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Big Ten Football Power Rankings: Week 3

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NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

A week after mostly everything went chalk in week one, week two did not go as well for the Big Ten. Rutgers, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Northwestern lost with Rutgers and Northwestern taking particularly bad losses. With that being said, lets take a look at what we thought we knew going into week two, and what we know now.

14. Rutgers (LW: 14)

What we thought: A competitive loss to Washington would be a spring board to a 4 or 5 win season. The defense was much improved and the offensive line would be a massive upgrade. Kyle Bolin was an upgrade at quarterback and would be the leader that the Rutgers offense needed. An opened up playbook would reveal a dynamic offense that would be capable of scoring from anywhere one the field. The Scarlet Knights were expected to handle an inferior Eastern Michigan team and look to get the ball rolling on the 2017 season.

What we know now: Ugh. The regression from week one to week two was noticeable and disappointing. Bolin looked absolutely Laviano-esque and the offensive line was dominated. Although they ran the ball okay, the passing game was still lacking. Even though I do think hopes were too high after week one, I do think Rutgers is better than the product they put on the field last week. A dominate performance is necessary this weekend against FCS-opponent Morgan State or there will even more trouble in Piscataway.

13. Purdue (LW: 13)

What we thought: A seven point loss to Louisville was an encouraging sign that Jeff Brohm had this program in the right direction. There was a QB controversy brewing and it would be interesting to see how that situation would play out.

What we know now: Purdue is a fun team. The Boilermakers blasted Ohio on Friday night and David Blough grabbed the reins of the QB battle throwing for three touchdowns on the day. The Boilermakers look like a team that is capable of earning a spot in a bowl game.

12. Illinois (LW: 12)

What we thought: Illinois needed a last second field goal to defeat Ball State (c’mon who struggles against teams from the MAC) and were easily the worst team in the Big Ten. Lovie Smith was on the hot seat and would not last more than one more near.

What we know now: In the words of the legendary Lee Corso, not so fast my friends. Illinios beat Western Kentucky 20-7, shutting out the Hilltoppers into the 4th quarter. While they are not going to be a flashy team, and Smith’s job is certainly not secure after this win, Illinois showed that they are a tough hard nose team that will not be as easy an out as people thought they would be.

11. Northwestern (LW: 7)

What we thought: Last weeks sloppy 31-20 win over Nevada was just fire week jitters and the Wildcats were a much better team than the one that was on the field that day. Clayton Thorson demonstrated he was a top caliber QB and had the potential to lead the Wildcats to a successful season.

What we know now: Maybe week one wasn’t so much of a fluke as Northwestern got their doors blown off by Duke. Thorson looked like a mediocre quarterback all day and the Wildcats were thoroughly out played but a Duke team that looks to be very very talented.

10: Indiana (LW: 11)

What we thought: Indiana hung with Ohio State for two and a half quarters and showed that they could possibly be a sleeper team in the Big Ten. According to Kirk Herbstreit, Indiana could potentially have had the BEST group of quarterback and wide receiver talent that Ohio State would face this season. Richard Lagow looked to have cut down on his interceptions and would be a top quarterback in college football this year.

What we know now: Although Indiana beat Virginia, it was backup quarterback Peyton Ramsey leading the way. Lagow was benched after a poor start, but it was announced after the game he would remain the starter for now. The offensive line struggled on the day and Indiana may be further away from contention than originally thought.

9. Nebraska (LW: 9)

What we thought: A dominant running game coupled with an efficient quarterback would bring success to Nebraska this year. Giving up 36 points to Arkansas State was cause for concern, but the offense looked capable of delivering the goods.

What we know now: The defense was indeed an area of concern, giving up 42 first half points at Oregon raced out to a 42-14 half time lead. The defense stepped up in the second half and gave the ‘huskers a chance to win late. Tanner Lee struggled on the day completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing four interceptions on the day, albeit with three touchdown passes. If the defense can continue on its play from the second half on Saturday, Nebraska will be in a very good spot.

8. Michigan State (LW: 10)

What we thought: Although they struggled on the ground, the passing game and defense looked to be building their way back to Sparty standards. It was only a win over Bowling Green, but it was a definite improvement over 2016.

