With two weeks completed in the Big Ten season, it is already becoming visibly clear there is a pretty solid gap between the top teams in the conference and everybody else. The updated power rankings of Big Ten teams will once again have the same three teams you have come to expect at the top of the totem pole with Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. But through two weeks of play, have you considered mixing up the order in which those three teams appear? Because I certainly have.
I have also done some shuffling of the deck around the Big Ten power rankings after observing what we have in the past couple of weekends of college football.
Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to update my power rankings following the Week 1 results because I was getting my steps in during a week in Disney World. So I’ll be noting the change in my post-Week 2 power rankings compared to my preseason Big Ten rankings, recognizing the facts like Purdue losing in Week 1 but picking up a win in Week 2. Moving forward, I’ll be back on track to updating the power ranking on a weekly basis.
So, without any further delay of game penalties, let’s proceed with my Week 2 Big Ten power rankings.
Last game: Northwestern 38, UTEP 7
Previous ranking: 14
Northwestern picked up a rare win for the program, and it was reason to celebrate. But don’t get too used to that feeling in Evanston. There are far more losses coming Northwestern’s way this season, and next week’s game will not be easy on the road against the top 25 Blue Devils.
Next up for Northwestern: at Duke
Last game: Indiana 41, Indiana State 7
Previous ranking: 13
I don’t tend to reward teams for beating up on FCS opposition (more on that later, I promise), so I’m not going overboard on Indiana picking up its first win of the year over Indiana State. But it was encouraging to see Indiana just take care of their opponent in a game they should have won easily. Big game coming up this week in Indianapolis against Louisville.
Next up for Indiana: vs. Louisville (Lucas Oil Stadium)
Last game: Colorado 36, Nebraska 14
Previous ranking: 9
As big a fan of Matt Rhule as I am, I was hoping for a better start to his time at Nebraska than it has panned out. Give Nebraska some time to get things going in the right direction. But if they don’t take of some upcoming home games, any shot of playing in a bowl game will fade quickly after getting thumped by Colorado.
Next up for Nebraska: vs. Northern Illinois
Last game: Kansas 34, Illinois 23
Previous ranking: 8
All offseason I have been saying Penn State’s road game at Illinois was not one to overlook. I’m not saying it will be easy for the Nittany Lions next week but the early results form Illinois this season suggest this may not be the difficult task I previously envisioned.
Next up for Illinois: vs. Penn State
Last game: Purdue 24, Virginia Tech 17
Previous ranking: 12
After starting the season with a tough loss to Fresno State at home, Purdue survived the lengthy weather delay to pick up a win at Virginia Tech to feel good about itself. That was a gritty win for the Boilermakers.
Next up for Purdue: vs. Syracuse
Last game: Rutgers 36, Temple 7
Previous ranking: 11
If Rutgers is going to go to a bowl game this season, it is taking care of business in the games it needs to. The Scarlet Knights are off to a good start against weak competition, which is exactly what was needed this season.
Next up for Rutgers: vs. Virginia Tech
Last game: Washington State 31, Wisconsin 22
Previous ranking: 5
Wisconsin looked a bit lost on the road for a while at Washington State before waking up and making a run for a road win in Pac-12 (Pac-2) country. But turnovers were the downfall for the Badgers with three turnovers in a loss at Washington State.
Next up for Wisconsin: vs. Georgia Southern
Michigan State (2-0)
Last game: Michigan State 45, Richmond 14
Previous ranking: 10
The season has started with a bit of a confidence boost for Michigan State, but they will be heading into Week 3 with a troubling story hovering above it in the headlines. We won’t get into that here but this week presents a massive test on the field.
Next up for Michigan State: vs. Washington
Last game: Minnesota 25, Eastern Michigan 6
Previous ranking: 4
Minnesota has the look of a team still looking to fully establish its identity with the roster, especially on the offensive side of the football. But two wins with a combined 16 points allowed is a fine start for the Gophers on defense this season. They will need the offense to be ready to go this week.
Next up for Minnesota: at North Carolina
Last game: Maryland 38, Charlotte 20
Previous ranking: 7
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley wasn’t really pleased with how his team started against Charlotte but the Terrapins remained focused on good opportunities on the ground and allowed the run game to lead them to a win in Week 2. Maryland remains one of the biggest wild card factors in the Big Ten until proven otherwise.
Next up for Purdue: vs. Virginia (Friday)
Last game: Iowa 20, Iowa State 13
Previous ranking: 6
Iowa is still letting the defense lead the way but the Hawkeyes have hit 20 points in each of their first two games this season. Progress? Perhaps. It has been good enough to earn top 25 rankings in the US LBM Coaches Poll and AP Top 25 at least.
But it is clear there is a pretty wide gap between the top three teams and the rest of the Big Ten after two full weeks of college football.
Next up for Iowa: vs. Western Michigan
Ohio State (2-0)
Last game: Ohio State 35, Youngstown State 7
Previous ranking: 1
Ohio State is my pick to win the Big Ten this season but I have to say they are no better than the third-best team in the conference based solely on the result of the first two games of the season. Needless to say, I expect that will change as the season continues on. Ohio State had the least impressive season opener among my top three teams, and I’m not going to award too much credit for their win over Youngstown State. But that Notre Dame game is coming into view.
Next up for Ohio State: vs. Western Kentucky
Penn State (2-0)
Last game: Penn State 63, Delaware 7
Previous ranking: 3
Of the top three teams in the Big Ten, Penn State has been the most complete of the bunch through the first two games. The special teams concerns are evident but the offense has been consistently efficient with Drew Allar at quarterback and the running combo of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen. As I have said, I don’t tend to give too much credit for piling on against FCS opponents, but Penn State scored touchdowns on seven of their first eight possessions against Delaware. You have to give at least some praise for that.
Next up for Penn State: at Illinois
Last game: Michigan 35, UNLV 7
Previous ranking: 2
Michigan hasn’t exactly blown away their first two opponents but those games were never in any doubt either. Michigan has just simply gone out and taken care of business and moved on without overexerting themselves in the absence of their head coach Jim Harbaugh on game day. Blake Corum is back and J.J. McCarthy has been solid. The Wolverines could be sitting here for a while with their schedule.
Next up for Michigan: vs. Bowling Green