Big Ten football power rankings: Week 1
Michigan crushes Hawaii, Michigan State downs Furman in Week 1
The first full week of college football is in the books, and the Big Ten enjoyed a mostly successful opening weekend. Twelve wins -- including a comeback victory over an SEC powerhouse -- helped the conference hit the ground running.
There were a couple of hiccups, including a 35-point pounding on the West Coast, but most of the Big Ten's heavy hitters took care of business. Here's a look at the first week of power rankings:
Week 1 result: Wisconsin 16, LSU 14
Only three Big Ten teams had the guts to play power five teams during the opening weekend, and none challenged themselves as much as Wisconsin. The Badgers welcomed fifth-ranked LSU to Lambeau Field and held the Tigers to 257 total yards. Other than a 70-second stretch in the third quarter, when LSU scored 14 quick points, Wisconsin dominated its SEC opponent and picked up a big win for the conference. Is Wisconsin the best team in the Big Ten? Probably not. The offense needs work and Bart Houston will go through growing pains as a first-year starting quarterback. But they earned the top spot for Week 1 with the Big Ten's biggest win.
2. Ohio State
Week 1 result: Ohio State 77, Bowling Green 10
Ohio State's season got off to a rocky start when Bowling Green took the lead on a pick-six less than three minutes into the game. But the Buckeyes responded emphatically, dropping 77 points on a Falcons team that expects to compete for a MAC championship this season. Quarterback J.T. Barrett was in midseason form, totaling seven touchdowns. Detroit native Mike Weber rushed for 136 yards on 19 carries in his college debut.
Week 1 result: Michigan 63, Hawaii 3
Nobody knew for sure who would start at quarterback for Michigan until a few minutes into Saturday's game. Then, after Wilton Speight ran onto the field as the Wolverines' signal caller, his first pass was picked off by Damien Packer. Afterwards, the Wolverines were almost perfect. Three quarterbacks combined to complete 17 of 20 passes, 11 different players ran the ball and the defense held Hawaii to just one 55-yard field goal. Linebackers Jabrill Peppers and Mike McCray stood out at a position of concern for Michigan, helping to hold Hawaii to 232 yards of offense. That's without All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis, who didn't play. Michigan will cruise through another blowout against UCF Saturday.
4. Michigan State
Week 1 result: Michigan State 28, Furman 13
The Spartans looked uninspiring in their opener against Furman, but they played a similar style of ugly football last season before turning it on and winning the Big Ten title. Tyler O'Connor was shaky at times in his first game as the starting quarterback, but finished with three touchdowns and only one interception. L.J. Scott was sturdy as advertised, rumbling for 105 yards on 20 carries. Furman had no business being within one possession of MSU in the fourth quarter, but there was never a time that it looked like the Spartans were in real trouble. This year's Michigan State team isn't as good as the one led by Connor Cook and dominant trenches, but until they lose a game, there's no reason to drop the defending conference champions any lower.
Week 1 result: Iowa 45, Miami (OH) 21
A quick glance at the scoreboard makes it look like Iowa cruised past Miami (Ohio), but the Hawkeyes were actually outgained by 20 yards in the game. If not for three RedHawk turnovers, this game would have been much closer. Just like last season, Iowa has a schedule that sets up perfectly for a run at 12-0, but it can't afford to give up 400 yards of offense and over 36 minutes of possession time when Big Ten season starts.
Week 1 result: Minnesota 30, Oregon State 23
For the second straight season, Minnesota kicked off its season on a Thursday night against a power five team. The Gophers didn't play their best game, but they picked up 21 first downs and held on to beat Oregon State. Tracy Claeys' late-game management will be a roller coaster to watch all season, but his defense bailed him out with a late stand and senior quarterback Mitch Leidner put the team on his back to seal the game with a late rushing touchdown. Leidner and running back Rodney Smith combined for 201 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, but the passing game is far behind.
Week 1 result: Nebraska 43, Fresno State 10
Nebraska is expected to take a giant step forward in 2016 after losing five close games and finishing 6-7 in Mike Riley's first year. The Cornhuskers ran away from Fresno State in the fourth quarter and outgained the Bulldogs by 132 yards. Nebraska rushed 51 times for 292 yards and five touchdowns.
Week 1 result: Indiana 34, Florida International 13
In vintage Indiana fashion, the Hoosiers went down to Florida Thursday and knocked off Florida International by racking up 486 yards and forcing three turnovers. Kevin Wilson's offenses have been consistently explosive, but the Hoosiers have struggled to get stops defensively. If it can force turnovers, Indiana will be a pesky team in the Big Ten.
Week 1 result: Illinois 52, Murray State 3
It doesn't get much more dominant than Illinois' Week 1 performance over Murray State. The Fighting Illini gained 515 yards on offense and held the Racers to 165 yards in the 52-3 win. Quarterback Wes Lunt was very good in the opener, completing 15 of 21 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns. They won their opener over Kent State by the same score last season, but got waxed by North Carolina in Week 3. They'll look for a better result at home against the Tar Heels Saturday.
10. Penn State
Week 1 result: Penn State 33, Kent State 13
With Christian Hackenberg off to the NFL, Penn State's offense will be the Saquon Barkley show this season. He carried the ball 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown to lead Penn State in a 33-13 win over Kent State. Trace McSorley had a decent game at quarterback, completing 16 of 31 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. The Nittany Lions didn't pull away from Kent State until the third quarter, but pitched a 17-0 shutout in the second half.
Week 1 result: Western Michigan 22, Northwestern 21
Last season, Northwestern earned a signature win over Standford in Week 1. This season, Northwestern lost to a MAC school. A very good Western Michigan team traveled to Kyle Field Saturday and escaped with a 22-21 victory. Quarterback Clayton Thorson fumbled away Northwestern's last chance to win the game when he tried to get an extra few feet on the one-yard line during the final drive. Northwestern had plenty of time to punch the ball into the end zone and win the game, but Thorson tried to force the issue and score with 2:54 left in the game. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, he fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback, and WMU came away with a huge win. Northwestern won 10 games last season and will have to get things right against Illinois State next week with matchups against Duke, Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan State on the horizon.
Week 1 result: Maryland 52, Howard 13
The D.J. Durkin era got off to a good start Saturday as the Terps crushed Howard, 52-13. Maryland's downfall last season was horrendous quarterback play, but Durkin let the running game set the tone against Howard. Nine players combined to rush for 315 yards and six touchdowns on 44 carries and Perry Hills threw for 126 yards on just 19 attempts.
Week 1 result: Purdue 45, Eastern Kentucky 24
Purdue lost three of four nonconference games last season, but got off to a nice start against Eastern Kentucky Saturday. David Blough threw for 245 yards and Markell Jones rushed for 145 yards as the Boilermakers cruised to a 45-24 win. Three interceptions helped Purdue keep Eastern Kentucky from staying close in the game.
Week 1 result: Washington 48, Rutgers 13
If it was possible to drop Rutgers below No. 14, that's where the Scarlett Knights would be. They were completely uncompetitive against Washington, surrendering 24 points in the first quarter and eventually losing by 35. Washington is a good team, but Rutgers hasn't shown much of a pulse since joining the Big Ten in 2014. Chris Ash should pick up his first win Saturday in the home opener against Howard.
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