Big Ten football power rankings after Week 1: Something to build on

·8 min read

After spewing out predictions and forecasts of what we think we know, we now have some real, live football action to go by in the Big Ten. It’s still a small sample size, and it sure is easy to go all knee-jerk on this whole thing, but it’s better than throwing darts at a picture of Jim Harbaugh to determine where teams stack up.

We like to bring you a new list of power rankings in the Big Ten after the previous week’s games, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here after Week 1.

Here’s our first crack at the Big Ten football power rankings after all the teams have had a chance to now strut themselves in some amateur collegiate American football games. It’s bound to change drastically as we move forward, so don’t get too upset at this point.

Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1)

Oct 30, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini running back Chase Brown (2) runs the ball against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry Illini fans, a win over Wyoming has been saddled with a bad loss to an Indiana team that isn’t supposed to be much this year. There’s more time to impress, but right now, Illinois has the worse loss of any Big Ten team.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-1)

Nov 26, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost (right) walks off the field after a loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska bounced back (if you can call it that) by beating an FCS North Dakota squad after pulling away late. We have to see more from this team after the opening week loss to Northwestern.

Indiana Hoosiers (1-0)

Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen watches from the sideline during the fourth quarter of the NCAA football game at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Ohio State won 54-7. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Well, well, what do we have hear? Indiana has already won more Big Ten games than it did last year by taking care of business against Illinois this past week. There’s still a lot to show, but it’s at least a move in the right direction.

Purdue Boilermakers (0-1)

Nov 6, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell (16) drops back to pass the ball in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Ross-Ade Stadium. Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue has the distinction of being the only team in the conference without a win, but we’ll give the Boilers credit for hanging with Penn State last week. The team was idle this past week, so there’s a chance to show something next week against Indiana State.

Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0)

Kirk Ferentz Iowa Hawkeyes
Kirk Ferentz Iowa Hawkeyes

(Bryon Houlgrave / Des Moines Register – USA TODAY Network)

Winning a game where most of its points came from two safeties on defense is about the most Iowa thing we could ever imagine. The offense was again a point of concern, but I guess we have to at least give some credit to the defense that gave up only three points, albeit against South Dakota State. Something tells me the Hawkeyes will only go up from here as they tend to do.

Northwestern Wildcats (1-0)

LINCOLN, NE – OCTOBER 5: Head coach Scott Frost of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats talk before the game at Memorial Stadium on October 5, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Also idle, we’ll at least give Northwestern credit for beating a Nebraska team in Ireland last week that can seem to even finish its lunch. We still reserve judgment before we believe the Wildcats have turned things around from a poor showing in 2021.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

WATCH: What Rutgers HC Greg Schiano said about Ohio State postgame
WATCH: What Rutgers HC Greg Schiano said about Ohio State postgame

Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano walks on the field during pregame warmups before an NCAA Division I football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

While many teams were playing cupcakes this week, Rutgers went out and actually got a very good win at what everyone thinks is a solid Boston College team. It’s one of the best wins of any Big Ten team this season, so we have to raise our eyebrows a bit and give credit where credit is due with this small population of games we are working with.

 

Maryland Terrapins (1-0)

Nov 7, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) runs with the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland did what Maryland does and won rather handily in the nonconference part of its schedule. It wasn’t the best of opponents though with Buffalo providing the resistance, so we’ll wait to see if the exploits of Taulia Tagovailoa hold water once the competition heats up, namely into the heart of the Big Ten season where the Terps have been slightly better than awful over the past few years.

Michigan State Spartans (1-0)

Ohio State football vs. Michigan State from a Spartan perspective
Ohio State football vs. Michigan State from a Spartan perspective

Michigan State’s new head football coach Mel Tucker is greeted by Sparty on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

It was far from a beauty pageant for Michigan State against Western Michigan, but sometimes that’s how things go during Week 1. The Spartans did what they needed to do to make a close game not look that way, and now it’s on to bigger and better things.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0)

P.J. Fleck Minnesota Golden Gophers
P.J. Fleck Minnesota Golden Gophers

Nov 30, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck leads the Minnesota Golden Gophers onto the field before a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at TCF Bank Stadium. Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota got a workmanlike win over New Mexico State and it was about as Minnesota as it could be with hard work on the ground, solid defense, and a lot of boat-rowing. Another game that doesn’t tell us too much, but pitching a shutout and looking more than adequate on offense is worth points this week.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) questions a call during Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on October 30, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Not many were impressed by Penn State’s win over Purdue last week, but I think we’ll find out in due time that the Boilermakers aren’t that bad of a team. There’s still some consistency needed from quarterback Sean Clifford, but the Nittany Lions could factor in the race for the East.

Wisconsin Badgers (1-0)

Wisconsin head coach quarter Paul Chryst talks to his offensive unit during the fourth of their game against Penn State Saturday, September 4, 2021, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Penn State beat Wisconsin 16-10. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

Wisconsin did exactly what was expected of it by beating Illinois State 38-0. The jury is still out though on this offense with Graham Mertz running the show. We’ll know more about the Badgers on Sept. 24 when they travel to Ohio State.

Michigan Wolverines (1-0)

Jim Harbaugh reportedly returning to coach Michigan in 2022
Jim Harbaugh reportedly returning to coach Michigan in 2022

Oct 2, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh walks on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Michigan looked great. Yes, Michigan beat Colorado State on the first step of its dreadful nonconference schedule. With what’s ahead of the Wolverines and the talent on the roster, it sure feels like a collision course with Ohio State on Nov. 26 has already been set in motion.

Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0)

Sep 3, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws the ball against Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the second quarter of the NCAA football game between Ohio State Buckeyes and Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports

The national narrative is that Ohio State did not look good against Notre Dame. And while this might feel a little like being a complete home here, you can’t discount the way the defense played. There are several ways to win a football game and OSU won with toughness, something it has been criticized for over the last couple of years. At the end of the day, the Buckeyes beat the No. 5 team in the country by eleven points and you know the offense is going to be more than fine down the road.

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