By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 2 Big Ten Power Rankings
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1. Nebraska (2-0) – Saturday’s win over Fresno State wasn’t pretty. The Cornhuskers allowed 444 yards to the Bulldogs, including 169 on the ground by running back Robbie Rouse. Quarterback Taylor Martinez posted 385 total yards and three touchdowns in the victory. The Cornhuskers have a lot of work to do, but could get some help on defense this Saturday if cornerback Alfonzo Dennard returns from a leg injury. Nebraska takes on Washington this week, which is the third matchup between these teams over the last year.
2. Wisconsin (2-0) – The Badgers have been one of the most impressive teams in college football through the first two weeks of the season. Wisconsin has outscored its opponents by a score of 86 to 17 and is closing in on Nebraska for the No. 1 spot in the Big Ten power rankings. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been near-perfect through two weeks, completing 27 of 34 passes for 444 yards and five touchdowns.
3. Ohio State (2-0) – The Buckeyes needed a late defensive stand to hold off upset-minded Toledo. While it wasn’t pretty, Ohio State is 2-0 under new coach Luke Fickell. The Buckeyes will get a bigger test in Week 3, as they travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes. Ohio State defeated Miami 36-24 last season, but a lot has changed since then. Although Saturday’s matchup isn’t a Big Ten game, it’s a good chance for Fickell to stake his claim for the full-time job.
4. Michigan State (2-0) – The Spartans are coming off a sharp performance in Week 2. The Michigan State defense held the Owls to only one first down and 48 yards of total offense. Quarterback Kirk Cousins also turned in an efficient performance on Saturday, completing 16 of 20 throws for 183 yards and two scores. The Spartans have been quiet on the national scene so far, but will have a chance to make some noise with a visit to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.
5. Michigan (2-0) – The ending of the Michigan-Notre Dame game won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Although the comeback was crucial, it’s important to note Michigan is still trying to find its rhythm under new coach Brady Hoke. Quarterback Denard Robinson struggled with his accuracy on Saturday, but made big plays when it counted. The defense made some solid adjustments against Notre Dame, but still lacks enough talent to contend for the Big Ten title. Hoke has Michigan headed in the right direction and with a schedule of Eastern Michigan, San Diego State and Minnesota over the next couple of weeks, the Wolverines should be 5-0 before their first road game of the year at Northwestern.
6. Penn State (1-1) – As expected, the offensive issues for the Nittany Lions didn’t get any better in Week 2. The quarterback battle between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden will also continue into Week 3 – with no clear frontrunner. In addition to the quarterback question marks, Penn State’s struggles in the trenches remain a cause for concern. The Nittany Lions should be on upset alert this Saturday, as they travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple.
7. Illinois (2-0) – The competition has been light, but the Fighting Illini has posted two solid performances. However, Illinois will get a better gauge of where its team stands this week, as they host Arizona State. Both teams have been rolling on offense so far, so the scoreboard operator could be busy on Saturday. If the Fighting Ilini can knock off the Sun Devils, they will make a case for themselves this season and should make a bit of a jump in the power rankings.
8. Northwestern (2-0) – Dan Persa was out of the lineup for the second week in a row, but once again, it was no issue for Northwestern. The Wildcats easily handled Eastern Illinois and will get another shot to rest Persa this week against Army. With Kain Colter playing well and the Wildcats playing another winnable non-conference game, coach Pat Fitzgerald can afford to rest his No. 1 quarterback another week. Persa is still day-to-day with an achilles injury, but it is still unclear when he will be back.
9. Iowa (1-1) – The Hawkeyes had a three-game winning streak over rival Iowa State snapped in Week 2. Running back Marcus Coker posted a huge performance, rushing for 137 yards and two scores on 35 attempts. However, the Iowa defense didn’t have an answer for Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz, who threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns. The Hawkeyes host Pittsburgh this Saturday in a big match-up for the Hawkeyes to get back on track.
10. Purdue (1-1) – The Boilermakers survived a close call against MTSU, but couldn’t deliver in the final moments in Week 2. Purdue had a game-winning field goal against Rice blocked in the final seconds, which dropped the Boilermakers to 1-1 on the year. Although coach Danny Hope is entering his third year at Purdue, his seat will get hotter if the Boilermakers can’t pull off a couple of wins in Big Ten play.
11. Indiana (0-2) – After a disappointing showing in the opener against Ball State, the Hoosiers bounced back with a better performance in Week 2. However, it wasn’t enough to earn the victory. Indiana had three turnovers, including a costly fumble in the fourth quarter that gave Virginia the opportunity to kick the winning field goal. New coach Kevin Wilson should get his first win at Indiana in Week 3, as the Hoosiers host South Carolina State.
12. Minnesota (0-2) – One week after nearly beating USC in Los Angeles, Minnesota failed to capitalize off that momentum. The Golden Gophers dropped a disappointing 28-21 game to New Mexico State, moving to 0-2 for the first time since 1992. Coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, but is expected to make a full recovery. Minnesota hosts Miami (Ohio) – one of the preseason favorites in the MAC East – this Saturday.