B1G Power rankings after Week 3
Does anything outside of Columbus make any sense at all anymore in the Big Ten?
After three weeks, the unbeaten teams are Ohio State, Indiana, Northwestern, Purdue and a Wisconsin team that has only played once because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The winless teams include an Illinois squad that went to a bowl last season, a Nebraska team that was finally supposed to start a turnaround in 2020 … and Penn State. Yes, the Nittany Lions, considered preseason B1G contenders worth at least some College Football Playoff consideration, are 0-3 and going backward. Michigan is going in the wrong direction as well.
In a B1G world where up is down and the standings look like they have never looked before, here are the conference power rankings after Week 3 in the B1G.
14. Penn State (0-3, lost to Maryland 35-19)
Are the Nittany Lions really the worst team in the B1G? Well, probably not worse than Illinois. But are we sure? This is where Penn State suddenly finds itself after a blowout loss at home against Maryland, a program that PSU has utterly owned for decades. This is the most disappointing team in the nation.
13. Illinois (0-3, lost to Minnesota 41-14)
Lovie Smith’s team got blown out by the Golden Gophers and have had a hard time slowing anybody down so far. Having a shortage of players is one thing. But the Fighting Illini also commit way too many penalties — 24 for 255 yards on the season through three games, including 12 for 120 against Minnesota.
12. Nebraska (0-2, lost to Northwestern 21-13)
The offense still is not producing the way a Scott Frost offense is intended to. The Cornhuskers gained 442 yards against Northwestern but, much like the opener against Ohio State, Nebraska could not convert that into enough points. And now there’s a quarterback question in Lincoln.
11. Michigan State (1-2, lost to Iowa 49-7)
Maybe this is just who the Spartans are — completely unpredictable and truly awful on their bad days. A week after toppling rival Michigan, MSU was uncompetitive against Iowa. A 35-0 halftime deficit told the tale for Michigan State, which now has to prepare for red-hot Indiana.
10. Michigan (1-2, lost to Indiana 38-21)
How far the Wolverines have fallen in a short time. Not only did Michigan lose to Indiana for the first time since 1987, but Jim Harbaugh’s team never looked likely to knock off the Hoosiers. Most troubling was a ground game that went nowhere — 13 yards in 18 carries.
9. Minnesota (1-2, beat Illinois 41-14)
The Golden Gophers finally looked like the team that won 11 games last season. Minnesota put it all together on defense (287 yards allowed), somewhat through the air (216 yards) but especially on the ground, with 325 yards and 5 TDs rushing led by Mohamed Ibrahim (224 yards, 4 TDs).
8. Iowa (1-2, beat Michigan State 49-7)
The Hawkeyes played good, old-fashioned Iowa football in routing MSU. They ran for 226 yards and 4 TDs, intercepted the Spartans 3 times and quarterback Spencer Petras was efficient if not spectacular (15-for-27, 167 yards, 1 TD). On the heels of two close losses, Iowa needed this one.
7. Rutgers (1-2, lost to Ohio State 49-27)
A five-spot rise on this list after a 22-point loss? Darn right. After trailing 35-3 at halftime, the Scarlet Knights moved the ball well, made some stops and showed imagination and confidence in trying one trick play after another, succeeding more often than not. This team is now a tough out.
6. Maryland (2-1, beat Penn State 35-19)
How do you measure a rout of Penn State? Yes, it’s a nice win against an East Division foe, but for the Terrapins this is so much more. Maryland has historically seen a lot of its recruiting targets instead head to Happy Valley. And PSU dominates this all-time series so this is a big dragon for Maryland to slay.
5. Purdue (2-0, idle)
This week was a missed opportunity for the Boilermakers, who could have proven how far they have come in a West matchup against Wisconsin. COVID-19 concerns meant that the game was scratched, so now Purdue has an extra week to prepare for a clash of unbeatens against Northwestern.
4. Northwestern (3-0, beat Nebraska 21-13)
The Wildcats are not always pretty, but they have already equaled last season’s win total in just 3 games. Northwestern has rallied in the second half of its past two games, outscoring Iowa last week and Nebraska on Saturday by a combined score of 21-0 and in the third and fourth quarters.
3. Wisconsin (1-0, idle)
For two straight weeks, the Badgers have been waiting. And the longer they wait, the more the memory of that opening rout over Illinois fades. But also, as Wisconsin battles the spread of COVID-19 within its program, the fewer opportunities the program has to impress College Football Playoff voters.
2. Indiana (3-0, beat Michigan 38-21)
The Hoosiers are for real. Believe it. One could perhaps argue that, based on stats, if their game against Penn State had been played 10 times, IU might have lost six or seven. But the Michigan game? If that game’s played 10 times, IU probably wins all 10 the way the Hoosiers played on Saturday.
1. Ohio State (3-0, beat Rutgers 49-27)
The game against Rutgers was predicted to be a rout and, for one half, it was. The Buckeyes led 35-3 at halftime but didn’t look sharp in the second half as the Scarlet Knights clawed closer. Most of all, OSU should be concerned about its running game. Justin Fields has the passing game humming, though.