The Big Ten is back and not the way we expected.
The conference has been unpredictable through the first two weeks of the schedule. Well, this is of course excluding the team at the top. There has been a game cancelled, upset victories, and a pair of teams who began the season ranked but are winless so far.
There will be plenty of shuffling in the rankings through this shortened season. Heading into Week 3, notice all the changes from just a week ago.
1. Ohio State (2-0), Previously: 1
Last Week: W, 38-25 at Penn State
This Week: vs. Rutgers (7:30 PM, BTN)
Despite all the surprise outcomes in the Big Ten, do not expect any of that from the Buckeyes. They are coming off a 13-point win on the road against Penn State. Justin Fields has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions this season as he begins his Heisman campaign. Looking at their schedule, Ohio State should not be tested until the CFB Playoff.
2. Indiana (2-0), Previously: 4
Last Week: W, 37-21 at Rutgers
This Week: vs. Michigan (Noon, FS1)
A sign of a good team is beating teams you are expected to beat. After an emotional victory in Week 1, Indiana did not let down at Rutgers. They came out sluggish and trailed after the first quarter, but Michael Penix Jr. and the Hoosier offense was able to heat up in the second half. The defense also forced three turnovers. Through two games, Indiana is impressive and looking like a complete team.
3. Wisconsin (1-0), Previously: 2
Last Week: Idle
This Week: vs.
Purdue (3:30 PM, ABC)
Wisconsin did not play last week which is why they were jumped in the rankings but they are still worthy of a top-three spot. This week against Purdue will be telling as they will be without Graham Mertz due to a positive test. Backup Chase Wolf also tested positive. The Big Ten requires a 21-day quarantine when a positive test comes up. It was just announced Tuesday afternoon that their game against Purdue was cancelled. It is the second straight week due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program. If they miss next week’s game, they will not qualify for the Big Ten Championship game.
4. Northwestern (2-0), Previously: 7
Last Week: W, 21-20 at Iowa
This Week: vs. Nebraska (Noon, BTN)
Coming into the season, Northwestern was expected to be better and fans have to like what they see so far. They are coming off an impressive come-from-behind victory in Iowa on Saturday. Isaiah Bowser and Drake Anderson have handled the run game while the defense has allowed just 23 points all season. They will be tested against Nebraska but have opened as favorites.
5. Purdue (2-0), Previously: 6
Last Week: W, 31-24 at Illinois
This Week: at
Wisconsin (3:30 PM, ABC)
Rondale Moore opted back in for the 2020 season but has been unable to get on the field. The Boilermakers have the luxury of David Bell, who has quickly turned into one of the top receivers in the conference. He finished with nine catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in a seven-point victory against Illinois. They held a big lead in this one and allowed the Illini to make a little run. Unfortunately, they’ll be off this week with Wisconsin unable to play due to COVID-19 issues.
6. Penn State (0-2), Previously: 5
Last Week: L, 38-25 vs. Ohio State
This Week: vs. Maryland (3:30 PM, FS1)
No one could have expected much from the Nittany Lions in Week 2. Ohio State is on their own level in the Big Ten this season. Even with an 0-2 record, Penn State comes in at No. 6. As you continue down the list, think about which teams they would be favorites against. It is clear that the team misses running back Journey Brown and linebacker Micah Parsons. This could be a get-well game for the team this week — maybe, Maryland did just score 45 points.
7. Michigan State (1-1), Previously: 13
Last Week: W, 27-24 at Michigan
This Week: at Iowa (Noon, ESPN)
There were two surprise teams in Week 2. Michigan State looked terrible against Rutgers with seven turnovers on their home field. They rebounded with a 27-24 win against a Michigan team that was supposed to be trending up. And it was on the road, go figure. This was a huge bounce-back game for Rocky Lombardi who threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
8. Michigan (1-1), Previously: 2
Last Week: L, 27-24 vs. Michigan State
This Week: at Michigan (Noon, FS1)
Well, Michigan is not back. In their season-opener, the Wolverines picked up a statement victory on the road against a ranked team. This is something that has not happened often in the Jim Harbaugh era. They had a chance to follow up their big performance in a rivalry game against the Spartans at home and did quite the opposite. They lost the game outright as a three-touchdown favorite. Same ol’ Michigan.
9. Maryland (1-1), Previously: 14
Last Week: W, 45-44 vs. Minnesota
This Week: at Penn State (3:30 PM, FS1)
If Michigan State was the biggest surprise, Maryland was right on their heels. There were talks of the Terrapins not beating anyone. Taulia Tagovailoa completely rebounded on Friday night with 394 yards and a touchdown through the air and two rushing scores. Let’s not forget about 221 yards and a touchdown for Jake Funk. Does this say more about Maryland or the Minnesota offense? We should not look too far into it.
10. Rutgers (1-1), Previously: 9
Last Week: L, 37-21 vs. Indiana
This Week: at Ohio State (7:30 PM, BTN)
Rutgers dropped one spot this week but remains in the top 10. They were unable to follow up their season-opening victory. The offense is still a work in progress. Turnovers and penalties plagued the Scarlet Knights in Week 2. It will not get any easier this week. Take the upcoming game with a grain of salt when reviewing the season.
11. Nebraska (0-1), Previously: 11
Last Week: Idle
This Week: at Northwestern (Noon, BTN)
Nebraska was forced to miss a game because of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Wisconsin program. They will return to action this week against a 2-0 Northwestern team. There is not much we know about the Huskers thus far. They were blown out by Ohio State in the opener. This will be a measuring stick game.
12. Minnesota (0-2), Previously: 8
Last Week: L, 45-44 at Maryland
This Week: at Illinois (3:30 PM, BTN)
What is wrong with Minnesota? The Gophers’ defense has allowed 47 points per game over their first Big Ten contests. This is alarming and something that will need to improve moving forward. They are playing a game that they should win in Week 3 but who knows. That is what was thought in Week 2 against Maryland.
13. Iowa (0-2), Previously: 10
Last Week: L, 21-20 vs. Northwestern
This Week: vs. Michigan State (Noon, ESPN)
Iowa is struggling on the offensive side of the ball. They have scored 20 points in each of the first two games. Spencer Petra is coming off a three-interception performance against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes have not been able to get their rushing attack going this season. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.
14. Illinois (0-2), Previously: 12
Last Week: L, 31-24 vs. Purdue
This Week: vs. Minnesota (3:30 PM, BTN)
Brandon Peters missed Saturday’s game due to a positive test. This forced Coran Taylor to step in. There is not much working for Illinois right now but they will have a chance to breakout against a struggling Minnesota defense.