B1G Power rankings after Week 2
Week 2 in the B1G saw more upsets, more NCAA football programs dealing with COVID-19 and more dramatic comebacks.
But at the top, it was more of the same for Ohio State. The Buckeyes fended off a challenge from Penn State to remain No. 1 in our power rankings, to the surprise of pretty much nobody.
The rest of the conference is scrambled quite a bit after a week in which the highest-scoring B1G team was … (checks notes) … Maryland? Yep, the Terrapins scored 3 points one week and 45 (with the help of overtime) on Saturday. Of course.
14. Illinois (0-2, lost to Purdue 31-24)
Lovie Smith’s bunch showed more promise against the Boilermakers than in the opener against Wisconsin. But the Illini fell short, reaching the Purdue 8-yard-line on their final drive before turning it over on downs after erasing most of a 31-10 deficit. Illinois should get credit for keeping it that close with its top two quarterbacks out after positive COVID-19 tests.
13. Iowa (0-2, lost to Northwestern 21-20)
A 17-0 halftime lead at home against Northwestern? That should sound promising, but the Hawkeyes’ lead evaporated along with probably any hopes of contending in the West Division. Iowa allowed Northwestern to have a 143-77 edge in rushing yards. Granted, Northwestern ran 60 times for only 2.4 yards per rush, but also, Iowa’s offense sputtered badly at the worst time.
12. Rutgers (1-1, lost to Indiana 37-21)
The Scarlet Knights came back to earth with their loss to the Hoosiers. Too bad that fourth-quarter play with about 57 laterals didn’t count for a touchdown because of a penalty for an illegal forward pass. Still, Rutgers is showing signs of being much more competitive in the first year of Greg Schiano 2.0 and for now that’s worth savoring for a long-suffering fan base.
11. Minnesota (0-2, lost to Maryland 45-44 in OT)
Did we mention last week that special teams is a problem area for the Golden Gophers? That area was the difference in the game (well, that and a defense that squandered a 17-point lead) as a missed extra point in overtime cost Minnesota a chance to extend overtime. Minnesota’s 11-win season in 2019 seems a distant memory now.
10. Maryland (1-1, beat Minnesota 45-44 in OT)
Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa put on a show for the Terrapins in their Friday night win over the Golden Gophers. The quarterback passed for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns and also ran for 64 yards and 2 TDs as Maryland dusted itself off from its embarrassing opener to knock off Minnesota. Tagovailoa led an offense that rolled up 675 total yards.
9. Penn State (0-2, lost to Ohio State 38-25)
The Nittany Lions are making too many mistakes for a program with such high expectations. Frist Penn State committed 10 penalties for 100 yards in the opener against Indiana. Then on Saturday, PSU kept trying to run when it was clear that, without its top two running backs out and against a stout OSU front seven, the team was going nowhere (44 yards on 27 carries).
8. Nebraska (0-1, idle)
The Cornhuskers didn’t get a chance to play Wisconsin because of the coronavirus crisis in Madison and they didn’t get to play what would have been a very hastily arranged game against Chattanooga, either. The B1G denied Nebraska’s request for the nonconference game, so the thumping that the Huskers took against Ohio State lingers for another week.
7. Michigan (1-1, lost to Michigan State 27-24)
How? How do the Wolverines look that good in beating Minnesota one week, then lose at home to Michigan State? Michigan gained 452 yards and held the ball for 33:47 but still found a way to lose — that’s a recurring theme for Jim Harbaugh, who is an unsatisfying 3-3 in his UM career against Sparty. Worse, he’s 1-6 combined against MSU and Ohio State in The Big House.
6. Michigan State (1-1, beat Michigan 27-24)
How? How do the Spartans look that awful in losing to Rutgers one week, then win on the road against a ranked Michigan team? Well, not committing 7 turnovers had a lot to do with it against the Wolverines. In fact, Mel Tucker earned his first win as Michigan State coach thanks in part to the fact that his team committed no turnovers and stuffed two critical second-half drives.
5. Northwestern (2-0, beat Iowa 21-20)
This is already a candidate for Power 5 turnaround team of the year. The Wildcats were 3-9 last season but those are distant memories now after a comprehensive win over Maryland followed by a comeback thriller on the road against Iowa. Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s bunch is a serious contender to win the West, which would repeat the program’s feat of 2018.
4. Purdue (2-0, defeated Illinois 31-24)
It wasn’t always pretty and a big lead almost all disappeared, but Purdue hung on to stake its claim in the West early in the season. The Boilermakers might have something in junior quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who passed for 371 yards and 2 touchdowns Saturday. It’s way early, but could we be looking at the most meaningful Old Oaken Bucket game ever?
3. Indiana (2-0, beat Rutgers 37-21)
The Hoosiers went into Saturday night’s Ohio State-Penn State late game alone in first place in the B1G East. Granted, that’s only a snapshot in time, and IU is now tied with OSU, but it’s an indication of how far Indiana has come and how expectations are rising in the Hoosier State. See the No. 4 team in these rankings for further proof.
2. Wisconsin (1-0, idle)
There is no breakdown of Xs and Os that could possibly matter right now in Madison. The number of positive COVID-19 tests among members of the program keeps rising — 12 players and 10 staff members, according to Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez on Saturday. The game against Nebraska was canceled and it’s hard to even guess when the Badgers can play next.
1. Ohio State (2-0, best Wisconsin 38-25)
The Buckeyes kept rolling by defeating the Nittany Lions — perhaps not as impressively as a 21-3 first-half lead would suggest, but there was never a doubt that OSU was the better team. There’s no doubt that the three-time defending league champions are the still class of the B1G, either. Justin Fields has 6 touchdown passes and 7 incompletions in two games. That’s efficient.