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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 2

NCAA Football: Lambeau Field College Classic-Louisiana State vs Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin was the big story from the Big Ten in the opening week of the season, taking down an SEC power in LSU. A stunner took place in Chicago, with Northwestern falling to a MAC favorite. And Rutgers played the best non-conference opponent of any Big Ten team last weekend in Washington. There was a good amount of movement in the rankings, with the most changes taking place in the middle and bottom of the conference. You can probably guess who is ranked last heading into Week 2.

14. Rutgers

Last Week: 11th; Lost at #14 Washington 48-13

Next Week: Howard at home

Washington thoroughly beat Rutgers on Saturday, moving them back to zero and the last spot on the power rankings. They made too many momentum killing mistakes that must be cleaned up for them to be able to compete. If they can play a cleaner game this week against an FCS opponent, that will mark some progress.

13. Purdue

Last Week: 14th; Beat Eastern Kentucky 45-24

Next Week: Host Cincinnati (1-0)

Purdue kicked off their season with an FCS opponent and secured a comfortable win. Their first real test comes this weekend with a visit from Cincinnati, who are picked to finish near the top of the AAC once again.

12. Maryland

Last Week: 13th; Beat Howard 52-13

Next Week: At FIU (0-1)

Maryland played true freshman quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, who Rutgers recruited until they received Tylin Oden’s committment, and he showed something in his debut. He completed 4 of 6 passes for 60 yards and ran it 7 times for 53 yards and a TD. They took care of business at home in head coach D.J Durkin’s first game at Maryland. They play FIU this week, who lost to Indiana by 17 points at home.

11. Northwestern

Last Week: 6th; Lost to Western Michigan 22-21

Next Week: Host Illinois State (1-0)

Western Michigan is a favorite to win the MAC, but this is a disappointing loss for Northwestern after last year’s 10 win season. Quarterback Clayton Thorson had a back breaking fumble near the goal line that ended the comeback. Tough way to start at home. After Illinois State, a home game with Duke looms large before they start Big Ten play.

10. Illinois

Last Week: 12th; Beat Murray State 52-3

Next Week: Host North Carolina (0-1)

The Illini blew out an FCS team in Lovie Smith’s debut, but the competition ramps up fast with North Carolina coming to town next. The Tarheels looked good against Georgia, before they lost pace at the end. Wes Lunt was almost perfect in the opener, and will need to be close to it again on Saturday to have a chance in the game. Carolina will be a huge test for Illinois. It doesn’t get easier, with Western Michigan visiting the following week.

9. Indiana

Last Week: 10th; Beat FIU 34-13

Next Week: Host Ball State (1-0)

The Hoosiers were in a tight first half against FIU, before winning by three TD’s going away at the end. Their offense was best with Devine Redding running and their defense looked better. We won’t really know how improved they are until conference play begins, as they should beat Ball State and Wake Forest.

8. Minnesota

Last Week: 8th; Beat Oregon State 30-23

Next Week: Host Indiana State (1-0)

Minnesota did what they do best, grinding out a close, tough win over Pac-12 foe Oregon State. Rodney Smith was a workhorse, rushing for 125 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns. They were down 23-17 entering the fourth quarter, but won despite failing on a 2 point conversion and having three players on defense ejected for targeting. They look like a resilient, scrappy team once again.

7, Penn State

Last Week: 9th; Beat Kent State 33-13

Next Week: At Pitt (1-0)

Penn State took care of business at home against Kent State and new quarterback Trace McSorley played pretty well. They have a huge road game coming up at Pitt and one in which the real Penn State will emerge. Credit James Franklin for scheduling this game and it would be a solid start to their season to beat their in-state rival. Especially after stumbling early against Temple last year. This season’s rematch takes place the week after the Pitt game. Running back Saquon Barkley needs to build off his 105 yard, 1 TD performance against Kent State and Penn State will likely go as far as he can take them in 2016.

6. Nebraska

Last Week: 5th; Beat Fresno State 43-10

Next Week: Host Wyoming (1-0)

Nebraska played very well at home in Year 2 for Mike Riley, as well as honoring fallen kicker Sam Foltz. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong didn’t have to do much in the opener, but will need more reps ahead of their matchup in two weeks against Oregon. It would be a great win in non-conference play for the Big Ten, who went 8-2 this past weekend, the best record of any power five conference.

5. Michigan State

Last Week: 3rd; Beat Furman 28-13

Next Week: At Notre Dame (0-1)

Michigan State did enough to win, but led by just one score until Tyler O’Connor threw a touchdown pass with 5 minutes left in the game to seal the victory. They need to regroup quickly. A trip to South Bend is next and the Irish have a sour taste in their mouths after losing to Texas in overtime last night.

4. Wisconsin

Last Week: 7th; Beat #5 LSU 16-14

Next Week: Host Akron (1-0)

The Badgers shocked LSU at Lambeau in a gutty performance, in which they recovered to win, after blowing a lead they held most of the game. They have a brutal schedule this season, but starting with a win over a top five ranked team from the SEC is a great start.

3. Michigan

Last Week: 4th; Beat Hawaii 63-3

Next Week: Host UCF (1-0)

Michigan crushed Hawaii after holding a ceremony with Nike and Michael Jordan before kickoff to honor their new Jumpman uniforms. Wilton Speight got the start at quarterback and their defense looked very good again. However, Hawaii had played the week before in Australia and isn’t very good to begin with. On the other hand, Michigan plays their first five games at home in the Big House, with their first road game at Rutgers in early October.

2. Iowa

Last Week: 2nd; Beat Miami (OH) 45-21

Next Week: Host Iowa State (0-1)

Iowa led 21-0 early and coasted from there on. This week is their big rivalry game with Iowa State, who just had a disappointing loss to Northern Iowa at home. However, the Cyclones have won three of the past five matchups and it’s guaranteed to be a difficult game for the Hawkeyes.

1, Ohio State

Last Week: 1st; Beat Bowling Green 77-10

Next Week: Host Tulsa (1-0)

With just five returning starters from a 12 win team last season, the Fighting Urban’s came out firing against Meyer’s former school. J.T. Barrett had a sizzling opener and is in line to have a monster season. They travel to Oklahoma in two weeks, which is a must win for the Sooners after losing to Houston this past weekend. The Buckeyes already look ready after thrashing Bowling Green.

Previous Rankings: Week 1