Week 3 Big Ten Power Rankings

No ranked games in week two? No problem!

The weekend was a roller coaster of a ride. Oklahoma State’s 30-27 controversial loss to Central Michigan has Cowboy fans up in arms; No. 15 Tennessee proved to a record breaking crowd of 156,990 at Bristol Motor Speedway that last week’s alarming overtime win over Appalachian State was a fluke, while No. 5 Clemson and No. 16 Georgia survived major scares from lesser competition, causing them to drop in this week’s AP Poll.

Some Big Ten teams weren’t as fortunate as Clemson and Georgia. After a modest 12-2 record on opening weekend, the Big Ten finished with a 10-4 mark after week two. Keep in mind that the number in parentheses was the team’s ranking in the Week 2 Big Ten Power Rankings.

1. Ohio State (1)

Despite losing a school record 12 players to the 2016 NFL Draft, the Buckeyes are cementing their status as a legitimate powerhouse as Urban Meyer’s squad overwhelms Tulsa, 48-3.

Tulsa only trailed 6-3 before Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore closed out the first half with back-to-back pick-sixes. The Sophomore duo already has five combined interceptions in only two games.

There was no looking back for the Buckeyes, who outscored Tulsa 42-0 from that point on. Quarterback J.T. Barrett came back down to earth after an out of this world performance last week by tossing for 149 yards through the air and two touchdowns on the ground. The running game racked up 268 yards.

Let’s see if No. 3 Ohio State can uphold their dominant play on the road in a high profile game against No. 14 Oklahoma next week. This matchup could possibly serve as a de facto elimination game from contending for the College Football Playoff for either team.

2. Michigan (2)

Unlike their arch-rival Buckeyes, the Wolverines have a plethora of experience on both sides of the ball that may guide them to a Big Ten Championship and beyond.

Quarterback Wilton Speight is starting to make a name for himself, throwing for over 300 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in No. 4 Michigan’s 51-14 beatdown over UCF. The junior was on the money with the deep ball, connecting with seniors Amara Darboh and Jake Butt with two scores a piece.

The stout pass defense held the Knights to only 56 passing yards, but the defensive unit as a whole drew a huge red flag, allowing 275 rushing yards. An alertful coach Jim Harbaugh will address the issue this week in preparation for the unbeaten Colorado Buffaloes this weekend.

3. Wisconsin (3)

The Badgers are playing as well as any team in the country right now as they steamrolled  Akron 54-10.

Star tailback Corey Clement is beginning to establish his presence, running for 111 yards and a pair of scores. Senior quarterback Bart Houston fell into a comfortable rhythm, throwing for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Because of the balance, the Badgers were able to keep the ball in their hands for 40 minutes of play.

The number one ranked scoring defense from last year hasn’t missed a beat, limiting the Zips to just 224 total yards and one third down conversion.

No. 9 Wisconsin hopes to take care of cupcake Georgia State and carry plenty of momentum into their potential College Gameday showdown with No. 12 Michigan State the week after.

4. Iowa (4)

After losing their last two home contests to Iowa State, the Hawkeyes finally got over the hurdle by crushing their rivals 42-3 and retaining the Cy-Hawk trophy.

Quarterback C.J. Beathard had yet another great outing, throwing for 235 yards and three scores. Over half of his passing yards went to senior Matt VandeBerg, hauling in seven receptions. Running back LeShun Daniels crossed the century mark in rushing yards.

The Hawkeye’s stingy defense wiped out any remaining doubt after their offense was outgained in total yards last week against Miami. Iowa yielded less than 300 total yards and only 20 percent of their third down conversions.

No. 13 Iowa can’t be caught napping as they host North Dakota State, who has been crowned FCS National Champions five consecutive years and claim a five game winning streak over FBS teams dating back to 2010.

5. Michigan State (5)-

BYE

6. Nebraska (7)

The Huskers continue to shine under heavy adversity, downing Wyoming 52-17.

It’s been an up and down career for Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong, but he’s making the most of it thus far. He recorded 377 yards through the air and three touchdowns with one interception. Seniors Alonzo Moore and Jordan Westerkamp finished the day with over 100 yards receiving and three combined scores.

Nebraska’s lockdown secondary is a huge bright spot after a subpar 2015 campaign. The Huskers gathered five picks as a collective unit, with safety Nate Gerry leading with two.

The high flying No. 22 Oregon Ducks will be Nebraska’s first true test of the 2016 season.

7. Penn State (6)

The Nittany Lions explosion on offense is entertaining, yet watching the poor defense is like waiting for a time bomb to go off. The renewed rivalry in Penn State-Pittsburgh was a classic, with Penn State falling just short in the shootout, 42-39.

Quarterback Trace McSorley was the main engineer of the PSU offense, throwing for 332 yards.

Pitt relied on running back James Connor to grind it out. The man who defeated hodgkin lymphoma from his life also defeated Penn State with his legs, running for over 100 yards and a score while catching a touchdown as well.

