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Week 1: Big Ten Power Rankings and College Football Playoff Projections

The Buckeyes lead the way in the B1G, but who does Matt have in the CFP?

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my Big Ten Power Rankings and College Football Playoff Projections. The key word in that first sentence is “my.” This is how I see the lay of the land in the B1G and CFP. I am sure that more astute and discerning college football watchers might have different opinions, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


My Current Big Ten Power Rankings

1) Ohio State (1-0) | 45-31 win over Minnesota

We knew this going in, but this Ohio State team is going to be led by their offense. C.J. Stroud was far from perfect, but in three of Thursday night’s four quarters, he did what an inexperienced quarterback is supposed to do when surrounded by as much talent as he is: get it in their hands and get out of the way.

Stroud showed some of his talent and ability against Minnesota, but more than anything, it was clear that things were still a little fast for him. I don’t know if things will slow down at all against Oregon next week — especially if Kayvon Thibodeaux is able to go — but he certainly seemed to settle down in the second half, which was a major step in the right direction.

The defense, on the other hand, still leaves a lot to be desired. Certainly there were a number of key players missing — most notably both starting corners Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown — but the oddest thing about what we saw on Thursday was the fact that it didn’t seem like the defensive coaching staff knew who their best players were. The incessant rotating of guys that would have otherwise been deemed third or fourth teamers was confusing.

Granted, with no typical “warmup” games, perhaps they needed the opportunity to see those players in action, but if the practice of playing guys who are clearly not your best continues against the Ducks, that could be a very bad sign.

2) Iowa (1-0) | 34-6 win over Indiana

I’m not necessarily surprised that Iowa beat Indiana, but I’ve gotta admit, that I did not see that schalacking coming.

3) Penn State (1-0) | 16-10 win over Wisconsin

Sean Clifford might be confident, but he didn’t look very good on Saturday. But, the Nits did beat a quality team, so they deserve some respect for that.

4) Maryland (1-0) | 30-24 win over West Virginia

The Terps beat a quality team from a (supposedly) Power 5 team. With the victory over West Virginia (and back-to-back wins over Texas), Maryland is now undefeated against the Big 12 in the past five seasons.

5) Michigan (1-0) | 47-14 win over Western Michigan

They beat Western Michigan. Meh.

6) Wisconsin (0-1) | 10-16 loss to Penn State

That was a painful game to watch, but they are Wisconsin, so they’ll get some benefit of the doubt from me... at least until they play the always overrated Fighting Irish later this month.

7) Minnesota (0-1) | 31-45 loss to Ohio State

Not gonna lie, Minnesota looked much better than I anticipated them to on Thursday night. On the podcast earlier this week, Joshua Perry told me that he thought the Gophers would win the Big Ten West. After the game this week, that wouldn’t shock me at all.

8) Michigan State (1-0) | 38-21 win over Northwestern

Sparty was impressive on Friday night. No idea what it means since Northwestern lost 14 starters from last year, but if the running game continues to look like that in the coming weeks, they could be an interesting spoiler for some teams this year.

9) Purdue (1-0) | 30-21 win over Oregon State

The Boilers beat a P5 team, albeit one of the worst P5 teams. But, a win over a member of The Alliance is a win over a member of The Alliance. So, good for them.

10) Rutgers (1-0) | 61-14 win over Temple

I see you, Rutgers. It was against Temple, but I see you.

11) Indiana (0-1)

For a team with as high of expectations as Indiana, that was one heck of a stinker. I think that they are better than the 11th team in the league, but they did nothing to show that on Saturday.

12) Northwestern (0-1)

I don’t know if the Wildcats’ defense is as bad as they looked on Friday or if Michigan State’s offense is as good as they looked, but this was not an ideal start for the defending Big Ten West champs.

13) Illinois (1-1)

14) Nebraska (1-1)

Yes, they spanked Fordham yesterday, but they lost to Bert’s Illini last weekend. So, the Huskers are bringing up the rear this week. What a horrible way to celebrate Scott Frost Day.


My Current College Football Playoff Projections

1) Alabama (1-0)

Look, every team in the country is bad... except for Alabama. They were in midseason form in Week 1, and that is very scary.

2) Georgia (1-0)

UGA had the best win of the weekend, but woof, what a boring ass win it was. Despite the 10-3 final, there was nary an offensive touchdown scored. In the first week, this team appeared to be another Kirby Smart special: Great defense, absolutely no offense.

3) Ohio State (1-0)

It certainly wasn’t always pretty, and I still have a lot of questions for Kerry Coombs and this Buckeye defense, but after watching (nearly) a full weekend of college football, other than Bama, nobody is a finished product. So, I will take OSU with that explosive offense.

4) Cincinnati (1-0)

Following their near loss to Tulane, Oklahoma wasn’t getting this spot. Following their near loss to Northern Iowa, Iowa State wasn’t getting this spot. I thought about Texas A&M for the fourth spot, but they’re in Alabama’s division, so I can’t in good conscience include them.

Therefore, the only other logical option for this spot was the team that I predicted to get the fourth seed in the final rankings, the Cincinnati Bearcats.