The first weekend of Big Ten action provided several shake ups to the college football rankings near the top, but even more importantly, it brought clarity to the positioning of 14 key schools in the entire FBS landscape. The CBS Sports 127 ranks every team in the FBS, and so the absence of data for those Big Ten schools left plenty of unknowns that impacted the placement not only of those teams but of the others in the rankings.
The league saw big boosts after the weekend for Wisconsin (up six spots to No. 9) and Michigan (up nine spots after beating Minnesota) to give the Big Ten three of the top 12 teams in our rankings. We were uncertain about how quarterback changes at both schools would go, and after impressive opening weekend performances, adjustments have been made.
But adjustments were also necessary down the line for teams like Indiana and Northwestern, who each moved up more than 30 spots following wins on the first weekend of Big Ten action. While it may seem like a clerical error, Rutgers did indeed move up 58 spots to No. 60 after winning at Michigan State. Expectations are also being adjusted for Penn State and Minnesota after losses, along with the aforementioned Spartans, which fell 10 spots to No. 84 after losing to the Scarlet Knights.
Ranking the entire country requires data for team comparison, so it’s great to have the Big Ten and the Mountain West back to help brings some clarity even with the small sample size at this point in the year. Soon the same can be said for the Pac-12 and MAC, giving us a full 127-team set to rank without having to take preseason expectations into consideration. Of course, there will be more overreactions and dramatic adjustments to week-by-week results, but when you’re ranking the entire country the volatility is part of the fun. Check out the top 25 and more of the biggest adjustments in our Mover’s Report below.
College football experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports contribute ballots each week, which are averaged together for our rankings. You can see the top 25 below and 26-127 on our rankings page.
- No. 36 Northwestern (+42): The Wildcats ranked No. 126 in FBS last season averaging 16.3 points per game and broke the 30-point barrier just twice, against UNLV and UMass. Saturday’s 43-3 win over Maryland ushers in new optimism for the Northwestern offense, making the staff change and arrival of transfer quarterback Peyton Ramsey look like some of the most impactful offseason moves in the conference.
- No. 19 Indiana (+36): Our voters had the Hoosiers ranked at No. 55 coming into the season, which for my money is way too low considering the overall trajectory of the program under Tom Allen. But we are quick to adjust when provided with new information and now have Indiana up in the top 20 after its historic win against Penn State.
- No. 35 LSU (+28): Has the TJ Finley era begun? An injury to Myles Brennan forced LSU to turn to its true freshman quarterback, and the initial response from the entire offense was impressive. The Tigers aren’t going to be able to shake the weight of two early losses in terms of the standings but we think this team might have found its footing after a rough start to 2020.
- No. 12 Michigan (+9): There was so much doubt going into the year about Joe Milton and a reloaded offense with tons of turnover at wide receiver, so after showing out on a big stage against a quality opponent on the road there is bound to be some overreaction in the rankings. Now the challenge is living up to reset expectations with an eye on making 2020 the year of the breakthrough rather than the year before the year.
- No. 28 Minnesota (-8): Lots of good Big Ten headlines in the rankings but the Gophers fall shows a real disappointment from how our voters thought P.J. Fleck’s team would perform in that home opener against Michigan. Minnesota was down several key players on defense, but it was a bad night for Tanner Morgan and the offense as well.
- No. 18 Penn State (-12): It really might not be that bad for Penn State, a team that nearly doubled up Indiana in yards and was right there in terms of having multiple shots to win the game. But we had the Nittany Lions up at No. 6 and that was not a performance you’d expect from the No. 6 team in the country. Penn State is too talented to fall out of the top 20, but it will have trouble getting back into the College Football Playoff picture unless it can knock off Ohio State this weekend.
- No. 31 Virginia Tech (-12): An atypical performance from Virginia Tech on the ground coupled with turnovers, bad penalties and more mistakes cost Virginia Tech a shot at competing for the ACC championship in 2020. The Hokies’ loss at Wake Forest will be circled as the frustrating moment the season took a turn, and now Justin Fuente’s challenge will be to keep this group focused and close out the year strong.
Check out the rest of the CBS Sports 127: Teams ranked 26-127