The early slate of games that featured Iowa losing a close one to North Dakota State and Wisconsin squeaking by Georgia State made it seem like it would be a long day for Big Ten football. Then Nebraska upset Oregon, Michigan State pounded Notre Dame until they let off the gas and Ohio State continued showing their non-conference dominance as they throttled Oklahoma. Overall, it was a pretty good day for a conference that is still earning that national respect back. Let’s take a look at the conference power rankings after week three.
14. Purdue (Last week: 14)
With no opportunity to get a win as they had a bye week, the Boilermakers continue sealing off the bottom of the power rankings. They play a Nevada team this week who has yet to register a sack this season, so David Blough should have no trouble getting back into a rhythm as Purdue moves forward.
13. Illinois (11)
The Illini may have lost to two pretty good teams in North Carolina and Western Michigan, but to have two 20 point losses after three weeks is not a good start to the Lovie Smith era. They get a week off to regroup and they better make the most of it. After their bye week, Illinois has to travel to Nebraska.
12. Northwestern (12)
The Wildcats got a 24-13 win against Duke, but it’s still not enough for us to move them up after they avoided going 0-3. Quarterback Clayton Thorson’s numbers looked good, but he still completed under 50% of his passes. He needs to be more efficient as Northwestern gets ready to enter Big Ten play. They get a chance to prove they are trending up as they host Nebraska this Saturday.
11. Rutgers (12)
Another week, another comeback for the Scarlet Knights. This time, Rutgers had to come back from being down 21-0 to New Mexico before winning 37-28. As long as Janarion Grant is playing like he has, they will be able to keep playing with fire against lesser teams, but they will need step up around him to hang with tougher competition. That will start this weekend as they host Iowa.
10. Maryland (9)
The Terrapins take a small step back in part because it took two overtimes to get rid of a pesky UCF team by a score of 30-24. Perry Hills hurt his shoulder during the second overtime period, and freshman quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome had to come in and help wrap up the ugly game for both teams. He took the ball during his only snap under center and ran it in for a 24-yard touchdown to finish off the Knights. They get a bye week to rest Hills who is listed as day-to-day. After that, they play host to Purdue.
Tied 8. Penn State (9)
The Nittany Lions separated themselves from Maryland with a 34-27 win over Temple, avoiding an 0-2 record against teams from Pennsylvania. If Penn State would have lost that game, James Franklin would be campaigning for his job the rest of this season. A win against Michigan this weekend would definitely help his case.
Tied 8. Indiana (8)
The Hoosiers had their bye week last week. You don’t exactly want that extra week for a team like Wake Forest with how tough the Big Ten is, especially with Demon Deacon quarterback Kendall Hinton out. The Hoosiers should be fine as they wrap up their non-conference slate.
7. Minnesota (7)
The Golden Gophers are another team that had a bye week really early in the season, so they return to play by wrapping up their non-conference schedule. Look for Colorado State to try to force Mitch Leidner to beat them through the air as they have a pretty solid defense against the run.
6. Iowa (3)
The Hawkeyes only fall three spots despite dropping a game to an FCS school. However, North Dakota State won five straight FCS titles and six straight games against FBS competition. By the way, the Bison are now 27th in the AP Top 25. So it’s not like the 23-21 loss to NDSU is the worst thing that could happen. They look to bounce back at Rutgers.
5. Nebraska (6)
The Huskers won one of the biggest games for the conference 35-32 over Oregon. Tommy Armstrong Jr. had 295 total yards and four touchdowns in the victory that helped reaffirm Nebraska as a Big Ten West contender. The Huskers open up Big Ten play in Evanston, Illinois against Northwestern.
4. Wisconsin (4)
The Badgers won a 23-17 squeaker against Georgia State. The biggest problem for the Badgers wasn’t their technique, execution or coaching, as running back Corey Clement is listed as questionable for this weekend’s game. Other running backs Taiwan Deal and Bradrick Shaw are also questionable. If none of those guys go, it could be a long day for Alex Hornibrook, who will be the new the quarterback for the Badgers as they will headline this weekend against Michigan State.
3. Michigan State (4)
The Spartans pull ahead of Wisconsin as they dominated Notre Dame 36-28. Though the final deficit was only eight points, Michigan State was handling the Irish until they stopped pressuring opposing quarterback DeShone Kizer. They won’t be able to close up shop early this week as they host a Wisconsin team looking for a spark on offense.
2. Michigan (2)
The Wolverines got off the mat right before the second half on their way to a 45-28 win over Colorado. The Buffaloes led the game 21-7 at the end of the first quarter until Michigan’s special teams once again stole the show. They blocked one punt, had another Colorado punt go off the back of a blocker for a seven-yard loss and Jabrill Peppers registered his first career touchdown off of a return. They have had a few issues with spread offenses and get to see if improvement has been made as they host Penn State on Saturday.
1. Ohio State (1)
The Buckeyes don’t look like they’ll be dethroned soon. They beat up on Oklahoma 42-24 in a game that finished much later than expected due to the weather. Wide receiver Noah Brown literally had a career day for Ohio State, as he had five catches for 72 yards and four touchdowns, surpassing his career numbers in each of those categories. The Buckeyes are off this weekend before hosting Rutgers.