The Nittany Lions shot themselves in the foot by committing four turnovers, including a game clinching interception in the back of the endzone to secure the win for Pitt.

The Temple Owls travel to State College to take on Penn State in a rematch from 2015.

8. Minnesota (8)

After the impressive display in their first game against Oregon State, the Gophers are picking up steam after a 58-28 blowout of Indiana State.

Minnesota’s offense was phenomenal with quarterback Mitch Leidner at the helm. The redshirt senior threw for 295 yards and four scores with no turnovers. After only recording four rushing yards last week, running back Kobe McCrary exploded onto the scene with 176 rushing yards (10.4 yard average) and a pair of scores.

We’ll find out if the Gopher’s flashy offense can maintain its consistency as they take on a struggling Colorado State club in the twin cities.

9. Maryland (12)

Despite beating back-to-back cupcake teams, the Terps look very solid on both sides of the ball. They were able to rout Florida International 41-14 on Saturday to advance to 2-0.

Quarterback Perry Hills continues to showcase his splendid dual-threat ability, throwing for 210 yards and three touchdowns with 52 yards on the ground. Virginia Tech transfer Trey Edmunds commanded the rushing attack that tallied 239 total yards.

Jermaine Carter stole the show on defense, taking his interception back to the house from 14 yards out. Maryland needs to clean up their penalty situation (eight penalties) moving forward.

The Terps will try to keep up their steady play as they make their way to Orlando to face UCF.

10. Indiana (13)

Indiana took care of Florida International on opening weekend. The Hoosiers held off the furious 4th quarter march, prevailing 30-20 over Ball State.

Like Maryland, the Hoosiers are building gradual momentum as they prepare to play more fierce competitors in conference play. Quarterback Richard Lagow is filling in nicely in Nate Sudfeld’s absence, wrapping up the day with 266 passing yards and a trio of scores. Devine Redding once again exhibited his fine skill set with 110 rushing yards.

The Hoosiers welcome a confident 2-0 Wake Forest crew to Bloomington on saturday.

11. Illinois (10)

It was a great chance for Lovie Smith and company to grab the Big Ten’s attention by upsetting North Carolina. Things did not go according to plan for Illinois, as the Illini were dismantled 48-23.

Illinois had North Carolina on their heels, no pun intended, only trailing 24-16 at halftime. The Tar Heels pulled away in a hurry by outscoring the Orange and Blue 24-7 in the second half. The rattled Illinois defense had no answer for Carolina’s no huddle onslaught, surrendering 265 passing yards. The Tar Heels tall receivers gave the Illini pass defense fits all night long.

The Illini will try to bounce back as they clash with a Western Michigan team that is on the rise after upsetting Northwestern in week one.

12. Purdue (11)

The Boilers had a golden opportunity as well to solidify themselves as a up and coming program, but failed to do so by losing 38-20 to Cincinnati.

Purdue densely squandered their chances to generate a comeback because of many factors. Even though David Blough threw for over 400 yards, the Bearcat defense came up big by forcing five takeaways from the indecisive quarterback, with Mike Tyson gathering three interceptions.

On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati’s offense came in the clutch by converting 13 of their 21 third down conversions, including 12 of its first 14. The Bearcats lethal balanced approach (250 passing yards, 262 rushing yards) stifled the perplexed Purdue defense.

The Boilermakers seek to get back on track with Nevada coming to town.

13. Rutgers (14)

Rutgers responded to last week’s ugly loss by smashing Howard 52-14.

Quarterback Chris Laviano contributed for three touchdowns, while the running department broke through with Janarion Grant and Robert Martin. They racked up a total of 375 yards on the ground.

Rutgers will be looking to get past New Mexico before kicking off Big Ten play against No. 13 Iowa the week after.

14. Northwestern (9)

There is no question that Northwestern has hit rock bottom, as FCS foe Illinois State stunned the Wildcats 9-7 on a made field goal as time expired.

It’s indescribable how brutal it has been so far for the Wildcats. After finishing with a 10-3 record last year, Big Ten country was certain that the Cats would easily be in bowl contention and possibly be a force to reckon with in the Big Ten west division. Both of those goals, however, should still be in sight as the conference slate will be underway in two weeks.

It’s no mystery why Northwestern is experiencing these nightmarish outcomes. Alongside a stacked defense, the sluggish offense has been extremely one-dimensional with a run-oriented philosophy. Quarterback Clayton Thorson has completed half of his passing attempts for one touchdown in the two games combined. There is a huge gap separating the Wildcats leading receiver, who had 148 yards, and Justin Jackson being next in line with 52.

Northwestern needs more players to step up and incorporate more balance in order for the lethargic offense to become more productive. Easier said than done though. Coach Pat Fitzgerald is hoping third time’s a charm as they collide with Duke this weekend.