What we know now: A 28-14 win over a very game Western Michigan was very encouraging for Michigan State. Western Michigan was coming off a competitive loss to USC and this would be a measuring stick game for Sparty. The defense was solid again and the offense did enough to get the job done.

7. Minnesota (LW: 8)

What we thought: Despite the flashy hiring of PJ Fleck, Minnesota almost flipped the boat instead of rowing the boat in week one escaping with a 17-7 win over Buffalo. The offense did not look good and Minnesota was perhaps over rated?

What we now know: Although Oregon State has looked awful this year, Minnesota had a nice bounce back week, thrashing the Beavers in Corvallis 48-14. Their passing game was lacking, but they demonstrated a lethal running game with three players going over 60 rushing yards. I am not a total believer yet, but this was the Minnesota I expected to see.

6. Iowa (LW: 5)

What we thought: Defense, defense, defense. The Hawkeyes were going to be a team built on defense that would have to limit opponents to help carry a pedestrian offense. They were coming off a dominating win against a Wyoming team boasting one of the top NFL prospects.

What we now know: Maybe the offense wasn’t as bad as I thought? In the battle for the CyHawk, the Hawkeyes emerged victorious over the Cyclones in a thrilling 44-41 victory. It was a nice win for the Hawkeyes and proved that the offense may not depend on the defense as much as it was first expected.

5: Maryland (LW: 6)

What we thought: Although a win on the road at Texas was a decent win, Texas is not the same team it used to be so who knows how good Maryland really is. They also lost their starting quarterback to an ACL injury that would keep him out for the season and there was no way Maryland would be able to sustain the success they showed in week one.

What we now know: I know it was against an FCS school and whatnot but Maryland got the job done on Saturday, cruising to a 63-17 victory. The passing game was not totally there but their rushing attack was devastating, finishing with over 300 yards on the day. I am curious to see how they do against another “real” opponent but for now I am a believer in Maryland. (Note: I also believed in PJ Fleck and Minnesota so what do I really know)

4: Wisconsin (LW: 4)

What we thought: A slow start had Badger fans holding their breath against an average Utah State team but the Badgers eventually woke up and hung 59 on Utah State. Quarterback play was lacking but it did not matter.

What we now know: Ho-hum, another easy victory for the Badgers. You can pencil them in for a spot in the Big Ten title game now.

3. Ohio State (LW: 2)

What we thought: A sluggish start had fans worried but they came alive in the second half to thrash Indiana. The passing game struggled but J.K. Dobbins looked fantastic in his first career start and the defense was efficient and lethal. They faced a major test against Oklahoma but everyone expected a Buckeye win.

What we now know: For the life of me, I will never understand Ohio States play calling. 35 passes for JT Barrett compared to 13 rushes for Dobbins makes absolutely no sense to me. I know they were losing so they had to throw more but, they have one of the best running back/running QB duos in college football and they insist on throwing the ball when they clearly lack the deep threat necessary for the offense. This may be the slap in the face the Buckeyes need to wake up, but for now, they do not look like a playoff contender.

2. Penn State (LW: 3)

What we thought: The best offense in the Big Ten, and perhaps the nation, resides in Happy Valley. A 52-0 beat down of Akron did nothing to quell the shouts that Penn State was a legitimate contender in the College Football Playoff picture.

What we now know: James Franklin is an absolute savage. A nice redemption win over Pitt was nice, but comparing them to Akron was the icing on the cake for the Nittany Lions. Penn State might score 100 points this weekend when they take on powerhouse Georgia State. (Note: I know Rutgers just played Eastern Michigan and plays Morgan State this week but I just need to lash out. Carry on.)

1. Michigan (LW: 1)

What we thought: The best defense in the Big Ten, and perhaps the nation, resides in Ann Arbor. Despite replacing 10 starters on defense, Michigan held Florida to three offensive points in a 33-17 victory. Wilton Speight looked pedestrian at best, but the running game was spectacular.

What we now know: Speight overcame his week one struggles to put together a solid effort in a 36-14 win over Cincinnati. The defense again played well and for now it looks like the Big Ten East division will run through Ann Arbor.

Well folks, there you have it, the week three power rankings. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!