Big Ten Football Power Rankings: Badgers Are on Top After Week 1
This year began a historic season for the Big Ten.
They added Nebraska, split into two divisions and will have a conference championship game in Indianapolis. There have also been a lot of off the field issues with Ohio State's scandal, Iowa's workout problems, and Wisconsin's battle for Russell Wilson.
Finally the offseason has gone and football is upon us. After one week of play we were able to see how teams will play and how their season will shape out. We had a great week of football, after week one who reigns supreme over the Big Ten?
12. Indiana Hoosiers
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National Ranking: N/A
Why 12th?: They lost to Ball State.
Indiana opened the Kevin Wilson era in a terrible way: with a loss to fellow Indiana residents Ball State from the MAC. This loss marked the first time in eight years that Indiana lost a season opener, 27-20.
The offense showed the potential that Wilson brings as a talented offensive-minded coach. Using no-huddle and speed to control the game, mostly through the air, where Wright-Baker was 20 of 32 for 272 yards and a touchdown. While on the ground the Hoosiers were less than impressive with Houston gaining 43 yards and Perez with gaining 41 yards and a touchdown.
While the offense seemed to be clicking, the defense not so much.
The Hoosiers gave up 173 yards passing and 210 yards rushing, and were unable to force the Cardinals off the field as Ball State controlled the time of possession. The run defense is something that the Hoosiers will definitely need to step up if they expect to compete in the Big Ten.
Indiana MVP: Edward Wright-Baker going 20 of 32 for 272 yards and a touchdown, with 12 rushing yards.
Week 2: Virginia
I just don't think Indiana's defense is good enough to stop Virginia's balanced attack, especially their run game.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers
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National Ranking: N/A
Why 11th?: Lost, but came so close to upsetting USC.
Minnesota came so close to starting the Jerry Kill era off with a bang, coming within two points of upsetting the USC Trojans in the Coliseum, 19-17.
Their passing game seemed to be the most effective way the Gophers moved the ball.
Gray went down with leg cramps, but went 7 of 12 for 94 yards, and then his backup Shortell went 7 of 13 for 98 yards with a touchdown and a pick. The running game was not as effective with Bennett rushing for 53 yards and a score, and then quarterbacks Gray and Shortell had 47 and 10 yards respectively.
The Gophers need to work on the kicking game, they would have won if it was not for the kicker missing two field goals.
On defense the Gophers were pretty stout against the run, only allowing 67 yards, but the Trojans did not need the ground game. USC's Mat Barkley shredded the secondary for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
Minnesota MVP: Marqueis Gray 7 of 12 for 94 yards and 47 yards rushing.
Week 2: New Mexico State
You wanna know how many wins New Mexico State has over the past two seasons? Five, and two were against New Mexico. Anything less than a win, and it's going to be a bad omen for the Kill era.
10. Purdue Boilermakers
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National Ranking: N/A
Why 10th?: Barely escaped but still beat Middle Tennessee.
Oh Purdue, you are almost as bad as your Indiana brethren, but at least you won your game. The Boilermakers escaped Middle Tennessee State 27-24. And by escaped, I mean barely escaped.
The offense wasn't the problem for the Boilermakers, who racked up 420 yards.
TerBush went 19 of 33 for 219 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. While Bolden ran for 120 yards and Shavers added 42 yards and a touchdown. TerBush added 21 yards rushing.
The problem for the Boilermakers was the defense, who gave up 460 yards of total offense. Yikes!
The Blue Raiders shredded the secondary for 330 yards and ran for another 130 yards. They did manage an interception, but the redeeming moment for the defense was a blocked last second field goal. Other than that, terrible defense.
Purdue MVP: Ricardo Allen blocked the last second field goal to save the game.
Week 2: Rice
Rice did not put up much of a fight against Texas, while Purdue does not have the same talent level as the Longhorns. I don't expect Rice to put that much of a fight again.
9. Illinois Illini
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National Ranking: N/A
Why 9th?: Slow start and gave up a gave up safety to a Sunbelt team.
Illinois started off slow versus the Red Wolves of the Sunbelt conference. They gave up a safety and were trailing with about two minutes left in the first half, but thanks to Nathan Scheelhaase they managed to avoid the upset, 33-15.
Scheelhaase, who might be one of the better quarterbacks in the conference, went 16 of 23 for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Amazingly, all but four passing yards went to receivers Jenkins and Milinies who both went over 100 yards receiving.
On the ground the Illini were led by Ford who had 86 yards on the ground and two scores. While they racked up the yards, giving up a safety is not a good thing.
On defense, the Illini had a stout run defense only surrendering 60 yards, but they gave up 290 yards passing. While that is not a good number, they did not allow a passing touchdown and had an interception. So overall, it was kind of a mixed bag for the defense.
Illinois MVP: Nathan Scheelhasse 16 of 23 for 267 yards and two scores and 24 rushing yards.
