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Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 1: Ohio State, Michigan separate from the pack; Wisconsin climbs

The Badgers' big win in Green Bay shakes up the top of the Big Ten.

Abigail Buchta

1. Ohio State (1-0)

Led by J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes demolished Bowling Green by throwing up a ridiculous 77 points. The roster is overflowing with talent in Columbus; the true test comes Sept. 17 against Oklahoma.

Next Up: Tulsa (Home)

2. Michigan (1-0)

The hype appears to be legit in Ann Arbor, as the Wolverines pummeled Hawaii 63-3. Jim Harbaugh touts one of the nation’s top defensive units, and quarterback Wilton Speight looked the part against a vastly under matched opponent, tossing three touchdowns on only 13 pass attempts. This is a top-10 team nationally until proven otherwise.

Next Up: UCF (Home)

3. Wisconsin (1-0)

The Badgers stood toe-to-toe with one of college football’s most talented team’s in the LSU Tigers and emerged victorious behind a ferocious defense in a 16-14 slugfest. The atmosphere was electric at Lambeau Field and Paul Chryst's squad sent a message to the rest of the conference: Wisconsin deserves to be mentioned among the Big Ten elite.

Next Up: Akron (Home)

4. Iowa (1-0)

The reigning Big Ten West champions beat Miami (Ohio) 45-21 in Week 1 with a punishing run game. A dual-attack featuring Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels Jr. was the engine that powered the Iowa offense, as each back notched two touchdowns. With C.J. Beathard running point at quarterback, the Hawkeyes are as balanced on offense as any team in the Big Ten. Kirk Ferentz has long struggled against intra-state rival Iowa State, and he’ll need to improve defensive results after his Hawkeyes allowed a very average Miami team to gain 424 of total offense.

Next Up: Iowa State (Home)

5. Michigan State (1-0)

sloppy showing in Michigan State’s home opener against Furman drops the Spartans slightly. Still, quarterback Tyler O’Connor appears ready to fill the shoes of Connor Cook, leading the Spartans to a 28-13 win. A massive test awaits Mark Dantonio after the bye in Week 3: Brian Kelly’s polished Notre Dame offense, in South Bend.

Next Up: Bye

6. Nebraska (1-0)

The Huskers took care of Fresno State with ease behind a rush-centric offense, bullying the Bulldogs to a 43-10 win. Nebraska was also turnover-free, music to ears of Husker-nation. A matchup with Oregon in Lincoln is on the horizon in Week 3—can Tommy Armstrong stretch the field with the pass game? He’ll need to if Nebraska wants to move up on this list.

Next up: Wyoming (Home)

7. Penn State (1-0)

The Nittany Lions looked solid against Kent State and its tough defense, notching a 33-13 victory. Quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley—Penn State’s hyped backfield—looked impressive, and the defense forced turnovers. Much will be learned in the next two weeks when the competition increases against in-state rivals Pitt and Temple.

Next Up: Pitt (Away)

8. Minnesota (1-0)

The Gophers squeaked out a 30-23 win against an average-at-best opponent in Oregon State, which is why Minnesota isn’t higher on this list. Minnesota can run the ball with quarterback Mitch Leidner and running back Rodney Smith, but that comes as no surprise. The Gophers will need to be able use the passing game as a threat in order to compete for the Big Ten West.

Next Up: Indiana State (Home)

9. Illinois (1-0)

The Illini are the biggest question mark in the Big Ten West, and that holds true despite their Week 1 blowout of lowly Murray State. Wes Lunt is a heckuva talent at quarterback and Lovie Smith’s presence legitimizes the program. Much will be learned next week when a skilled North Carolina comes to town.

Next Up: North Carolina (Home)

10. Indiana (1-0)

The Hoosiers used a big fourth quarter and two pick-six's to upend FIU in a 34-13 opening week victory. The prospect of a playmaking defense is huge news to IU faithful, and running back Devine Redding looks to be the focal point for the offense.

Next up: Ball State (Home)

11. Northwestern (0-1)

Northwestern had the worst Week 1 of any Big Ten team. The Wildcats were outplayed by Western Michigan from start to finish, and a late fumble on the 1-yard line was almost karma-like. Justin Jackson was great (124 yards and three touchdowns on the ground) but Pat Fitzgerald’s squad was out-toughed at home in a 22-21 loss to the Broncos.

Next Up: Illinois State (Home)

12. Maryland (1-0)

The Terrapins looked sharp in DJ Durkin’s debut, but the competition was negligible. Maryland only has room to grow under its uber-recruiter of a head coach. It’s worth noting that Maryland had six (!) players rush for a touchdown in a 52-13 blowout of Howard. Maryland won't face a true test until Big Ten play, specifically Oct. 10 at Penn State.

Next Up: FIU (Away)

13. Purdue (1-0)

The Boilermakers notched a 45-24 victory over a Division I opponent in Eastern Kentucky, which is a step in the right direction for Purdue. David Blough appeared competent at quarterback, while Markell Jones is primed to give Big Ten opponents fits in the run game. The program seems to be moving in a positive direction, yet a true challenge awaits in Week 2—a strong showing against the Cincinnati Bearcats would be a big deal for the program.

Next Up: Cincinnati (Home)

14. Rutgers (0-1)

Chris Ash has his hands full with the rebuilding project that is Rutgers football. The Scarlet Knights were clearly overmatched by a skilled Washington team in a 48-13 loss, as the Huskies utilized big plays to put the game out of reach with a 24-0 advantage in the first quarter. Rutgers will see a massive difference in Week 2 when Howard comes to High Point Solutions Stadium.

Next Up: Howard (Home)