Big Ten power rankings, Week 2: Ohio State, Wisconsin impress while Nebraska disappoints

COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 31: Quarterback Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes passes against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ohio Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 31: Quarterback Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes passes against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ohio Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Even with a brand new coach and quarterback, Ohio State rolled through their first opponent and remain at the top of the Big Ten power rankings.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are tasked with breaking in a new head coach and quarterback. One weekend of football has come and gone and the Ohio State Buckeyes are, unsurprisingly, still sitting at the top of the Big Ten.

The Michigan Wolverines are still the closest challenger that the Buckeyes will have in 2019, and that’s not all that surprising either. However, during the first actual weekend of college football, a few Big Ten Teams did show up in surprising fashion.

Maryland exploded on to the scene with a 79-0 statement win over Howard to start the season. Penn State’s offense was similarly remarkable during its week one game, scoring 79 points as well against Idaho as part of a 79-7 win.

And Rutgers won as well!

Rutgers is undefeated. That’s probably not something that Scarlet Knight fans will be able to say much longer as the season progresses, so they better enjoy it now. Rutgers has more wins than Miami, Oregon, and Florida State. This is a fact that is technically true. Sure, Rutgers beating UMass isn’t the most impressive feat ever accomplished, but the Scarlet Knights simply need wins right now. And they got one.

The start to the 2019 season could have gone better for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It also, technically, could have gone worse. But barely managing to beat South Dakota State at home isn’t a win that will help build a ton of confidence in Minnesota this year. P.J. Fleck’s team trailed South Dakota State until just over five minutes remained in the game. This team will need to get better if it intends to contend for the Big Ten West.

Purdue had every opportunity to win its game against the Nevada Wolfpack. The Boilermakers probably could have won this game by double digits. Purdue had a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter, and still found a way to lose 34-31. In a way, that’s kind of impressive. It also shows that Brohm and the Boilermakers still have a long way to go.

The Illinois Fighting Illini processed Akron with ease, firing on all cylinders on offense, defense, and special teams on Saturday. The only real knock on the Illini’s win is that they committed 7 penalties for 75 yards. Other than that, Illinois looked like a real football team that could actually win games. And that’s a huge improvement over where this program has been in recent years. It remains to be seen if Illinois can keep that up, however.

The Hoosiers got the 2019 season going with a respectable, 10-point victory over the Ball State Cardinals. Indiana probably should have won this game by a larger margin, and had the Hoosiers done that, they’d be receiving a bit more respect right now. But a win is a win and this program could use all the wins it can get. In this win, Indiana may have found something of a star as well. Outside of two picks, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. proved that he can generate offense when his team needs him to, creating 393 total yards of offense on Saturday.

Ohio State wasn’t the only Big Ten team breaking in a new quarterback and head coach to start the 2019 season. Maryland debuted talented transfer quarterback Josh Jackson and new head coach Mike Locksley against the Howard Bison and won big. Jackson and Locksley combining forces helped lead the Terps to a 79-0 win. Terrapin fans are likely hoping that this sort of performance is something that they’ll be seeing frequently this season.

Northwestern, in a less than thrilling matchup against Stanford, tried to go toe-to-toe with a top 25 team to get this season going. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they were unable to outscore Stanford in one of the most sluggish games from the first weekend of college football. That said, Northwestern did appear to match up fairly well in that defensive slugfest against Stanford, and losing that game isn’t anything to necessarily be concerned about given the Cardinal appear to be a quality team this season.

Year two of the Scott Frost era was supposed to start with a much more exciting win, but the season still started off with a win over South Alabama. The Cornhuskers weren’t quite clicking on offense through most of the game. A punt returned for a touchdown, a pick-six, and a fumble recovered for a touchdown was the difference in Nebraska winning and potentially losing this game. Nebraska fans are likely excited that the Huskers found multiple ways to score, but they might also be slightly concerned about Frost’s offense.

South Florida isn’t what many would define as a “great team,” but Wisconsin came out and had a great win over the Bulls. A clear, decisive 49-0 shutout win was exactly what the No. 19 Badgers needed to start 2019 season. Wisconsin could realistically win the Big Ten West this season and a dominant win to start the season should instill some confidence in Badger fans.

Michigan State won its season opener in what was quite possibly the most Michigan State way possible. The Spartans relied on their defense, produced just enough offense, and ground away at the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. MSU produced a grand total of 303 yards of offense but still won this game by 21 points. Shoutout to Michigan State for forcing safeties, kicking field goals, and fumble return touchdowns. Despite the fact that the win may have seemed dull from the outside looking in, this one was hardly dull at all.

There’s not much to report about this one. Iowa calmly, steadily won against Miami (Ohio) by 24 points and has held on to its spot at No. 4 in the Big Ten Power Rankings. The Hawkeyes looked sound on both offense and defense, even if the offense did take a couple of quarters to truly wake up.

Penn State, like Maryland, started the season by scoring 79 points against a vastly inferior foe. The Nittany Lions seemingly had no issue replacing Trace McSorley as they faced the Idaho Vandals. Sean Clifford appeared to be a star in Penn State’s first game of the season and the Nittany Lions supported their new starting quarterback by running for a combined 7 touchdowns. If Penn State can routinely do that, then the Nittany Lions have a real shot at reaching their ceiling this season.

The Michigan Wolverines calmly took care of business at home against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Shea Patterson threw three touchdowns and the Wolverines effortlessly put up over 450 yards of offense on the day. On defense, Michigan stymied Middle Tennessee State and made sure that the game was never really in question. Michigan appeared to be one of the best in the Big Ten, but the Wolverines aren’t quite there yet.

At the top of the conference sits the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ryan Day and Justin Fields shined in their collective debut. The new head coach and quarterback had no issue leading the Buckeyes to victory. Ohio State still appears to be better than just about any other team in the country right now. It also appears that the Buckeyes only have one real challenger in the Big Ten in Michigan.

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