A few Big Ten teams were exposed in Week 3 that shakes up the middle class of this week’s Big Ten power rankings.
The Big Ten experienced a setback this past weekend. Michigan State fell to Arizona State in a remarkably dumb game, the Purdue Boilermakers were thumped by TCU, Maryland’s prolific offense was put on pause by Temple, and Illinois lost to Eastern Michigan (but that last one isn’t so surprising).
The Big Ten almost experienced some true turmoil this past weekend. Penn State almost faltered against Pitt and Minnesota was seconds away from losing to Georgia Southern. Had those two teams lost, the conference would have been hit with a lot of the same criticism that the ACC is currently wrestling with.
But the Big Ten is better than the ACC. And things are currently not so bad in the Midwest.
Rutgers is bad. We all know this. It’s something that hasn’t changed since the season started. But Rutgers exists, kind of. The Scarlet Knights took the weekend off to get some rest and relaxation and some preparation for its next opponent in. Rutgers is historically awful, but will have the chance to play Boston College this weekend. If you missed it, Boston College is currently in the business of giving away wins to historically awful teams. This is Rutgers’ chance to make a statement and maybe move up a spot in the Big Ten power rankings.
Illinois tried and Illinois failed. The Fighting Illini hosted Eastern Michigan this past weekend and couldn’t do enough to get a win over their adversary from the MAC in what was something of a shoot out. The Illini are better than they have been in the past, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Minnesota is undefeated at 3-0, but none of the Golden Gophers’ wins are all that inspiring so far. Their latest win, against Georgia Southern, came thanks to a touchdown pass as 13 seconds remained in the game. So yes, Minnesota is undefeated, but the Golden Gophers haven’t done enough just yet to prove that they’re a good team.
Indiana got thumped by the best team in the Big Ten. It happens. Ohio State is head and shoulders above just about everyone else in this conference at the moment, except maybe Michigan (but the jury is still out on the Wolverines right now). Indiana has a lot of work to do if they hope to improve.
Man, Michigan State, you had to go and do this, didn’t you? The Spartans offense completely evaporated against Arizona State and they fell in what was one of the dullest, least intriguing games so far this season. Spartans, this is not how you achieve the best-case scenario for a season. This is how you achieve the worst-case scenario. But, note that Brian Lewerke isn’t to blame for this loss. Michigan State’s quarterback had a respectable game. It just didn’t translate into any success for his team.
The Purdue Boilermakers got run over by the TCU Horned Frogs. Purdue’s offense was nowhere to be found as the Boilermakers fell 34-13. Purdue’s offense has been eccentric so far and the Boilermakers clearly can’t ever have an off day on offense if they hope to consistently succeed this year.
During the first two weeks of the season, the Maryland Terrapins scored 142 points. The Terps were unstoppable on offense, but the well ran dry this past weekend. The Terps were unable to consistently score against Temple and fell 20-17. This doesn’t spell the end of Maryland’s season, but it does mean that the Terps, like Purdue, can’t afford to have an off day on offense.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers bounced back following their first set back of the season. Scott Frost’s team rebounded and knocked Northern Illinois around, defeating the Huskies 44-8. The Huskers looked capable on offense and were certainly good enough on defense to slow Northern Illinois down. If Nebraska hopes to challenge the upper tier of the Big Ten this season, the Huskers will need to be more than just “capable” and “good enough.” But this team does have potential.
The Northwestern Wildcats were given a little bit of trouble early on by the UNLV Rebels, but that only lasted for a couple of quarters. Northwestern isn’t particularly exciting or dominant at any one aspect or side of the ball at this point, but the Wildcats are efficient, can slow the game down, and take advantage of an opponent’s mistakes.
Iowa came out on top of what is one of the weirdest rivalry games in this sport. The Hawkeyes survived a particularly weird edition of the Iowa-Iowa State game, a game that was delayed by rain and was previewed by College GameDay. It wasn’t a pretty win, but quarterback Brock Purdy and the Hawkeyes defense did enough to come out on top of Iowa State 18-17.
The Nittany Lions did not look good on offense. Penn State plodded along to a 17-10 win over the Pitt Panthers in a game that James Franklin and company should be happy that they even won given how poorly Penn State played. The Nittany Lions did not look like an offensive powerhouse on Saturday and they will need to improve if they hope to make the Big Ten interesting this season.
Wisconsin gets to move on up after Penn State’s weird win over the Pitt Panthers. Penn State’s offense looked dreadful on Saturday and so the Wisconsin Badgers (who got a nice week off) move on up to No. 3. The Badgers will face off against the Wolverines to prove that they truly belong in the conference title discussion. A win over Michigan and the Badgers will also start being able to talk about a possible place in the playoffs at the end of the year.
The Michigan Wolverines didn’t do anything this past week, but that opportunity to rest (and for Penn State to look actively awful against the Pitt Panthers) is exactly what Michigan needed. The Wolverines hop right back up to No. 2 in the Big Ten power rankings, but they didn’t exactly do much to earn it. However, Michigan has a great opportunity to prove itself as the Wolverines take on the Wisconsin Badgers this week.
Effortlessly and smoothly, Ohio State obliterated Indiana, a team that would often rise to the occasion to take on the Buckeyes during Urban Meyer’s tenure in Columbus. Ryan Day’s team had no such issue on Saturday as the Buckeyes held Indiana to a meager 10 points and beat the Hoosiers by 41. It’s early, and Indiana isn’t any good, but Ohio State looks dominant so far to start the season. The Buckeyes have a realistic path to making it into the College Football Playoffs, but they’ll need to continue to play like this.