Monday, September 3, 2018

A look at the Big Ten teams, after Week 1 of the 2018 College Football season

There are various schools of thoughts, when it comes to Top 25 ratings and conference power ratings heading into each season. Around the country, there are certain programs that often are ranked on reputation.

For example, last year, Florida State was a prime example of a school expected to finish in the Top 5, but at season's end, it finished 7-6, with wins over Delaware State, a 4-7 Florida, ULM and a bowl win over Southern Miss to take a 3-6 record and finish with a winning record. Florida State is often one of the most overrated programs each year, in College Football.

Another team with plenty of questions to answer entering 2018 is Michigan. The Wolverines finished 8-5 last year, with three straight losses @ Wisconsin, against Ohio State and in the bowl game against South Carolina. Now, they have lost four straight, with the 24-17 loss @ Notre Dame to open 2018 College Football season.

My problem with Michigan at #3 in the Big Ten power ratings is based on what have they done to earn the preseason #3 rating in the first place?

The Big Ten appears to be loaded in 2018? Michigan State and Penn State struggled in Week 1, but they won. Michigan shouldn't be awarded for a moral victory, as James Laurinaitis appears to suggest that should be considered?

Notre Dame is a good program, but ultimately, like with Florida State in 2017. We don't know how good any team may be, until after enough games are played. Notre Dame lost to Georgia, @ Miami-FL and @ Stanford last year, so good losses. They are often overrated.

Michigan and Nebraska are two Big Ten programs that are often among the Top 7 schools overrated in preseason ratings. Texas is the most common example. On Saturday, they clearly rose up and demonstrated why, when they fell 34-29 @ Maryland in a game played in Landover, MD.

So, after Week 1, here are the Big Ten power ratings ....

  1. Wisconsin (1-0) - the Badgers have won 3 of the first 4 West division titles; and 5 of the first 7 division titles, when you toss in the first 3 seasons of Leaders and Legends, when division play began in the 2011 season in the Big Ten. Week 1 - beat Georgia State 34-3. Week 2 - vs. New Mexico (1-0) - first meeting between each program.
  2. Michigan State (1-0) - the Spartans return 19 starters from last year's team, including one 3 OT loss @ Northwestern. It's not uncommon for Mark Dantonio teams to start slowly. The Spartans won the Big Ten in 2015. Week 1 - beat Utah State 38-31. Week 2 - @ Arizona State (1-0) - which is certainly going to be a big test, at night, in the Valley of the Sun! 
  3. Ohio State (1-0) - the Buckeyes have had some off the field issues, since Big Ten Media Days. In the past two seasons, OSU has lost two games by 31 points. The Buckeyes won the Big Ten last year. Week 1 - destroyed Oregon State 77-31. Week 2 - vs. Rutgers (1-0), as head coach Urban Meyer returns to practice on Tuesday, but Meyer's three game suspension remains in force.
  4. Penn State (1-0) - the Nittany Lions enter 2018 needing to replace play-makers on offense and welcome a new offensive coordinators. They won the Big Ten in 2016. Week 1 - beat Appalachian State 45-37 in OT. Week 2 - @ Pittsburgh (1-0), the Panthers beat the Nittany Lions here in 2016, so this one should be very interesting.
  5. Northwestern (1-0, 1-0 B1G West) - the Wildcats opened 2018 in conference play for the first time in a long, long while. Week 1 - won @ Purdue 31-27, as two QB system of Clayton Thorson and T.J. Green is utilized by head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Week 2 - vs. Duke (1-0), who beat the Wildcats 41-17, after the Wildcats had won back to back non-conference games against the Blue Devils in previous seasons.
  6. Iowa (1-0) - the Hawkeyes tallied the 144th win to boost Kirk Ferentz into the all-time win leader, as head coach. Week 1 - beat Northern Illinois 33-7. Week 2 - CyHawk game against Iowa State (0-0), who are looking to complete a game, after thunderstorms shelved their opener on Saturday night.
  7. Michigan (0-1) - the Wolverines have one victory over a rival entering the fourth season of head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines will get plenty of opportunities to move up, since they play 1-5 in conference play. Week 1 - lost @ Notre Dame 24-17. Week 2 - vs. Western Michigan (0-1), the Wolverines should be safe in another home opener, having won 25 of last 28.
  8. Purdue (0-1, 0-1 B1G West) - the Boilermakers play two quarterbacks and often the old saying with quarterbacks, if you have two, you likely have none. This appeared to be the case, watching game one. Week 1 - lost to Northwestern 31-27. Week 2 - vs. Eastern Michigan (1-0), who will start former Iowa QB Tyler Wiegers, who had a solid first start for the Eagles.
  9. Indiana (1-0) - the Hoosiers were the only Big Ten team to pick up a win on the road to open the season. Week 1 - won @ FIU 38-28 to pick up first win of season. Week 2 - vs. Virginia (1-0), as the Hoosiers have won 14 of the past 16 home openers.
  10. Nebraska (0-0) - the Scott Frost era has to wait one week to officially kickoff, after a thunderstorm Saturday night canceled the home opener. Week 1 - vs. Akron - canceled. Week 2 - vs. Colorado (1-0), the Huskers have won three straight in the series and three straight in Lincoln. Last meeting was 2010.
  11. Rutgers (1-0) - the Scarlet Knights open the third season, with head coach Chris Ash. Week 1 - won 35-10 over Texas State. Week 2 - @ Ohio State (1-0), the Buckeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights 56-0 last season in New Brunswick, after 58-0 previously in Columbus.
  12. Maryland (1-0) - the Terrapins opened 2018, with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, also in the interim head coach role, after D.J. Durkin was placed on administrative leave in August. Week 1 - beat Texas 34-29 to begin back to back seasons, with an upset win over a ranked Longhorns team (note - not ranked in my Top 25). Week 2 - @ Bowling Green (0-1), which is ironically Durkin's alma mater.
  13. Minnesota (1-0) - the Golden Gophers opened the second year under head coach P.J. Fleck, with another non-conference win. They Golden Gophers are 4-0 OOC under Fleck. Week 1 - beat New Mexico State 48-10. Week 2 - vs. Fresno State (1-0), the Bulldogs were 10-4 last season and are likely the best non-conference, since Fleck arrived that the Golden Gophers have lined up against.
  14. Illinois (1-0) - the Fighting Illini entered 2018, coming off a ten game losing streak. Week 1 - despite playing from behind much of the game, Illinois beat Kent State 31-24. Week 2 - vs. Western Illinois (0-1), the Fighting Illini are 2-0 in this series outscoring the Leathernecks 65-0.

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