Week 3 B1G Power Rankings: Should there be a shuffle in the top four?
I’m not a big believer in massive early shakeups in Power Rankings.
Part of that is because I don’t believe power rankings should be based purely on résumé. If that were true, Wisconsin would be sitting at No. 1, and Michigan State would probably be at No. 10.
Plain and simple, these rankings are based on who I would feel most comfortable betting my money on. Why isn’t Ohio State at No. 1? Well, I don’t know how the nation’s least-experience team is going to perform against teams that aren’t Tulsa and Bowling Green. If they beat Oklahoma, that’s a different conversation.
Yes, there are week-to-week shakeups. Maryland’s performance showed me that the Terps are not a three-win team like they were last year. Northwestern’s performance showed me that they might be a three-win team unlike what they were last year.
But nobody should be rising or falling six or seven spots in a given week. This criteria prevents that.
With that in mind, here are my Week 3 B1G Power Rankings.
14. Purdue (LW: 14)
Darrell Hazell is running out of time. If you were one of the scattered few who stayed to the bitter end on Saturday, even you could realize that. With each blowout loss — at home, especially — Hazell gives his new boss another reason to pull the trigger before November.
13. Northwestern (LW: 10)
If power rankings were based purely on résumé, Northwestern would be dead last. Illinois State at home was the biggest gimme on the schedule. The Wildcats are an offensive mess. Clayton Thorson simply has to be better if the Wildcats want to beat anyone in 2016.
12. Rutgers (LW: 13)
Rutgers would’ve been in the conversation for the No. 14 spot if that first-quarter performance continued. Losing to a bad FCS team like Howard would’ve been a complete disaster. Even grinding out a win against Howard would’ve been rough. Luckily, Janarion Grant went off and Rutgers reminded everyone that it was a Power Five program.
11. Illinois (LW: 11)
This was the barometer game for Lovie Smith. In front of a sellout crowd, Illinois just couldn’t have a repeat of last year’s UNC game. It wasn’t that, but Smith has major issues to figure out with this defense. If the defensive line doesn’t get to the quarterback, the secondary is capable of getting exposed. That needs to be corrected before Illinois faces some veteran B1G West quarterbacks.
10. Maryland (LW: 12)
Call me crazy, but I’m starting to buy the Maryland bowl hype. The Terps didn’t play down to FIU’s level on the road. That’s two games for Maryland with a 93-27 advantage. The feeling after watching the Terps roll was that a 4-0 start is very realistic for this team. Go figure.
9. Indiana (LW: 9)
I’ve given the IU defense plenty of credit for finally looking like a B1G defense. That, however, came after two games against non-Power Five teams. I’m excited to see what Tom Allen’s defense does with two weeks to prepare for its first Power Five opponent (sort of) in Wake Forest.
8. Penn State (LW: 7)
The ball control mistakes were frustrating, but Joe Moorhead’s unit averaged 36 points in the first two games. PSU would’ve loved that kind of production the last two years. Unfortunately, there are some injuries and not much depth on defense right now. We saw that rear its ugly head against Pitt’s running game.
7. Minnesota (LW: 8)
On the bright side, the Gophers had a rare flex of the offensive muscles. Mitch Leidner and Drew Wolitarsky connected all afternoon and Minnesota dominated an FCS team the way it was supposed to. Concerning is the fact that the injuries and suspensions are starting to pile up. Rarely does a team need an early bye week, but Minnesota will benefit from having Saturday off.
6. Nebraska (LW: 6)
The Huskers scored 50 of their 95 points so far in the fourth quarter. There’s nothing wrong with finishing strong, but how much of that is grinding away at smaller, less-athletic teams? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know one of the most athletic teams in the country (Oregon) is coming to Lincoln on Saturday.
5. Michigan State (LW: 5)
The biggest mystery in the B1G right now is Michigan State. The new faces, the sub-par effort against a Week 1 cupcake and the bye week are all part of that. Something tells me we’ll have a much better feel for how good MSU is after Saturday night’s showdown in South Bend.
4. Wisconsin (LW: 3)
Yes, I moved Wisconsin back one spot after an ‘A’ performance. Honestly, it had nothing to do with what Wisconsin did on Saturday. The Badgers deserve to be ranked in the top 10 of every poll. But these power rankings are based on which team I’d be most willing to bet on to win a game. I put slightly more confidence in Iowa to do that than Wisconsin. For now.
3. Iowa (LW: 4)
Iowa’s drubbing of Iowa State showed that the Hawkeyes are looking the part of a top-15 team. The Hawkeyes haven’t looked that good against a Power Five team during CJ Beathard’s time as a starter. It’s early, but there appear to be fewer holes in this team than last year. As long as they get by FCS power North Dakota State, Iowa has the makings of a team that will continue to beat up on lesser foes.
2. Ohio State (LW: 2)
Give the Buckeye defense credit. Not allowing a touchdown through two games is a challenge for any unit, much less one loaded with first-year starters. But Oklahoma’s offense is more high-powered than any the Buckeyes have seen in recent memory. If the Buckeyes continue their defensive dominance and get out of Norman with a win, I’ll be convinced that they’re the second-best team in the country.
1. Michigan (LW: 1)
I get that UCF consistently put eight guys in the box and dared Michigan to throw it. The Wolverines should still be able to run for more than three yards per carry. They also shouldn’t allow 275 rushing yards to UCF at home. Whether or not Michigan got “out-hit” as Scott Frost suggested is beside the point. Michigan will likely dominate this Saturday and every Saturday until they travel to Michigan State. But in those blowouts, the Wolverines have to shore up areas they aren’t perfect in and not make them multi-week issues. That, above all else, will determine how good this Michigan team can be when the schedule gets real.