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Big Ten Conference Football Power Rankings: Week 1

Spoiler: Purdue and Rutgers are NOT last.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

One week of college football has been played, which means that it’s time to rank them by a very scientific formula in order to decide who is good and who is bad. What’s the scientific formula, you ask? Well, I watch some football and drink a few brews and then use my biases to decide who goes in front of who. It’s very complicated and I don’t expect you to understand, but that’s what I do.

In all seriousness, only one week of football has been played so it’s hard to actually distinguish some of these teams from others. What separates, say, Minnesota from Rutgers at this point in the season, or even Wisconsin from Michigan? A lot of these teams are pretty close at this point, but teams will begin to fall into a slot as the season goes on.

NCAA Football: Akron at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

1. Penn State

The Nittany Lions only played Akron in Week 1, but they absolutely dominated them in all phases of the game. The Zips were only able to gain 159 total yards on offense, averaging two yard per rush and three yards per pass attempt. Meanwhile, Saquon Barkley ran for 172 yards and Trace McSorely threw for 280. They might not lose during the regular season.

Next game: vs Pittsburgh

2. Ohio State

Ohio State struggled out of the gates against the Hoosiers, finding themselves down 14-13 at the half. Whatever adjustments they made during the break worked - they outscored Indiana 36-7 in the second half and showed why they’re a legitimate top five team. J.T. Barrett showed why he could be the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, throwing for over 300 yards and rushing for 61.

Next game: vs Oklahoma

3. Wisconsin

Another team that struggled out of the gates, but ended up scoring 59 unanswered points to defeat Utah State. Alex Hornibrook was efficient enough, the Badgers showed they have a couple formidable rushers, and the Wisconsin defense flew around and caused turnovers left and right.

Next game: vs Florida Atlantic

4. Michigan

The Wolverines faced probably the best team of any Big Ten team in Week 1 (other than Indiana - sorry, Hoosiers), and held them to just 11 rushing yards. Wilton Speight struggled with a couple pick-sixes, but Michigan has a few good-to-great running backs to help take the pressure off him this coming week.

Next game: vs Cincinnati

5. Iowa

Iowa’s defense proved stout against Josh Allen and Wyoming. The defensive backs, the biggest question mark on that side of the ball, showed that it could be a strength in 2017. If the Hawkeyes want to be successful, however, they’ll need to cut down on the turnovers next week.

Next game: at Iowa State

6. Maryland

Maryland took to the road and performed admirably in the hostile environment that is Texas Memorial Stadium. The biggest questions after their dominant week one performance is whether or not their offense can keep it up when facing a defense with a pulse, and whether their defense can improve in future weeks.

Next game: vs Towson

7. Nebraska

The Huskers will likely move up in future weeks, but after a rough start to the season where their defense gave up about 500 yards to Arkansas State, it’s hard to put them any higher at this point. If they can pull out a victory in the noise dungeon that is Autzen Stadium next week, they’ll jump on this list.

Next game: at Oregon

8. Northwestern

The ‘Cats struggled in their season opener against Nevada, but Northwestern tends to start slowly against Group of Five and FCS teams. Justin Jackson is still the real deal, and possibly the best sign for Northwestern fans is that Clayton Thorson was efficient for most of the game without top 2016 receiver Austin Carr.

Next game: at Duke

9. Michigan State

Michigan State handily defeated lowly Bowling Green in their first game by a final score of 35-10, but it doesn’t say a whole lot about whether or not they’ll be a better team than last year. Their leading rusher in Week 1 was quarterback Brian Lewerke, and that’ll need to change if they want to win more than three games in 2017.

Next game: vs Western Michigan

10. Purdue

The Boilermakers have shown that they’re already better than the 2016 team, hanging with #16 Louisville until the very end of a 35-28 shootout. Lamar Jackson had a field day against a bad Purdue defense, torching them for 378 yards by air and 107 yards by ground, but the Boilermakers have a passing game that could make them competitive against less talented teams this year if they cut down on interceptions.

Next game: vs Ohio

11. Indiana

Indiana played well against a top five team during the first half, but their lack of a running game stalled out their offense in the second half of the game. They can’t have Richard Lagow throwing 65 times per game if they want to continue their streak of bowl eligibility, especially now that star wide receiver Nick Westbrook for the season after tearing his ACL covering on the opening kickoff. Not great.

Next game: at Virginia

12. Rutgers

Rutgers isn’t last in this edition of the power rankings! I’m not sure they left the basement all of last season, but to start off this year, they showed a pulse against Washington and played tough for a large portion of the game. They did a solid job stopping the run against the Huskies, and on the offensive end, were efficient through the air. They just weren’t able to break any long plays, particuarly on the ground, where they averaged 3.3 yards per carry.

Next game: vs Eastern Michigan

13. Minnesota

Minnesota did not look good against a bad Buffalo Bulls team. They did tally over 400 yards of total offense, but miraculously only punched the ball into the end zone twice all game. On the plus side, they only surrendered a first quarter touchdown to the Bulls. It was not an impressive performance for the Gophers and they face a tougher test on the road this upcoming weekend in Oregon.

Next game: at Oregon State

14. Illinois

Illinois is laugh out loud bad. They gave up 375 yards to Ball State, of all teams, and only gained 216 of their own. Somehow, they were able to pull this one out thanks to a one-yard rushing touchdown with two minutes left. If you watched any of this game for an extended period of time, I’m glad you survived. They probably won’t improve from last year.

Next game: vs Western Kentucky