Big Ten Football Power Rankings: Week 1

by 24USATVSept. 10, 2021, 8 a.m. 22
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It has been a funky start schedule wise but now all 14 Big Ten teams have been on the field and have a game under their belt.

There were Thursday games, Friday games, conference games, non-conference games — and even a Week 0 game. There was plenty to watch early on with ranked matchups and of course, Ohio State expecting to be one of the best teams in the nation once again.

Week 1 is officially in the books and the schedule will begin to normalize a bit. Let’s take a look at the power rankings heading into Week 2 of competition.

Next: 9/11 vs. No. 12 Oregon

New quarterback, same Buckeyes. Ohio State was the only team in the nation that did not return a pass attempt this season. It certainly helps a young quarterback to have the best receiving duo in the nation. Despite a rocky start, CJ Stroud totaled 294 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson might be the best two wide receivers in the nation — if not, it is close. Expect Ohio State to get comfortable at the top of the power rankings once again.

Most Recent: W, 16-10 at No. 12 Wisconsin

Penn State money line. The Nittany Lions would have been second in the preseason rankings. Why? they’re better than Wisconsin and showed it on Saturday. It was an ugly game but Penn State was able to hold up defensively. The Nittany Lions are not the 0-5 team that started off last season. Sean Clifford has weapons in Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington. The defense is stout. James Franklin has this team ready for a bounce-back season.

Most Recent: W, 34-6 vs. No. 17 Indiana

Next: 9/11 at No. 9 Iowa State

Iowa took a 31-3 lead into halftime in Week 1. Did they take advantage of an overrated Indiana team? Yes but they were able to beat them handily. The Hawkeyes forced three turnovers and held Indiana to 233 total yards. It is clear that the Hawkeyes will once again have a tough defense and play games in the trenches. They will be tested once again in an in-state rivalry against a top-10 team.

Most Recent: L, 16-10 vs. No. 19 Penn State

Wisconsin was just not ready to play in Week 1. It was an ugly game to Penn State, which cannot happen at home. Graham Mertz is inconsistent and needs to show that he can play at a high level in the Big Ten. Despite a loss in their first game, the Badgers remain in the top four of the rankings because who is going to jump them? Wisconsin is still ranked for now and do you really believe in the teams behind them?

Is Michigan back? It’s too early to say. They dominated Western Michigan and are preparing to take on a Washington team that is coming off a 13-7 loss to Montana. Regardless, Michigan was impressive rushing for 335 yards. Cade McNamara looked solid and they handled a lesser team the way they should. Jim Harbaugh needs to put it together eventually and this could be the year.

It was a sign of things to come when Kenneth Walker III took the first play of the game 75 yards for a score. This got the Spartans rolling and they ended with 326 yards on the ground. The defense held Northwestern to seven points through three quarters and the game was over by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. This was a huge win for Mel Tucker and Michigan State with Youngstown State coming up. The Spartans have 2-0 right in front of them.

Most Recent: L, 45-31 vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Minnesota is 0-1 but a Week 1 loss to Ohio State is nothing that will be held against them. They led 14-10 at halftime and were able to keep the Buckeyes in check. Mohamed Ibrahim rushed 30 times for 163 yards and two scores before going down with an injury. This was a huge loss in this game and will be for the rest of the season. The Golden Gophers will have to have others step up to make up for the big loss in the backfield.

Taulia Tagovailoa was impressive in a victory over West Virginia. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns as Maryland is off to a quick start. The Terps are still a big question mark this season but after Week 1, there is some positivity.

Most Recent: L, 34-6 at No. 18 Iowa

It was a disaster for the Hoosiers against Iowa. Michael Penix threw three touchdowns. The defense could not stop anyone and the game was over at halftime. Anyone should have been able to see that Indiana was not going to be as good as last season but it’s not time to throw them into the bottom third of the Big Ten just yet. A Week 2 matchup against Idaho could be what they need to get right.

Rutgers was expected to beat Temple. They were two-score favorites but no one expected the Scarlet Knights to put up 61 points and win by 47. Noah Vedral was solid, Johnny Langan scored twice, Olakunle Fatukasi and Bo Melton are still really good at football. There is excitement in Piscataway but the Scarlet Knights need two things to happen to make a few jumps in the rankings. Those are do it consistently and do it against better competition. Both can be accomplished on the road against a slightly-improved Syracuse team.

It was not an impressive win by Purdue in Week 1. Think about what happened. David Bell, who we know is an elite receiver in the conference, finished with eight catches for 134 yards. Jake Plummer finished 29-for-41 for 313 yards and two scores — and they still had to fight until the end in a 30-21 win over Oregon State.

It has been a roller coaster season for Illinois so far. A Week 1 victory over Nebraska was ruined by a home-loss to UTSA. There is not much to say after this one. The Illini will have to prove themselves once again. This was certainly not the way to follow up a Big Ten win to open the season.

Northwestern was a question mark heading into the season and this was the reason why. They fell behind 21-0 early to Michigan State and were unable to get back into the game. They lost this game this bad without turning the ball over. Pat Fitzgerald’s defense was torched for 511 yards, which was very surprising.

A 52-7 win over Fordham is not enough to get Nebraska out of the basement. Scott Frost’s days could be numbered as the Cornhuskers continue to be a bit of a mess. They better beat Buffalo before going on the road to face Oklahoma — then the gauntlet of a Big Ten schedule.

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