For most Big Ten teams, Week 1 was the first time we could see these teams in action. Obviously, Illinois and Nebraska played a game against each other in Week 0, but no other team played.
Now that we’ve seen every other team in the conference play, we have a better idea of what kind of a team they will be. Some teams, like Iowa, really looked great. Other teams, like Illinois, really struggled.
So heading into Week 2, here are the Big Ten West power rankings.
Despite beating Nebraska in Week 0, I still had to put Illinois at the bottom of the Big Ten West rankings. In Week 1, they played UT-San Antonio at home, in a game they were favored to win. WynnBET had the Illini as 5-point favorites over the Roadrunners.
The Illini eventually lost to their Conference USA opponents, 37-30. The Illini never led in the game.
Next, Illinois travels to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers, who just defeated William & Mary, 43-0.
Illinois may be better than they have in the past, but I still don’t think they are getting out of the cellar of the Big Ten West this season.
I have no faith in this team. Sure, they have more wins than three teams ahead of them on this list, but that win was against Fordham, an FCS team, last week. Granted, they did defeat them soundly, which is what they should do, winning 52-7.
Nebraska was supposed to be a force to be reckoned with when Scott Frost took over. Since that time, the Huskers are just 13-21 overall and 9-18 in the conference, worse than his predecessor Mike Riley.
Losing to Illinois is a very bad start, and Nebraska does not have a favorable schedule this year either. They will face no. 4 Oklahoma, no. 3 Ohio State, no. 18 Wisconsin, and no. 10 Iowa this season.
Their opponent next week is Buffalo. A loss to the Bills would be a very bad look for Scott Frost’s future in Nebraska.
The defending Big Ten West champs look like they are headed for a down year. In their season and home opener last Friday, they were run all over by Michigan State. The Wildcats were a very good defensive team last year, but the Spartans gashed them on the ground. Kenneth Walker III ran the ball 23 times for 264 yards (11.5 ypc) and four touchdowns.
Offensively, quarterback Hunter Johnson did pretty well. He completed 30-of-43 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, the Wildcats ran for just 117 yards. They will need a lot more of that if they are going to win some games this year.
Northwestern will take on Indiana State in a Week 2 matchup.
Purdue kicked off their season with a 30-21 win over Oregon State over the weekend. Receiver David Bell had a big day, catching 8 passes for 134 yards. Quarterback Jack Plummer threw for over 300 yards through the air with two touchdowns. This Boilermaker offense is looking pretty potent.
Defensively they also looked pretty stout. They allowed just 78 yards on the ground to the Beavers and sacking the quarterback three times. The Boilermakers have been seen as a rising program the past couple of years. I’m confident they are going to continue to improve and could be in a fight for the third spot in the Big Ten West standings by the end of the season.
They will take on the UCONN Huskies next week, who are currently searching for a new head coach after Randy Edsall stepped down after announcing his plan to retire at the end of the season.
The Badgers were expected to contend not only for the Big Ten West but the conference overall this year. The defense looked the part, despite missing Leo Chenal after he tested positive for COVID which will for him to miss the Badgers’ first two games.
The offense, on the other hand, didn’t look nearly as good. Questionable play calls, bad quarterback and offensive line play, poor red zone execution, and some very poorly-timed turnovers left the Badgers with a very frustrating loss, falling by just six to Penn State in a game the Badgers probably should have won.
Luckily, there is still time for the Badgers to turn the season around. They will host Eastern Michigan in a get-right game to get them back on track before they face Notre Dame in Week 4.
It hurt me to put Minnesota ahead of Wisconsin here. Maybe it was because I was just that disappointed in how the Badgers played on Saturday, but I think Minnesota really played well against Ohio State on Thursday night. The line for that game was 14.5 points and I couldn’t pick Ohio State to cover quickly enough. But credit to Minnesota, they kept things interesting for most of the game.
They took a big hit when all-conference running back Mohamed Ibrahim left the game with an injury. He’s been ruled out for the season with a ‘lower leg’ injury, but I think we can all agree that he tore his Achilles tendon after watching the replay.
The Gophers are going to have to depend on their passing attack to keep their season afloat.
Minnesota will take on Miami of Ohio in Week 2.
I think it’s fairly obvious that Iowa would be the team atop the Big Ten West power rankings. They were already viewed as a contender to win the division, and after Wisconsin and Minnesota lost, they looked even better. Now add in their absolutely dismantling of Indiana, who was the 17th-ranked team in the country in Week 1.
Their defense looked legit. They forced three interceptions, making life for their offense pretty easy. They also allowed just six points on two field goals to the Hoosiers.
We will get a chance to see how good the Hawkeyes really are in Week 2 when they play Iowa State in a top-10 matchup on Saturday. Iowa comes into the game ranked 10th while Iowa State is 9th. If you are a fan of Big Ten football, you will want to tune into this one.