Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 2

Tom Brew

There’s been a change at the top in the Big Ten Power Rankings as Ohio State steals the top spot back after an impressive win over Cincinnati. Michigan, the former No. 1, needed two overtimes just to beat Army.

The Big Ten went 10-1 in nonconference games in Week 2, with Nebraska being the only loser. Iowa kicked off the conference scheudle with an easy 30-0 win over Rutgers.

Here are my rankings after the games of Sept. 7, with last week’s ranking and this week’s opponent included:

1. Ohio State (2-0)    ***    Last week's ranking: 2

Last week: Beat Cincinnati 42-0

This week: Ohio State at Indiana (2-0), Noon ET (TV: FOX)

The skinny: The Buckeyes move into the top spot after an impressive shutout over what is a pretty good Cincinnati team that will win a lot of games this year. To be honest, Ohio State should have probably been No. 1 from the beginning. They’ve proved this doubter wrong so far. Indiana on the road could be an interesting test.

2. Wisconsin (2-0)    ***    Last week: 5

Last week: Beat Central Michigan 61-0

This week: Bye week.

The skinny: There's no doubt the Badgers have been sensational thus far, posting back-to-back shutouts and outscoring their two opponents 110-0. They’ve moved from No. 8 to No. 5 to No. 2 that fast. Impressive.

3. Michigan (2-0)    ***    Last week: 1

Last week: Beat Army 24-21, 2 OT.

This week: Bye week.

The skinny: Barely beating a slightly above average Army team in two overtimes is nothing to be impressed with, and I wasn’t. I’m kicking them out of the No. 1 spot until they fix their problems. At Wisconsin in two weeks is going to be a war.

4. Penn State (2-0)    ***    Last week: 3

Last week: Beat Buffalo 45-13

This week: Pittsburgh (1-1) at Penn State, Noon ET (TV: ABC)

The skinny: Penn State took a while to get going but then finally kicked it into high gear. It’s still a little difficult to figure how good this team is, but they’re certainly in the top tier. They fall a notch, but that had more to do with Wisconsin that it did Penn State.

5. Iowa (2-0)    ***    Last week: 4

Last week: Beat Rutgers 30-0

This week: Iowa at Iowa State (1-0), 4 p.m. ET (TV: FOXSports1)

The skinny: Ditto with the Penn State comment. Iowa falling a notch had a lot more to do with how impressed I am with Wisconsin. Iowa’s defense looked very good against Rutgers but, let’s be honest, it’s Rutgers. I still like this Hawkeyes team a lot.

6. Michigan State (2-0)    ***    Last week: 6

Last week: Beat Western Michigan 51-17

This week: Arizona State (2-0) at Michigan State, 4 p.m. ET (TV: FOX)

The skinny: I was really tempted to move Michigan State up a notch or two after the offense finally made an appearance. Brian Lewerke threw for 300-plus yards and they may have found a star in redshirt freshman running back Elijah Collins.

7. Indiana (2-0)    ***    Last week: 8

Last week: Beat Eastern Illinois 52-0

This week: Ohio State (2-0) at Indiana, Noon ET (TV: FOX)

The skinny: Indiana has looked good so far, but the big test on its improvement comes next week against Ohio State. Are the Hoosiers ready? We’ll find out. This IU offense is dynamic and they can make big plays on anyone. I know I’m still higher on the Hoosiers than most, but I’m a believer in quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who’s going to do some big things this year.

Indiana Hoosiers running back Stevie Scott III (8) gets tackled by Eastern Illinois Panthers safety Iziah Gulley (7) during the first quarter of the game at Memorial Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

8. Maryland (2-0)    ***    Last week: 10

Last week: Beat Syracuse 63-20

This week: Maryland at Temple (1-0), Noon ET (TV: CBSSN)

The skinny: I didn’t really care about that blowout win over Howard in the opener, but beating a very good Syracuse team like a drum really caught my eye. The Terps have moved from No. 12 to No. 10 to No. 8 in two weeks, so we’ll see if they don’t trip up next week at Temple, which they’ve been prone to do in the past.

9. Minnesota (2-0)    ***    Last week: 9

Last week: Beat Fresno State 38-35, 2 OT

This week: Georgia Southern (1-1) at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: BTN)

The skinny: Minnesota hasn’t done much for me yet, but I will give them their props for finding a way to win a tough game on the road at Fresno State. They’ve been a trendy choice to make some noise in the Big Ten West, but I’m not jumping on that bandwagon quite yet.

10. Nebraska (1-1)    ***    Last week: 7

Last week: Lost to Colorado 34-31, OT

This week: Northern Illinois (1-1) at Nebraska, 8 p.m. ET (TV: FOXSports1)

The skinny: I wasn’t believing the Nebraska hype in the preseason and blowing that big lead at Colorado tells me what I already knew, that the Cornhuskers are probably still a year away. I might be wrong, but I don’t think so.

11. Purdue (1-1)    ***    Last week: 12

Last week: Beat Vanderbilt 42-24

This week: TCU (1-0) at Purdue, 7:30 p.m. ET (TV: BTN)

The skinny: That was a nice bounce-back win for the Boilermakers, beating a Vanderbilt team out of the SEC. Elijah Sindelar was spectacular, throwing for 509 yards and five touchdowns against a Vandy defense that’s pretty good. The Boilers move up a notch, and will probably continue to trend upward.

Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) runs the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the second half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

12. Northwestern (0-1)    ***    Last week: 11

Last week: Bye week

This week: UNLV (1-1) at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: BTN)

The skinny: It’s going to be interesting to see how much better Northwestern can be after laying an egg at Stanford in the opener. It’s all on Hunter Johnson at quarterback now. The Clemson transfer from Brownsburg, Ind., is the starter going forward after TJ Green — the son of former Indiana quarterback Trent Green — was lost for the season with a foot injury. It’s going to be interesting to see how well the Wildcats recover from that early loss.

13. Illinois (2-0)    ***    Last week: 13

Last week: Beat Connecticut 31-23

This week: Eastern Michigan (1-1) at Illinois, Noon ET (BTN)

The skinny: Illinois remains unbeaten with a close win over UConn, but I stick with where I was last week, that they still haven’t proved that they belong higher in the rankings.

14. Rutgers (1-1)    ***    Last week 14

Last week: Lost to Iowa 30-0

This week: Bye week.

The skinny: The Rutgers offense that we saw in the 30-0 loss to Iowa was eerily familiar with the putrid offense from a year ago. There’s still plenty of work to do for this team to make any kind of move out of this spot.

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