Big Ten Power Rankings: Blowout wins keep title contenders on top
Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 2
The top six teams in the Big Ten Power Rankings all won in blowout fashion in Week 2, keeping the top half looking exactly the same. But there was plenty of jockeying in the bottom half thanks to losses of the nail-biting, blowout and unbelievable variety. See how all the teams stacked up.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Last week: 1
Two second-quarter pick sixes sparked the Buckeyes, who got off to a slow start but turned on the jets to wallop Tulsa, 48-3. Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore had the two interception-return touchdowns, two of the Ohio State defense’s seven picks on the season, three of which have been taken back for scores. And after limiting the Golden Hurricane to just 185 yards, not a bad start for a defense that lost a ton of talent to the NFL.
2. Michigan Wolverines
Last week: 2
Wilton Speight threw four touchdown passes to lead the Wolverines to a 51-14 pounding of Central Florida. Michigan has looked tremendous and unrelenting in two blowout wins, with Speight establishing a terrific connection with an elite pass-catching corps — Jake Butt and Amara Darboh each had two touchdown catches in Week 2. The only thing that could hurt the Wolverines in these rankings in the immediate future is strength of schedule: Ohio State faces Oklahoma and Michigan State faces Notre Dame in two epic non-conference showdowns in Week 3, while Michigan battles Colorado.
3. Wisconsin Badgers
Last week: 3
The Badgers did what top-10 teams should, following up that thrilling season-opening win against LSU with a 54-10 pasting of Akron. Wisconsin out-gained its MAC opponent, 586-224, with the Badgers’ offensive playmakers posting big days. Running back Corey Clement rushed for 111 yards and two scores, while receivers Jazz Peavy and Robert Wheelwright combined for 199 yards and two touchdowns. The second of two easier games comes next weekend, Wisconsin squaring off against Georgia State before a grueling start to Big Ten play.
4. Iowa Hawkeyes
Last week: 4
The Hawkeyes also blasted an inferior non-conference opponent, though this one came from a Power Five conference. The in-state rivalry game with Iowa State was incredibly lopsided, Iowa pouring it on in a 42-3 win. The defense kept the Cyclones out of the end zone while C.J. Beathard & Co. lived there. Beathard pitched three touchdown passes and ran in for another score, while Akrum Wadley had two total touchdowns and LeShun Daniels had a 43-yard scoring rush.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last week: 5
The Huskers picked off a whopping five passes in a 52-17 blowout win over Wyoming, giving them seven on the season, which matches Ohio State for the most in the nation. Kieron Williams took his interception back for a score, and the Nebraska offense provided plenty of fireworks, too. Tommy Armstrong had three touchdown passes: two going to Jordan Westerkamp and one going to Alonzo Moore for a 63-yard score. You can’t really argue with 552 yards of total offense.
6. Michigan State Spartans
Last week: 6
No game for Sparty this past weekend, meaning that despite a real high ranking in both the AP and coaches poll, the only result we have from them is a 15-point victory over FCS opponent Furman. Of course, that’ll all change dramatically after this weekend, when Michigan State travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.
7. Indiana Hoosiers
Last week: 9
The Hoosiers’ defense continued to impress in Week 2, following up a two-pick-six effort in a win over Florida International with a three-takeaway day in a 10-point win over Ball State. The Cardinals didn’t score on the Hoosiers till the second half and didn’t hit the end zone till the fourth quarter — one that featured 17 Ball State points and made Indiana sweat a little more than was necessary. On the offensive side, Richard Lagow threw a trio of touchdown passes and Devin Redding rushed for 110 yards.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last week: 11
After a late comeback was needed for a season-opening win over Oregon State, Minnesota clubbed Indiana State, 58-28. Mitch Leidner was terrific, throwing for nearly 300 yards and tossing four touchdown passes. Running back Kobe McCrary exploded for 176 yards and two touchdowns, his second a 50-yard scoring scamper. And Drew Wolitarsky had a big receiving day, going for 125 yards and two touchdowns. It was against an FCS team, but the Gophers will most definitely take an explosive offensive performance.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions
Last week: 8
A tough loss for Penn State, which saw its defense abused by a sensational Pitt rushing attack in a 42-39 defeat, an instant classic in the renewal of that in-state rivalry. The Lions, for as much as they were getting picked apart on defense, had a great opportunity to win. Saquon Barkley had five touchdowns, and Trace McSorley converted a huge fourth down to set up a scoring chance in the game’s final seconds. But McSorley threw an interception in the end zone to end that threat. Penn State didn’t look great much of this game but did a great job to fight back in the second half.
10. Maryland Terrapins
Last week: 10
DJ Durkin must think this head-coaching thing is a piece of cake. Two games, two blowout wins for the Terps, who after smoking Howard in the opener beat Florida International, 41-14. Maryland quarterbacks have still yet to throw an interception through two games, and Perry Hills added a 210-yard, three-touchdown stat line to what has already been a worlds-better season than last year. Receiver D.J. Moore had a huge day with 147 yards and two touchdowns, too.
11. Illinois Fighting Illini
Last week: 7
The Illini got off to a fast start, getting a 65-yard touchdown run on the game’s third play, but North Carolina proved too much to handle in a 48-23 loss. Illinois actually remained in striking distance for much of the night, a surprise considering how lifeless the offense looked. Wes Lunt had a costly fumble, and the Illini committed a whopping 13 penalties. Memorial Stadium was sold out and rocking, but it would appear the Lovie Smith Era has a long journey before things get better in the win-loss column.
12. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Last week: 14
There was terror in the hearts of every Rutgers fan when Howard took an early 14-0 lead and the score remained tied at 14 at halftime. But the Scarlet Knights scored the game’s final 52 points in a 52-14 win. Janarion Grant was the match that lit the fuse and had an exceptional game, scoring on an 84-yard kick return, a 58-yard touchdown run and a 21-yard touchdown run. The guy’s one of the best playmakers in college football. And his efforts gave Chris Ash his first win as head coach.
13. Purdue Boilermakers
Last week: 12
Darrell Hazel’s tenure has been anything but illustrious, and a 38-20 loss to Cincinnati means that Purdue is now 1-9 in non-conference games against FBS teams since Hazell took over. That’s a tragic stat, and the game was pretty tragic, too. David Blough — trying to become the first opening-day quarterback under Hazell to keep his job through October — threw five interceptions.
14. Northwestern Wildcats
Last week: 13
A heartbreaking Week 1 loss to Western Michigan — thanks to a late goal-line fumble — seemed almost pleasant after Northwestern dropped to 0-2 with a gut-wrenching 9-7 defeat at the hands of FCS foe Illinois State. The Redbirds are not the run-of-the-mill FCS pushover, but the Wildcats should’ve been able to handle a win in a game where they only allowed nine points. Illinois State kicked the game-winning field goal with three seconds left after marching down the field in the waning minutes. Northwestern didn’t score its first points until almost six minutes were gone in the fourth quarter. Getting out-gained by an FCS team 372-277 shows that this team is a long way off from its 10-win campaign a year ago. Oh, and Justin Jackson has a lower-body injury.