The Big Ten had a rough week two of play and will look to bounce back in order to receive positive national attention. There were a few teams who broke the mold of poor performances from week two and shined while others tarnished.
Some of the bright spots of the week were Michigan State‘s blowout of a lesser Central Michigan team and Ohio State holding off a pesky Central Florida team at home, while the offense shined once again.
With the season getting into full swing, week three is sure to produce some good matchups and, for some, good tune-up games going into conference play in just a couple of weeks. Here are the power rankings for week three in the Big Ten.
1. Michigan State Last week: No. 1
The Spartans(2-0) looked solid in their week two game against the Chippewas of Central Michigan. They put a full game together, both offensively and defensively, and left an impression on the conference. They were one of the only teams to put together a performance that impressed and left the conference looking up at them. Andrew Maxwell made his first start on the road as the Spartans’ quarterback and he looked solid. He passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns and completed 20 of 31 passes. This was a solid comeback performance a week after throwing three picks in his first ever start for the Spartans against Boise State. They will face their biggest test of the year thus far this Saturday(8:00 PM) when they play host to No. 20 Notre Dame. They are the team to beat right now and will be playing with a huge target on their backs throughout Big Ten play.
2. Ohio State Last week: No. 4
Last week’s power rankings saw Ohio State(2-0) at a modest fourth spot. This week, the Buckeyes climb all the way to No. 2 with Nebraska and Wisconsin both going down in close road losses. So far, their offense looks stellar led by Braxton Miller at quarterback even though the running backs have yet to make a huge impact. Carlos Hyde had a solid week one performance with 17 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns, but followed that up in week two with just seven carries for a mere 27 yards and no scores. Miller proved once again why he is one of Urban Meyer‘s favorite players, passing the ball for 155 yards and running for another 141 yards. He had four total touchdowns, three through the air and one on the ground. What a week for the quarterback who last season had a hard time adjusting to the new coaching style. Miller looks great under yet another new offense and continues him dominance. Look for the offense to run wild again this week against a week California defense.
3. Michigan Last week: No. 5
Although the Wolverines(1-1) jumped two spots in the power rankings, they barely edged out a weak opponent in Air Force. Some people are still shocked that the Wolverines find themselves ranked No. 17 in the AP poll a week after getting blown out by No. 1 Alabama in Arlington, Texas. Michigan then traveled home to take on Air Force and looked to make it a rebound game in which they could boost their confidence by handling a mediocre team in front of their home crowd. That was not the case, however, Michigan struggled in a back and forth game against the Falcons and snuck out a victory 31-25. Denard Robinson wowed the home crowd with long runs and finishing with 218 yards rushing with two touchdowns while throwing for another 208 yards and two touchdowns. His accuracy through the air was less than impressive for the second straight week, but the plays he makes with his legs more than make up for it. They find themselves so high in the power rankings because of everyone else’s poor play this week. If the offense continues to rely on the senior, they could be in for a long season in Ann Arbor.
4. Nebraska Last week: No. 3
Nebraska(1-1) traveled to the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA on Saturday and came away with a tough loss to the Bruins. Taylor Martinez struggled passing the ball after a week one performance of 355 yards and five touchdowns. He was 17 of 31 against UCLA for 179 yards and an interception but impressed once again running the ball, racking up 112 yards and a touchdown including a 92 yard scamper. Rex Burkhead missed the game with a left knee ligament sprain and is questionable for this weeks contest against Arkansas State. Burkhead’s replacement was impressive for the second straight week. Sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah had 119 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, filling in for the All-Big Ten running back. Martinez and Burkhead will have to carry the load for the rest of the season if the Cornhuskers want to be successful, but it will be good to know they have a solid backup running back to lighten the workload for Burkhead.
5. Wisconsin Last week: No. 2
The Badgers(1-1) followed up a poor week one performance against Northern Iowa with an even poorer week two performance against Oregon State. The Badgers’ offense was one of the strong areas for the team heading into the season. So far, they have been a major disappointment, scoring just 33 points in two games and allowing 31. The Badgers offense features Heisman-hopeful running back Montee Ball and transfer quarterback Danny O’Brien. The lack of potency in this offense is an area for concern for the Badgers because the defense can’t keep them afloat for the entire season. Ball has struggled so far this season, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and just a touchdown through two games. Look for the offense to recover this week in a confidence-boosting game against Utah State. If not, the Badgers could find themselves watching the Big Ten Championship game from home.
