B1G Week 3 Power Rankings
Call it top-heavy if you want.
Crazy at it seems, the Big Ten has the nation’s top two teams for first time since 2006. Whether or not they’ve looked it for 12 quarters this season is another question.
There are was plenty of other movement outside of the top two teams in the conference. Iowa and Northwestern have officially turned into early West contenders while Minnesota and Nebraska took steps back.
And in the East, there might be a certain maize and blue team working its way up the rankings.
Biggest riser: Penn State (+3)
Biggest faller: Illinois, Minnesota (-3)
14. Rutgers (prev. 14)
It’s hard to field a team when you have seven players arrested, a coach suspended and your two best defensive players are banged up. Sadly, things are at a low in Jersey.
13. Purdue (prev. 10)
I was buying stock in the Boilers after two solid efforts to open the season. After watching Virginia Tech dismantle them in the second half, I’m tempering my expectations for a major turnaround this season.
12. Illinois (prev. 9)
UNC was the first team able to expose the Illini’s tackling issues at the second level. If that doesn’t get patched up before Big Ten play, teams will continue to gash the Illinois with big plays.
11. Maryland (prev. 13)
I was ready to rip Randy Edsall for making a quarterback switch after two games. Then Caleb Rowe tossed four touchdown passes and led the Terps to an 18-point victory against a USF team I picked to win. So I’ll just sit over here and be quiet now.
10. Indiana (prev. 12)
For the first time since 1993, Indiana is riding a four-game winning streak (dating back to last year’s Purdue win). Bend-don’t-break defense is working for this team, as is the offensive duo of Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard.
9. Nebraska (prev. 8)
The comeback was impressive, the first 52 minutes were not. The Huskers are 1-2 for the second time since 1960, and Mike Riley probably hearing about it everywhere he goes in Lincoln. Welcome to Nebraska.
8. Penn State (prev. 11)
Credit James Franklin for adjusting his game plan. The Lions haven’t allowed a sack in two games and have out-rushed their opponents 530-112 in the last two weeks. Now Penn State looks like a Big Ten team.
7. Minnesota (prev. 4)
I gave Mitch Leidner and the Gopher offense a pass for their early struggles because they were facing quality opponents. How do you get shut out in the second half by Kent State at home? It was a win, but it was definitely a step back for a group that has work to do if it wants to be in the West title chase.
6. Michigan (prev. 7)
If I didn’t know any better, I’d mistake Penn State and Michigan for being the same team. Both groups are dominating the line of scrimmage and have won two in a row convincingly despite some shaky quarterback play.
5. Wisconsin (prev. 5)
The Badgers are going to be the toughest team to judge all year considering their non-conference schedule and early-season injuries. I’ll hold off on concrete conclusions of the Badgers until Big Ten play. For what it’s worth, Joel Stave has been one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks through three weeks.
4. Iowa (prev. 6)
How about those Hawkeyes? Marshall Koehn’s 57-yard bomb gave Iowa a whole lot of non-conference momentum. Iowa and Northwestern are the only teams in the Big Ten with multiple Power Five wins so far.
3. Northwestern (prev. 3)
Egg, meet face. I doubted Pat Fitzgerald’s defense. Anthony Walker decided no human would pass him and the Wildcats pulled out a gritty road win at Duke. To have allowed 16 points with the Wildcats’ schedule is nothing short of incredible.
2. Michigan State (prev. 2)
Were you ready for me to move the Spartans up to the top spot? To be honest, I was after Aaron Burbridge went off in the first half against Air Force. But for the second time in three weeks, the Spartans coasted in the second half. I get that MSU has a more impressive win to speak of than Ohio State, but this team hasn’t won a game by more than two touchdowns this year. The Spartans have plenty of room to grow.
1. Ohio State (prev. 1)
Why is Ohio State still No. 1 after beating Northern Illinois by only a touchdown? Because this defense has been even better than advertised. You aren’t supposed to win football games when you turn the ball over five times. For now, that defense is dragging a disoriented offense through the mud. If not for their turnover woes resulting in horrible field position, this defense would look even more like a national championship group.