Big Ten Power Rankings: Ohio State, Michigan dominate, but how high are Badgers?
Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 1
The wins didn't get any bigger than Wisconsin's victory over LSU at Lambeau Field, but was it enough to vault the Badgers all the way to No. 1? Ohio State and Michigan had monster scoring outputs, and Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska all won, too. See how all the teams shook out in this season's first batch of Big Ten Power Rankings.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
It wasn’t the weekend’s most important win by a Big Ten team, but Ohio State’s 77-point output in a throttling of Bowling Green was eye-popping. J.T. Barrett proved without a doubt that he’s the conference’s best quarterback, throwing six touchdown passes and adding a rushing score just for fun. Mike Weber was pretty good in his first start, too, and how about Curtis Samuel? He might be this year’s big-play Buckeye.
2. Michigan Wolverines
A dominating performance by the Wolverines, who beat Hawaii by 60. Wilton Speight had a successful first start for Michigan, and there might be multiple threats out of the backfield with Chris Evans rushing for over 100 yards, outshining the likes of De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac.
3. Wisconsin Badgers
What a way to open the season, as the Badgers scored a huge upset victory over the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers. Offense was in short supply, with Corey Clement and Bart Houston putting up less-than-stellar numbers. But boy did the Wisconsin defense come to play, limiting LSU to just 257 total yards, keeping star running back Leonard Fournette out of the end zone and forcing a trio of turnovers, including a late game-sealing interception. Certainly a win that will be tough for another Big Ten team to top during the non-conference schedule.
4. Iowa Hawkeyes
No real trouble for the reigning Big Ten West champs in dispatching of Miami (Ohio). The Hawkeyes, despite a fine afternoon from quarterback C.J. Beathard, showed the running game might be their best asset, with Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels combining for 204 yards and four touchdown runs. Surprisingly, though, despite a 24-point edge for Iowa on the scoreboard, Iowa was out-gained in the total-yardage department, 424-404.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers
It took awhile for the Huskers to shake Fresno State, but with 22 fourth-quarter points they showed the kind of firepower that could be hard for many Big Ten teams to match — and that’s with an unimpressive night throwing the ball. Nebraska almost had 300 total rushing yards, with Devine Ozigbo leading the way with 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tommy Armstrong barely eclipsed 100 passing yards, but he scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, two of the Huskers’ five.
6. Michigan State Spartans
It wasn’t all that pretty, the 12th-ranked team in the country only topping an FCS foe by 15 points, but the Spartans did what they needed to do — win — in the season-opener. An offense with a new leader put up some fine numbers. Tyler O’Connor threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns, and LJ Scott rushed 20 times for 105 yards and a score. And the Michigan State defense allowed just 226 total yards.
7. Illinois Fighting Illini
An impressive win in Lovie Smith’s first game as head coach, with the Illini blowing out FCS opponent Murray State. The competition wasn’t great, but 52-3 is always a good score to be on the right side of. Wes Lunt threw three touchdown passes, Kendrick Foster had a pair of 56-yard touchdown runs, and the Illinois defense came away with interceptions on its first two series. North Carolina will provide a huge jump in competition, but a great start to the Lovie Era.
8. Penn State Nittany Lions
A remodeled offense left a little to be desired, but Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley were fine in a 20-point season-opening win. Seven sacks and three takeaways — including an interception-return touchdown to start the second half — allowed the defense to shine, and that again might be the key for Penn State with the offense finding its footing.
9. Indiana Hoosiers
Defense? Yes, defense was the driving force behind Indiana’s season-opening, come-from-behind win over Florida International. The Hoosiers had two pick sixes in this one, including one as part of a 22-point fourth quarter, and a safety. Devine Redding took the baton with ease from the great Hoosier backs before him, rushing for 135 yards. Even new quarterback Richard Lagow put up a fine stat line with 240 yards, a touchdown and no picks.
10. Maryland Terrapins
Guys, Maryland went a whole game without throwing an interception. DJ Durkin’s debut was pretty flawless, to be honest, with the Terps winning in a 52-13 whooping of Howard. The difference was the dueling rushing attacks, with Maryland rushing for over 300 yards and Howard failing to reach 70. Six different ball-carriers had at least 40 yards for the Terps, and the team scored six touchdowns on the ground.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers
A nerve-wracking but exciting comeback win for Minnesota against Oregon State. Tracy Claeys scared every maroon-and-gold fan out there with a strange unsuccessful two-point conversion try with a minute and a half to play. But Mitch Leidner and Rodney Smith had a good night on the ground, combining for 201 rush yards and four rushing touchdowns. And the biggest plays of the game came from true freshman defensive end Tai’yon Devers, who set up two Minnesota touchdowns with sacks and forced fumbles.
12. Purdue Boilermakers
The Boilers scored three touchdowns in the game’s first 13 minutes — including a great 78-yard interception return by defensive lineman Gelen Robinson — but let FCS foe Eastern Kentucky hang around a little too long, winning by just 10 at halftime and through the entire third quarter. Purdue dropped 512 total yards of offense on the FCS defense, with the Boiler defense forcing four turnovers. Markell Jones went off, too, for 145 yards and a touchdown.
13. Northwestern Wildcats
One of just two Big Ten teams to lose in the opening week, Northwestern’s defeat didn’t come against a bad team, but it did come in bad fashion. The Cats gave the game away with a goal-line fumble in the final minutes, turning a would-be go-ahead score into a nightmarish lowlight in an otherwise fine performance by the offense. Clayton Thorson didn’t throw an interception, and Justin Jacksonn was phenomenal with 124 yards and three touchdowns. But the Cats were out-gained by almost 100 yards, not a good sign from a defense that was one of the country’s best last season.
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Nothing went right for Rutgers in a really tough matchup against a top-15 team a whole continent away from home. No. 14 Washington wrecked the Knights in Chris Ash’s first game as head coach, the Huskies preventing Rutgers from doing much of anything. Washington had 24 points by the end of the first quarter, and Rutgers had just a pair of field goals to its name until the game’s final six minutes, when the Knights got their lone touchdown in garbage time.