Big Ten Week 1 Power Rankings: Northwestern surges

The first week of the college football season is in the books, so it's only fair we bring back our weekly power rankings and separate the best of the Big Ten from the worst.

Our 1-2 was unanimous, but it got a lot trickier the farther down we went. The worst team in the B1G, for example? Three teams received two votes apiece. It was close.

Here's how it all shook out:

1. Ohio State: OK, so the Buckeyes started off a little slow in the 42-24 win over Virginia Tech. That doesn't change the fact this is the most talented team in the Big Ten, or that its second-half performance was full of highlights. We're even starting to suspect Braxton Miller is a video-game character.

2. Michigan State: The 37-24 win over Western Michigan could have gone better, as the pass defense and kickoff coverage definitely needed work. But, at this point, we're giving Mark Dantonio the benefit of the doubt. Both lines remain among the B1G's best, and it's downright silly to underestimate Connor Cook.

3. Northwestern: How's this for a surprise? No one saw the Wildcats' 16-6 win over Stanford coming, so they shot up eight spots from our preseason rankings. This team is a definite wild card. But if Pat Fitzgerald's team can maintain this pace, Northwestern could be a contender in the West. Quarterback Clayton Thorson will only get better.

4. Minnesota: No, the Gophers couldn't pull out the upset against No. 2 TCU. But they definitely deserve some respect after hanging with one of the best teams in the nation and falling in a close 23-17 contest. Mitch Leidner needs to get better -- he had a QBR of 18.5 Saturday -- but this defense looks elite.

5. Wisconsin: We expected a loss to Alabama, but we thought it might have been closer than the 35-17 game we ended up watching. Joel Stave appears to be over last season's "yips," but both the rush offense and rush defense were a bit worrisome. Alabama's Derrick Henry had 13 carries for 147 yards and three TDs; Wisconsin combined for 21 carries and 40 yards.

6. Nebraska: The 38-33 loss to BYU after the last-second Hail Mary was heartbreaking for the Huskers. Even when BYU was without Taysom Hill, it was obvious Nebraska's secondary wasn't on the same page -- and the pass rush was noticeably absent. On the plus side, Tommy Armstrong Jr. played very well in three of the four quarters.

7. Iowa: It's probably no surprise that the Hawkeyes, the Mendoza Line of the Big Ten, are smack-dab in the middle of these rankings. They had a strong showing in a 31-14 win over a solid FCS team in Illinois State, but we're still not sold quite yet. That being said, C.J. Beathard and LeShun Daniels both looked impressive in the opener.

8. Michigan: Stop me if you've heard this before: This defense looks good, but the offense needs to improve and limit turnovers. The Wolverines faced a tough opponent in a 24-17 loss to Utah, but at least they looked improved from last season.

9. Illinois: What distractions? Not only did the Illini have to deal with the fact their head coach was fired a week ago, but Friday night's game was postponed until Saturday after a two-hour lightning delay. None of that seemed to matter. Illinois rolled to a 52-3 win over cupcake Kent State.

10. Rutgers: You won't get a lot of bonus points for beating Norfolk State, even if it was a dominating 63-13 victory. Regardless, Leonte Carroo -- who sat out the first half for breaking team rules -- made up for lost time by catching three balls for three touchdowns and 129 yards. Now ... who'll be throwing to him in the next game?

11. Maryland: Perry Hills faced an FCS defense that returned fewer than half its starters, but he still struggled and looked especially inconsistent in the first half. The Terps won big in the end against Richmond, 50-21, but the passing game needs to step up. Brandon Ross looked fast, though.

12. Purdue: Coach Darrell Hazell held off on naming a starter until late August because he believed Austin Appleby still needed to show consistency. Well, after Week 1, Appleby still needs to show consistency. He looked good at times but threw four interceptions in a 41-31 loss to Marshall. Two of his picks were returned for touchdowns.

13. Penn State: The Nittany Lions' offense was virtually nonexistent after their first two drives, and their 27-10 loss to Temple was their first setback to the Owls since 1941. Penn State might not be the worst team in the Big Ten, but it's on the way to being the most underachieving.

14. Indiana: The Hoosiers actually won against Southern Illinois, 48-47, but this game shouldn't have been that close. SIU QB Mark Iannotti combined for 517 yards (411 passing, 106 rushing), so IU has a lot to improve upon before, you know, actually playing an FBS team.