Two games are more than one.
How’s that for dropping some college football knowledge?
The point being, two games is double the 2017 sample size that we had last week. For teams that faced legitimate Power 5 competition for the first time like Nebraska, Northwestern and Penn State, it was important to see where they were at.
We learned some important things about B1G teams in Week 2, including why last week’s No. 1 was nowhere near the level we thought they were at.
Here are the latest B1G Power Rankings:
14. Rutgers (LW: 13)
Eastern Michigan? Come on, Rutgers. Just when we start to give you credit for having a quality showing against a real foe, Eastern Michigan happens. Come. On.
13. Illinois (LW: 14)
Jeff Brohm wasn’t there on Saturday, but let’s not forget that Western Kentucky was favored to win by a touchdown in Champaign. Still, Lovie Smith’s squad showed up and took care of business on the defensive side of the ball.
12. Northwestern (LW: 8)
Yuck. One can make an argument that the Wildcats should be dead last among B1G teams. If not for high preseason expectations, Northwestern would be. Getting waxed by Duke is never OK, especially when Pat Fitzgerald’s defense allows 41 points. That offensive line is a train wreck, too. Until further notice, the Wildcats aren’t legitimate threats in the West.
11. Minnesota (LW: 12)
The Gophers rowed the boat a whole bunch of times up in Corvallis. That was the offensive performance we expected to see from P.J. Fleck early on. The ground game was solid — Shannon Brooks continues to be one of the more underrated running backs in college football — and the defense didn’t allow much of anything. That’s going to be the formula for this team to succeed in 2017.
10. Purdue (LW: 11)
Don’t look now, but the Boilermakers look very relevant with Brohm. Sure it was only Ohio, but here’s some perspective on just how rare Purdue’s blowout win was on Friday night.
Darrell Hazell had just one win over MAC opponents in 3 1/2 years at #Purdue (1-3). Jeff Brohm matched that tonight.
— Dustin Schutte (@Schutte_B1GFB) September 9, 2017
It’s definitely not the Darrell Hazell era anymore. Nobody should be overlooking Purdue once B1G play starts.
9. Michigan State (LW: 10)
Two games down, two games of covering the spread for MSU. Group of 5 foes or not, that’s not a bad way to start. If I’m not mistaken, the Spartans covered the spread four times all of last season (Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rutgers). Granted, expectations were different, but still. Here’s another crazy thought. If MSU takes care of Notre Dame at home in two weeks, it will have already matched its 2016 win total. But that’s a big “if.”
8. Indiana (LW: 9)
Winning on the road vs. a Power 5 team is a rarity at Indiana. How rare is that? In Kevin Wilson’s first four seasons at Indiana, he had just two. In Wilson’s entire six years at Indiana, he only won two such games by more than 17 points. Virginia won’t be competing for an ACC title, but that’s not a bad first win for Tom Allen.
7. Nebraska (LW: 7)
Well, how do you want to look at it? Do you want to focus on the first half that saw Bob Diaco’s defense surrender 42 points? Or would you prefer to focus on the shutout the Blackshirts posted in the second half? Either way, Nebraska isn’t a finished product on offense or defense. We’re still waiting on the Huskers to put a full 60 minutes together, which they should be able to do in their next three games (Northern Illinois, Rutgers, Illinois).
6. Maryland (LW: 6)
I get it. It was Towson. It’s only been two games. The sample size is way too small to completely fall in love with Kasim Hill and the Terps’ offense. But it’s definitely not too early to completely fall in love with Ty Johnson and D.J. Moore, both of whom are well on their way to becoming household names. And who has the B1G’s best offense and the No. 4 offense in FBS? That’s Maryland. Nobody else in the top 10 in scoring offense played a Power 5 team on the road, either. The defense has questions to answer come B1G play, but Maryland is no fluke.
5. Iowa (LW: 5)
Let’s all take a moment to appreciate Akrum Wadley.
Winning rivalry games on the road is never easy, even if it’s against a cellar dweller like Iowa State. And how about Nathan Stanley? Since that awful first quarter against Wyoming, he’s been pretty solid. He delivered Iowa’s first 300-yard passing game since 2014 and he became the first Hawkeye to throw for five touchdown passes in a game since 1988. The defense took a step back on Saturday, but Iowa looks like a different offense with Brian Ferentz running the show.
4. Ohio State (LW: 1)
So here’s a trivia question. Who ranks dead last in FBS in passing defense? That would be Ohio State. Sure, the Buckeyes faced two offenses that throw the ball all over the field, but that’s how far this secondary has to go. Part of that comes back to the offense’s ability to sustain drives, or rather inability* to sustain drives.
Oklahoma exposed the issues the Buckeyes have on both sides of the ball. Army won’t do that, neither will UNLV or Rutgers. It’s going to take a while for the college football world to buy into OSU as a national title contender again.
3. Wisconsin (LW: 4)
Poor Wisconsin. The Badgers can just never get that breakout tailback. Oh, except they do basically every year. On Saturday, it was Jonathan Taylor’s turn to become that dude. The freshman delivered a special performance and helped carry a Wisconsin offense that’s been a bit hit or miss early on. He could prove to be the difference in what looks like a possible defensive struggle at BYU on Saturday.
2. Michigan (LW: 3)
The Wolverines might’ve left things a little too close for comfort for most of Saturday — something they rarely did at home last year — but let’s look at the overall body of work. Michigan has the No. 3 run defense in America and two wins by 16-plus points against actual competition. Offensive questions aside, that’s a good sign moving forward.
1. Penn State (LW: 2)
Penn State was a hair away from starting at No. 1 on this list. The Ohio State loss put the Lions at No. 1, but they are plenty worthy of the B1G’s top spot. In a rivalry game (well, depending on who you ask), Penn State won by three scores against a Pitt squad that’s been plenty dangerous against elite foes.
As far as I’m concerned, Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley are still the best 1-2 punch in the country. But while they’ll continue to dominate the headlines, Penn State’s defense has been stellar thus far. If Grant Haley and Marcus Allen can continue to lead the Lions on that side of the ball, there’s no team more dangerous in the B1G.