The Big Ten saw plenty of drama on Saturday, with three overtime games as well as some upsets and near misses. Here’s a good summary of Saturday’s action, with a little more detail than what I’ll be covering.
With that said, let’s see how the conference is shaping up after two weeks of football:
1. Ohio State
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Last Week’s Result: 42-0 Win vs. Cincinnati
Next Week: @ Indiana
The top spot on the ranking stays the same as Ohio State flexed its talent in a beatdown of Cincinnati, an upset-minded team led by former Buckeye interim coach Luke Fickell. The battle between two former Urban Meyer assistants saw the Buckeyes shut out a Bearcats team that won 11 games last season.
Justin Fields leads a balanced passing game as Binjimen Victor, Chris Olave, and K.J. Hill continue to develop into dangerous wideouts, while running back J.K. Dobbins has bounced back after struggling at times last season. The Buckeyes’ defense has also looked impressive so far, shutting down Cincinnati’s star quarterback, Desmond Ritter. At the moment, OSU looks primed to take over the Big Ten yet again.
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Last Week’s Result: 30-0 Win vs. Rutgers
Next Week: @ Iowa State
I’m pretty high on the Hawkeyes right now, and while Wisconsin is the sexy pick for the best team in the West after 2 games, Nate Stanley is creeping up draft boards: the man has an NFL-ready frame and has looked incredibly poised so far this season. He threw three touchdowns against weekly bottom-dweller Rutgers with help from Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who has also had a promising start to his season, and the rest of a deep receiving corps. If the Hawkeyes can get out of Ames with a win, expect them to stay here for the coming weeks.
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Last Week’s Result: 61-0 vs. Central Michigan
Next Week: Bye
I ranked Wisconsin relatively low last week despite a good road win against USF, but Jonathan Taylor is the best running back in the Big Ten, maybe even in the nation. The defense has pulled off back-to-back shutouts, another dangerous weapon Paul Chryst will have at his disposal come tests against better Big Ten opponents. At the moment, I will take them over the likes of Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State. If and when the Badgers’ offense and defense are clicking, this team will have a chance to do big things as the season progresses.
4. Michigan State
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
Last Week’s Result: 51-17 Win vs. Western Michigan
Next Week: vs. Arizona State
Sparty’s jerseys in its home win over the Broncos would probably finish dead last if those rankings ever happen, but Mark Dantonio’s team moves up a spot by virtue of a dominant performance against Central Michigan. Michigan State’s offense was atrocious during parts of last season, yet it seems to have bounced back in an explosive manner. Elijah Collins and Darrell Stewart both have big-play potential, and quarterback Brian Lewerke improved off of his mediocre performance against Tulsa. Combined a stout defense, the Spartans should go into Big Ten play with a bit more confidence.
5. Penn State
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 4
Last Week’s Result: 45-13 Win vs. Buffalo
Next Week: vs. Pittsburgh
Penn State allowed a decent Buffalo team to take a 10-7 lead going into halftime at Happy Valley as fans booed them off the field. The Bulls dominates time of possession while Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford and the offense struggled to move the ball. A dominant 3rd quarter, though, where Penn State outscored Buffalo 38-3, ensured victory. The offense is still inexperienced, and a slow start much like the one on Saturday could cost Penn State against better opponents.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 2
Last Week’s Result: 24-21 Win (2OT) vs. Army
Next Week: Bye
Mental errors on defense, coaching blunders, and Shea Patterson’s ineffectiveness nearly led to Michigan’s demise at home against Army. The Black Knights just missed a 50-yard field goal at the end of regulation and earned an opportunity to win the game with a touchdown in overtime before the Michigan defense stepped up and forced a game-winning fumble.
Moreover, over the last two games, the Wolverines have struggled to hold on to the football; Patterson has fumbled the ball four times, losing three of those. I, along with many in the national media, have questions about Patterson’s ability, Harbaugh’s coaching prowess, and the offense’s ability to adjust to the schematics of new OC Josh Gattis. After their lackluster performance on Saturday, it is clear that as of now, the Wolverines are not the second-best team in the conference and have been surpassed by squads with more convincing wins on their résumés.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 10
Last Week’s Result: 63-20 Win vs. Syracuse
Next Week: @ Temple
Maryland earned the most impressive win by a Big Ten team in the young season, as the Terps thoroughly dismantled a ranked Syracuse squad. Mike Locksley’s offense has been incredibly explosive, already scoring 142 points in a mere two game stretch. Josh Jackson seems to be the answer at quarterback, putting up big numbers alongside the playmaking talents of Javon Leake and Anthony McFarland, Jr.
