B1G Week 2 Power Rankings
14. Rutgers (prev. 9)
Poor Rutgers. As if the Scarlet Knights don’t have enough to worry about off the field, Saturday’s loss showed some glaring weaknesses in the depleted defense on the field.
13. Maryland (prev. 11)
Troubling for the Terps is the fact that without William Likely’s return skills, they would’ve looked a whole lot worse than they did against Bowling Green. Believe it or not, the Terps are actually 21st in the country in rushing. That doesn’t matter a ton when you’re allowing 42 second-half points to MAC schools at home.
12. Indiana (prev. 14)
Two nail-biter wins are keeping the Hoosiers afloat. They are still too reliant on the pass rush to get defensive stands, which doesn’t bode well for Saturday’s showdown against college football’s top returning passer, Brandon Doughty.
11. Penn State (prev. 13)
Let’s just accept it. We thought Penn State was going to be more of a finesse, high-scoring offense. This team is going to have to win ugly like it did Saturday. As long as winning ugly still involves protecting Christian Hackenberg, the Lions should be able to hang with anyone with that defense.
10. Purdue (prev. 12)
The Boilermakers finally got to do what the rest of Big Ten teams have been doing for years. That is, beat up on FCS schools and give some starters a little rest.
9. Illinois (prev. 10)
I’m holding off on moving Illinois into the top half of the conference until after Saturday’s game at North Carolina. That’ll tell us how real the Illini’s 96-3 scoring advantage is.
8. Nebraska (prev. 7)
How can Nebraska drop a spot after winning by 39 points? Well, the rest of the Big Ten looked that good, and did so against better competition. Miami is a major early statement game for Mike Riley’s group.
7. Michigan (prev. 8)
How about the Victors? The defense has looked rock solid in two straight weeks against a pair of Pac-12 opponents. Chris Wormley is an early candidate for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
6. Iowa (prev. 6)
Last year’s Iowa team folds in the second half on Saturday. This year’s team picks it up on defense without its leader and gets clutch quarterback play to pull out a win. Not bad, Hawks.
5. Wisconsin (prev. 5)
Wisconsin and Nebraska are the two toughest teams to evaluate in the conference right now. It would’ve been nice to see what the Badgers could’ve done at full strength against Alabama because a rout against Miami doesn’t tell us how they’ll fare against some stout Big Ten West defenses.
4. Minnesota (prev. 4)
Speaking of stout West defenses, the Gophers — owners of the B1G’s toughest schedule so far — have solidified themselves as one of the conference’s best. Mitch Leidner still needs to be more efficient, but only one turnover through two games is encouraging. So was that final drive of regulation at Colorado State.
3. Northwestern (prev. 3)
If Pat Fitzgerald keeps this up, he’s going to have people confusing this defense with the ’95 group he led to the Rose Bowl. If the Cats pull out a win at Duke, they’ll likely be the favorites to win the West heading into conference play. Just as we all expected.
2. Michigan State (prev. 2)
Credit the Michigan State defense for stepping up when all people were predicting for Saturday night’s Oregon showdown was a shootout, including me. Fun fact: Nobody in FBS has more sacks than the Spartans. Is it Nov. 21 yet?
1. Ohio State (prev. 1)
The Buckeyes aren’t giving up the top spot just because the offense went through some struggles. Even NFL teams struggle with short weeks like what Ohio State had. Still, that defense showed that it can win games by itself this year. That’s a scary thought.