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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 1 Recap

Indiana shocks Penn State, Michigan notches a big road win, and Purdue edges out Iowa.

1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (1-0), W - 52-17 vs. Nebraska, Next Week: at No. 18 Penn State

The Buckeyes overcame a sluggish start and outscored the Cornhuskers 28-3 in the second half to earn their first win of the season. Quarterback Justin Fields was just too much for Nebraska’s defense, finishing with 276 passing yards, 54 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns (two pass, one rush). Ohio State’s wide receiver duo of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, who had 104 and 126 receiving yards respectively in Week 1, are going to be an absolute issue for opposing defenses all season. A top-25 showdown at Penn State is on the docket this weekend for the Buckeyes.

2. (3) Wisconsin (1-0), W - 45-7 vs. Illinois, Next Week: at Nebraska

Watch out, it looks like the Badgers have finally found a quarterback. Redshirt freshman Graham Mertz went off in his first career start, throwing for 248 yards, five touchdowns, no picks, and just one incompletion (20 for 21). The much-heralded Mertz reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, which is a bummer, but Saturday’s performance was eye-opening to say the least. Wisconsin’s defense was their typically stout self, allowing just 87 passing yards and forcing two turnovers (one fumble, one INT). The Badgers will hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Nebraska on Saturday.

3. (5) Michigan (1-0), W - 49-24 at Minnesota, Next Week: vs. Michigan State

Michigan opened up the 2020 season with an impressive 49-24 road win over a ranked Minnesota team. Quarterback Joe Milton was solid in his first start, passing for 225 yards and a touchdown, while adding 52 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Michigan’s rushing attack was relentless on Saturday night, as running backs Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins needed just 10 total carries to rush for 152 yards combined. If Milton can continue his development under center, the Wolverines look the part of a Big Ten title contender.

4. (6) Indiana (1-0), W - 36-35 OT vs. Penn State, Next Week: at Rutgers

In the most exciting and controversial game of the weekend, the Hoosiers secured a marquee upset win over No. 8 Penn State in overtime. Indiana’s defense picked off quarterback Sean Clifford twice in the first half to help the Hoosiers jump out to a 17-7 halftime lead. Penn State eventually took a 28-20 lead with 1:42 left in the fourth quarter, before the Hoosiers drove 75 yards for a touchdown and two point conversion to force overtime. Head coach Tom Allen decided to go for two and the win in overtime, as quarterback Michael Penix Jr. ran in the winning two point conversion. Penix was shaky for most of the game, but came through when the Hoosiers needed him most on the game-tying and game-winning drives. Indiana will look to avoid a letdown in a road matchup against Rutgers this Saturday.

5. (2) Penn State (0-1), L - 36-35 OT at Indiana, Next Week: vs. No 3 Ohio State

The Nittany Lions fell behind early against the Hoosiers before storming back in the second half to take a 28-20 lead in the fourth quarter. Indiana tied the game late on a 75-yard touchdown drive to force overtime, where the Hoosiers went for two and won on a controversial conversion. Penn State actually outgained Indiana 488 to 211 and dominated time of possession by more than 20 minutes, but three turnovers (two INTs, one fumble) and ten penalties for 100 yards are what ultimately doomed the Nittany Lions. James Franklin’s team will look to get back on track when No. 3 Ohio State visits State College on Saturday.

6. (8) Purdue (1-0), W - 24-20 vs. Iowa, Next Week: at Illinois

The Boilermakers won a close, back and forth matchup versus Iowa this past weekend. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell got the start and looked pretty good, throwing for 282 yards, three touchdowns, and two picks. Most importantly though, O’Connell stepped up when Purdue needed it most, leading the Boilermakers on a 12-play, 72 yard go-head touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver David Bell stepped up in Rondale Moore’s absence, finishing with 13 catches, 121 yards and three touchdowns. This was an important West division win for the Boilermakers, especially without Moore and head coach Jeff Brohm, and they’ll look to move to 2-0 when they travel to face Illinois this weekend.

7. (4) Minnesota (0-1), L - 49-24 vs. Michigan, Next Week: at Maryland

P.J. Fleck’s team fell behind 21-10 in the first quarter and were never really able to recover, losing 49-24 at home to the Wolverines. Quarterback Tanner Morgan had two turnovers (1 INT, 1 fumble) and was sacked five times in the loss. The good news is running back Mohamed Ibrahim looked as good as ever, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Better days are ahead for the Gophers, who ran into a much more talented and complete team in Michigan. Minnesota travels to Maryland this weekend in what should be a winnable game against the Terps.