6. Northwestern Last week: No. 8
Northwestern(2-0) is just one of five unbeaten teams left in the conference and that is not good news for the Big Ten. The Wildcats jumped two spots from last week and did so with a two-quarterback system with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian. Not sure how long this system is going to work under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, but so far they have been successful. Venric Mark has been solid for the Wildcats so far and the game against Vanderbilt was his best game so far. He had 24 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown in the week two win and has been impressing people around the conference. If Northwestern is to have any success this season they will have to decide on a quarterback and keep the carries coming for Mark. Looking solid thus far for the Wildcats going into week three.
7. Purdue Last week: No. 7
Purdue(1-1) is a team to watch out for this season in the Big Ten’s Leaders Division. They are a popular pick to top Wisconsin for the No. 1 spot in the division. They struggled, however, against Notre Dame last week and currently find themselves without their starting quarterback, Robert Marve, for the time being. Marve had a promising start to the season, completing his first 41 of 56 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns, but suffered a costly ACL injury in their loss to the Fighting Irish that could end the Boilermakers’ hopes and the senior quarterbacks’ college career. Look for them to rely heavily on running back Akeem Shavers with Marve likely done for the year.
8. Iowa Last week: No. 6
The Hawkeyes(1-1) saw their worst nightmare come true on Saturday when they lost to in-state rival and clear underdog, Iowa State. Iowa looked out of sync offensively throughout the games and failed to score a touchdown in a game that was decided by field goals, losing 9-6 in a snoozer. The Cyclones now hold state bragging rights and the Hawkeyes find themselves in the bottom half of the conference power rankings. Damon Bullock and James Vandenberg failed to keep the offense above water, accumulating just 304 yards of total offense. The only bright spot for Iowa: the defense, allowing just 342 yards and one touchdown. They take on Northern Iowa this week.
9. Minnesota Last week: No. 11
Possibly one of the most improved teams from a year ago, the Gophers(2-0) are feeling good after a 44-7 shellacking of New Hampshire. Marqueis Gray has been a big plus for the Gophers and is a huge reason as to why Minnesota is climbing up the power rankings. Gray accounted for four of the Gophers five touchdowns and only threw eight passes, completing six of them for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He wouldn’t let his arm outperform his legs, running the ball 17 times for 109 yards and another two touchdowns. The Gophers will take on Western Michigan this week at home and will most likely improve their record to 3-0 and slowly climb the rankings again.
10. Indiana Last week: No. 12
Indiana(2-0) has finally crawled out of the cellar of the Big Ten, a spot they have claimed for the better part of last season and to start this year. They find themselves unbeaten with just four other teams in the conference but they paid the price. Tre Roberson appears to have broken his leg and will miss five to six months for the Hoosiers and will not be present for the Hoosiers rare bowl run. Without him, they are missing half of the offense and a dual-threat quarterback that has looked solid thus far. This is just one of many huge injuries in the conference that may decide a team’s season. Cameron Coffman is the backup and will look to carry the load for an offense that has struggled to run the ball without Roberson. They will take on Ball State this week and we’ll see how they play without their star.
11. Illinois Last week: No. 9
In a week headlined by injuries to quarterback’s, Illinois(1-1) could not avoid the injury bug, losing quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to an ankle sprain, leaving his playing time this week against Charleston Southern uncertain. Scheelhaase and the Illini looked sluggish against Arizona State on Saturday, getting blown out 45-14 on the road, dropping them two spots from last week’s power rankings. The Illini defense was supposed to be a bright spot for the team, but a 45 point defensive letdown proved otherwise. They will likely rebound this week, but they have a lot of kinks to work out if they don’t want to find themselves at the bottom of the power rankings.
12. Penn State Last week: No. 10
The Nittany Lions(0-2) are just hoping this year will fast forward and they can put this nightmare behind them. They have had the most publicized offseason out of any college football team in history and they just lost another heartbreaking game against Virginia. The Cavaliers defeated the Nittany Lions on a Penn State missed field goal in the last second. This season has gone from bad to worse for them and they find themselves at the bottom of the Big Ten, somewhere they would have ever figured they would be a year ago at this time. If Penn State can rebound against Navy this week and make a strong run in the conference, they will find themselves far away from the cellar, but as for now, Penn State is the worst team in the Big Ten.