Week 2: South Dakota State
South Dakota State gave Nebraska a scare last year, and Minnesota has not done so well against Dakota schools, but the Illini should be able to beat the Jackrabbits with their balanced offense.
8. Michigan Wolverines
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National Ranking: 37th
Why 8th?: Bad offense, defense stepped up in win against Western Michigan.
In an unusual game that was called in the third quarter, Michigan's sputtering offense and surprising defense held off Western Michigan 34-10.
Wait Michigan's sputtering offense?
The same team that has Denard Robinson? Yep that offense.
Robinson went 9 of 13 for 98 yards and ran for only 46 yards. Toussaint led the run game with 80 yards and two scores, and Shaw added 54 yards and a score. For a grand total of 288 total yards of offense.
Defense is what really saved the day for the Wolverines. Brandon Herron became the first Michigan player to record two defensive touchdowns in the same game with a 94 yard pick-six and a 44 yard fumble return for a score. They were able to keep the Broncos under 100 rushing yards with only 96 and the secondary gave up 183 yards passing. Still it's a lot better than last year's defense.
Michigan MVP: Brandon Herron 94 yard pick-six and a 44 yard fumble return for a score.
Week 2: Notre Dame
No offense to Michigan, but South Florida's D is better than Michigan's. I could be wrong, but I don't think the new revamped defense is ready to stop the potent passing attack of Notre Dame.
7. Northwestern Wildcats
National Ranking: N/A
Why 7th?: Impressive win with backup QB, but terrible defense.
I am impressed. Northwestern did not have Dan Persa, and were not supposed to win this game. The Wildcats manged to rally without their star QB and beat Boston College in Boston, 24-17.
Without Dan Persa, backup Kain Colter stepped in to lead the Wildcats.
Colter went 17 of 24 for 197 yards with an interception. Not bad, but not good either. The running game really kicked it up with Trumpy rushing for 85 yards and a score, Colter rushing for 71 yards and a score, and Smith rushing for 53 yards and a score. Good job by the running backs and Colter for picking up the yards on the ground.
The defense was bad, giving up 479 total yards. 375 yards came through the air, and 104 yards on the ground. They did mange to get an interception and did not surrender a passing touchdown.
The Wildcats did mange to luck out with the Eagles missing three field goals, which definitely helped them win the game. Even then, the Eagles got it to the 19 yard line with 19 seconds left before a false start moved them back and took time off the clock, which led to a sack on the next play sealing the deal.
Northwestern MVP: Kain Colter 17 of 24 for 197 yards and a pick, and 71 yards rushing yards and a score
Week 2: Eastern Illinois
Another FCS school for the Big Ten that should be a win. This isn't Tim Brewster's Minnesota team.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes
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National Ranking: 32nd
Why 6th?: Dominated the game, but lost key contributor.
I am not going to deny that Iowa dominated Tennessee Tech 34-7, but this was more of a "at what cost" type of win.
Iowa's new starter Vandenberg went 13 of 21 for 219 yards and two touchdown passes, good way to start off your career as a starter, he even added a rushing touchdown.
However, the run game did not do so well.
Marcus Coker was supposed to be the next great running back for Iowa, but struggled with two fumbles and was benched, he finished with 41 yards. Coker was replaced by true freshman McCall who rushed for 61 yards, which led the team.
However, McCall is lost for the season as he broke his ankle. Not a good sign for the Hawkeyes.
The defensive play for the Hawkeyes was good, limiting Tennessee Tech to 158 yards passing while forcing two interceptions. The run defense did give up 140 yards rushing, with most going to Gay who had 108 yards.
To be fair, most of Tennessee Tech's yards came from the second half when backups and third string was in.
Iowa MVP: James Vanderberg 13 of 21 for 219 yards and two scores and 13 yards rushing with a score.
Week 2: At Iowa State
Iowa State needed a last minute touchdown and a fumble recovery to escape Northern Iowa, Hawkeyes should be able to handle the Cyclones.
On the other hand, do they really want to? I mean how really wants that terrible looking trophy?
5. Penn State Nittany Lions
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National Ranking: 27th
Why 5th?: Good defense, but still has QB controversy.
The Nittany Lions opened up the 2011 season with a win over Indiana State, 41-7. While they got the win, they still have not answered the quarterback controversy.
Both quarterbacks for Penn State were less than stellar. McGloin had the better day going 6 for 8 with 77 yards, while Bolden went 6 for 12 for 37 yards. Neither had a passing touchdown.
The running game was great, with Silas Reed rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns, while Suhey and Zorsich both added another touchdown each and rushing for 29 and 15 yards respectively. Overall they rushed for 245 yards.
The defense was stout, only giving up 170 total yards. They gave up 105 passing yards with one touchdown, but forced two interceptions. On the ground they only gave up 65 yards. Great defensive play.
However their special teams were not so great, with Penn State's kicker missing both field goal attempts and a PAT. They need to fix that.
