For the first time in years, the rest of the Big Ten has a chance.
Or maybe not. Ohio State could absolutely still run the table and prove that they are the national powerhouse that they’ve been for years and years. They could put one bad week aside and move on, rolling through their conference opponents as they always do. But the Oregon Ducks, in their week two victory over the Buckeyes, gave the rest of the Big Ten something they haven’t realistically had in recent years.
If Oregon’s upset says anything, it’s that OSU might not be able to roll over all of its opponents in the regular without second thought. Let’s see how the rest of the conference is doing two weeks in.
1. No. 5 Io_a (2-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 3
Last Result: W at No. 9 Iowa State (27-17)
Next: vs Kent State
Only time will tell if Io_a still sits atop the Big Ten at the end of the season, but for now, they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt with the top spot in the rankings. The Hawkeyes followed up a week one demolition of Indiana by marching into Ames and completely shutting down the Cyclone offense. Iowa’s defense is legit, forcing seven turnovers in the first two games (with three returned for scores). The offense has some work to do, but it’s clear that Iowa’s defense alone is good enough to win games.
2. No. 9 Ohio State (1-1, 1-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 1
Last Result: L vs No. 12 Oregon (35-28)
Next: vs Tulsa
Down goes the Big Ten powerhouse! After nearly three years without a regular season loss, the Buckeyes’ defense was absolutely dismantled by the Ducks’ run game, leading to the massive upset. The loss exposed many of Ohio State’s defensive issues, including a lack of pressure from the front four and scheme holes that allowed CJ Verdell to run rampant for 161 yards and three total scores. OSU will have a few weeks to fix their problems against non-conference opponents before hitting their Big Ten schedule in October.
3. No. 10 Penn State (2-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 2
Last Result: W vs Ball State (44-13)
Next: vs No. 22 Auburn
Penn State gets leap-frogged in the rankings this week, not because of a lack of impressiveness in its own win, but due to the magnitude of back-to-back ranked Hawkeye wins. Penn State took care of business in its 31-point victory over Ball State behind another strong defensive performance, and now looks to carry that momentum against Auburn on Saturday. While Penn State currently sits 10th in the AP Poll, the Nittany Lions have the chance to improve on that with matchups against both Iowa and Ohio State next month.
4. No. 25 Michigan (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 4
Last Result: W vs Washington (31-10)
Next: vs Northern Illinois
The Wolverines start their schedule this year with three straight non-conference games, so there isn’t a great way to rank this team amongst the other nationally ranked Big Ten schools. On one hand, Michigan has scored 78 points in its first two games while allowing only 24. On the other, the teams they have played (Western Michigan and Washington) are less than impressive. The Wolverine offense has found its success in the running game (nearly 340 yards per game), and will likely continue that trend against Northern Illinois.
5. No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1, 0-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 5
Last Result: W vs Eastern Michigan (34-7)
Next: vs No. 12 Notre Dame (Sep. 25)
Wisconsin began the season as the collective favorite to win the Big Ten West, and then effectively got shut down by Penn State’s defense. The Badgers failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities to score, with FOUR scoreless trips inside the opposing 25. Wisconsin improved their red zone efficiency against Eastern Michigan, with only one drive in opponent territory ending without points, but the doubts surrounding their scoring ability will persist for the time being.
6. Michigan State (2-0, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 6
Last Result: W vs Youngstown State (42-14)
Next: at No. 24 Miami
The Kenneth Walker III show took a break from action this week, receiving only seven carries. After gashing Northwestern’s defense for 264 yards and four touchdowns in the opener, Walker ran for only 57 yards and one score, while Jordan Simmons took over lead ballcarrier duties. MSU decided to open up the passing game against Youngstown State, as Payton Thorne completed 71% of his passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns. The Spartans were the first team left out of the AP Top 25, and have a good chance to crack the list with a win over No. 24 Miami and a 3-0 start.
7. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 7
Last Result: W vs Howard (62-0)
Next: at Illinois
Ouch! Maryland and Howard essentially shared the same relationship as a boot and an ant on Saturday, as the Bison never really stood a chance against their Power Five opponent. Taulia Tagovailoa had another strong performance, and has continued to develop and improve for the Terrapins after multiple rough outings last season. The junior quarterback has thrown six touchdowns against no picks so far this season, and has another chance to put up big numbers against the lowly Illinois defense this Friday.
8. Purdue (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 9
Last Result: W at UConn (49-0)
Next: at No. 12 Notre Dame
Back-to-back shutouts make appearances on this list, with the UConn Huskies becoming the next victims to a Big Ten smackdown. Purdue’s offense was firing on all cylinders, with Jack Plummer completing 80% of his passes and throwing four touchdowns (three to David Bell) all in the first half. While the Boilermakers have yet to face any conference opponents, they’ll have a major challenge from No. 12 Notre Dame, who has had some difficulties with unranked opponents so far this season.
9. Minnesota (1-1, 0-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 8
Last Result: W vs Miami OH (31-26)
Next: at Colorado
With star running back Mohamed Ibrahim lost to injury, Minnesota was still able to lean on its running game and the shoulders of sophomore Treyson Potts to garner their first victory of the season. Although the game against Miami (no, not that one) was closer than they would’ve liked, the Gophers were able to pull out a victory despite allowing 17 straight points in the third quarter, which cut the lead to one. Minnesota’s next matchup lies against Colorado, who held No. 5 ranked Texas A&M to just 10 points (albeit only scoring seven themselves.)
10. Indiana (1-1, 0-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 11
Last Result: W vs Idaho (56-14)
Next: vs No. 8 Cincinnati
The Hoosiers used a non-conference matchup to get on the right side of a beat down, after getting beaten pretty handedly by Iowa in their first game. While the scoreboard reflects a great game, Michael Penix Jr. still struggled in his second game back from last year’s season-ending knee injury, averaging just over four yards per attempt. Indiana now must hope Penix quickens his recovery, with a top ten matchup against Cincinnati looming.
11. Northwestern (1-1, 0-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 12
Last Result: W vs Indiana State (24-6)
Next: at Duke
There is life on defense! Northwestern completely flipped the script from their opener against Michigan State, with an outstanding performance from its defense but an abysmal showing from the offense. The Wildcats looked like they were going to blow out the Sycamores early on with consecutive touchdowns to start the game, but were unable to repeat their success for most of the rest of the game. The next step for the Wildcats is being able to put the offensive game against Michigan State and the defensive game against Indiana State together into one. They’ll get a chance to do that in Durham Saturday against the Blue Devils, who will certainly provide a worthy test for the ‘Cats.
12. Rutgers (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 10
Last Result: W at Syracuse (17-7)
Next: vs Delaware
Rutgers sits at 2-0 despite a shaky win at Syracuse, and sits here near the bottom of the rankings. While the defense was solid, sacking Syracuse’s quarterback five times and forcing three turnovers, the offense was lackluster, converting just twenty percent of its third downs (3-15). Rutgers opened the game with three punts and two turnovers on downs, taking a 0-0 tie into halftime. The Scarlet Knights match up against Michigan in two weeks, who will likely be their first real challenge.
13. Illinois (1-2, 1-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 13
Last Result: L at Virginia (42-14)
Next: vs Maryland
I’m honestly not sure what to think of Illinois at this point. The Illini opened the season with a surprising win against Nebraska, leading most to think that presume this team is different. Alas, they fell to UTSA the next week and got crushed by Virginia. Illinois’ defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed, as Brennan Armstrong threw for over 400 yards to go with five touchdowns. As bad as the defense struggled with a middle of the road ACC team, it’s certainly not ready for pass happy Tagovailoa and the Terrapins.
14. Nebraska (2-1, 0-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 14
Last Result: W vs Buffalo (28-3)
Next: at No. 3 Oklahoma
Nebraska has two wins, but I honestly don’t see how I can put them anywhere other than last given the Week 0 loss to Illinois. Adrian Martinez is going to do what Adrian Martinez does, putting up crazy stats riddled with questionable decisions, but the recent toppling of Fordham and Buffalo do little to prove that they belong anywhere other than the basement of the Big Ten power rankings.