Spartan Digest Big Ten Power Rankings #1

The first week of Big Ten play is in the books now giving fans a better understanding of where the conference stands. Here is our first B10 Power Rankings for 2011.

The Big Ten Conference is sure to hear the heat of the national media again in 2011. While there are a few programs worth noting, there are also some concerns as teams get ready for week two of conference play.

#1. Wisconsin – There is no question the Badgers are at the top of the class following their destruction of Nebraska. Sitting with a 5-0 record, Badger Nation must be feeling good about their future this season. With all things running like a well oiled machine, there was no question Wisconsin is our #1 team in the Big Ten for the first power rankings.

#2. Michigan – With their 5-0 start you have to give the Wolverines their early season due. However, things can change quickly in the Big Ten and Brady Hoke's team will be tested by an always pesky Northwestern program before taking on rival Michigan State in two weeks on the road.

#3. Michigan State – The Spartans posted a huge road win at Ohio State with defense. While there were still struggles on offense, Jerel Worthy and crew posted nine sacks on the day and only gave up a touchdown in the final seconds of the game. Kirk Cousins must be more consistent and the Spartans running game needs to get back at full steam as they get deeper into conference play.

#4. Nebraska – The Huskers learned a tough lesson Saturday as Wisconsin overpowered them on both sides of the field and left head coach Bo Pelini embarrassed. However, the Huskers have talent and the Badgers are considered the elite team early this season.

#5. Illinois – Ron Zook has his team playing well and has earned a spot in the Top 25 with their 5-0 record. They should be able to move to 6-0 with Indiana up next before hosting Ohio State the following weekend. We'll give Zook and his team their due in our first Power Rankings but will hold off on buying all in too early.

#6. Iowa – The Hawkeyes are here because of their reputation. However, that could soon change as they get ready to take on Penn State on the road. A solid win against the Nittany Lions will secure this spot; any struggles will have some questioning how good of a team they are. On Monday the team released news that backup quarterback A.J. Derby has been suspended for the next two games. Will this hurt the team?

#7. Ohio State – The Buckeyes ran into a defensive buzz saw in Michigan State and questions surround the program as to the direction of its offense. The Buckeyes can still play defense and showed that with their play against the Spartans. However, dreams of getting some key players back from suspension this week took another hit on Monday leaving many questions ahead. Could the Buckeyes be any worse? Maybe, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

#8. Penn State – The Nittany Lions struggled against Indiana and things will only get harder for Joe Paterno's team with Iowa coming to town this weekend. How good are the Nittany Lions? That will remain to be seen as there are still some questions at the quarterback position.

#9. Northwestern – You always hate to place a team capable of breaking through this low in the power rankings. However, if Dan Persa is not under center, this is a different team and one we cannot have too high. The Big Ten knows the Wildcats can be major spoilers any week if Persa is at the controls of the offense.

#10. Minnesota – First year head coach Jerry Kill has a better team than the record shows. An injury to quarterback MarQueis Gray didn't help the Golden Gophers against Michigan as the offense struggled and the defense was gassed by the amount of time they spent on the field. However, at this time we have the Gophers just a bit higher than Indiana.

#11. Indiana – First year head coach Kevin Wilson has a major rebuilding job ahead of him at basketball rich Indiana. The Hoosiers played Penn State tough in their 16-10 loss on Saturday. While there but is a lot of work to be done, quarterback Dusty Kiel was solid in his first career start and the defense kept the Hoosiers in the game.

#12. Purdue – Danny Hope may be seeing his last days in Black & Gold as his team continues to struggle on the field. Despite the fact they have two victories this season; Hope does not have a team capable of fighting for a conference championship or against upper level programs out of it. Things could get better this weekend as they host Minnesota.

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