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Big Ten Power Rankings: Only two teams lost last week, but tougher matchups await

We have a new No. 1 in this week’s Big Ten Power Rankings, but we’re starting to get to the point in the season where fans begin to overreact and throw in the towel after a few games. 

My response: relax. All but two Big Ten teams won last week. However, one of those losses shakes up the whole College Football Playoff landscape. 

We’ll know by mid-October who the contenders and pretenders are. 

1. Iowa 

Last Week: 27-17 win at No. 9 Iowa State

The Hawkeyes are a scary team this season and the scariest part is that Spencer Petras hasn’t been playing that well. The ground game with Tyler Goodson proved to be enough to beat the Cyclones but man oh man, that defense is something special. In just two games, the Hawkeyes have already picked off opposing teams six times and recovered a fumble. Both games were against ranked teams. If the weapons on offense can get going for Petras and the defense continues the dominance, we could have a potential playoff team in the Big Ten West. 

Next Up: Vs Kent State

2. Ohio State

Last Week: 28-35 loss vs No. 12 Oregon

This Buckeyes defense has been very unimpressive in the first two weeks of the season. Yes, Oregon is an excellent team but Ohio State has given up 30+ points in each of its first two games. There were a lot of missed run lanes and blown coverages and something just seems off with the back four of the defense. As for C.J. Stroud, he performed well but it just wasn’t enough and he didn’t get the help he needed from his defense and playmakers. This Buckeyes team is a step down from last year’s national runner-up. 

Next Up: Vs Tulsa

3. Penn State

Last Week: 44-13 win vs Ball State

Does James Franklin have the Nittany Lions back as a top-10 program in the country? This may be the case, as Penn State has looked awfully good in the first two weeks. Last week’s win over Ball State doesn’t prove much and we’ll know more about them after next week against No. 22 Auburn. 

Next Up: Vs No. 22 Auburn 

4. Wisconsin 

Last Week: 34-7 win vs Eastern Michigan

The Badgers’ next game could declare whether or not Wisconsin is a contender in the Big Ten West or not. Last week, against Eastern Michigan, the Badgers offense didn’t look too strong through the air. Graham Mertz has yet to throw a touchdown pass or even complete a pass 25+ yards downfield. The run game looked strong as Wisconsin was just dominant in the trenches but that could change in two weeks against Notre Dame, a team that under Brian Kelly almost always has the advantage up front. 

Next Up: Bye week 

5. Michigan

Last Week: 31-10 win vs Washington

Michigan, who is now ranked No. 25 in the country, has stayed poised the first two weeks of the season. The crowd at The Big House has clearly helped so it will be interesting to see how they perform on the road in…October. Yes, the Wolverines don’t play on the road until they play at Wisconsin in week five — the first weekend of October. This light opening schedule will help the Wolverines and Cade McNamara get comfortable early on in the season but sets up a brutal November. 

Next Up: Vs NIU 

6. Indiana 

Last Week: 56-14 win vs Idaho

Indiana responded well to the pressure against Idaho this week but Michael Penix Jr. didn’t prove a whole lot. That is a major concern for Hoosiers fans, and heading into a huge game against No. 8 Cincinnati there are still a lot of question marks surrounding the offense. One thing we do know is that the Indiana defense is a strength of the roster and the special teams contributed two touchdowns over the Vandals.

Next Up: Vs No. 8 Cincinnati

7. Maryland 

Last Week: 62-0 win vs Howard

As expected, the Terrapins put their foot on the gas against Howard and never looked back. Many were impressed by Maryland’s win over West Virginia in week one and they backed it up against Howard. One guy on this offense I really like is wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr., and with Taulia Tagovailoa slinging the ball around very efficiently this UMD offense is mightily scary moving forward and could make some noise in the Big Ten East.

Next Up: At Illinois  

(Max Wood/HN)

8. Rutgers

Last Week: 17-7 win at Syracuse

The Rutgers defense looked explosive against Syracuse and that seems to be the clear strength of this team moving forward. Rutgers forced five Orange turnovers, four of which were fumbles. The Orange have forced eight turnovers in the team’s first two games of the season. I still have concerns with the offense but time will tell how it develops over the course of the season. The Scarlet Knights are going to have to continue stacking wins early on in the season but as for right now, they look like a surefire bowl contender. 

Next Up: Vs Delaware 

9. Michigan State

Last Week: 42-14 win vs Youngstown State

The Spartans rely on their run game heavily and it’s only a matter of time before they have to maintain a balance. Michigan State will truly be tested this week against No. 24 Miami. But for now, Sparty looks solid — boasting maybe the best backfield in the Big Ten — and will lean on an easy schedule. 

Next Up: At No. 24 Miami (FL)

10. Minnesota

Last Week: 31-26 win vs Miami (OH)

Minnesota barely bounced back last weekend but was able to get the job done. A bright spot was running back Treyson Potts, who rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Potts is filling in for injured All-American Mohamed Ibrahim. 

Next Up: At Colorado

11. Northwestern

Last Week: 24-6 win vs Indiana State

The Northwestern offense still looked rough last weekend and the inexperienced back end of the defense is still a problem. But like most teams in the Big Ten West, the favorable schedule will help the Wildcats in the long run. 

Next Up: At Duke

12. Nebraska 

Last Week: 28-3 win vs Buffalo

Nebraska still has not been very impressive in its first three weeks of the season and the Huskers really need a marquee win soon. That opportunity is here this weekend against No. 3 Oklahoma, a team that struggled a few weeks ago against Tulane. Scott Frost has a lot to prove. 

Next Up: At No. 3 Oklahoma 

13. Purdue

Last Week: 49-0 win at UCONN

I’ll admit, I may be a little low on the Boilermakers but they just haven’t done enough to move up or down. A developing story for Purdue is that senior running back Zander Horvath will be out a couple months due to a broken leg. The Boilermakers have benefitted from a light schedule but will turn it up a notch this week. 

Next Up: At No. 12 Notre Dame

14. Illinois 

Last Week: 14-42 loss at Virginia

Not much to say here about Illinois but gosh has this team struggled since week one. UVA is by no means a bad team but the Illini really just did not show up in Charlottesville this past weekend. On the bright side, Illinois is still tied for first place in the Big Ten West, so there’s that. 

Next Up: Vs Maryland

Previous power rankings:

Week one, Week two

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