Week two of the college football season is over and the Big Ten is once again at the center of headlines. Unlike last week, there were some out of conference losses (sorry Northwestern fans), firings and even an Iowa touchdown! Here are the week two power rankings:
1. Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 1
Last result: 45-12 W vs. Arkansas State
Next: vs. Toledo
After Ohio State pulled out a gritty win against Notre Dame, they were able to blow the doors off of an inferior Arkansas State team. The offense fired on all cylinders, and the emergence of Marvin Harrison Jr. will become huge for the Buckeyes in the long run. As expected, C.J. Stroud is in the early-season Heisman race, throwing for four touchdowns this weekend.
A case could be made for not only Ohio State to be number one in these rankings, but in the country. They have a top ten win on their resume (then again, nobody knows how good Notre Dame really is) and look like a complete team. Expect Ryan Day’s team to be at or near the top for all of this season.
2. Michigan (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 2
Last result: 56-10 win vs Hawaii
Next: vs. UConn
Michigan has blown out both Hawaii and Colorado State, and the same could be expected this week when the Huskies come to town. The most notable storyline out of Ann Arbor will be the starting quarterback decision made by Jim Harbaugh: J.J. McCarthy looked like the guy on Saturday night, but is Harbaugh that fast to rule out Cade McNamara? I think most would expect McCarthy, as he brings an electric factor that McNamara does not, and Michigan’s offense has looked better with McCarthy. Michigan’s Big Ten schedule starts when conference play opens up next week against Maryland.
3. Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 4
Last result: 52-0 win vs Akron
Next: at Washington
Michigan State has looked close to perfect in their opening two games, but then again, they were against two teams that they should have blown out. They have the star power of Jayden Reed, Payton Thorne is emerging as a good quarterback and they have arguably one of the best coaches in the conference in Mel Tucker. The Spartans have a real chance to make a statement on Saturday, as they play in prime-time in Seattle against Washington. Though they are ranked and the Huskies are not, the Spartans enter the game as an underdog. This is the chance for Michigan State to silence some doubters on the national stage.
4. Penn State (2-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 8
Last result: 46-10 win vs Ohio
Next: at Auburn
The Nittany Lions were able to come out of West Lafayette with a massive win against Purdue, and this week was easy for them in their home opener against the Bobcats. Penn State deserves to be near the top right now, as they have better victories than some of their companions (such as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Maryland). Sean Clifford has looked good, Nick Singleton and Keyvone Lee are a formidable running back duo and James Franklin has a talented team. Similar to Michigan State, Penn State has a chance to make a statement if they go down to Jordan-Hare Stadium and take down Auburn.
5. Minnesota (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 5
Last result: 62-10 win vs Western Illinois
Next: vs Colorado
Minnesota cannot be higher on this list due to the competition they have faced, but boy do the Gophers look good. Tanner Morgan has been a serviceable quarterback for years but has a low ceiling, and maybe that is exactly what they need — with Mo Ibrahim leading the rushing attack, a game manager perfectly compliments that. P.J. Fleck’s team also has a strong defense that is physical both at the line and in the secondary, and this will help them come conference play.
6. Wisconsin (1-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 3
Last result: 17-14 loss vs Washington State
Next: vs New Mexico State
For a team with the aspirations that Wisconsin has this season, an early-year loss to a team like Washington State at Camp Randall Stadium is unacceptable. The Badgers could be much lower on these rankings because of that. Last year’s struggles for Graham Mertz appeared once again, which doesn’t bode well for the team. However, they are still a team that will cause problems, especially with Braelon Allen, and there is no need to panic over one loss. They should be at the top of the conference, and arguments can be made that they should be higher on this list, but they just cannot be after Saturday.
7. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 6
Last result: 56-21 win vs UNC Charlotte
Next: vs SMU
There’s nothing bad to say about the Terps right now. Taulia Tagovailoa looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the conference and they have beaten two teams that they should have by large margins. Also, keep an eye out for Jacob Copeland, the Florida transfer who already has 2 touchdowns for Maryland. The only reason they went down in the power rankings is because Penn State looks good and has a better resume, and it’s hard to tell if they can beat teams like Wisconsin, who is just above them.
