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Big Ten power rankings, week 3: Could two B1G teams make the College Football Playoff? Here's how it's possible.

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After its huge win over Oregon, Michigan State joins Ohio State as a CFP contender.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 4: Mid-Atlantic malaise

14. Rutgers (1-1) (Previous: 11)

Last week: Lost to Washington State, 37-34

This week: at Penn State (1-1)

Oh, Rutgers. You can have your Pravda write as many glowing articles about you as you want, but it doesn't change the dark cloud surrounding the football team right now.

A week after Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, the Cougars traveled across the country and defeated the Scarlet Knights in the most Mike Leach way possible, which of course is on a last-minute touchdown pass. And it's gotten even more Rutgers-y for Rutgers since the loss:


Rutgers: the perfect university for a state that has produced Chris Christie, Atlantic City, Jay and Silent Bob, and the Sopranos.

13. Penn State (1-1) (Prev: 14)

Last week: Defeated Buffalo, 27-14

This week: vs. Rutgers (1-1)

An uninspiring but solid victory for the Nittany Lions this weekend to get them back on track. Penn State and Rutgers kick off Big Ten play under the lights in Happy Valley on Saturday, and with everything that's happened to both teams so far, I'm not confident that the game will be any more exciting than last year's field goal fest in Piscataway.

12. Maryland (1-1) (Prev: 10)

Last week: Lost to Bowling Green, 48-27

This week: vs. South Florida (1-1)

A year ago, Hoosier fans were disappointed about a three-point loss on the road to Bowling Green.

This year, the Falcons went into Byrd Stadium and beat the Terps by 21 points. Suddenly, the IU loss last year doesn't seem too bad.

Tier 3: Better than usual?

11. Purdue (1-1) (Prev: 13)

Last week: Defeated Indiana State, 38-14

This week: vs. Virginia Tech (1-1)

The Boilers got back on track by blowing out the Trees on Saturday. Austin Appleby threw three TD passes of over 50 yards in the first half, and even though it was against Indiana State, Purdue looks like it could have some offensive threats this year. On Saturday, Virginia Tech will be playing without starting QB Michael Brewer, who was injured in the opener against OSU. If the Boilers win, Darrell Hazell should send a gift basket to Urban Meyer.

10. Indiana (2-0) (Prev: 12)

Last week: Defeated FIU, 36-22

This week: vs. Western Kentucky (2-0)

It wasn't the prettiest game, but on a brisk fall Saturday night, the Hoosiers got the job done against FIU. Despite some penalties and mistakes, IU never totally fell apart. In an even more encouraging sign, the defense performed admirably, holding the Golden Panthers to only eight points in the second half, and redeemed itself after the poor performance against SIU. They'll need to keep it up next Saturday, when WKU's potent offense rolls into town.

9. Illinois (2-0) (Prev: 9)

Last week: Defeated Western Illinois, 44-0

This week: at North Carolina (1-1)

The Illini have outscored their first two opponents 96-3. No, you are not hallucinating. Does this dominance happen with Tim Beckman still around? Bill Cubit is making his case to become the permanent head coach in Champbana.

Next week, Illinois faces off against UNC for some potential 2005 national basketball title revenge.

Tier 2: The muddled middle

8. Minnesota (1-1) (Prev: 4)

Last week: Defeated Colorado State, 23-20

This week: vs. Kent State (1-1)

Minnesota narrowly avoided a loss in Fort Collins, as every team in the B1G has picked up at least one win so far.

But let's talk about Minnesota's opponent next week, which is Kent State. April Goss, a kicker for Kent State, kicked an extra point for the Golden Flashes last weekend, becoming the second woman (after Katie Hnida) to score a point in an FBS game. We've covered the territory of female kickers before on this blog, and I think it's fair to say we all hope to see more of them in the future.

7. Michigan (1-1) (Prev: 6)

Last week: Defeated Oregon State, 35-7

This week: vs. UNLV (0-2)

Took care of business in the "teams from the state of Michigan vs. teams from the state of Oregon" undercard, giving Harbaugh a win in his home opener. And, putting 35 points on the board is a fine acheivement for a team that struggled to get the ball in the end zone against Utah.

6. Iowa (2-0) (Prev: 8)

Last week: Defeated Iowa State, 31-17

This week: vs. Pitt (2-0)

An emotional El Assico victory for the Hawkeyes last week after the untimely death of Tyler Sash. Kirk Ferentz is proving he isn't going down without a fight, during a year when everyone basically discounted Iowa. Though Pat Narduzzi is used to facing other B1G teams, the new Pitt coach will be without his top running back and already has a quarterback decision to make.

5. Nebraska (1-1)

Last week: Defeated South Alabama, 48-9

This week: at Miami (2-0)

The Huskers are at Miami, huh? Let's see, should they go for two if they're down one late in the game on Saturday?

4. Wisconsin (1-1) (Prev: 7)

Last week: Defeated Miami-Ohio, 58-0

This week: vs. Troy (1-1)

That's more like the Wisconsin team I'm used to. The Badgers have games against Iowa and Nebraska the first two weekends of October. If they get by both, there's a good chance they'll be 10-1 going into the final game of the season against Minnesota.

3. Northwestern (2-0) (Prev: 3)

Last week: Defeated Eastern Illinois, 41-0

This week: at Duke (2-0)

Still third for now, since they have the most impressive victory of any of these middle teams so far. "A game at Duke will test how good Northwestern's football team really is" is a sentence I never thought I would write, yet here we are.

Tier 1: Two B1G teams in the Playoff? As of now, absolutely.

2. Michigan State (2-0)

Last week: Defeated Oregon, 31-28

This week: vs. Air Force (2-0)

1. Ohio State (2-0)

Last week: Defeated Hawaii, 38-0

This week: vs. Northern Illinois (2-0)

Sparty got another signature win in the Connor Cook/Mark Dantonio era on Saturday by getting revenge on Oregon. Meanwhile, OSU methodically shut out Hawaii at the Shoe. As it currently stands, both teams deserve a spot in the Top 4, along with Alabama, and whoever you prefer between TCU and Baylor. However, the Spartans and Buckeyes will match up in Columbus on November 21, and normally, the team that loses here would be knocked out of CFP contention.

But hypothetically, let's say OSU and MSU come into the game undefeated. Then Michigan State loses by a few points, but plays the Buckeyes close in a hostile road environment. OSU goes on to run the table and win the B1G at 13-0. Would the committee leave out an 11-1 Michigan State team with a win over Oregon and their only loss to the #1 team in the nation?

It's hard to think they would.