USA Today // Raj Mehta

Big Ten notches some impressive wins, but little movement at the top of this week's power rankings

Big Ten notches some impressive wins, but little movement at the top of this week's power rankings

After a lackluster Week 1 that included a 2-4 record against power-five conference opponents and two losses to non-power five teams, the Big Ten had somewhat of a bounce-back Week 2.

The conference went 12-2 last week. And while Maryland and Rutgers experienced discouraging home losses, Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan pulled off good wins against power-five teams and Minnesota escaped Fort Collins, Colo., with a tough win over a tough mid-major program.

There wasn't much movement at the top of this week's Big Ten power rankings, but the Big Ten West Division is looking much deeper and more competitive than its East counterpart. But the East's top two look like they'll stay atop these rankings all season.

B1G Power Rankings - pre-Week 3

1. Ohio State (2-0); last week's rank: No. 1

Last game: 38-0 win over Hawaii

The king must be knocked off his throne before a new king is crowned. So while Michigan State's win over Oregon was a statement that Sparty is one of the nation's top programs, Ohio State remains THE top program until proven otherwise. Urban Meyer rotated his talented quarterbacks, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, and neither looked great in a sloppy start at Hawaii. But the Buckeyes defense dominated, allowing just 165 total yards (linebacker Darron Lee is really good, folks). Can any team give Ohio State a run before the Bukeyes host the Spartans on Nov. 21?

Up next: vs. Northern Illinois, 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday (ABC)

2. Michigan State (2-0); last week's rank: No.2

Last week: 31-28 win over Oregon

Oregon was impressive, given that Vernon Adams Jr. joined the team just a month ago and almost quarterbacked the Ducks to a huge road victory. But Sparty is so balanced. Connor Cook is one of the best game managers in college and will probably be a first-round pick because of it. Freshmen running backs Madre London (103 rushing yards) and LJ Scott (76 rushing yards, 2 TDs) provide a thunder-and-lightning tandem in the backfield. And we all know that defense is great. Like its basketball team, Michigan State's football team can win in any style of game and solidified itself as a serious College Football Playoff contender with Saturday's win.

Up next: vs. Air Force, 11 a.m. Saturday (ABC)

3. Minnesota (1-1); last week's rank: No. 3

Last week: 23-20 win at Colorado State

Again, never accuse Jerry Kill's Gophers of winning pretty. But they certainly find a way to win these kind of games. Colorado State is a very good football program, so this was a nice win behind a late game-winning drive by quarterback Mitch Leidner. The West is wide open, and while Minnesota lacks explosiveness, the Gophers give themselves a chance to win most games by controlling the clock and limiting mistakes.

Up next: vs. Kent State, 11 a.m. Saturday (BTN)

4. Wisconsin (1-1); last week's rank No. 4

Last week: 58-0 win over Miami (Ohio)

Throw that Alabama loss out the window. Wisconsin isn't an elite team but it still has enough to win the Big Ten West. The Badgers dominated the RedHawks, but the offensive line still doesn't look as strong as your typical Badgers offensive line.

Up next: vs. Troy, 2:30 p.m. Saturday (BTN)

5. Northwestern (2-0); last week's rank: No. 5

Last week: 41-0 win over Eastern Illinois

The Wildcats followed their big Week 1 win over Stanford with a dominant victory of Eastern Illinois. Now, EIU is not good this season but the NW defense was again dominant (138 yards allowed) and the run game (344 rushing yards) bowled over the Panthers. The Wildcats cracked the AP Top 25 this week (No. 23). We'll see if they're worthy when they take a trip to Duke this week.

Up next: at Duke, 11:30 a.m. Saturday (ESPN3)

6. Iowa (2-0); last week's rank: No. 6

Last week: 31-17 win at Iowa State

Was the impending fall of Iowa greatly exaggerated? The Hawkeyes proved in the CyHawk Trophy game that they can still run (260 rushing yards) and stop the run (Iowa State had 63 rushing yards on 27 carries). And the Iowa staff certainly seems to have picked the right quarterback. Through two starts, C.J. Beathard (61.2 completion percentage) has thrown for 426 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs. Don't count out Kirk Ferentz's crew in the Big Ten West.