Penn State MVP: Silas Reed 104 yards rushing with two touchdowns.
Week 2: Alabama
Penn State does not have consistent quarterback play and Alabama's defense will enjoy tormenting the offense.
4. Michigan State Spartans
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National Ranking: 17th
Why 4th?: Slow start and Youngstown State should not have been this close
To summarize, Michigan State started slow and the picked it up. Youngstown State outgained the Spartans in the first half, but Michigan State pulled away in the second half to win 28-6.
Kirk Cousins was his usual self, going 18 of 22 for 222 yards and a touchdown pass. The running game was led by Baker who rushed for 91 yards, Bell had 40 yards and two scores, and Caper had 22 yards and a score. Not too shabby.
Defense is another story.
While they woke up in the second half, the defense was bad in the first half, with the Penguins not scoring due to a missed field goal and failed fourth down conversion. The second half was much better by not allowing Youngstown State anywhere near scoring position. All together the defense gave up 126 passing yards and a touchdown, while managing a pick; and they gave up 128 yards rushing.
Michigan State MVP: Kirk Cousins 18 of 22 for 222 yards and a touchdown.
Week 2: Florida Atlantic
Florida Atlantic is one of the worst teams in football, anything but a big win would be a disappointment.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
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National Ranking: 18th
Why 3rd?: Terrific defense, solved QB controversy, but it was still untalented Akron.
The Buckeyes were down eight players, including several starters, but they still had enough power and talent to blow Akron out of the water, 42-0.
The Buckeyes won, and they also possibly solved their quarterback controversy. Senior Joe Bauserman went 12 for 16 for 163 yards and three touchdowns, and added 32 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Freshman Braxton Miller went 8 for 12 for 130 yards and a touchdown, and had 30 yards on the ground.
While it is early, Bauserman definitely seemed more impressive. For rushing Hyde had 93 rushing yards and Smith had 74 yards with a touchdown.
On defense the Buckeyes shut out the Zips and held them to just 90 total yards, very impressive. In fact, the Buckeyes only allowed two drives that produced double digit yardage, an 11 yard drive and a 61 yard drive. Overall Ohio State only had 55 yards passing and 35 yards rushing.
Ohio State MVP: Joe Bauserman 12 for 16 163 yards and three touchdowns with 32 yards. rushing and a score
Week 2: Toledo
It would take a huge collapse to lose to the Rockets.
2. Nebraska Cornhuskers
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National Ranking: 10th
Why 2nd?: Newcomers show that they are the best in the Legends division, did have inconsistent play.
The Big Ten newcomers played their first ever game as a member of the Big Ten, winning against Chattanooga 40-7.
Nebraska's offense promised to be new, but fans could not help seeing similarity to last year's offense.
Taylor Martinez was 11 of 22 for 116 yards. Not great passing numbers, but Martinez has another element, adding 135 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Rex Burkhead added another 75 yards and a score. Nebraska should be somewhat worried that they could not pass better against an FCS defense, though many of the in completions came from drops.
Nebraska had issues with the run last year, this year they crushed it, only allowing 60 yards on the ground.
However without star cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, the Mocs took advantage of the replacement, their only touchdown when the defender fell, and hurt the new linebackers with their passes to the running backs, giving up 170 yards passing. These are things that Nebraska will have to shore up, and hope Dennard comes back soon.
The Cornhuskers did manage to accumulate one interception, and as a happy note to Husker fans only had two fumbles-one from a botched punt return and the other in mop up duty by the backup QB.
Nebraska MVP: Cameron Meredith had two sacks, one interception, and recovered a blocked field goal.
Week 2: Fresno State
Fresno State's defense was bad against Cal last week, their offense was not too good either and Nebraska's defense is better than Cal's.
1. Wisconsin Badgers
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National Ranking: 11th
Why 1st?: Wisconsin is the best team in the Big Ten right now, was against UNLV but still impressive.
Wisconsin entered the Russell Wilson era with a win, and showed why they have the pieces to win the Big Ten and possibly the National Title.
Wilson was near perfect throwing 10 of 13 255 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, White led the way with 64 yards and a score, while Montee Ball had 63 yards and three scores and Wilson had 62 yards and a score.
Very impressive opening offensive production, but it remains to be seen how Wilson will compete against good defenses, which he struggled against in the ACC.
On defense the Badgers did an alright job. They gave up 146 yards passing and 146 yards rushing, for a total of 292 yards. I was not really impressed with their run defense, as they seemed to be susceptible to read options, which UNLV used rather effectively. They need to shore that up if they want to win the Big Ten.
Overall it was an impressive game for Wisconsin to open the season.
Wisconsin MVP: Russell Wilson 10 of 13 for 225 yards and two touchdowns with 62 rushing yards and a score
Week 2: Oregon State
Oregon State lost to Sacramento State of the FCS, Wisconsin should easily win this one.