After the second weekend of Big Ten football, things are starting to become a little more clear as far as each division race goes. There are still some questions that are remaining, particularly with Maryland and if they can keep things up once they start facing better competition. But for right now, they are looking like they will make things interesting in the East. Also, after an upset-filled weekend, the middle of our rankings get shaken up like never before.
14. Purdue (Last week: 14)
The Boilermakers were thrashed by Maryland 50-7. That either established Purdue as the worst team in the Big Ten or it is making us buy a little more stock in the Terrapins. Truthfully, it’s both this week. As if that shellacking at the hands of Maryland wasn’t bad enough, there’s a sinkhole in one of the end zones. Hopefully that’s not a sign of things to come for Purdue as they travel to Illinois.
13. Rutgers (11)
Chris Ash, who used to be the defensive coordinator for Ohio State, returned to Columbus, Ohio as the Scarlet Knights took on the Buckeyes. Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly welcomed back. Rutgers was dismantled at the hands of J.T. Barrett and company by a final score of 58-0. Things don’t get much easier for them as they return home to host Michigan this weekend.
12. Illinois (11)
The Illini had a 16-10 lead on Nebraska before entering the fourth quarter, where they were outscored by the Huskers 21-0. The competitive nature of that game as opposed to the Rutgers-OSU game is why they pull ahead of the Scarlet Knights after being tied for 11th last week. The offense stalled out against Nebraska in the fourth, but they’ll look to get things going again as they host Purdue on Saturday.
Tied 11. Northwestern (13)
A high-scoring game between the Wildcats and Iowa was an unlikely scenario before this weekend. So it was a shock to see Northwestern hang 38 points on the Hawkeyes in a 38-31 victory. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come Pat Fitzgerald’s bunch. Austin Carr has helped add another dimension to the offense and is well on his way to earning All-Big Ten accolades following his three touchdown performance this past weekend. The offense will hope their bye week this weekend doesn’t slow any momentum gained from the Iowa game.
Tied 11. Iowa (6)
The Hawkeyes don’t fall behind Northwestern following their 38-31 loss to the Wildcats as they were well-above their Big Ten West rivals before last weekend. Despite the 31 points against Northwestern’s defense, you could tell C.J. Beathard was missing his favorite target Matt VandeBerg, who broke his foot during last week. The Hawkeyes have a tough task this weekend as they travel to Minnesota.
9. Michigan State (5)
The two teams from last year’s Big Ten Championship game both find themselves starting off 2016 in a bad way. The Spartans fell in overtime to Indiana 24-21 despite a good game from Tyler O’Connor, who now appears to be the least of this offense’s concerns after poor offensive line play, dropped passes, bad penalties and a stagnant running game slowed the offense against the Hoosiers. They will miss Malik McDowell for the first half of this weekend’s game against BYU, as he will be suspended following a questionable targeting call late in the Indiana game.
8. Minnesota (7)
The Golden Gophers only fall one spot after their 29-26 overtime loss to Penn State, thanks in part to what appear to be championship hangovers from Michigan State and Iowa. Despite the loss, running backs Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith continued to flex their muscle by combining for 37 carries for 204 yards. With the running backs and solid quarterback play from Mitch Leidner, the Golden Gophers should be able to compete for the Big Ten West title if the defense can prevent the big plays later in the game. They host Iowa this weekend in what should be a classic Big Ten game.
7. Indiana (9)
The Hoosiers recapture the most disgusting trophy in the Big Ten as they beat Michigan State for the first time since Mark Dantonio arrived in East Lansing. Indiana’s offense once again didn’t live up the expectations they have set for themselves in past seasons, as it took until there was less than one minute left in the third quarter for the Hoosiers to put their first points on the board. Despite the slow start, the defense helped keep IU in the game. They’ll need a better performance this weekend as they travel to Ohio State.
6. Penn State (8)
The Nittany Lions narrowly defeated Minnesota as they beat the Golden Gophers 29-26 in overtime. From a numbers standpoint, Saquon Barkley hasn’t lived up his preseason expectations, but he has made the plays that head coach James Franklin needs from him. Trace McSorley also made all of the throws and runs necessary to set up a game-tying field as the final drive in regulation started with just 54 seconds left. They take on a Maryland team that has been on fire as of late this Saturday.
5. Maryland (10)
Speaking of the Terrapins, we are starting to buy into them as they ran through Purdue 50-7. Though the schedule for Maryland has been far from the strongest, they have flexed their muscles against inferior competition. They already surpassed last season’s win total, but still have a lot of work to do as every team but Rutgers can threaten the Terrapins and any potential bowl hopes. They start with Penn State this weekend in a game should show us if Maryland truly belongs this high.
4. Nebraska (4)
The Huskers stay put after a 31-16 victory over the Illini that did scare Nebraska fans as they needed a 21-0 fourth quarter to end up with that final deficit. Terrell Newby helped with that fourth quarter push as he amassed 113 of his 140 rushing yards in the final 15 minutes. They will stay undefeated for at least one more week as they take their bye this Saturday.
3. Wisconsin (2)
The Badgers suffer their first loss of the season as they fell to Michigan 14-7. Alex Hornibrook looked like a freshman for the first time this season as he only completed nine of 25 passes for 88 yards and three interceptions. Wisconsin gets a week off to gather themselves at the perfect time as they have their bye week this weekend. They’ll need that extra week to prepare as they take on Ohio State a week from Saturday.
2. Michigan (2)
The Wolverines got a 46-yard touchdown reception from Amara Darboh to help seal their 14-7 victory over Wisconsin. A few scares on special teams following Ryan Tice and Kenny Allen combining to miss all three of their field goal attempts probably helped make the game appear closer than it was. A great day by the defense also helped Michigan, as they picked off three Alex Hornibrook passes, including this amazing one that ended any hopes the Badgers had at making a comeback. They hope to keep rolling against Rutgers this weekend.
1. Ohio State (1)
Though Urban Meyer had Chris Ash as a defensive coordinator for the past two seasons, he didn’t take it easy on his former coworker as the Buckeyes crushed Rutgers 58-0. Ohio State outgained the Scarlet Knights on offense by 553 yards and J.T. Barrett set an OSU record by picking up his 59th career touchdown pass. They try to hang on to that momentum as they play host to Indiana this weekend.