to a degree. When you are in the position they were at home, you have to win the game.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Indiana State
8. Maryland (1-0)
Week 1: W, 31-10 vs. Buffalo
Maryland showed some signs that have been giving fans hope over the course of the offseason. It was a matter-of-fact victory over Buffalo, with strong play from the offensive line. The Terps have experience at quarterback with Taulia Tagovailoa and a good backfield. It all comes down to if Maryland can pickup a big win or two once Big Ten play begins.
Week 2: 9/10 at Charlotte
7. Rutgers (1-0)
Week 1: W, 22-21 at Boston College
There is no doubt that Rutgers was the surprise of the weekend. Not only winning the game but erasing a two-score deficit on the road to do so. The Scarlet Knights put together a 96-yard drive to score the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. While you could point out plenty of negatives in the passing game, a Power Five victory to begin the season cannot be taken lightly. There will be some ugly games for Rutgers but that is why fans have to enjoy the good times even more.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Wagner
6. Minnesota (1-0)
Week 1: W, 38-0 vs. New Mexico State
Minnesota was not challenged by a New Mexico State team that won just two games last year. We will need to see more from the Gophers before believing. Despite having some key players back (Tanner Morgan, Mo Ibrahim, etc.), there are questions that will need to be answered once the difficult portion of the schedule begins. Of course, taking care of business against lesser teams is to be expected.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Western Illinois
5. Michigan State (1-0)
Week 1: W, 35-13 vs. Western Michigan
A top-15 ranking seemed rather generous to begin the season but others would have different opinion. Let’s remember, these are power rankings with different aspects taken into account. In the case of Michigan State, it was a performance against Western Michigan that left much to be desired. The second half was played better than the first but there are still issues on both sides of the ball. This will work itself out over the course of the season as the Spartans lost some key members, including the nation’s top running back Kenneth Walker III.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Akron
4. Penn State (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Week 1: W, 35-31 at Purdue
A bit of a respect ranking here for Penn State — especially after their final drive against Purdue. While the stat line for Sean Clifford looked promising with five touchdowns, his play on the field was less than ideal, including an egregious pick six. There is not much love for the Nittany Lions following Week 1. Half because they beat Purdue and the other half is because it’s Penn State. The season is starting for Penn State just like it always does. We’ll see if it ends in disappointing fashion once again.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Ohio
3. Wisconsin (1-0)
Week 1: W, 38-0 vs. Illinois State
Wisconsin will play defense once again. Anyone surprised? A 38-0 victory over Illinois State is how you want to beat a bad team. The offense will once again be the key. It seems as though the Badgers will go as far as Graham Mertz takes them. Will that be the Big Ten Championship Game? It is possible with the defense in place.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Washington State
2. Michigan (1-0)
Week 1: W, 51-7 vs. Colorado State
Seven sacks, 50 points, Week 1 Cade McNamara. All of this adds up to a lopsided score. J.J. McCarthy will be up next in Week 2 as Michigan continues to show that last season was not a fluke. The Wolverines are expected to be the second best team in the Big Ten and they will remain there for at least another week.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Hawaii
1. Ohio State (1-0)
Week 1: W, 21-10 vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
Ohio State was not the explosive offense that many expected in Week 1. The Buckeyes played an elite defense in Notre Dame and came away with a victory. This was the type of ugly, low-scoring game that should make fans happy to see a win. Ohio State will be able to outscore almost every team in the nation but it could come down to the gritty, hard-nose victories. Ohio State remains the class of the conference and one of the top three teams in the nation.
Week 2: 9/10 vs. Arkansas State