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Big Ten Football Power Rankings: Week 1

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With one full week in the books, we re-rank the conference contenders.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Northwestern at Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Now with a full week of college football action under our belts, we can re-examine where each of the teams in the conference stack up. In Week 1, we saw a few teams take care of business as expected in Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska. We also saw a few minor surprises in Penn State defeating Wisconsin, Iowa thrashing Indiana, and Michigan State clunking Northwestern. Last but not least, we saw a Big Ten team lose to an FCS opponent. After a wild week, let’s restack the deck and see what’s in store for Week 2.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes, 1-0 (1-0)

Previous Ranking: 1

Despite trailing early at Minnesota Thursday night, Ohio State pulled it all together thanks to superior talent and coaching across the board. CJ Stroud made his first career start and had a few rocky moments but was certainly not bad. He should have the Buckeye offense clicking in no time.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions, 1-0 (1-0)

Previous Ranking: 3

The Penn State/Wisconsin game was a Big Ten slugfest in its purest form. With zero points scored collectively in the first half, bettors on the under were living in luxury. Eventually, Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson connected and the Nittany Lions pulled out the road win in Madison for a huge early win in conference play.

3. Iowa Hawkeyes, 1-0 (1-0)

Previous Ranking: 7

Iowa pulled off the biggest stunner last week. They not only beat preseason darling Indiana, but blew them out. Originally, a second-tier Big Ten team in my eyes, the Hawkeyes catapulted themselves into being the favorites in the West immediately out the gates. The West will run through Iowa City this year.

4. Wisconsin Badgers, 0-1 (0-1)

Previous Ranking: 2

Following Wisconsin’s surprise home defeat to Penn State, the shimmer and shine of Graham Mertz’s early season performances last year are officially gone. Mertz threw for 185 yards, had no touchdowns and two interceptions. The Badgers will still compete with Iowa for the Big Ten West, but they will need more from Mertz in order to make anything noteworthy happen.

5. Michigan Wolverines, 1-0 (0-0)

Previous Ranking: 5

Michigan did what they were supposed to do on Saturday against Western Michigan. They handily beat an inferior opponent while not giving away too much on film. It’s tough to move the Wolverines either direction in these rankings as they played pretty well but weren’t tested by and large. A much stiffer test awaits this Saturday against a hungry Washington team coming off a defeat.

6. Indiana Hoosiers, 0-1 (0-1)

Previous Ranking: 4

Just about everything that could have gone wrong for Indiana on Saturday went wrong. Michael Penix looked shockingly bad, the offensive line looked dreadful and the defense wasn’t much better. I was tempted to drop the Hoosiers even further down this list but I believe their loss on Saturday was an aberration. We will know more once we see how they rebound.

7. Michigan State Spartans, 1-0 (1-0)

Previous Ranking: 9

Mel Tucker and the Spartans soundly defeated Northwestern on the back of Kenneth Walker III’s 264 rushing yards and four touchdowns. No doubt a Herculean effort, Walker transferred to East Lansing from Wake Forest this offseason and could not have asked for a better start. The Spartans host Youngstown State next week, followed by a major matchup at Miami the week after.

8. Maryland Terrapins, 1-0 (0-0)

Previous Ranking: 11

The Tagovailoa brothers have certainly become synonymous with college football success, though one much more than the other. On Saturday, Taulia posted arguably his best game as a quarterback while throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns while leading the Terrapins to a win over West Virginia. I doubt Maryland will contend in the Big Ten this year, but they got a much-needed hot start to the season.

9. Minnesota Golden Gophers, 0-1 (0-1)

Previous Ranking: 8

Minnesota hung around through two and a half quarters against the juggernaut that is Ohio State. They could have moved up in my rankings despite the loss had Mohamed Ibrahim not been injured for the season. I have serious doubts the Golden Gophers will be able to compete without him. Some injuries can be overcome while others, like this one, are devastating to a season.

10. Northwestern Wildcats, 0-1 (0-1)

Previous Ranking: 6

I thought very highly of Northwestern before the season started. They looked poised to be strong in the trenches which is always necessary in the Big Ten. After getting run over by Michigan State, I now have major concerns. If the Wildcats can’t stop a run game like the Spartans, how do they expect to stop Ohio State and Penn State?

11. Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 1-0 (0-0)

Previous Ranking: 10

I wasn’t surprised Rutgers beat Temple, but the way they did so was very impressive. The Scarlet Knights scored 61 points in a romp of the owls from start to finish. I seriously considered jumping them over Minnesota and Northwestern in the power rankings but couldn’t quite pull the trigger. Will Rutgers be undefeated when they travel to Ann Arbor in a few weeks? Only Syracuse and Delaware stand in the way.

12. Purdue Boilermakers, 1-0 (0-0)

Previous Ranking: 13

Purdue fended off a feisty Oregon State squad and secured a 30-21 victory. As expected, David Bell was all over the field and made an impact in a variety of ways. What was unexpected was the career games by Jack Plummer and Payne Durham. With a trip to Randy Edsall-less UConn up next, Purdue can and should be 2-0 heading into an in-state showdown with Notre Dame.

13. Illinois Fighting Illini, 1-1 (1-0)

Previous Ranking: 12

Without Brandon Peters available, Illinois turned to Artur Sitkowski yet again. This time, he was unable to overcome how putrid the Illini defense played as Illinois lost a shocker to UTSA. This marked UTSA’s first win in program history over a Big Ten school. This loss alone should have plummeted Illinois to the bottom of this list, however, a Week 0 victory over Nebraska keeps them out of the cellar.

14. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 1-1 (0-1)

Previous Ranking: 14

Nebraska handily defeated Fordham on Saturday in a much-needed bounce-back win. However, doing what you’re supposed to do won’t move you up the rankings when the team you lost to subsequently lost to an FCS opponent.