Another week in the Big Ten, another ranking full of movement.
In Week 3, there were plenty of surprising results in the Big Ten and some that were expected. The conference continues to be top heavy but after the first few teams, it is wide open.
1. Ohio State (3-0), Previously: 1
Last Week: W, 49-27 vs. Rutgers
This Week: at Maryland, Cancelled
Justin Fields is on an absolute tear. He continued in Week 3 leading the Buckeyes to 49 points against Rutgers. The Heisman candidate has thrown 11 touchdowns this season, and miraculously, has just 11 incompletions. So far, there is no team that has come close to taking down Ohio State and that will not change. Unfortunately, they will be off this week after their game against Maryland was cancelled.
2. Indiana (3-0), Previously: 2
Last Week: W, 38-21 vs. Michigan
This Week: at Michigan State (ABC, Noon)
Indiana continues to prove week in and week out that they are the real deal. Michael Penix Jr. led the Hoosiers to a 17-point win over Michigan. He finished with 342 yards and three touchdowns while Stevi Scott scored twice on the ground. The notion that Indiana is a pretender has been shut down. If there is one team who can be viewed as the second best in the conference, it is without a doubt Indiana.
3. Northwestern (3-0), Previously: 4
Last Week: W, 21-13 vs. Nebraska
This Week: at Purdue (BTN, 7:30 PM)
Northwestern has officially entered turnaround season territory. The Wildcats picked up another ugly win over Nebraska in Week 3 but that is how they play. They are a team that continues to win on defense. Northwestern is allowing just 12 points per game through three games. This week will be very telling as they prepare to hit the road for a game against Purdue.
4. Purdue (2-0), Previously: 5
Last Week: at Wisconsin, Cancelled
This Week: vs. Northwestern (BTN, 7:30 PM)
Purdue’s matchup against Wisconsin last week was cancelled but they were still able to move up a spot in the rankings. This was an unfortunate situation for Purdue because they would have gotten their chance to show who they are. The Boilermakers are looking like potential contenders in the Big Ten West and they missed a chance to show it. The good thing about conference play is that there is always another chance and they have that against Northwestern.
5. Maryland (2-1), Previously: 9
Last Week: W, 35-19 at Penn State
This Week: vs. Ohio State, Cancelled
Maryland upset Minnesota in Week 2 and followed it up by pummeling the Nittany Lions on the road. The Terps have gone from the basement all the way up to the top-five and they have done it on the back of Taulia Tagovailoa. He threw for 282 yards and three scores against Penn State. Was this more about how bad Penn State is or how good Maryland looked? Either way, the Terps are rocking.
6. Wisconsin (1-0), Previously: 3
Last Week: vs. Purdue, Cancelled
This Week: at Michigan (ABC, 7:30 PM)
Wisconsin got their mulligan in last week’s rankings when they remained in the top-three of the rankings. The fact is, if you don’t play, you cant show how good you are. Hopefully, Wisconsin will be able to make the trip this week and play Michigan.
7. Iowa (1-2), Previously: 13
Last Week: W, 49-7 vs. Michigan State
This Week: at Minnesota (FS1, 7:00 PM, Friday)
After an 0-2 start to the season, Iowa took advantage of a Michigan State team coming off a big win in a rivalry game. They dominated the Spartans from the opening tip and it ended in a 49-7 victory. Eyes will be back on the Hawkeyes this week as they look to follow up their performance against Minnesota.
8. Rutgers (1-2), Previously: 10
Last Week: L, 49-27 at Ohio State
This Week: vs. Illinois (BTN, Noon)
A 22-point loss and a two-spot bump in the rankings. These are two things that never go together but we have seen that anything is possible this year. No one expected Rutgers to win, or even compete much, against the Buckeyes. They didn’t in the first half when they fell behind 35-3 but fans were entertained in the second half. Rutgers pulled out all the stops in this one. A three-touchdown loss is nothing to be happy about but we did see the Scarlet Knights perform better than they ever have against Ohio State.
9. Minnesota (1-2), Previously: 12
Last Week: W, 41-14 at Illinois
This Week: vs. Iowa (FS1, 7:00 PM, Friday)
Minnesota was finally able to put together a complete game in their blowout victory against Illinois. The positives are that the defense looked strong and the offense was clicking. The negative is that it came against the worse team in the conference. After a disastrous start to the season, the Golden Gophers just have to enjoy a victory and hope it sparks a run.
10. Michigan State (1-2), Previously: 7
Last Week: L, 49-7 at Iowa
This Week: vs. Indiana (ABC, Noon)
We entered Week 3 wondering who Michigan State was. Were they the team who turned it over seven times against Rutgers or the team who used Michigan? The answer might not be definitive but we can definitely assume that they are closer to their Week 1 selves. Rocky Lombardi turned it over three times in the loss as the offense could only score seven points. Mel Tucker is attempting to rebuild the program and it is clear that he has a lot of work to do.
11. Michigan (1-2), Previously: 8
Last Week: L, 38-21 at Indiana
This Week: vs. Wisconsin (ABC, 7:30 PM)
It feels like their Week 1 victory over Minnesota was years ago. Michigan has returned to the disappointing team with an underwhelming offense. The Wolverines have struggled defensively against the pass. There is not much right going on in Ann Arbor. They still have matchups against Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State this season. This season could get away from them in a hurry.
12. Nebraska (0-2), Previously: 11
Last Week: L, 21-13 at Northwestern
This Week: vs. Penn State (FS1, Noon)
Nebraska is not 9-17 in Scott Frost’s first 26 games as head coach. It is safe to say that there has been no real improvement to the program. Adrian Martinez is in danger of losing his position to true freshman Luke McCaffery and maybe that is what the team needs. The Cornhuskers have gotten comfortable near the bottom of the conference and that needs to change.
13. Penn State (0-3), Previously: 6
Last Week: L, 35-19 vs. Maryland
This Week: at Nebraska (FS1, Noon)
Losing is one thing, but Penn State was non competitive against Maryland. They were given a pass after losses to Ohio State and Indiana in the first two weeks of the season but that is over. We saw the true Nittany Lions in this one. They have been the biggest disappointment, not only in the Big Ten, but in the country so far this season.
14. Illinois (0-3), Previously: 14
Last Week: L, 41-14 vs. Minnesota
This Week: at Rutgers (BTN, Noon)
There have been some bad performances by Big Ten teams this season but there is no doubt that Illinois deserves the last spot in the rankings. They are coming off a 41-14 loss to Minnesota. In Week 4, the Illini are underdogs to a Rutgers’ team that has not been favored in a Big Ten game since 2014. In 2020, there is not much hope for this Illini team.