By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 3 Big Ten Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Nebraska (3-0) – The Cornhuskers still aren’t hitting on all cylinders, but Saturday’s win over Washington was a step in the right direction. The Huskers’ defense has allowed over 400 yards in back-to-back games, but cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is getting closer to returning to the lineup. Nebraska travels to Laramie to take on Wyoming this Saturday.
2. Wisconsin (3-0) – The Badgers have turned in three sharp performances and should be 4-0 after playing South Dakota this Saturday. Although Wisconsin has looked very good and a case could be made they should be No. 1 in the Big Ten power rankings, Nebraska has the best win so far (Washington). Don’t worry, these two teams play on Oct. 1, which will decide who takes over the top spot in these rankings.
3. Illinois (3-0) – The Fighting Illini scored an impressive non-conference win in Week 3 by defeating Arizona State 17-14. Considering the upcoming schedule, Illinois could be 6-0 when Ohio State travels to Champaign on Oct. 15. Despite some key losses on defense, the Fighting Illini has allowed only 32 points through three games.
4. Michigan (3-0) – It wasn’t nearly as exciting as the Week 2 victory against Notre Dame, but the Wolverines improved to 3-0 with Saturday’s victory over Eastern Michigan. This ought to be an interesting week for new Michigan coach Brady Hoke, as the Wolverines take on his former team – San Diego State.
5. Michigan State (2-1) – After allowing only six points through the first two weeks of 2011, the Spartans gave up 31 in a loss to Notre Dame. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards, but got little help from the rushing attack and offensive line. Michigan State takes on Central Michigan this week, before opening Big Ten play on Oct. 1 against Ohio State.
6. Ohio State (2-1) – The Buckeyes were thoroughly dominated in Saturday’s loss to the Hurricanes. The offense struggled to get anything going, while the defense couldn’t stop Miami running back Lamar Miller. Ohio State has slipped in the Big Ten power rankings over the last two weeks, but still has plenty of time to climb back to the top.
7. Penn State (2-1) – Saturday’s win over Temple wasn’t pretty, but it’s a victory and something for the Nittany Lions to build on. Neither quarterback (Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin) played well enough to provide some separation in the battle to be the No. 1 passer. With Eastern Michigan this Saturday, Penn State has another opportunity to iron out some of the kinks before Big Ten play begins.
8. Iowa (2-1) – The Hawkeyes looked sluggish for most of the game, but a furious fourth quarter rally propelled them to a win over Pittsburgh. Quarterback James Vandenberg threw for 399 yards and three scores in the victory and has only one interception this year. Iowa hosts UL Monroe this Saturday, which should be an easy tune-up before conference play starts on Oct. 8 at Penn State.
9. Northwestern (2-1) – Army is a difficult opponent to prepare for in a week, but is still an opponent the Wildcats cannot afford to lose to. Northwestern does not play in Week 4, but quarterback Dan Persa is expected to return for the Big Ten opener on Oct. 1 against Illinois.
10. Purdue (2-1) – After the loss to Rice in Week 2, the Boilermakers needed an easy victory to gain some confidence before Big Ten play starts. And that's exactly what they got on Saturday against Southeast Missouri State. Quarterback Robert Marve made his return to the field, completing 7 of 8 passes for 91 yards and one score. Saturday’s appearance was the first for Marve since tearing his ACL against Toledo last season.
11. Minnesota (1-2) – The Golden Gophers finally broke into the win column with Saturday’s 29-23 victory over Miami, Ohio. The team also got a boost from the return of coach Jerry Kill, who suffered a seizure in the final moments of the 28-21 loss to New Mexico State. Look for the Gophers to beat North Dakota State and move to 2-2 this Saturday.
12. Indiana (1-2) – New coach Kevin Wilson earned his first win in Bloomington with Saturday’s 38-21 victory over South Carolina State. The Hoosiers are making slow progress under Wilson, but still have a long way to go in order to challenge for a bowl. Indiana travels to Denton to take on North Texas this Saturday.