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Big Ten power rankings: Nebraska’s pride came before the fall

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Wisconsin hits the over, Purdue gets on the board, and a colossal matchup in Happy Valley coming up.

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NCAA Football: Nebraska at Michigan Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports

14. vacant

13. Nebraska (0-3)

Just a hunch - most B1G fans outside the Cornhusker State are shedding zero tears about Nebraska’s slow start. The Scott Frost hire gave Nebraska fans and administration carte blanche to act like they were on top of the college football world again, as if the 90s had never left. After three games, it seems like it might take a little more time than they thought.

12. Illinois (2-2)

Actually looked... competent for a bit on Friday night against Penn State? Am I really saying that? The Nittany Lions have been a very good 4th quarter team in the past few seasons (see also: the 2016 Indiana game where the Hoosiers had them on the ropes before losing by 14 points), so no shame in Illinois playing Penn State tough for most of the game.

11. Northwestern (1-2)

Didn’t play this week. Up next is Michigan, who’s looked pretty great ever since faltering in week 1.

10. Purdue (1-3)

Jeff Brohm’s offense was too talented to keep losing close games like they have, and boy did the Boilers deliver against a top-25 BC team on Saturday. With Nebraska and Illinois coming up (ahh, the joys of the Big Ten West!), Purdue has a great chance to get to .500 by mid-October.

9. Minnesota (3-1)

Full disclosure: I thought the Gophers would beat Maryland straight-up in College Park, and was I ever wrong. Minnesota’s 42-13 loss means they’re still rowing the boat upstream in P.J. Fleck’s second season. They get two weeks rest before Iowa comes to town to compete for the Floyd of Rosedale.

8. Indiana (3-1)

Conference play hit Indiana hard on Saturday, as the Hoosiers fell 35-21 to Michigan State. The o-line will have to step it up and Peyton Ramsey will need to be more than a game manager if the Hoosiers want to make noise in the B1G. Rutger should be a nice reprieve for the Hoosiers, but that hasn’t stopped the Scarlet Knights in the past.

7. Maryland (3-1)

No B1G team is having a more Jekyll/Hyde season than Maryland so far. A week after losing by 21 to Temple, the Terps beat Minnesota by 29. And with DJ Durkin still on administrative leave as the investigation into the death of Jordan McNair continues, Matt Canada should still be in charge for a while. Imagine telling an IU fan that 10 years ago.

6. Iowa (3-1)

There’s still a clear top six in this conference so far. Iowa was less than a minute from delivering a knockout punch to Wisconsin, but the Hawkeyes couldn’t pull it off, and some costly turnovers made a difference in what was otherwise an evenly-matched contest.

5. Michigan State (2-1)

Coming into the IU game last weekend, I think I was discounting the early play of Brian Lewerke too much. Lewerke only had 213 yards passing on Saturday, but his two first-half touchdown passes and his assist on the fake field goal made him a valuable asset in MSU’s win. The Spartans will need to rely on him going forward, as their run game (aside from a late 75-yard TD) was held in check.

4. Wisconsin (3-1)

A week after a home loss to BYU, the Badgers had something to prove, and Alex Hornibrook came through with a clutch touchdown throw with 57 seconds left to put the Badgers on top.

A crazy gambling moment came on a final Wisconsin touchdown as time was running out, which made the final score 28-17. The over/under in this game was 44, so this allowed the over to hit. And 89% of the money was on the under, so Vegas had a field day with this garbage-time touchdown.

3. Michigan (3-1)

Two years ago, Scott Frost-coached UCF came into Ann Arbor and lost 51-14, but Frost in the postgame comments said that his team “outhit” Michigan. What he must not have realized is that Jim Harbaugh is the pettiest person in college football and doesn’t forget anything that has ever been said about his team, and I’m sure these comments served as motivation when the Wolverines pulverized Nebraska on Saturday.

Other than the opening night flop against top-10 Notre Dame, Michigan has played very well this season. But with Wisconsin, Penn State, Sparty, and OSU still to go, this still has a chance to go haywire.

2. Penn State (4-0)

1. Ohio State (4-0)

PSU and OSU have played two of the best conference games of the past couple years. In 2016, a 4th quarter comeback and a blocked field goal touchdown gave Penn State the victory. Last year, it was Ohio State’s turn to stage a late rally for the win. They’ll play again in the game of the week on Saturday night, and Gameday will be in town. Should be a blast.