By Steven Lassan
Post-Week 1 Big Ten Power Rankings
Also check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Nebraska (1-0) – The Cornhuskers first game as a Big Ten member was a success. Nebraska easily handled Chattanooga, beating the Mocs 40-7. A revamped offense was on display, with quarterback Taylor Martinez collecting 251 yards of total offense and three rushing scores. Running back Rex Burkhead had a light workload, managing 75 yards and one score on 11 carries. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard did not play in the opener, sitting out due to a pulled leg muscle. The Cornhuskers can afford to rest one of the top cornerbacks in the country another week, as Nebraska hosts Fresno State.
2. Wisconsin (1-0) – With one of the nation’s top rushing attacks and the addition of Russell Wilson, the Badgers are a threat to win the national title. Sure, UNLV wasn’t the most difficult competition to open the year, but the Badgers turned in an impressive performance. The offense rolled up 499 yards, while scoring 51 points. Wilson didn’t have a whole lot of time to pickup Wisconsin’s offense, but the senior looked terrific on Thursday night. The defense struggled to stop UNLV’s rushing attack, which could be a concern with Oregon State coming to Madison in Week 2. The Beavers lost to Sacramento State last Saturday, but the Badgers can’t afford to be lulled to sleep by that result.
3. Ohio State (1-0) – The Luke Fickell era is off to a good start. The Buckeyes easily handled Akron on Saturday, beating the Zips 42-0. New quarterback Joe Bauserman had an efficient afternoon, completing 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and three scores. He also added 32 yards and a score on the ground. True freshman quarterback Braxton Miller got into the game, but Bauserman figures to be the No. 1 quarterback for Saturday’s game against Toledo. A revamped defense appeared to be in midseason form, limiting the Zips to 90 total yards.
4. Michigan State (1-0) – The final score wasn’t all that impressive – 28-6 – but Michigan State never really seemed threatened by Youngstown State on Friday night. Quarterback Kirk Cousins turned in a solid performance, completing 18 of 22 throws for 222 yards and one score. Running back Edwin Baker led the way on the ground, posting 91 yards on 15 carries, while Le’Veon Bell scored two touchdowns on nine attempts. The Spartans get another tune-up this Saturday, as they host FAU, who lost 41-3 to Florida last week.
5. Iowa (1-0) – Inclement weather dampened the spirits for Iowa’s opener, but the Hawkeyes easily beat Tennessee Tech 34-7. Big things were expected of running back Marcus Coker this year, but he had a shaky performance on Saturday. Coker managed only 41 yards on 11 attempts and was pulled due to fumbles. Quarterback James Vandenberg was solid in his third career start, throwing for 219 yards and two scores. The pressure goes up for the Hawkeyes on Saturday, as they head to Ames to take on rival Iowa State.
6. Penn State (1-0) – Quarterback questions hung around Happy Valley all week and after Saturday’s win over Indiana State, there’s still not much clarity to the battle between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. McGloin completed 6 of 8 passes for 77 yards, while Bolden threw for 37 yards on six completions. Expect both quarterbacks to see time in Saturday’s matchup against Alabama. As expected, running back Silas Redd had a huge game on Saturday, rushing for 104 yards and two scores on 12 attempts. With quarterback play a concern, Redd and the offensive line will need to have a big performance against the Crimson Tide next week.
7. Illinois (1-0) – With a favorable schedule to start the year, it’s important for Illinois to build some momentum before Big Ten play approaches. So far, so good. The Fighting Illini took care of business against Arkansas State, defeating the Red Wolves 33-15. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had a solid performance, completing 16 of 23 passes for 267 yards and two scores. Receiver A.J. Jenkins was the main target for Scheelhaase, catching 11 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. Expect another victory from the Fighting Illini in Week 2, as they host South Dakota State.
8. Michigan (1-0) – Brady Hoke’s opener at Michigan certainly won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Thunderstorms prevented the game from being finished, but the Wolverines were ahead 34-10. Quarterback Denard Robinson didn’t show much rust in the new offense, completing 9 of 13 passes for 98 yards. He also managed 46 yards on eight attempts on the ground. The Michigan defense struggled early, but kept Western Michigan off the scoreboard in the second half. Coordinator Greg Mattison made some good adjustments to keep Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder in check, but will have a much bigger test this Saturday against Notre Dame.
9. Northwestern (1-0) – No Dan Persa? No problem for Northwestern. After struggling to win without Persa in the lineup last year, the Wildcats went on the road and beat Boston College 24-17 with their star quarterback sidelined. Persa is still recovering from a torn Achilles, but could be back in the lineup this Saturday against Eastern Illinois. Sophomore Kain Colter got the start for Persa and played well, completing 17 of 24 passes for 197 yards. He also rushed for 71 yards and a score. Another positive for Northwestern was the defense. Sure, the Wildcats gave up 479 total yards, but made key plays in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory.
10. Minnesota (0-1) – It’s only one game, but it’s clear Jerry Kill was the right hire for Minnesota. The Golden Gophers nearly pulled off a huge upset in USC, even with starting quarterback MarQueis Gray sidelined due to cramps. True freshman Max Shortell completed 7 of 13 passes in relief and could contend for snaps if Gray struggles at any point. Kill and his coaching staff won’t accept any moral victories, but the Gophers were big underdogs and showed a lot of resolve in rallying after an early deficit. Minnesota should break into the win column this Saturday with a matchup against New Mexico State on Saturday.
11. Purdue (1-0) – The Boilermakers needed a blocked field goal by Ricardo Allen to prevent overtime against MTSU, but it’s a victory and Purdue is 1-0. With quarterback Rob Henry sidelined for the year with a torn ACL, Caleb TerBush stepped into the starting role and completed 19 of 33 for 219 yards and two scores. TerBush came up big in the fourth quarter, completing a 35-yard strike to Antavian Edison, which ended up being the game-winning score. One bright spot for Purdue was the play of running back Ralph Bolden, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Bolden rushed for 120 yards on 17 attempts.
12. Indiana (0-1) – Kevin Wilson’s debut at Indiana was a disappointment. The Hoosiers fell 27-20 to Ball State in Indianapolis. The Hoosiers did get solid play from quarterback Edward Wright-Baker, who completed 20 of 32 throws for 272 yards and one score. However, the Indiana’s defense struggled, particularly in stopping Ball State’s rushing attack. Wilson was the right hire for Indiana, but it will take some time for everything to come together for the Hoosiers. Unfortunately for Wilson, the slate won’t get any easier in Week 2, as Indiana hosts Virginia.
All of our Week 1 college football rankings
Big Ten Week 1 Notebook
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