Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 3
In a week in which the Big Ten went 8-2, two teams made major statements with road wins against top-20 ranked opponents, and another suffered an embarrassing loss at home against an FCS powerhouse.
The Ohio State Buckeyes remain in the top spot of my power rankings, and it's pretty hard to dispute at this point. The Michigan State Spartans are on the rise while the black and gold Iowa Hawkeyes are left feeling black and blue.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0): There's no disputing the talent on this Ohio State side. The youth is prevalent but so is the skill. Defensively, the Buckeyes have scored four touchdowns on the season and showed Austin Kendall how basic they really are. If that performance was basic, the offense must be pretty basic too.
2. Michigan Wolverines (3-0): It's not how you start but how you end, and the Wolverines showed there's too much talent on their roster for Colorado to hang around for four quarters. Also, Jabrill Peppers is a beast.
3. Michigan State Spartans (2-0): Not many experts thought Sparty had much of a shot against the explosive Irish offense. Turns out we should never doubt Mark Dantonio. Notre Dame made it close late, but Michigan State held on for the resume-boosting victory.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-0): I almost question my sanity putting Nebraska this high in the rankings, but a quality win over No. 22-ranked Oregon at home with Tommy Armstrong taking care of the football was enough to restore some faith. Mad respect to Oregon for its gesture in remembrance of Sam Foltz.
5. Wisconsin Badgers (3-0): It's been a few weeks since Wisconsin pulled off the upset over LSU. A nail-bitter against less-than-special Georgia State makes me wonder if they aren't headed in the wrong direction.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1): Look, the Hawkeyes are still a strong contender in the Big Ten West, but losing to an FCS opponent at home (I know North Dakota State is great) is unacceptable. Maybe this is what happens when you lock into a deal with Kirk Ferentz for basically the rest of his lifetime.
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-0): A bye week for Minnesota leaves ample time to prepare for an 11:00 a.m. showdown against Colorado State in the Twin Cities.
8. Penn State Nittany Lions (2-1): Penn State may be tone deaf as an institution off the field, but it beat a decent Temple opponent behind a solid performance from quarterback Trace McSorley.
9. Maryland Terrapins (3-0): Maryland has yet to turn the ball over this season. Unfortunately for the Terps, such spectacular ball security is likely to taper off when the competition toughens. UCF, a team who failed to win a game last season, is the toughest opponent Maryland has faced this year.
10. Indiana Hoosiers (2-0): It's still difficult to get a read on the quality of Kevin Wilson's Indiana this season, especially with an early bye week after wins over two middle-of-the-road non-Power 5 opponents. Wake Forest is on the docket for next week.
11. Northwestern Wildcats (1-2): Northwestern's 24-13 victory over Duke looked more like the Wildcats we thought we'd see this year. They still aren't 10-3 material, but don't be surprised if Pat Fitzgerald turns things around to salvage a 7-5 regular season.
12. Purdue Boilermakers (1-1): Purdue sitting in 12th speaks to the lack of quality near the bottom of the Big Ten. Purdue has Nevada at home next weekend.
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-1): It looked dubious for Rutgers after a 21-0 start for New Mexico, but Chris Ash has seems to have his team believing in itself. Weathering the rough start, the Scarlet Knights bounced back to remain undefeated at home.
14. Illinois Fighting Illini (1-2): I'm not sure even the NFL mind of Lovie Smith can fix the mess Illinois is on the field. And frankly, I don't see too many more wins on the schedule this season.