Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 1


It's just one week into the college football season, and already there's been some movement in my Big Ten power rankings. The biggest fall came from Northwestern, who went from No. 6 in the preseason rankings to No. 11 now.

The Big Ten went 12-2 during the first week. The biggest surprise was Purdue losing on a last-second field goal to Nevada. The Boilermakers were an 11-point favorite.

Here's my rankings after the games of Aug. 29-31:

1. Michigan (1-0)     ***     Last week's ranking: 1

Last week: Beat Middle Tennessee 40-21.

This week: Army at Michigan, Noon ET (TV: FOX)

The skinny: Yes, I know that Ohio State is the higher ranked team in the polls, but I like this Michigan group and I feel like they are the best team in the conference. It took a little while for its offense to get going Saturday, but then Shea Patterson got hot and threw three nice touchdown passes.

2. Ohio State (1-0)     ***     Last week: 2

Last week: Beat Florida Atlantic 45-21

This week: Cincinnati (1-0) at Ohio State, Noon ET (TV: ABC)

The skinny: Justin Fields had a great debut at quarterback, but this week's game is well worth watching. Not only does Indiana get Ohio State next week in Bloomington, but this Cincinnati team is very good and could give the Buckeyes a game.

3. Penn State (1-0) *** Last week: 4

Last week: Beat Idaho 79-7

This week: Buffalo at Penn State, 7:30 p.m. ET (TV: FOX)

The skinny: The Penn State offense has the potential to be very good, and its certainly proved it Saturday against an inferior Idaho team. I moved them up a notch even though I know Idaho is not good, but truth be told, I went back and forth at 3-4 with them in the preseason. Buffalo will be a much tougher test this week.

4. Iowa (1-0)     ***     Last week: 3

Last week: Beat Miami (Ohio) 38-14

This week: Rutgers at Iowa, Noon ET (TV: FOXSports1)

The skinny: It took the Hawkeyes a while to get going on Saturday before running away from Miami when quarterback Nate Stanley threw three touchdown passes. The Hawkeyes get to host the first conference game of the season this week against Rutgers.

5. Wisconsin (1-0)     ***     Last week: 8

Last week: Beat South Florida 49-0

This week: Central Michigan at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: BTN)

The skinny: There's no doubt that the Badgers had the most impressive win of the weekend. In the steamy Florida heat, Wisconsin put a whipping on a decent-enough South Florida team, which changed my mind quickly about this team. I clearly made a mistake starting them at No. 8 in the preseason.

6. Michigan State (1-0)     ***     Last week: 7

Last week: Beat Tulsa 28-7

This week: Western Michigan at Michigan State, 7:30 p.m. ET (TV: BTN)

The skinny: That Michigan State defense is beyond elite, holding Tulsa to minus-73 yards rushing. That's just crazy. The offense is still in a work in progress, and until it comes around, this ranking might be as high as they get, despite that great defense.

7. Nebraska (1-0)     ***     Last week: 6

Last week: Beat South Alabama 35-21

This week: Nebraska at Colorado, 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: FOX)

The skinny: Nebraska is the trendy pick to win the Big Ten West, but I'm still not on board and the Cornhuskers didn't really do anything to change my mind on Saturday. It was a good win, but there were certainly some issues.

8. Indiana (1-0)     ***     Last week: 10

Last week: Beat Ball State 34-24

This week: Eastern Illinois at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: BTN)

The skinny: I moved the Hoosiers up a couple of notches, but that was mostly because Purdue and Northwestern, the league's two losers this week, had been ahead of them. There was a lot to like in the win over Ball State, and Michael Penix Jr., had a great debut at QB. Most power rankings don't have the Hoosiers this high, but I am a believer.

9. Minnesota (1-0)     ***     Last week: 11

Last week: Beat South Dakota State 28-21

This week: Minnesota at Fresno State, 10:30 p.m. ET (TV: CBSSN)

The skinny: Minnesota moved up, too, but also only because of those two losses. The Gophers really weren't all that impressive in beating a pesky South Dakota State team, and they will definitely have to play better on the road at Fresno State this week. That's a scary road trip.

10. Maryland (1-0)     ***     Last week: 12

Last week: Beat Howard 79-0

This week: Syracuse at Maryland, Noon ET (TV: ESPN)

The skinny: I'm not putting much stock in rolling over an outmatched Howard team like Maryland did, but at least it was a feel-good kind of day in Mike Lockley's debut as a head coach. Syracuse is very good, ranked nationally for the first time in a while, so we'll learn a lot more about the Terps this week.

11. Northwestern (0-1)     ***     Last week: 5

Last week: Lost to Stanford 17-7

This week: Bye week

The skinny: Sure, Stanford is a good team that will contend for a Pac-12 title, but this was a brutal performance by Northwestern on offense. Both quarterbacks were terrible, and Northwestern's offensive line is a mess. Usually have a bye week this early in the year isn't preferred, but it might be a good time to hit the reset button.

12. Purdue (0-1)     ***     Last week: 9

Last week: Lost to Nevada 34-31:

This week: Vanderbilt at Purdue, Noon ET (TV: BTN)

The skinny: When you're an 11-point favorite and you have a 17-point lead in the second half, you have to close out that game. This is an atrocious way to start the season for the Boilermakers, and they get Vanderbilt this week, which could be interesting, too.

13. Illinois (1-0)     ***     Last week: 13

Last week: Beat Akron 42-3

This week: Illinois at Connecticut, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBSSN)

The skinny: Illinois looked good in beating Akron, but I'm just not ready to start moving them up until I see more. It might be a good idea for Indiana fans to record this game since IU plays Connecticut in three weeks.

14. Rutgers (1-0)     ***     Last week 14

Last week: Beat UMass 48-21

This week: Rutgers at Iowa, Noon ET (TV: FOXSports1)

The skinny: Same with Illinois, I'm not a believer in this team either. They were preseason No. 14 for a reason, and it will take several impressive wins for that to change.

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