It does not take long for things to shape themselves in power rankings. After just two weeks of play, the Big Ten is beginning to form.
There are three quadrants after a couple weeks and that is likely to change as well. There have not been a ton of surprises — aside from Ohio State and Iowa switching places at the top. After two weeks of action, it should have football fans excited for what lies ahead in the nation.
Let’s take a look at how the power rankings are shaped after two weeks.
1. No. 5 Iowa (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 27-17 at No. 9 Iowa State
Next: 9/18 vs. Kent State
Iowa might be legitimate. Is it time to believe? After a Week 1 blowout victory that many said was a product of Indiana more than the Hawkeyes, they followed it up with a road victory against top-10 Iowa State. Spencer Petras is doing enough by not turning the ball over and the defense is stingy once again. Iowa has a chance to be 5-0 when they host Penn State in a few weeks.
2. No. 9 Ohio State (1-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 35-28 vs. No. 12 Oregon
Next: 9/18 vs. Tulsa
So much for Ohio State getting comfortable in the top spot of the rankings. Ohio State suffered a loss to Oregon on their home field when the Ducks were without Kayvon Thibodeaux. Not a great look — especially on the defensive end. CJ Verde lit up the Buckeyes for 161 yards and two scores on 20 carries. They did not get a stop all game and despite good-looking numbers on paper (35-for-54 for 484 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception), CJ Stroud did not open many eyes. A loss came earlier than expected but the Buckeyes always have a chance to run the table and win the Big Ten.
3. No. 10 Penn State (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 44-13 vs. Ball State
Next: 9/18 vs. No. 22 Auburn
Is James Franklin going to USC? The jury is still out but the Nittany Lions are getting it done on the field and have another chance to make a statement this week. Penn State will host Auburn and look to pick up their second top-25 win of the season. The defense is good, the wide receivers are dynamic, and Sean Clifford is underrated. Penn State won four in a row to end the 2020 season and seem to have it clicking right away in 2021.
4. No. 25 Michigan (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 31-10 vs. Washington
Next: 9/18 vs. Northern Illinois
Michigan has not had a true test yet this season but this is how you are supposed to beat bad teams. Washington was coming off an opening loss to Montana. The Wolverines could not let down and they did not. This was a strange box score. Cade McNamara threw the ball just 15 times and finished with 44 yards. The fact remains, he did not need to throw the ball. Blake Corum finished with 171 rushing yards and three touchdowns while Hassan Haskins totaled 155 yards and a score. Michigan can be 4-0 heading into a road game against Wisconsin.
5. No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 34-7 vs. Eastern Michigan
Next: 9/25 vs. No. 12 Notre Dame
Wisconsin will enjoy an easy break in the season after blowing out Eastern Michigan. They will return with back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Michigan. We will find out what the Badgers are very quickly. Graham Mertz will have to find his groove and Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi will be a workhorse. At this point, Wisconsin is a question mark but there is nothing here to drop them out of the top five.
6. Michigan State (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 42-14 vs. Youngstown State
Next: 9/18 at No. 24 Miami
Sometimes it is about how you win games and Michigan State has been winning easy. Youngstown State is not a superior opponent but the Spartans did not struggle on either side of the ball. Payton Thorne finished 15-for-21 for 280 yards and four touchdowns in the Week 2 victory. Mel Tucker could be putting it together a bit in the second year of his tenure and it will be a true test this week on the road against Miami.
7. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 62-0 vs. Howard
Next: 9/17 at Illinois
A game against Howard should be handled the way Maryland did on Saturday. The offense was hot and their defense did not allow a point. They have another winnable game coming up with Illinois so the Terrapins have a chance to keep rolling along. While this victory over Howard was just a formality, it was certainly not worthy of moving Maryland down in the rankings.
8. Rutgers (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 17-7 at Syracuse
Next: 9/18 vs. Delaware
An ugly win is still a win. The Scarlet Knights allowed just seven points and forced five turnovers for the second-straight week. They are +10 in the turnover margin this season and just have five penalties on the year. Greg Schiano clearly has this team going in the right direction and into a matchup with Delaware. Fans should be excited to see how their team fairs against Big Ten competition.
9. Minnesota (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 31-26 vs. Miami (Ohio)
Next: 9/18 at Colorado
Minnesota put up a fight in Week 1 at home against Ohio State. This was enough to bring a little bit of faith to the Golden Gophers but a narrow victory against Miami (Ohio) doesn’t look too good. A road matchup against Colorado is no easy task so we will see what the Gophers are made of moving forward.
10. Indiana (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 56-14 vs. Idaho
Next: 9/18 vs. No. 8 Cincinnati
Indiana bounced back after getting blown out by Iowa by pounding Idaho into the ground. It would have been worrisome if they did not defeat Idaho like this. Indiana will host Cincinnati this week and this will be a telling game. Does Indiana have the talent to win this game? Sure — especially if Michael Penix performs well. If they do, the Hoosiers will be back toward the top half of the power rankings but for now, Indiana remains a huge question mark.
11. Purdue (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 49-0 at UConn
Next: 9/18 at No. 12 Notre Dame
Purdue is 2-0 but expectations are still a bit down. They were able to dominate lowly UConn from the opening kickoff and they are hoping this builds momentum into a game against Notre Dame — who has also been unimpressive. Jack Plummer finished 16-for-20 for 245 yards and four touchdowns against the Huskies. Purdue is seeking that statement win before they can be taken seriously.
12. Northwestern (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 24-6 vs. Indiana State
Next: 9/18 at Duke
Northwestern might be viewed as a disappointment to some but this team was clearly not going to be the same as 2020. While they are still stout defensively, the offense has struggled and that was apparent by putting up just 24 points pianist Indiana State. Northwestern will win some games using defense but they will struggle against the top of the conference who can put points on the board.
13. Nebraska (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 28-3 vs. Buffalo
Next: 9/18 at No. 3 Oklahoma
After two weeks, there are two clear bottom feeders that could be interchangeable. Here, Nebraska is the penultimate team. They were able to dominate Buffalo but the offense is still a bit stagnant. It does not get easier for the Cornhuskers as they prepare to travel to Oklahoma to take on one of the best teams in the nation.
14. Illinois (1-2, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 42-14 at Virginia
Next: 9/17 vs. Maryland
It did not take long for the Bret Bielema era to go south. After an impressive season-opening victory over Nebraska, the Illini have lost two in a row and were just embarrassed by Virginia. With the gauntlet of the Big Ten coming up, Illinois could be in for a long year.