With Week 1 behind us, it’s time for my latest Big Ten Player Rankings. Again, I’m doing these a little different this year. Whereas I used to rank the top 10 players – a practice that was tough due to all the talent on both sides of the ball – I’ll rank the top six offensive and defensive players each week.
It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for my weekly Big Ten Power Rankings. Where does your Big Ten team fall on my list following Week 1 action? See in this post. Disagree with my rankings? Leave your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the post or tweet me @BTNTomDienhart. Read all my Big Ten coverage here, and don’t forget to send me any questions you may have for my weekly Big Ten Mailbag.
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Every Sunday during the college football season, BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo hits Twitter to share his thoughts from the previous day’s slate of games. What did DiNardo have to say about the Big Ten after the opening weekend of the season? Read all of his Sunday Ruminations in this post.
Earlier Saturday, I offered my snap reactions from the Big Ten’s first four games. With the afternoon games now in the books, it’s time to share what I learned from Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin’s wins. Nebraska and Purdue cruised to victory, however Iowa and Wisconsin both received stiff tests that went down to the wire. See my snap reactions from the afternoon games in this post.
Montee Ball rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and No. 12 Wisconsin needed a big defensive play to survive a fourth-quarter scare from Northern Iowa in a 26-21 victory Saturday. Wisconsin’s defense didn’t allow Northern Iowa on its side of the 50-yard line until the 4:27 mark in the third quarter – but then the Badgers nearly melted down. Leading 26-7 in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin allowed Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen to throw a pair of long touchdowns to David Johnson, cutting the lead to five.
Wisconsin’s front seven stepped up in the third quarter, allowing Northern Iowa to gain just 19 rushing yards, and the Badgers now lead 19-7. Wisconsin opened up the lead, 19-0, after marching down the field for an eight-play, 60-yard drive that ended when Montee Ball ran one yard to paydirt. The Panthers closed the gap to 19-7 when Sawyer Kollmorgen threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Chad Owens to cap a 75-yard drive.
Wisconsin stifled Northern Iowa’s offense, giving up just 18 total yards in the second quarter, and the Badgers now lead 13-0. Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis caught two passes for 17 yards and one touchdown in the quarter. The Badgers expanded their lead to 6-0 thanks to a 12-play, 66-yard drive that ended when Kyle French kicked a 35-yard field goal. James White’s 20-yard run took Wisconsin from the 31 and across midfield to ignite the drive.