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September 3, 2013A weekly look at the Big Ten power rankings. Michigan was the most impressive of the bunch in Week One, though the bigger test comes Saturday night against Notre Dame.
1: Michigan (1-0; beat CMU 59-9): The running game wasn't in midseason form, but few expected it to be with three new starters on the interior line. That said, quarterback Devin Gardner hid a lot of flaws (as expected) and the defense looked fast and physical. They get a big test Saturday night, but the Wolverines looked like the Big Ten's best in Week One.
2: Ohio State (1-0; beat Buffalo 40-20) Braxton Miller threw for 178 yards and two scores and Jordan Hall rushed for 159 yards, but the Buckeyes were sloppy. Miller had a screen pass intercepted and returned for touchdown, OSU was stifled on fourth and one at midfield - not impressive, but they'll improve.
3: Northwestern (1-0; Beat Cal 44-30): Cal isn't the standard, but the Wildcats took another program step by winning on the road while playing most of the game without quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark. Depth was on display with running back Treyvon Green rushing for 129 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, including the game winner.
4: Wisconsin (1-0; Beat UMass 45-0): Wisconsin looked like the Wisconsin of old under new head coach Gary Andersen, though UMass isn't a great litmus test. Badgers running backs rushed for 388 yards and three scores in the opener, while the Minutemen couldn't do anything offensively. Wisconsin might well move up when they face a worthy opponent or two.
5: Penn State (1-0; Beat Syracuse 23-17): It was an impressive debut for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, though the Nittany Lions struggled to a 1-for-15 showing on third down. Hackenberg was as advertised, though, throwing for 278 yards and two scores in proving PSU is still (at least, and for now) respectable.
6: Nebraska (1-0; Beat Wyoming 37-34): So much for better defense. Wyoming shredded the Cornhuskers for 35 first downs and 602 total yards, but quarterback Taylor Martinez and the offense saved the day. We expected more from a defense-minded head coach who made it his mission to improve that side of the ball this year.
7: Michigan State (1-0; Beat WMU 26-13): It looked like last year all over again for the Spartans against the Broncos - a defense that could be good enough to win a division title, and an offense that seems intent on not letting it. MSU has no running backs, receivers who can't receive and question marks at quarterback. Throw in an average line and there are plenty of games in which they'll be lucky to score 10 points if they don't improve in a hurry.
8: Indiana (1-0; Beat Indiana State 73-35) More of the same for the Hoosiers, too, who seem to have taken another step on offense but gave up 35 points in their opener. Indiana has the potential to make a bit of noise this year, though, after several close calls a year ago. Navy is next, a tough offense for even decent defenses.
9: Minnesota (1-0; Beat UNLV 51-23) This score's a bit deceiving considering the Gophers scored two special teams and one defensive touchdown. UNLV was right there in the first half and moved the ball well with the short passing game. Still, a win's a win, and Minnesota should (and will) take them any way they can get them.
10: Illinois (1-0; Beat Southern Illinois 42-34) Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase looked great, throwing for 416 yards and two touchdowns, but the Illini were suspect on defense, especially in the secondary. SIU had a chance to tie it late, but failed. The Illini gave up three plays of 29 yards or more and didn't register a sack. There's still a lot of work to do in Champaign.
11: Iowa (0-1; Lost to Northern Illinois 30-27) Quarterback Jake Rudock was solid in his debut, especially in the first half in leading the Hawkeyes to 302 yards and a 24-17 lead. He threw two second half picks, though, including one with 1:17 left that led to NIU's game winning field goal. Iowa gave up 275 yards passing and three scores, too. There's room for improvement on both sides of the ball.
12: Purdue (1-0; Lost to Cincinnati 42-7): The defense gave up 425 yards and 20 first downs, and yet the offense was worse. Quarterback Rob Henry was a disappointment, but he wasn't the only one. The offense turned it over three times in a debacle of a debut.