Up next: vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. Saturday (BTN)

7. Nebraska (1-1); last week's rank: No. 7

Last week: 48-9 win over South Alabama

Mike Riley gets his first win at Nebraska against a cupcake, riding running back Terrell Newby (198 rushing yards). Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. also looks like a much-improved passer through two games (63.4%, 589 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT). The issues this season more likely lie on defense.

Up next: at Miami, 2:30 p.m. Saturday (ABC)

8. Illinois (2-0); last week's rank: No. 8

Last week: 44-0 win over Western Illinois

You couldn't ask for much more from the Illini in their first two games, outscoring their opponents 96-3. But the Illini started 2-0 the last two seasons too only to have rough Octobers. The Illini offense is dangerous behind QB Wes Lunt, but we knew that'd be the case. The defense can gain a few believers if they maintain their dominance over Kent State and Western Illinois into a big performance at North Carolina.

Up next: at North Carolina, 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN2)

9. Michigan (1-1); last week's rank: No. 9

Last week: 35-7 win over Oregon State

Jim Harbaugh is 1-0 at Michigan Stadium as the Wolverines head coach after a rout of Oregon State. This team has a trio of talented running backs -- De'Veon SmithDerrick Green and Ty Isaac -- so Harbaugh should probably ride them because while Jake Rudock was solid on Saturday (18-26, 180 yards) but has thrown four interceptions in two games. The Wolverines aren't close to the top two teams in the Big Ten East, but they look like the next most reliable team in the division.

Up next: vs. UNLV, 11 a.m. Saturday

10. Penn State (1-1); last week's rank: No. 12 

Last week: 27-14 win over Buffalo

I think Penn State quaterback Christian Hackenberg misses Bill O'Brien. Hackenberg was deserving of the hype as a freshman, completing 58.9% of his attempts for 7.14 yards per attempt, 20 TDs, 10 INTs. But in 15 games since James Franklin took over, Hackenberg has completed 55.0% of his passes for 6.00 yards per attempt, 13 TDs and 16 INTs. He sure has been hit a lot. But he has to be better if the Nittany Lions are to truly take the next step forward -- and if he is to be considered a first-round draft prospect.

Up next: vs. Rutgers, 7 p.m. Saturday (BTN)

11. Purdue (1-1); last week's rank: No. 14 

Last week: 38-14 win vs. Indiana State

I was probably a bit harsh last week by ranking Purdue lower than Indiana because Marshall is a good team, and the Boilermakers lost to the Thunder Herd on the road. Purdue is still the worst in the West, but they built some confidence with a win over the Sycamores. Through two games, QB Austin Appleby has thrown for 559 yards and run for 62. Following a four-interception performance against Marshall, Appleby certainly helped his TD/INT ratio by tossing 4 TDs and throwing 0 INTs vs. Indiana State.

Up next: vs. Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)

12. Indiana (2-0); last week's rank: No. 13 

Last week: 36-22 win over Florida International

The Hoosiers have allowed 1,068 total yards through two games but are 2-0. But that 2-0 feels pretty hollow, especially with Jeff Brohm's Western Kentucky offense licking its chops heading into this week's game. Indiana is just a two-point favorite at home.

Up next: vs. Western Kentucky, 3 p.m. Saturday (ESPNews)

13. Rutgers (1-1); last week's rank: No. 10 

Last week: 37-34 loss to Washington State

Illinois has had its share of issues, but Murphy's Law certainly seems to be in effect in Piscataway, N.J., because the Scarlet Knights are struggling to follow the actual law. Following Rutgers loss to Washington State, stud WR Leontae Carroo was suspended indefinitely for assault in a domestic violence incident outside the Rutgers' football facility.

Up next: vs. Penn State, 7 p.m. Saturday (BTN)

14. Maryland (1-1); last week's rank: No. 11 

Last week: 48-27 loss to Bowling Green

I'm a huge fan of Dino Babers and I expected the Falcons to give Maryland a scare. But I did not expect the MAC East's best to embarrass the Terps. There's some heat on offensive coordinator Mike Locksley for a lackluster offense. Head coach Randy Edsall announced a QB change on Monday, with Caleb Rowe taking over for Perry Hills.

Up next: vs. South Florida, 11 a.m. CT Saturday


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