The Terps also entered the AP poll for the first time at #21. Optimism and hype are building around Locksley and this program, though non-conference success is something Maryland fans have seen plenty of in recent years. They will be a team to watch as the season progresses.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 9
Last Week’s Result: 38-35 Win (2OT) @ Fresno State
Next Week: vs. Georgia Southern
The Golden Gophers escaped Fresno with an overtime win in some #MWCAfterDark (is that a thing yet?) action. Quarterback Tanner Morgan led P.J. Fleck’s squad back from a touchdown deficit in the waning moments of the game, and Antoine Winfield, Jr’s., interception in the end zone in overtime sealed the victory over a Fresno State team which played USC close in Week One. The Trojans, of course, handled Stanford (a team which defeated a certain team which dons the purple and white) pretty easily Saturday night. I’ll chalk this up as a pretty decent win for Minnesota.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 8
Last Week’s Result: Bye
Next Week: vs. UNLV
By virtue of a bye week, the ‘Cats only drop one spot after I decided, as mentioned above, that Minnesota’s road win over the team that lost to the team that blew out the team that out-slugged Northwestern was enough to put the Gophers one spot ahead. Confused yet? The oddly-timed bye week allows Fitz and his team to regroup after an ugly performance against Stanford, a boon before a tough schedule in the Big Ten.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 8
Last Week’s Result: 31-34 Loss @ Colorado
Next Week: vs. Northern Illinois
It only took two games for the most overrated team in college football to lose. The Huskers blew a big lead against Colorado for the second straight season despite nearly the entire stadium being filled with red. The defense allowed 24 fourth quarter points while the offense could not put away the Buffs despite a costly special teams turnover in the waning moments of the game. Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez struggled, fumbling the ball three times on Saturday. Scott Frost is a whopping 0-6 on the road in his two-year tenure. Also, Nebraska doesn’t really have a kicker. The Huskers could be in trouble.
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Last Week’s Result: 42-24 Win vs. Vanderbilt
Next Week: vs. TCU
The Boilermakers bounced back after a heartbreaking loss on the road at Nevada during Week One. Elijah Sindelar tossed 5 touchdown passes while Rondale Moore continued to impress with 220 yards receiving. He’s really good at football and probably the conference’s second-best playmaker behind Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. He alone makes Purdue a threat to score a lot of points against any team Also, Purdue’s SB Nation site put this little gem out about TCU, their opponent next week. I can only imagine what they’ll say about Northwestern in a few week’s time.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 13
Last Week’s Result: 31-23 Win @ UConn
Next Week: vs. Eastern Michigan
The Illini snapped a 12-game losing streak in non-conference road games by defeating the Huskies. Brandon Peters seems to be the answer at quarterback, as he threw 4 touchdown passes. UConn won only one game last season, but the Illini jump Indiana by virtue of beating a bad FBS team on the road rather than a bad FCS team at home.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 12
Last Week’s Result: 52-0 Win vs. Eastern Illinois
Next Week: vs. Ohio State
The Hoosiers host Ohio State next week and, while Michael Penix, Jr., seemingly won the quarterback battle during fall camp, backup Peyton Ramsey went 13/14 with 226 yards against Adam Cushing’s EIU while Penix was 14/20 with 197 yards. Both quarterbacks threw two touchdowns apiece. Eastern Illinois is a below-average FCS program, so, ultimately, Indiana did not prove a ton heading into their clash with the Buckeyes.
Last Week’s Power Ranking: 14
Last Week’s Result: 0-30 Loss @Iowa
Next Week: vs. Boston College
The Hawkeyes dominated Rutgers. Starting quarterback McLane Carter sustained a concussion in the first half of the loss. Last year’s starter Artur Sitkowski relieved Carter and only completed 4 out of 11 passes. Chris Ash is firmly on the hot seat as Rutgers continues to look like far and away the worst team in the Big Ten. Under Ash, Rutgers has been shut out more than all conference teams combined since 2016. Maybe a change on the sidelines needs to be made.