These are power rankings; they will fluctuate a lot, especially the first few weeks of the season. These rankings are based on what we saw on the field, not what people thought they would see.
1) Michigan State: They picked up right where they left off last season. Quarterback Connor Cook looked great and the defense will be one of, if not the best defense in the league again. The only red flag was a meager 4.2 yards per carry against Jacksonville State.
2) Nebraska: 784 yards. The Huskers set a new Big Ten record for yards in a game. They had 498 rushing yards. It was remarkable, really. Their defense gave up a TD on the opening drive and wouldn’t budge after that, giving up 200 total yards. If they can shore up their special teams this team is likely to stay near the top all year.
3) Michigan: Efficiency and explosiveness were the words of the day Saturday for Michigan. Appalachian State is not who they use to be, but Michigan was excellent in every way you could want them to be; 16/19 passing, top two runners averaging over 11 ypc, and wide receiver Devin Funchess bursting on the scene for everyone that didn’t already know him.
4) Ohio State: People can pretend winning at Navy by 17 means nothing all they want, but don’t buy it. If it weren’t for a red zone turnover and a few freshman mistakes, this would have been a blowout as well. OSU isn’t as good without Braxton Miller, but they aren’t bad either. This team will grow up quickly with head coach Urban Meyer. The talent and speed is there. The real question mark is if the offensive line will mature quickly enough.
5) Wisconsin: The second half is engrained in our minds, but overall it wasn’t a bad showing for the Badgers. If not for two defensive lineman going down and the disappearance of their best player, Melvin Gordon, the game would have ended very differently. With that said, there were red flags in the secondary and non-existent passing game.
6) Penn State: Ireland was kind to Penn State as they got out of their with a win, thanks to the leg of Sam Ficken. He made four field goals, including the game winner. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg lit up the box score with 454 yards, but had one TD and two INTs. The most worrisome thing about this game for PSU was their 2.0 yards per carry against UCF. With that said, they found a way to win despite losing the turnover ratio 3:1. This game made Penn State fans need a Guinness.
7) Rutgers: Surprised to see them here after week one? So is everyone else, but credit where it is due. Rutgers beat a rising Washington State team out in Seattle. It is really difficult to play on the West Coast, especially for a team from New Jersey. They fought hard all game and moved the ball really well with a balanced attack.
8) Maryland: The score was huge. But look more closely and they only gained 169 more yards than James Madison. QB play was a bit underwhelming (18-of-35 for 186 yards). They did run the ball well and created three turnovers on defense – always a recipe for success. They are desperate for better QB play so they can utilize the most talented WR group in the Big Ten.
9) Iowa: The Hawkeyes won, but it was ugly. Sound familiar? Jake Rudock had a good day throwing the ball, but the running game really struggled. The defense was great against the run, but gave up 380 yards through the air.
10) Minnesota: This game was a snoozer until the fourth quarter. They did not look as good as the final score shows. In fact, if it wasn’t for winning the turnover ration 3-to-1, it’s likely they would have lost. They got outgained, gave up 27 first downs (only having 18 themselves), and simply had no home run threat.
11) Indiana: The box score looks a lot better than the final score. They only gave up 170 yards and put up 566 of their own. They ran the ball very well. Tevin Coleman led the Big Ten in yards with 247. Nate Sudfeld throwing the ball was the only real disappointment. If Sudfeld gets back to last years form and some playmakers emerge out wide, Indiana could be bowling at the end of the year.
12) Illinois: Tim Beckman must have been really excited to get quarterback Wes Lunt. So excited that the running game was horrid, but he threw it 38 times and Lunt did quite well, connecting on 24 of them for 285 yards and four TDs. Somehow though they gave up more yards than they gained and they couldn’t get the ground game going at all. You should expect more against Youngstown State.
13) Purdue: They, won, but it wasn’t pretty. Western Michigan is a really bad team and Purdue pulled off the 43-34 win. Quarterback Danny Etling wasn’t horrible, but he needs to improve quickly if they want a better record than last year – don’t expect it to happen. Their defense was very poor. If it weren’t for running back Raheem Mostert they wouldn’t have gotten the victory.
14) Northwestern: If it wasn’t for their terrible start they wouldn’t be this low on the list. They lost to a bad Cal team, at home. It can mainly be attributed to being out coached, honestly. Fitzgerald didn’t see the two QB system coming and it worked them over the first half. Their failure to run the ball was the other side of their downfall. They are in for another disappointing season.
*** Posted by Josh Harvey ***