Big Ten Power Rankings: Spartans look the part

Big Ten Power Rankings: Spartans look the part
September 1, 2014, 8:30 am
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Vinnie Duber

See where your favorite Big Ten teams rank following Week 1 of the 2014 season.

1. Michigan State Spartans. Yeah, they were playing Jacksonville State, but the Spartans looked every bit a College Football Playoff contender, dominating in every facet of the game. Connor Cook, despite a shot to the knee, was exceptional. The running game looked brilliant. And the No Fly Zone showed no ill effects without Darqueze Dennard. Some showing from the green and white.

2. Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Huskers put their awesome offense on display in a crushing of Florida Atlantic. They also were facing weak competition, but that didn't really tarnish the electric performances of Ameer Abdullah, Tommy Armstrong Jr., Kenny Bell and even Jordan Westerkamp, who made the catch of the year. I mean, there's no way it gets better than this, right?

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Spartans 45, Jacksonville State 7]

3. Michigan Wolverines. Doug Nussmeier's done it! He's fixed the Michigan offense! Well, a stomping of Appalachian State doesn't really mean that's the case, but what an amazing showing it was from the Wolverines' offense. Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess combined for three TD pitches and catches, and Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith rushed for 100 yards. Each!

4. Maryland Terrapins. Another throttling of an FCS opponent, but you've got to be impressed by the new guys. The Terps showed they have offensive firepower to match the conference's top point-scorers. C.J. Brown totaled four touchdowns, and the wide receiver tandem of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long combined for more than 100 yards and a touchdown.

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Gophers 42, Eastern Illinois 20]

5. Ohio State Buckeyes. They played a very strong Navy team and survived. The Buckeyes obviously still have plenty of issues in need of a cleanup, but 34 points and a 17-point win in a game where they were losing at the half has to be encouraging of the level of sheer talent this team has. J.T. Barrett's debut didn't go half bad with 226 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses.

6. Minnesota Golden Gophers. A light opponent, perhaps, but the Gophers poured on the points in their 2014 opener, wiping the field with Eastern Illinois. Mitch Leidner combined for three touchdowns, and Minnesota might have found a new offensive weapon in Berkley Edwards, Braylon's younger brother and scorer of two touchdowns Thursday night.

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Rutgers 41, Washington State 38]

7. Indiana Hoosiers. What an explosion of a running game that was from Indiana. Getting four touchdowns to top Indiana State, the Hoosiers unleashed running back fury on their in-state "rivals" to the tune of 455 yards on the ground. Tevin Coleman had 247 of those yards and a pair of touchdown runs. D'Angelo Roberts chipped in with another 129 yards and a TD.

8. Rutgers Scarlet Knights. This ranking could change in a hurry, but it was an eyebrow-raising effort from a team expected to be the conference's worst on Thursday night. Rutgers, yes Rutgers, scored a whopping 41 points behind the awesome three-touchdown efforts of running back Paul James to beat a Pac-12 team on the road. Standing O for the Scarlet Knights.

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Penn State 26, UCF 24]

9. Purdue Boilermakers. In another shocking performance by a believed-to-be bottom feeder, Purdue exploded for 43 points in its season-opening win over Western Michigan. There's still much to worry about, including allowing 34 points to the Broncos, a 1-11 team from last season. But Raheem Mostert made an immediate impact as the feature back.

10. Penn State Nittany Lions. James Franklin's debut started well and ended well. What happened in between he probably won't remember as fondly, as UCF came on like gangbusters in the second half behind their second quarterback. Christian Hackenberg had a career day, though, throwing for 454 yards. But there's a lot to fix if the Lions want to do something more than just escape this season.

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Illini 28, Youngstown State 17]

11. Iowa Hawkeyes. A team some (cough, me, cough) pegged as West Division favorites, the Hawkeyes didn't look too awesome against Northern Iowa. Yeah, they won, but it was a bit of a sweat. 31-23 is not the kind of score a potential conference championship-game participant should be posting against an FCS team. Call it picky, but getting out-gained by Northern Iowa is not great. At least Tevaun Smith made an amazing catch.

12. Illinois Fighting Illini. For a pretty long time during Saturday's season-opener, it looked like the Illini were going to lose to FCS foe Youngstown State. They even trailed heading into the fourth quarter. Wes Lunt then pitched three touchdown throws in that final quarter, and he ended with four on the day. A win's a win, but Illinois will need to be way better to beat, you know, FBS teams.

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: LSU 28, Badgers 24]

13. Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers shouldn't be down this far for long, but they were just one of two Big Ten teams to lose in Week 1. Though they certainly deserve to be at the bottom after their unfathomable collapse in the second half against LSU. Head coach Gary Andersen ditched Heisman hopeful Melvin Gordon in the second half for apparently no reason, and Wisconsin is raising a lot of questions in the wake of the loss.

14. Northwestern Wildcats. Certainly no Big Ten team had a worse start than the Cats did Saturday. They nearly made up for an unbelievably slow start with an exciting second-half comeback attempt. But the hole was too big to overcome in a loss to Cal. A trick play was the highlight of the game, but other than that, the Northwestern offense could use a little work.