The Big Ten has seen it’s fare share of criticism about their lack of depth and strength in past years. Michigan didn’t help that discussion, being blown out by Alabama in the season opener, 41-14, and Penn State losing to a team from the MAC for the first time in recent memory, being downed by Ohio 24-14.
Other teams fared far better, such as Michigan State beating a No. 24 Boise State squad coming off a one-loss season, and Northwestern sneaking by a Syracuse team on the road, a team that some believe have a chance to win the Big East Conference that is seemingly winnable for any team.
With that said, here are the power rankings for Big Ten teams going into week two play.
1. Michigan State
The Spartans are the only team to defeat a ranked team in week one and that was enough to ensure them a top spot in week two power rankings. They flexed their defensive muscles and didn’t allow Boise State to score an offensive touchdown, defeating them 17-13 in the Friday night season opener at home. They have the most impressive victory of any Big Ten team and are the highest ranked team in the conference at No. 11.
Although the Badgers just narrowly edged out Northern Iowa in week one, they still have a strong defense and the best running back in the conference in Montee Ball. Their week one victory impressed very few, but they are the defending Leaders Division champs and the second highest ranked team in the conference at No. 13. They will not allow close calls like this against lesser opponents because their offense will show up, and when it does, watch out.
The team with the most improved quarterback finds themselves at No. 3 in the week two power rankings. Taylor Martinez showed everyone why he was a Heisman candidate at the beginning of last year and why he can throw just fine. He has heard criticism about his throwing motion, but got the job done last week, routing Southern Miss 49-20 behind Martinez’s 26-34 performance with 354 yards and five touchdowns.
4. Ohio State
Probably the most talked about team this offseason with the addition of Urban Meyer at head coach, the Buckeyes dominated in weak one against Miami(OH). Braxton Miller showed he can throw the ball as well as use his legs as well as any quarterback in the conference, running the ball 17 times for 161 yards and racking up 207 passing yards with two touchdowns. He will carry this team that is ineligible for a bowl game up the power rankings as the season progresses.
The Wolverines entered the season as many experts’ pick to win the Big Ten Legends Division. That, however, was questioned after a week one blowout loss to the now-top ranked Crimson Tide. The Wolverines were disappointed with the play of quarterback Denard Robinson, passing the ball with a sub-50 percent completion percentage and running for just 27 yards and a score. Look for them to beat up on Air Force this week at home to make up for their poor week one performance.
Iowa was one of the teams in the top half of the conference that had a week one scare against a lesser opponent. They beat Northern Illinois by a score of 18-17 and had some positives to take from the game. Although their win was in no way impressive, they had a bright spot in their running back Damon Bullock who ran the ball 30 times for 150 yards and a touchdown. If they learned anything about their team, it’s that their offense has to step up because their defense was solid throughout.
The Boilermakers are the sleeper team to win the Leaders Division and could be the team that knocks Wisconsin off the top spot in the division. With Ohio State and Penn State being ineligible for postseason play, the Big Ten title game is up for grabs, with only four teams in the division being eligible to make the coveted game. Purdue ran Eastern Kentucky off the field in week one and had solid offensive and defensive play throughout the game. They will find themselves moving up the power rankings if they can beat No. 22 Notre Dame this week in South Bend.
The Wildcats start out the season solid every year and end up losing three or four conference games. They’re hoping this season will be different with new quarterback Kain Colter at the helm. They traveled to Syracuse to take on the Orange and beat them in a close, high scoring game, 42-41. Colter showed that he has what it takes to lead a team, but still has room for improvement, passing the ball for 135 yards and two touchdowns. If they are going to have any success this season, they will need him to play a bigger role on offense.
Illinois is a team that many are watching to see how they will respond to a new coaching staff with the firing of Ron Zook last season. The Illini won their opener against Western Michigan by a score of 24-7, proving that their defense is still among the top in the conference. The offense is another story, accumulating just 248 yards of total offense against a weak defense. They have a big test coming up this week against Arizona State that is sure to tell the Illini what kind of team they will be this season.
10. Penn State
The Penn State game in week one was one of the most talked about. The offseason was full or heartbreak and turmoil for the Nittany Lions and this would be the year that they start anew. The good news was that the Penn State faithful came out in huge numbers to support their team, the bad news: they lost to Ohio, 24-14. The Nittany Lions will have an turbulent season this year and will probably be down for a couple years. As for now, they are No. 10 in the week two power rankings.
The Golden Gophers have not had a solid season in years but this could be the year they shock some people. Although they may not be favorites to finish atop the Legends Division, they could knock some heavy favorites off. They are coming off a week one win against UNLV which they won in a three overtime thriller, 30-27. Marqueis Gray is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the conference and will be relied on heavily to produce this season for Minnesota. New Hampshire won’t be too big of a struggle this week for the Golden Gophers, looking to improve their record to 2-0, but most likely not improving in the power rankings with an easy win.
The Hoosiers have been in the cellar of the conference for much of the past decade, this season may not be much different. They barely beat a weak Indiana State team 24-17 and showed little offensive firepower. Tre Roberson was the lone bright spot at quarterback, completing 26-36 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown. If he is going to be the only positive for this team, they will be in for a long season and will once again find themselves at the bottom of the conference.