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B1G Power Rankings: Week Three

This week sees a few minor shakeups in the conference

NCAA Football: Army at Michigan
t r o o p s
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Another week of college football is in the books. Around the Big Ten there were some boring games, some rather standard games and also a game that had certain people hootin’ and hollerin’ about The Troops. Let’s check where everyone sits in the officially official CQ Power Rankings after two weeks:

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Last week: 42-0 win vs. Cincinnati (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 5

Pretty simple here. OSU was the top dog after week one and proceeded to beat the tar out of Luke Fickell’s Bearcats in week two. Justin Fields remains extremely good, J.K. Dobbins is one of the best backs in the conference and the defense picked up a pair of takeaways. No real reason to dispute the Buckeyes as the best team in the conference right now, (Stephen A. Smith voice) HOWEVER….they will be coming to Bloomington next weekend to take on Michael Penix Jr. and the Hoosiers. Could we possibly see a version of the 2015 matchup between the two teams where IU doesn’t get shafted on a non-call at the end of the game? Will #9WINDIANA get an enormous boost? We’ll wait and see.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

Last week: 61-0 win vs. Central Michigan (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 6

Another team that thrashed a mid-major opponent to stay perfect, the Badgers move up one spot this week thanks to circumstances outside their control. That being said, there’s plenty of reason to be hyped up about the Badgers.

The biggest and most obvious is Johnathan Taylor. The running back put up 119 all-purpose yards and a trio of TDs before presumably ordering some delivery and spending garbage time getting his grub on in the locker room.

With a pair of relatively easy matchups out of the way, it’s time to start Big Ten play. The Badgers will get a bye week before featuring in one of the biggest matchups of week four when they’ll take on Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium.

3. Michigan Wolverines

Last week: 24-21 win vs. Army (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 15

THE TROOPS!!! They almost won the adoration of the nation by taking down the Wolverines in the Big House, but fell just short. A 2OT field goal put the Wolverines ahead and then Army fumbled the game away on their possession. Despite the win, almost losing to a service academy as a top 10 team is gonna drop you in the rankings because, well, the Wolverines were a three-touchdown favorite heading into the game. Now the Wolverines get a week off before their showdown with Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. They seem like they need it.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes

Last week: 30-0 win vs. rutger (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 20

Just like the Ohio State and Wisconsin, Iowa beat up on a poor mid-major team in their second game of the season. Nate Stanley remains good, the running game worked well enough and the defense pitched a shutout. Ihmir Smith-Marsette may have emerged as a top target for Stanley with a four-catch, 113-yard, two-touchdown performance. Now the Hawkeyes will look forward to El Assico, a terrible, terrible football game that will probably be tight and probably features a helluva party beforehand. Expect them to beat Iowa State, but also expect it to be quite ugly as when these two get together, things get weird.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions

Last week: 45-13 win vs. Buffalo (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 10

The Nittany Lions got booed on their way into the locker room at halftime of their game against Buffalo. That’s because they were losing 10-7 and their offense had picked up less than 100 total yards to that point. There were concerns about the PSU offense and we saw exactly why in that first half. Things were rather bad for the Nittany Lions, and then they suddenly weren’t. In the second half Penn State outscored Buffalo 38-3 to take an easy win. Perhaps there’s a reason to be concerned about the Nittany Lions after that first-half performance, but not enough at the moment for me to move them down in the power rankings. Next week they play Pitt, a bad football team that beat Ohio by 10 points last week. If they struggle there then maybe we’ll have to talk about the Nittany Lions, but I don’t think we will.

6. Michigan State Spartans

Last week: 51-17 win vs. Western Michigan (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 18

More boring early-season stuff here for the Spartans. They beat poor Western Michigan by a lot of points and Brian Lewerke put up Numbers. That’s about all you need to know. They still might be sneaky bad, but for now the Spartans look fine. Their competition will start getting better moving forward as they play Arizona State next week. MSU famously lost to Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils last season so anything is possible. For now, they’re sticking right in the middle of the pack, at the back end of the “good” teams.

7. Maryland Terrapins

Last week: 63-20 win vs. Syracuse (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 38

Yes, Maryland beat a ranked team by a lot. Does that mean that the Terps are good? Maybe! Do I want to see a larger sample size? Absolutely. Perhaps Syracuse was overrated heading into the season and this was how we all found out. They’ve been place in the AP Top 25, coming in at No. 21, in reaction to the big win, but SP+ has them at a much more cautionary ranking of 38th nationally. I’m bound to err on the side of caution here, so I won’t buy into the hype quite yet though I will move them up three spots in these rankings.

