It’s official. The Wisconsin Badgers are here to stay after dismantling the Michigan State Spartans at home. This coming just a couple weeks after they defeated LSU, who was in the top five until they fell to the Badgers at Lambeau Field. This early in the season, it’s difficult to find a team with a better resume than what the Badgers have. Their schedule only gets tougher as they get to stay in the Mitten State to take on Michigan this weekend. How far up did they jump in our Big Ten football power rankings before they take on the Wolverines?
14. Purdue (Last week: 14)
The Boilermakers stay at the bottom of our rankings despite starting the season 2-1 after beating Nevada 24-14. That is the first time they started the season that well under Darrell Hazell. They are done with the non-conference play though and will be forced to play tougher teams than Nevada and Eastern Kentucky. That starts this weekend as Purdue faces Maryland.
13. Northwestern (12)
The Wildcats continued their rough start by falling to Nebraska in their Big Ten opener 24-13. The game looked closer than it was as the Huskers lost two fumbles near the goal line. Either way, Northwestern already matched their losses from last season by dropping to 1-3. Things don’t get much easier for Pat Fitzgerald and company as Northwestern travels to Iowa.
Tied 11. Rutgers (11)
The Scarlet Knights stay put as they put up a fight with Iowa, losing to the Hawkeyes 14-7. It wasn’t a pretty game, but it was enough to see some improvement from Rutgers after spending a lot of time at 13 or 14 in our rankings last season. Taking a loss is bad, but losing Janarion Grant for the season is even worse. Chris Ash already has plans to petition for another season for the dynamic senior, but right now he needs to plan for his old team as Rutgers travels to Ohio State.
Tied 11. Illinois (13)
We moved up the Illini despite having a bye week. They can thank Northwestern’s slow start for that. Illinois hasn’t really done enough to cause concern for the middle of the pack in the conference during their first season under Lovie Smith, but they get a chance to prove their worth Saturday at Nebraska.
10. Maryland (10)
The Terrapins stay put after a week off. They get back to action this weekend against Purdue. Based on recent history, Maryland has a good shot to start the season 4-0. The schedule may not be the greatest, this team already appears improved under first-year coach D.J. Durkin.
9. Indiana (8)
The Hoosiers take a small step back after falling to Wake Forest 33-28. That’s a pretty close score when you consider Indiana turned the ball over five times and had a field goal blocked. They get a chance to bounce back against a Michigan State team that also had issues hanging on to the ball last Saturday.
8. Penn State (8)
The Nittany Lions were dismantled by Michigan 49-10. Six of Michigan’s touchdowns came on the ground, which was to be expected as Penn State was missing all three of their starting linebackers in what was an already thin position. The Wolverines had 135 more yards on the ground than Penn State had combined on offense. They play host to Minnesota Saturday.
7. Minnesota (7)
The Golden Gophers beat up Colorado State on the ground on their way to a 31-24 victory. Shannon Brooks had 13 carries in his season debut and netted 85 yards and his first touchdown of the season. The 1-2 punch of Brooks and starter Rodney Smith, who had 99 yards and two touchdowns of his own, should be dangerous moving forward. Minnesota plays Penn State Saturday, who could be in trouble after a poor performance stopping the run last week against Michigan.
6. Iowa (6)
The Hawkeyes looked rusty for the second consecutive week as they barely beat Rutgers 14-7. That’s not a good way to bounce back after falling to FCS competition, no matter how good North Dakota State appears. They have a struggling Northwestern team coming to Kinnick Stadium as they look to get back on track.
5. Michigan State (3)
The Spartans were dismantled at the hands of Wisconsin 30-6. Three untimely turnovers were the difference as Wisconsin returned a fumble for a touchdown, recovered a dropped snap on a punt on MSU’s five-yard line and picked off Tyler O’Connor on the MSU 25. O’Connor also had two other interceptions in the game. If the Spartans can’t get going on offense against Indiana’s defense on Saturday, there could be some changes made to the personnel.
4. Nebraska (5)
The Huskers had a solid showing in a 24-13 win over Northwestern. The final score is skewed by two Nebraska turnovers as they were getting close to the end zone. Tommy Armstrong had a career day on the ground as he ran for a game-high 132 yards. Lovie Smith and company visit Lincoln this weekend.
Tied 2. Michigan (2)
The Wolverines do what the Wolverines do under Jim Harbaugh. They dismantled a mediocre Penn State team 49-10. They did end up losing starting cornerback Jeremy Clark for the season with a torn ACL. That loss likely won’t impact them too much in their next game as they host Wisconsin, a team that likes to do their damage on the ground and short-range passing game.
Tied 2. Wisconsin (4)
In the summer edition of our power rankings, we said the Badgers could start their season 2-7 and still be a good team given the strength of their schedule. Well, with their 30-6 pounding of Michigan State, Wisconsin already notched their third win of the young year. Sure, LSU and MSU might not be as strong as projected when the season started, but the Badgers get an opportunity to show where they stand as they travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday.
1. Ohio State (1)
The Buckeyes were off this week. That’s good news for whoever could have ended up on the schedule with the way they have performed so far. By playing so well through the first few weeks of the season, the Buckeyes only had minor details to clean up during their bye. That’s not good news for former OSU defensive coordinator Chris Ash, who returns to Columbus after taking the head coaching job at Rutgers.