Big Ten football power rankings after Week 0

·5 min read

College football is officially underway following the completion of Week 0 action. That included three Big Ten teams getting an early start on the new season, with Northwestern taking the early lead in the Big Ten West following a victory in Ireland against Nebraska. Could this be a bad omen of things to come for the Huskers, and are the Wildcats due for a rebound season of their own?

All throughout the 2022 season, Nittany Lions Wire will join other sites across the College Wires network in sharing a weekly take on the power rankings of the Big Ten. Unfortunately, a preseason power ranking was not able to be completed in time before the official start of the season, so consider this as good as it gets for an early take on the Big Ten outlook. With a couple of minor adjustments to what a preseason ranking might have looked like, this is as close to a prediction as I was able to manufacture for the Big Ten this fall.

I will note that these rankings could look drastically different after Week 1 as I tend to form these types of rankings based largely on the results of games played rather than overall expectations for a season. But we’ll get to that a week from now after the first full-blown weekend of college football is in the books.

So without any further delay, here is my first crack of power rankings for the Big Ten in 2022 following the Week 0 games.

Rutgers

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I really don’t have high expectations for the Scarlet Knights this season, although I do suspect Rutgers won’t finish the season at the bottom by a wide margin this season. But there is nowhere to go but up at the start of the season.

Next game: at Boston College

Indiana

Syndication: Journal-Courier

Indiana dropped back to earth in a big way last season, and the way things are looking doesn’t suggest it will get too much better in 2022.

Next game: vs. Illinois

Nebraska (0-1)

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Last game: lost to Northwestern 31-28

Before the season started, I suggested Nebraska needs to get to six wins before hitting November if they want to get to a bowl game this year. After losing the opener against Northwestern, that mission just got a little bit more difficult.

Next week: vs. North Dakota

Illinois (1-0)

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Last game: defeated Wyoming 38-6

Illinois certainly got the kind of start to the season they wanted with a rout of undermanned Wyoming. Illinois should clean up a little bit more in non-conference play and should show some improvement once Big Ten play begins. Getting Indiana next week should keep that going.

Next week: at Indiana

Maryland

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Maryland is a bit of a wild card team for me this season. The Terrapins have the potential to pull a surprise almost anywhere on the schedule this season but they also lack the depth needed to make any serious run in the Big Ten East Division.

Next game: vs. Buffalo

Northwestern (1-0)

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Last game: beat Nebraska 31-28

Northwestern has a weird knack for following up an abysmal season with a good year. Could the opener in Ireland start the bounce-back season Pat Fitzgerald is hoping to get?

Next game: vs. Duke (Week 2)

Purdue

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Purdue is coming off a nine-win season and gets to play at home Thursday night against Penn State to open the season. A win for the Boilermakers will allow them to make a nice jump up in the power rankings, but this may not be the same team we saw a year ago.

Next game: vs. Penn State

Minnesota

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While I may be going with another team or two to top the Big Ten West, Minnesota is very much ready to play a factor in how the division plays out. Minnesota should be a fun team to watch this fall.

Next game: vs. New Mexico State

Iowa

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

You know what you are going to get with Iowa. Good defense, a solid running game, terrific tight end play. It’s a formula that works for Kirk Ferentz more often than not, and it should lead to another good year in Iowa City.

Next game: vs. South Dakota State

Wisconsin

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From top to bottom, it is difficult to find a more well-rounded program year to year in the Big Ten West than Wisconsin. Expect more of that kind of stability in Madison this season. Wisconsin is my Big Ten West pick.

Next game: vs. Illinois State

Michigan State

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Michigan State was a pleasant surprise last season, but I think they take a small step back this season. But it’s still good enough to be considered in the upper half of the Big Ten in 2022, without hesitation.

Next game: vs. Western Michigan

Penn State

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Is Penn State a sleeper pick, as Kirk Herbstreit suggests? We’ll get an early indication of what to make of Penn State this season with road games at Purdue in Week 1 and at Auburn in Week 3. After those games, we’ll have a more serious conversation about where Penn State goes this season.

Next game: at Purdue

Michigan

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is letting a quarterback decision hover above the team in the first two games of the season, and the Wolverines lose some big players from the defense, but this could be another double-digit win season for Michigan thanks to a very favorable schedule overall. The regular season finale not included, of course.

Next game: vs. Colorado State

Ohio State

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

You heard it here first, Ohio State is going to be good this year. I know, shocker, right? I think the Buckeyes are loaded and ready for return to the top of the Big Ten, and I think they make a bit of a statement in the opener at home against Notre Dame this weekend.

Next game: vs. Notre Dame

Story originally appeared on Nittany Lions Wire