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Big Ten power rankings: Michigan State didn’t play to win the game

Eastern Michigan has now won as many Big Ten games as IU has in the past two seasons.

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With two games under our belt for most B1G teams, it’s time to get our first glance at conference power rankings for the season. Overall, a few things stand out: The B1G West again looks to be struggling, the conference has had a few decent wins against other Power 5 teams, and the two best teams seem to be on a collision course for the conference title game in Indy.

Now, onto the rankings!

14. Illinois (2-0)

The Illini are 2-0 after two unimpressive wins over Kent State (2-10 last year) and Western Illinois (decent FCS team). They’ll need to show some signs of life against a USF team that can score points in order to get themselves out of the B1G cellar.

13. Rutger (1-1)

Rutger kicked a field goal while down 42-0 against Ohio State over the weekend.

The Bills kicked a field goal while down 40-0 against the Ravens over the weekend.

Congrats Rutger, you’re the Bills of college football.

12. Purdue (0-2)

A close loss in the home opener to Northwestern can be forgiven, but a sloppy 20-19 loss to Eastern Michigan is something else. EMU now has wins over two B1G teams in the past two years, if you include their win over Rutger last year. Purdue never distanced themselves from the Eagles, and made some costly mistakes late in the game to keep EMU in the game. With homes games against Mizzou and BC coming up, the Boilers have a chance to turn around the season, or have it really go haywire.

11. Northwestern (1-1)

Lost 21-7 in an uninspired effort at home to Duke despite gaining more yards than the Blue Devils. Northwestern has played exactly one good half of football this year, but I’m not worried yet, as this team is often a late bloomer under Pat Fitzgerald.

10. Nebraska (0-1)

Scott Frost, who will clearly be the savior to return the Huskers to the past glory of the 1990s, lost his first college football game as a head coach since 2016 on Saturday. Former day-after-Thanksgiving rival Colorado came from behind and ruined the weather-delayed opening of the Frost era in Lincoln. Adrian Martinez looks to have some serious potential at QB, though.

9. Minnesota (2-0)

Fresno State is no slouch - Jeff Tedford got them to a Mountain West title game in his first season last year - so that’s not a bad win for the Gophers. With Miami-Ohio up next, Minnesota should likely be 3-0 heading into College Park in two weeks.

8. Indiana (2-0)

The Hoosiers are 2-0 after a mistake-filled 20-16 victory over UVA in a downpour on Saturday night. The ugly conditions favored the Hoosiers, who rode their ground game and Stevie Scott rushing for over 200 yards to the win. This felt like more than a four-point win for Indiana, and if the Hoosiers can shore up the kicking game and find the end zone more often next week against a potentially tricky Ball State team, I’ll have more confidence rolling into conference play.

7. Maryland (2-0)

After helping to prove last week that Texas is not back, the Terps rolled Bowling Green 45-14. Despite the drama surrounding this program, Maryland is remaining steady on the field.

6. Michigan State (1-1)

I went to bed late Saturday night with the Spartans up 13-3 on Arizona State. But the Sun Devils fought back, and Herm Edwards scored a signature 16-13 victory on Sparty even though his hire was much-maligned last winter. I’m rooting for Herm. He was an entertaining soundbite during his ESPN and NFL days and his players seemed to enjoy playing for him, and his hire of Danny Gonzales as defensive coordinator was a shrewd one. MSU, like Northwestern, is a perennial slow starter, but this performance gave me hope for IU when the Spartans roll into town for the Spittoon game on the 22nd.

5. Michigan (1-1)

A week after a dismal performance against Notre Dame, Shea Patterson and the Wolverines got back to business with an easy 49-3 win over Western Michigan. That’s fine and all, but this Michigan season will depend on the big games on the schedule, and the next one of those isn’t really for a month, when Wisconsin heads to the Big House.

4. Iowa (2-0)

The Hawkeye defense is back to its usual self, giving up only 10 total points over two games. Iowa won El Assico in a very Ferentzian 13-3 score over in-state rival Iowa State, and get Northern Iowa next week in a warmup for Wisconsin.

3. Penn State (2-0)

Appalachian State put a scare in Penn State in week 1 as the Nittany Lions escaped with a 45-38 overtime win, but life was a lot easier in week 2, as PSU waltzed into Heinz Field and demolished Pitt, 51-6. PSU will get a real test at the end of the month when they host Ohio State.

2. Wisconsin (2-0)

A classic Wisconsin nonconference victory against a mid-major opponent in which the Badgers looked off for most of the first half yet ripped the team to shreds in the second half. No big deal. They’re definitely one of the two best teams in the conference right now, along with...

1. Ohio State (2-0)

Let Rutger score a point for the first time since 2015, which was very charitable of them. The Buckeyes travel to TCU next weekend for their final game without their suspended head coach, and with the game in the Jerrydome, it could feel like a home contest for the hordes of traveling Buckeyes fans.