Richey | Big Ten football power rankings

Sep. 19—In the Big Ten, that's Michigan (and its often-played fight song) right now. With the college football season one-quarter complete, Illini beat writer Scott Richey provides his first in-season Big Ten power rankings:

1. Michigan (3-0)

The Wolverines' unbeaten start would seem more impressive if they had, you know, played anyone capable of competing. Not sure they'll be challenged the next two months either. At least until playing at Penn State on Nov. 11.

2. Ohio State (3-0)

Last week was the first glimpse of the dominance Buckeyes' fans were probably hoping to see. Western Kentucky had the misfortune of being on the field when Ohio State put up 63 points and 562 yards of total offense.

3. Penn State (3-0)

Either the Illinois defense has returned to its 2022 self or the Nittany Lions' offense just feasted on West Virginia and Delaware in its first two games, prompting more question marks than anyone originally thought.

4. Rutgers (3-0)

Now seems like a good idea to remind everyone that Greg Schiano won 56 games and coached in six bowl games in the final seven seasons of his first 11-year stint at Rutgers. Is history about to repeat itself this decade?

5. Maryland (3-0)

Turns out the Terrapins are who we thought they were as a quite capable passing team with Taulia Tagovailoa running the show. Can't crown them — not in the East — but Mike Locksley has at least a nine-win team.

6. Iowa (3-0)

It was probably a good idea for the Hawkeyes to hang 41 points on Western Michigan last week. Playing at Penn State on Saturday — in the "White Out" no less — will probably put Brian Ferentz further behind his scoring goal.

7. Minnesota (2-1)

The Gophers are still the West leaders after their Week 1 win against Nebraska (that the Cornhuskers choked away late, per usual). They'll stay that way this week with what's basically a gimme against Northwestern.

8. Wisconsin (2-1)

Wisconsin fans concerned about an "Air Raid" offense have probably taken solace in the fact the Badgers still have a 1-2 punch in the run game. Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen have combined for 523 yards and eight touchdowns.

9. Michigan State (2-1)

Don't count on the Spartans holding on to this spot for too long if last week's blowout home loss to Washington is any indication. The school said Monday it plans to fire Mel Tucker and emerging from that turmoil seems a tall task.

10. Illinois (1-2)

As soon as the Illini defense got its act together, Luke Altmyer found a way to complete nearly as many passes to Penn State as he did to his own teammates. Complementary football has not been an Illinois strength in 2023.

11. Purdue (1-2)

Winning at Virginia Tech? That's a seriously notable first victory for new coach (and former Illinois defensive coordinator) Ryan Walters. Losing at home to Fresno State and Syracuse, though? Not quite as ideal for the Boilermakers.

12. Nebraska (1-2)

The 'Huskers gave Matt Rhule the game ball after last week's 35-11 win against Northern Illinois. There's a decent chance Rhule adds a second win to his total in year one in Lincoln, Neb., this week against Louisiana Tech.

13. Indiana (1-2)

Tom Allen's seat is the hottest in the Big Ten if you don't consider Tucker lighting $85 million on fire with his off-the-field choices. The Hoosiers are 7-20 since their 6-2 COVID season in 2020, and Allen won't make it to 2024.

14. Northwestern (1-2)

First-year coach David Braun inherited a disaster after Pat Fitzgerald's hazing-related firing, but the Wildcats actually won on U.S. soil in Week 2 by beating UTEP and could even win two games this year with Howard on the schedule.