Big Ten Power Ranking – Week One
Every week Phil Harrison gives you Big Ten power rankings based on who is playing the best. Here we go for week one.
We now have actual games to compare rather than two-deep rosters. It was a good week with some of what we thought, but also some surprises. Here’s a look at where each team in the Big Ten stacks up after just one week:
14. Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois may have won, but it was less than impressive. Only getting by a MAC squad that’s not supposed to do much in its own league by a FG at home? I need to see more before elevating Lovie Smith’s crew.
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Yeah Rutgers held its own for a bit against a very talented Washington squad, but it was still a loss at home. We don’t give out brownie points for moral victories, even in Piscataway.
12. Minnesota Golden Gophers
The first game of the P.J. Fleck era was mildly underwhelming. It was a win, but this team looks to be offensively challenged with questions still abounding at quarterback. There’s still some oars that need to go in the water for this whole row the boat thing.
11. Purdue Boilermakers
Well, what do we have here? The Boilers actually showed life against Lamar Jackson and Louisville — nearly pulling off the upset in Lucas Oil Stadium. The compete level seems to be better, but we need to see some wins on the field.
10. Indiana Hoosiers
You could easily make a case for Purdue to be in this spot, but based on what we saw in the first half against Ohio State, the Hoosiers upside seems to be there if it can channel the right mojo. I reserve judgement pending the next result.
9. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Much like Minnesota, the ‘Huskers won, but failed to impress. New QB Tanner Lee had a decent day in his debut but the defense needs to figure some things out to make noise in the Big Ten West. We’ll know more this week as Big Red travels to Oregon.
8. Northwestern Wildcats
Okay Northwestern. We know you like to surprise us all and play everyone every single team to a stalemate, but you’re supposed to be a contender in the West this year. Offensively, the Wildcats will ultimately be fine, but need to take more advantage of their opportunities than what we saw against Nevada.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa looked fantastic on defense, and just so-so on offense. The running game should continue to be solid, but how far Iowa goes will ultimately depend on the play at quarterback. The jury is still out.
6. Maryland Terrapins
The ‘Terps got a huge win for the program in Austin and the offense looked ready to roll no matter who plays quarterback. It’s freshman Kasim Hill’s job going forward. Can he keep the momentum going?
5. Michigan State Spartans
Welcome back Sparty — at least for one week. If Brian Lewerke can pose a real threat in the passing game, and if the defense can continue to find its formal self, Michigan State might surprise a lot of folks.
4. Michigan Wolverines
Yes the Maize and Blue looked great against Florida. Yes the Gators had everyone down to the team statistician suspended for the game. There are still doubts whether quarterback Wilton Speight can go out and win games, and there’s still an open question on how good the defense can be against a real, live offense. But, at least for one week, it was hard to tell that the defense had to replace ten starters.
3. Wisconsin Badgers
Did any other team get less fan-fare than the Badgers on Saturday? Quietly, Wisconsin did what Wisconsin does — route a team using defense, the running game, and opportunistic passing. This team has a high ceiling and might be favored in every game from here on out in the regular season.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State did what it should have done. It blew the doors off an out-manned Akron squad. Saquon Barkley had a day, Trace McSorley got his home-run celebration on, and the team looked every bit as good as we thought. A better test awaits with Pittsburgh on the horizon.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
For a bit, it looked like Ohio State would need an aspirin for a Fiesta Bowl hangover. The passing game again struggled through the first half against Indiana, but then things began to click in the second 30 minutes of the game. It ended up being a blow out with OSU looking like a playoff contender. More to come …