8. Rutgers (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 10
Last result: 66-7 vs Wagner
Next: at Temple
The biggest question for Greg Schiano and company is their quarterback: who will take the lead? Evan Simon and Gavin Wimsatt have gotten reps in-game, and last year’s quarterback Noah Vedral is making progress coming back from injury. It will be interesting to see who takes the job for the Scarlet Knights, especially when they start their Big Ten schedule.
9. Northwestern (1-1, 1-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 7
Last result: 31-23 loss vs Duke
Next: vs Southern Illinois
The Wildcats don’t drop tremendously in the rankings, but the loss to Duke should leave a sour taste in their mouths. The team and ‘Cats fans both wish that the team did not start slow, because if they were up to par in the first quarter, Northwestern is higher in these rankings. There are a few pros for Northwestern though: Ryan Hilinski has looked like he’s actually vastly improved from last year, setting a career high in passing yards on Saturday, and Evan Hull is a star (some might remember his one yard line fumble, but he had an exceptional game). The ‘Cats need to figure out a lot on defense before Big Ten play, and hopefully they’ll be able to in these next two games — and not stumble against inferior opponents.
10. Purdue (1-1, 0-1 B1G)
Last ranking: 13
Last result: 56-0 win vs Indiana State
Next: at Syracuse
The Boilermakers did exactly what needed to be done after losing their season opener to a Big Ten foe: blow out an in-state rival. Purdue has high expectations for the season, and can’t be distracted by their loss to Penn State. They still have one of the top quarterbacks in the conference in Aidan O’Connell. Charlie Jones is emerging as the lead wide receiver, as the Iowa transfer had nine receptions for 133 yards and three touchdowns. There is some bad news on the Purdue defense, as top defensive player Jalen Graham is expected to miss a few games. However, the Boilermakers had a strong bounce-back week.
11. Indiana (2-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 9
Last result: 35-22 win vs Idaho
Next: vs Western Kentucky
Through two games, the Hoosiers have already matched their win total from last season. There are a lot of positives to come from these two games already, including the fact that the Hoosiers beat an in-conference opponent in Illinois, which they failed to do last year. After this week, Indiana faces an uphill battle, facing the likes of Cincinnati and Nebraska on the road and Michigan at home, and then the rest of the Big Ten, so Tom Allen’s squad needs to smooth out some things before the schedule gets much more difficult.
12. Illinois (2-1, 0-1 B1G)
Last ranking: 12
Last result: 24-3 win vs Virginia
Next: vs Chattanooga
Illinois has faced two non-conference opponents, both in Champaign, and blew them out. In these two games, their defense combined to let up only nine points, and their offense put up 62, averaging 31 points per game. In their one road game against a conference opponent in Indiana, they did not look like the same team. Chase Brown is someone to be excited for, but he needs to have more of an impact away from Champaign in order for Illinois to move away from the bottom this year.
13. Iowa (1-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last ranking: 13
Last result: 10-7 loss vs Iowa State
Next: vs Nevada
On the bright side, Iowa scored a touchdown this week! On the not so bright side: they did not score any other points. Defense can only do so much, folks.
14. Nebraska (1-2, 0-1 B1G)
Last ranking: 14
Last result: 45-42 loss vs Georgia Southern
Next: vs Oklahoma
The Scott Frost experiment is finally over; after all the questionable coaching decisions and underwhelming Nebraska football, Frost goes out the door. Nebraska has talented players: Casey Thompson, Trey Palmer and Anthony Grant, to name a few. Mark Whipple is still there. Can they put it together now that Frost is not in charge? Maybe, but it won’t get easier, starting with #6 Oklahoma in Lincoln this week. That’s why they’re at the bottom this week, and will probably stay here next time.