B1G Week 3 power rankings: There's a new No. 1 and it's not a team from the East
Take a deep breath. Wipe the sweat off your forehead. You made it through the college football version of a marathon race on Saturday. Congratulations.
All 14 B1G teams were in action this weekend, and all 14 played nonconference opponents on Saturday. The first kickoff was set for 11 a.m. ET (Illinois-Virginia) and the night concluded just before midnight (Washington-Michigan).
It was a long day, but it was incredibly fun.
Saturday had it all. Blowout victories, surprising results and a little bit of drama. Because of that, we’re seeing quite a bit of change in this week’s power rankings. Saturday was long enough, I won’t waste anymore time getting into it:
14. Northwestern Wildcats (1-1)
Last week: vs. Indiana State, 24-6 W
The good news is Northwestern got into the win column and Evan Hull had quite the afternoon, rushing for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. What did we actually learn about the Wildcats in an 18-point victory over an FCS school? Not a whole lot. For at least one more week, Pat Fitzgerald’s team sits at the bottom of the power rankings.
Up next: at Duke
13. Illinois Fighting Illini (1-2)
Last week: at Virginia, 42-14 L
Oh, how the Illini have fallen. After that Week 0 victory over Nebraska, Illinois looks like a team that will struggle to win another game the rest of the season. A lot of that has to do with injuries. With some pretty significant losses on both sides of the ball, Bret Bielema has to lean on the depth quite a bit more than he had hoped.
Up next: vs. Maryland
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1)
Last week: vs. Buffalo, 28-3 W
Let’s be honest, the verdict is still out on Nebraska after wins over Fordham and Buffalo. There’s no doubt that, despite some miscues, the Huskers look a lot better than they did in that Week 0 loss to Illinois. This team still has a lot to prove. It’ll be interesting to see how Nebraska handles a big-time showdown against Oklahoma next weekend.
Up next: at #4 Oklahoma
11. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0)
Last week: at Syracuse, 17-7 W
It was ugly, but Rutgers got the job done. The Scarlet Knights won a football game with less than 200 yards of offense thanks to 3 Syracuse turnovers. For the first time since 2014, Rutgers is 2-0 to start the season. Greg Schiano’s bunch has a chance to get improve to 3-0 next week with a showdown against Delaware before stepping into B1G play.
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Up next: vs. Delaware
10. Indiana Hoosiers (1-1)
Last week: vs. Idaho, 56-14
This was a nice win for Indiana in all three phases. It was also an excellent response after laying an egg a week earlier in Iowa City. There are still plenty of questions about this team, though, and a lopsided victory over Idaho doesn’t really answer much. We’re going to find out quite a bit about the Hoosiers next weekend when they host No. 7 Cincinnati.
Up next: vs. #7 Cincinnati
9. Maryland Terrapins (2-0)
Last week: vs. Howard, 62-0 W
Not a surprising result from the Terrapins, but it was a strong follow-up to last week’s big win over West Virginia. Maryland’s offense had too much talent and the defense didn’t allow Howard to gain any momentum whatsoever. We didn’t learn a ton from the Terps, but it’s a solid 2-0 start for Mike Locksley.
Up next: at Illinois
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-1)
Last week: vs. Miami (OH), 31-26 W
Minnesota’s performance was far from perfect. Like, really far. But the Gophers catch a little slack here because it was their first game without Mohamed Ibrahim. There are going to be some growing pains without the B1G Running Back of the Year in the lineup. One thing that is noticeable? Minnesota’s passing attack might be a real concern.
Up next: at Colorado
7. Purdue Boilermakers (2-0)
Last week: at UConn, 49-0 W
There’s no point in sugarcoating this, Purdue beat up on one of the worst college football teams we’ve seen recently. The Boilermakers should have won this game by 40 points or more. What’s most impressive about the 2-0 start is the improved play defensively. That side of the ball is going to be tested quite a bit by Notre Dame next Saturday in South Bend.
Up next: at #8 Notre Dame
6. Michigan State Spartans (2-0)
Last week: vs. Youngstown State, 42-14 W
Dare we say it? Michigan State’s offense looks…explosive. That’s the biggest takeaways just two short weeks into the season. For a second straight game, the Spartans scored on the first play of the game and never looked back. Last week, it was Kenneth Walker who had a massive game. Saturday, it was Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed. Mel Tucker’s squad appears to have quite a few weapons offensively.
Up next: at #22 Miami (FL)
5. Wisconsin Badgers (1-1)
Last week: vs. Eastern Michigan, 34-7 W
An incredible stat from Saturday’s game: Eastern Michigan’s offense totaled 92 yards and scored 0 points and the defense racked up 98 yards and a touchdown on a pick-six. Yeah, Wisconsin’s defense is the real deal. Even though the Badgers put up over 500 yards and scored 34 points, the offense still has some things to clean up. Jim Leonhard’s defense will have this team in every game it plays in, though.
Up next: OFF
4. Michigan Wolverines (2-0)
Last week: vs. Washington, 31-10 W
Has Meeechigan returned? It has certainly looked that way after the last two weeks. Michigan posted a convincing victory over Washington thanks to 343 yards on the ground and a defense that didn’t allow the Huskies into the end zone until the fourth quarter. That’s what a traditional, successful Michigan team looks like. It may be too early to say the Wolverines were underrated, but they look better than advertised early.
Up next: vs. Northern Illinois
3. Ohio State Buckeyes (1-1)
Last week: vs. #12 Oregon, 35-28 L
Saturday’s result in Columbus certainly put a damper on Ohio State’s national championship hopes. The Buckeyes are still loaded with talent, but there’s no doubt they’ve got some issues defensively. Oregon’s offense was able to move the ball pretty effectively throughout most of the game. Ohio State needs to fix some of those areas, particularly in the secondary, before the start of B1G play.
Up next: vs. Tulsa
2. Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0)
Last week: vs. Ball State, 44-13 W
Penn State won’t get too much credit for a win over a MAC opponent, but Ball State is a solid squad. Pairing a 31-point win with last week’s huge victory in Camp Randall is an impressive 2-0 start to the year for James Franklin’s team. It sets up a really fun B1G-SEC showdown in Happy Valley next week, too.
Up next: vs. #25 Auburn
1. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0)
Last week: at #9 Iowa State, 27-17 W
That’s right, Kirk Ferentz’s team is at the top this week. The Hawkeyes have posted double-digit victories over Top 20 opponents in back-to-back weeks. The combination of defense and special teams might be the best in the B1G right now. The offense still has some work to do, but so far it’s done more than enough to post a pair of comfortable victories and climb to the top of the power rankings.
Up next: vs. Kent State