8. (10) Northwestern (1-0), W - 43-3 vs. Maryland, Next Week: at Iowa

The Wildcats had a great start to the 2020 season, dominating a subpar Maryland team and cruising to a 43-3 win in Evanston. It was a balanced offensive attack for Northwestern, with quarterback Peyton Ramsey throwing for 212 yards and a combination of running backs producing 325 yards on the ground. Northwestern’s defense completely stifled the Terps and forced four turnovers in the game. The Wildcats will look to keep the momentum going with an important West division matchup against Iowa on Saturday.

9. (7) Iowa (0-1), L - 24-20 at Purdue, Next Week: vs. Northwestern

Iowa had a lead for most their game versus Purdue, but were unable to hold on, as a late fourth quarter touchdown drive by the Boilermakers gave the Hawkeyes an opening week loss. New quarterback Spencer Petras had mixed results in his first start, throwing for 265 yards and no picks, but wasn’t able to move the ball effectively in the second half. Running backs Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent both had 70+ yards rushing and look to be one of the Big Ten’s best running back duos, however, both players fumbled on Saturday. This was a game Iowa easily could have and probably should have won, and the Hawkeyes will look for a bounce back performance against Northwestern this weekend.

10. (9) Nebraska (0-1), L - 52-17 at Ohio State, Next Week: vs. No. 9 Wisconsin

There’s no shame in losing to Ohio State, and the Huskers actually showed some fight in the first half in their 52-17 loss to the Buckeyes. Quarterback Adrian Martinez has seen better days, as he threw for just 105 yards and fumbled once, but he did have 85 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Luke McCaffery had 80 yards rushing and was used as both a running back and wide receiver in the loss. McCaffery is someone the coaching staff clearly wants to get involved in the offense and could push Martinez for the starting job if the Huskers continue to struggle throwing the ball. Nebraska’s gauntlet of a schedule continues this weekend when Wisconsin visits Lincoln.

11. (14) Rutgers (1-0), W - 38-27 at Michigan State, Next Week: vs. No. 17 Indiana

Is Rutgers back?! Greg Schiano led the Scarlet Knights to their first Big Ten win since 2017 in his first game back with Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights defense was the story in this game, as they forced seven turnovers (five fumbles, two INTs) and registered 12 tackles for loss in an impressive performance. Quarterback Noah Vedral, a transfer from Nebraska, was at least serviceable, and running back Isaih Pacheco scored two touchdowns in the win. It’s only one game, but it’s clear Rutgers is going to be better coached and more competitive this season than they have been in awhile.

12. (12) Illinois (0-1), L - 45-7 at Wisconsin, Next Week: vs. Purdue

The Illini had a rough weekend, as they were blown out 45-7 by Wisconsin. Quarterback Brandon Peters was shaky, completing 8-of-19 passes for just 87 yards, and the offense as a whole was only able to convert eight first downs. On defense, Illinois was picked apart by Graham Mertz and were never able to get off the field, as the Badgers converted 8-of-14 third downs and dominated time of possession by more than 25 minutes. It will be interesting to see how the Illini respond this weekend with a tough, but winnable home game against Purdue.

13. (11) Michigan State (0-1), L - 38-27 vs. Rutgers, Next Week: at No. 13 Michigan

In head coach Mel Tucker’s first game in East Lansing, the Spartans were upset by Rutgers 38-27. Sparty turned the ball over seven, yes seven, times including losing five fumbles. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi had a big yardage day (319 passing yards) but threw two interceptions. Wide receiver Jayden Reed had a big day receiving with 128 yards and two touchdowns, but his performance was dampened by two fumbles. Overall, it was sloppy, mistake-filled opening game for the Spartans, who travel to face a top-15 Michigan team on Saturday.

14. (13) Maryland (0-1), L - 43-3 at Northwestern, Next Week: vs. Minnesota

Head coach Mike Locksley is in for a long year in College Park. The Terrapins were outgained 537 to 207 and committed four turnovers in their 43-3 blowout loss at Northwestern. Locksley’s team was thoroughly overmatched on Saturday night, as starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for just 94 yards and three picks in his first career start. Maryland’s defense had no answer for the Wildcats’ ground game, allowing 325 rushing yards on 6.1 yards per carry. There’s a real possibility Maryland goes winless this season.