Saturday Tradition's Week 2 B1G Power Rankings
Who doesn’t love to overreact after Week 1? Many prisoners of the moment settled on some conclusions after Week 1. It seems that all the time we spent trying to forecast teams this offseason is all for naught.
I’m not quite ready to completely abandon ship on some of those opinions.
So yes, I had a change in the top five, but for the most part, Week 1 didn’t show us many new things. Wisconsin and Northwestern were the only teams that really delivered a surprise result.
Here’s where each B1G team is heading into Week 2:
14. Purdue (LW: 14)
Sure, it’s only the seventh win of the Darrell Hazell. And the Boilers actually looked like they had a nice offensive identity established with Markell Jones. But it was an FCS team at home. Let’s not get carried away.
13. Rutgers (LW: 13)
A blowout loss to a Pac-12 favorite was expected. Does that change anything we thought about the Knights heading into 2016? No, but Rutgers will suffer even bigger losses if it doesn’t have those defensive issues corrected by the start of its daunting B1G schedule.
12. Maryland (LW: 12)
DJ Durkin’s debut was a successful one, albeit against its weakest opponent of the year. If the Terps run all over the place like they did against Howard, they’ll be rising into single digits soon.
11. Illinois (LW: 11)
Like Maryland, Illinois got its new coach a convincing win vs. an FCS school in his debut. It was a solid start all around, though I’m sure Lovie Smith wanted to get more than 2.9 yards per carry from Ke’Shawn Vaughn. This Saturday against UNC will be a much better barometer for where Illinois is as a program.
10. Northwestern (LW: 9)
The Wildcats were on upset alert against a solid Western Michigan team. Still, that didn’t matter. Some might’ve questioned why I put a 10-win team at No. 9 in the B1G preseason power rankings. As we saw on Saturday, Northwestern is still too one-dimensional and there are questions on the defensive line. ESPN’s Ryan McGee went so far as to put Northwestern among the bottom 10 teams in the country. I won’t go there yet.
9. Indiana (LW: 10)
Indiana saved itself with some timely fourth-quarter defense. For about three quarters, the Hoosiers looked like a team that just couldn’t get into a rhythm. The jury is still out on whether or not Tom Allen’s defense will be the difference this program needs. Still, it was a three-touchdown victory on the road, which were once unheard of for Indiana.
8. Minnesota (LW: 8)
The Gophers just don’t blow teams out. Period. They don’t have a high-octane offense, which might frustrate some. On paper, a team some believe will win the B1G West should beat a team like Oregon State at home by three touchdowns. Hey, you know who else didn’t blow out many teams but still had plenty of success last year? Iowa. Ok, I’ll stop.
7. Penn State (LW: 6)
I didn’t expect Penn State’s offense to be clicking on all cylinders yet. Would it have been nice to see the Lions rack up 45 points, 500 yards of offense and put it on cruise control in the second half? Of course. But Trace McSorley and the defense were solid, and the Lions only allowed one sack. The Lions will get an opportunity to get an all-important quality win against Pitt, but they’ll have to deliver a cleaner offensive performance.
But don’t clean this up. Ever:
6. Nebraska (LW: 7)
Remember talking all offseason about how Nebraska wasn’t going to throw the ball as much? It wasn’t hyperbole after all. Tommy Armstrong threw just 10 passes, but more importantly, he didn’t throw any interceptions. It was a good early sign that Nebraska stuck with the run when Fresno State hung around in the second half. The Huskers can wear teams down with their weapons in the ground game. They just have to use them properly.
5. Michigan State (LW: 3)
Not trying to overreact, but style points are often taken into account with Week 1 performances. Michigan State didn’t get any of those. Struggling against a Furman squad that went 4-7 wasn’t the way Mark Dantonio wanted to start the season. The Spartans’ 120 penalty yards showed they still have some maturing to do. The Spartans will climb back into the top three if they can use the opener to prepare for and beat Notre Dame in two weeks.
4. Iowa (LW: 4)
Odd as it sounds, Iowa could’ve looked much better in a 24-point win. The defense struggled without Josey Jewell, who was ejected for targeting on the first drive. Miami (OH) won three games last year but was only outscored by three points in the final three quarters. On the bright side, Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels looked dominant and CJ Beathard didn’t get hurt.
3. Wisconsin (LW: 5)
It’s tempting to put the Badgers in the top two. After all, they were the only B1G team that beat a ranked team to start the year, much less a preseason national title contender. For that, they’re at least top-three worthy. But let’s not assume that one game instantly makes Wisconsin a favorite to win the B1G. If that is the case, Wisconsin’s schedule will reveal that truth in no time.
2. Ohio State (LW: 2)
After that pick-six, JT Barrett looked like the 2014 version of himself. That’s really good news for the Buckeyes. Last year, it didn’t matter who the opponent was. Barrett didn’t look that comfortable in non-conference play. For what it’s worth, Bowling Green was picked to win the MAC. The young Ohio State defense — Malik Hooker, especially — looked up for the challenge. But I’ll wait until OSU delivers that kind of a performance against a Power Five team to move them into the top spot.
1. Michigan (LW: 1)
This just in: The Michigan defense is going to be REALLY good in 2016. The Wolverines didn’t need All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis to dismantle Hawaii. Don Brown’s defense is going to yield more turnovers, which we saw in the opener. Wilton Speight shook off some nerves after his awful interception on the first drive and showed why he’s Jim Harbaugh’s guy. It was only one game against a bad team, but the Wolverines looked every bit like the B1G title contender they were hyped up to be.