With two weeks of results in the books and sample sizes growing, we can finally start to get a sense of where the Big Ten teams stack up with one another. Pre-season projections are starting to give way to on-field performances and teams are starting to establish themselves.
As a whole, the Big Ten went 10-4 in Week 2 with two of the losses coming on the road and one of the losses being to a top five team in the country.
Iowa came away with the biggest win of the weekend, knocking off Iowa State in overtime on the road. Nebraska battled well in Oregon and nearly pulled off the comeback, but it turns out spotting the Ducks a 28-point lead at home in a pretty steep hole to climb out of.
Illinois now holds a three-point win over Ball State on the road after blocking a field goal as time expired and a 13-point win over Western Kentucky at home. Those would be great results for a MAC team and not great results if you were a Power 5 team coached by Lovie Smith.
The Illini are scheduled to travel to USF this weekend to face the Bulls, who did not play this weekend due to Hurricane Irma.
Northwestern’s saving grace is Lovie Smith because they may deserve the bottom spot after last week in which they got throttled by Duke, managing only 191 yards of offense, scoring only on the opening possession, after a fumble at midfield from the Blue Devils and in garbage time.
Pair that a week-one win that came with a bit of controversy at times and the Wildcats have been far from inspiring this year. Northwestern can right the ship against Bowling Green State this week and a convincing win could go a long way.
Purdue actually looked kind of fun on Friday under the lights. The double-reverse-flea-flicker was a great play that probably could have been better used in a bigger game, but so be it. If it came in a win, you can’t fault it too much.
At the end of the day, though, a close loss to Louisville and a home win over Ohio isn’t getting you out of the bottom of the rankings. A win on the road against Missouri might, though.
In the second half, Nebraska looked really good on the road against Oregon. Unfortunately, by the time they started playing well, they were down 42-14.
Tanner Lee had a #ChaosTeam-esque performance with 252 passing yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions with a fumble as well. After struggling with Arkansas State at home in week one, it appears that was not a fluke and the Cornhuskers are going to struggle this year.
Coming off week one’s big win, the Terrapins dropped 63 points in week two. However, it came against Towson, so for now there’s still plenty of questions about Maryland. The positives are that they ran for five touchdowns and looked generally solid offensively again.
But with all due respect to Maryland, destroying Towson does little to tell us how good they actually are. If next week’s performance against UCF doesn’t help, their trip to Minnesota should.
Peyton Ramsey did much to ease concerns with the Hoosiers, which is not a sentence I expected to type this week. With all the issues running the ball, Ramsey alleviated some of the pressure in the backfield with his ability to run.
Defensively, IU re-established itself as one of the top units in the country. Back-to-back home games against bad non-conference teams should produce relatively easy wins. But it’s IU, so nothing is easy.
7. Michigan State
I’m still not entirely sold on Michigan State, but they’re 2-0 and haven’t been tested with a pair of home non-conference games against non-Power 5 schools. Getting Notre Dame next week will go a long way in determining whether the Spartans are legit this year.
The Gophers are also 2-0 on the season but actually hold a road win after routing Oregon State this week. Like any other team, there’s a lot of questions about Minnesota but they did produce a pair of 90-yard rushers. Next week won’t do much in terms of clarification before a game against Maryland.
As previously stated, Iowa had the biggest win of the week. The Hawkeyes added to their impressive week-one showing by coming from behind to win in overtime against the Cyclones. The win and a game against North Texas this week should set up a must-see game against Penn State in Week Four.
The Badgers’ bit of a cakewalk schedule does little to explain how good or bad they are. Their toughest games through the opening nine weeks is probably on the road against Indiana. Seriously, the divisions suck so much.
Michigan looked better offensively albeit against Cincinnati. Defensively, they picked off Hayden Moore two times and held the Bearcats to 200 yards of offense. Wilton Speight looked decent and Ty Isaac ran for 133 yards.
Like the Badgers, the Wolverines have an easy stretch to figure things out before traveling to Indiana in mid-October.
2. Penn State
Saquon Barkley is really damn good. On Saturday, he totaled 183 all-purpose yards with two touchdowns and looked his dominant self. Games against Georgia State and Iowa will prep them for Indiana on September 30 and did I mention the divisions are awful.
1. Ohio State
Call me crazy, but to me, Ohio State is still the best team in the Big Ten. That comes with the caveat that Oklahoma is one of the best team in the nation and losing to Baker Mayfield, the Heisman favorite, is nothing to scoff at.
As I said last week, Ohio State’s issues won’t matter in the Big Ten and will limit them nationally. Please do not @ me on this.