OSU clear favorite in Big Ten after big win

Ohio State used a big second half to knock off Indiana last weekend. 

Image By: Jessi Schoville

Through the first weekend of college football, the Big Ten showcased its depth and went 11-3, including No. 2 Ohio State’s 49-21 victory over conference opponent Indiana. Highlights included No. 11 Michigan’s 33-17 win against a depleted No. 17 Florida team, Purdue hanging on but ultimately falling to Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson and No. 16 Louisville 35-28 and Maryland outlasting No. 23 Texas 51-41 in Austin.

No. 9 Wisconsin overcame early struggles and scored 59 unanswered points to defeat Utah State 59-10, while Nebraska looked shaky grinding out a 43-36 victory over Arkansas State. Penn State trounced Akron 52-0. Illinois escaped Ball State with a 24-21 win and Rutgers showed fight while losing 30-14 to No. 8 Washington.

Northwestern broke a late fourth quarter tie to earn a 31-20 victory over Nevada. Minnesota squeaked past Buffalo 17-7 in Minneapolis and Iowa locked down potential first round draft pick Josh Allen and Wyoming to win 24-3 in Iowa City. Michigan State pulled away from Bowling Green early in East Lansing and coasted to a 35-10 win.

With all this in mind, here is the definitive top-5 power ranking for the Big Ten after Week 1:

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Indiana gave Ohio State an early fright in the Thursday night Big Ten opener, as the Hoosiers led 14-13 at the half and were picking apart the Buckeye secondary. The second half was all OSU, however, as the Buckeyes put up 29 unanswered points to silence the Bloomington crowd.

Starting his third straight year at quarterback, senior J.T. Barrett went 20-for-35 passing for 304 yards and three touchdowns. True freshman running back J.K. Dobbins set a season-opener, freshman school record with a game-high 181 yards on 29 carries.

Ohio State showed weakness against Indiana, but ultimately pulled away and asserted control with superior talent and depth. The second-ranked Buckeyes will be truly tested against Baker Mayfield and No. 7 Oklahoma in a primetime Saturday night showdown in Columbus

2. Michigan Wolverines

While Florida was missing 10 suspended players including its two top offensive playmakers, the Wolverines would’ve dominated the Gators without back-to-back interceptions from junior Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight.

Michigan returns only one starter from last year’s defense, but thanks to head coach Jim Harbaugh’s top-notch recruiting classes the past few years, the Wolverines have plenty of talent to fill the void.

Sophomore linebacker Devin Bush Jr. is one of the Maize and Blue’s brightest young stars, and his two sacks and five tackles were critical to UM’s victory over Florida. If Bush and the other linebackers continue to thrive, Michigan has a good chance to make it back to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship game.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions

PSU racked up 569 yards of offense against Akron thanks to Heisman-favorite junior running back Saquon Barkley and senior quarterback Trace McSorley, both leaders from last year’s Big Ten champion team.

The Nittany Lions will be challenged at rival Pittsburgh this weekend, but look for PSU to rely on its experience to contend for a Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff bid this season.

4. Wisconsin Badgers

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw three touchdowns and UW forced four turnovers to overcome a painfully slow start against the Utah State Aggies. The Badgers trailed late into the second quarter but dominated the second half, scoring 24 points in just four minutes and 52 seconds of action.

After losing playmakers T.J. Watt to graduation and Jack Cichy to injury, the tenacious Badger defense that kept UW in games time and time again last season is now looking for answers after surrendering 304 yards to USU. The four turnovers were more than enough against the Aggies, but forcing mistakes will become exponentially more difficult as the Badgers face Big 10 competition.

Look for senior tight end Troy Fumagalli and freshman running back Jonathan Taylor to carry the load for the Badgers offensively.

5. Maryland Terrapins

The Terrapins spoiled Tom Herman’s Texas debut and overcame an injury to starting sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome late in the third quarter to the tune of a 51-41 road upset over the No. 23 Longhorns.

Pigrome put up three touchdowns before twisting his knee and being replaced by highly-regarded freshman Kasim Hill. Even after leading 27-7 in the second quarter, the Terps needed two crucial fourth-quarter touchdown drives from Hill to secure the win.

Despite going 6-7 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten a year ago, Maryland has proven it can contend with powerhouse programs.

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