James Laurinaitis, who is a former Ohio State linebacker, is a member of the Big Ten Network.

Following Week 1 of the 2018 college football season, Laurinaitis ranked each of the Big Ten teams. Coming in at No. 6 is Northwestern.

Why did the Wildcats get the former Buckeye’s No. 6 spot? Running back Jeremy Larkin.

“Northwestern came up with a big conference win Thursday night at Purdue,” Laurinaitis said. “Jeremy Larkin answered the questions of how the Wildcats would replace Justin Jackson, putting up 143 yards and a pair of scores.”

Every Northwestern fan knows how special Justin Jackson was as a Wildcat. All he did was lead the program in career rushing during his four years there (2014-2017).

Larkin, a sophomore, spent last season as a backup to Jackson. Larkin ran for 503 yards in 2017. To open up the 2018 season, the 5-foot-10 back from Cincinnati, Ohio ran for 143 yards and 2 TD against Purdue in a 31-27 road victory.

Quarterback Clayton Thorson may be the senior leader of the team. He’s coming off a torn ACL injury in the team’s 2017 bowl victory. Thorson is great.

But, he needs a running game to support him. And in Thorson’s first game without Jackson, Larkin was able to carry the load — receiving 30 touches — offensively.

Northwestern will again be in action against Duke at noon on Saturday at home. The game will be televised on ESPNU.