Next week the Terps go on the road to face Temple. They opened as a seven-point favorite and I’m not one of the in-house gambling experts, but that feels like a pretty safe bet. Prepare for 3-0 Maryland to host Penn State in a matchup that could actually prove that the Terps are for real in week four.

8. Indiana Hoosiers

Last week: 52-0 win vs. Eastern Illinois (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 40

The Hoosiers clobbered notable bad team Eastern Illinois last week, moving to 2-0 on the season. Both the offense and defense looked pretty good before being rotated out in favor of the second- and third-stringers as the game went on. This week things get real as IU hosts Ohio State for a Noon kick-off. The Buttguys opened as 14-point favorites, do with that what you will. OSU should be the toughest team that IU plays this season so we’ll see how the Hoosiers stack up against The Elites on Saturday.

Also, this shouldn’t need to be said but I’ll say it anyway: There is no question who this team’s quarterback is even though a certain former starter had a strong performance against Eastern Illinois. Penix and #9WINDIANA keep rolling. They stay stagnant in the rankings for now.

9. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Last week: 34-31 loss @ Colorado (1-1)

SP+ Ranking: 52

If you didn’t believe that Nebraska football was Indiana basketball before, may I present to you this team? The Huskers had quite a bit of hype coming into the season, picked as one of the better teams in their division and a dark horse to win the conference by some. In response, they hit the road for a non-conference game and subsequently lost in crushing fashion.

I tried to not buy into the Husker hype pre-season and I’m still not sold on Nebraska being much more than bowl eligible this season. Thusly, they’ve dropped two spots in this weekend. Are they a better team than Indiana? Possibly. Can you prove it? Nope, not yet.

10. Purdue Boilermakers

Last week: 42-24 win vs. Vanderbilt (1-1)

SP+ Ranking: 57

Our pals in West Lafayette recovered from whatever the heck it was that happened in their first game by trouncing Vandy at home in week two. Is Vandy good, you ask? They sit one spot ahead of Illinois in the SP+ rankings. That should give you a little bit of perspective. Rondale Moore is still massively good, but the Boilers haven’t figured out how to run the ball yet apparently.

Next week Purdue will host TCU, which should give us a good measuring stick for what the Boilermakers are capable of this season. The Horned Frogs are a borderline Top 25 team, sitting at 30th in the SP+ rankings, and are coming off of a bye week.

The win brings Purdue up three spots in the new rankings, but this week will be the real test.

11. Northwestern Wildcats

Last week: BYE (0-1)

SP+ Ranking: 84

Northwestern didn’t do anything this week. There’s literally nothing to judge them on other than T.J. Green being out for the season and Hunter Johnson apparently being The Guy moving forward. Because of that the Wildcats fell behind Maryland and Purdue this week as both did good things. Week three will see Northwestern take on UNLV, a team that sits just one spot ahead of Nevada and two ahead of rutger in the SP+ rankings at 105th. Expect a Wildcat win.

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Last week: 38-35 win @ Fresno St. (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 42

The Gophers didn’t do anything wrong, they just once again skated by against a very fine team. Last week it was South Dakota State, this week it was Fresno State. The Bulldogs are decent, but nothing about this win screams that Minnesota is a good team. I guess winning on the West coast is a good thing, but the Gophers drop a spot as Purdue passes them.

This week Minnesota takes on Georgia Southern, a team that shouldn’t be terribly troublesome despite the fact that its a historically successful FCS program that recently jumped to playing FBS football in the Sun Belt.

13. Illinois Fighting Illini

Last week: 31-23 win vs. UConn (2-0)

SP+ Ranking: 73

UConn is not good at football. Illinois only beat the Huskies by eight points. It’s not a great look to only beat one of the 10 worst teams in FBS according to SP+ by a score, which is why the Illini slip to the cellar in these rankings, falling behind Purdue.

Up next on the schedule is another cupcake in Eastern Michigan. The Eagles barely crack the top 100 teams in the nation according to SP+, but they did beat Purdue in West Lafayette last season. In terms of SP+ Illinois isn’t terribly higher than EMU, but if the Illini can’t be the Eagles they could be in for a long season.