Week three showed off the Big Ten’s depth. Despite Iowa dropping a shocker to North Dakota State, the conference picked up huge road wins elsewhere and ruined some playoff hopes in the process. In a week where a conference favorite was upset by an FCS team, the Big Ten somehow came out looking even stronger in the national picture. Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue all had the week off but there are changes aplenty everywhere else.
As always, individual rankings can be found in the graphic at the bottom of the page. Enjoy.
(Indicates 1st place votes) [Avg Rank]
1. Ohio State (7) [1.1] Record: 3-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 1
Alabama and Ohio State. No other schools have the ability to reload year in and year out they way they do. Returning only six starters, a dip in performance wouldn’t be surprising but the Buckeyes look primed for another playoff run after proving themselves on the road in Norman. They didn’t just beat preseason playoff hopeful Oklahoma, they ran the Sooners off the field.
J.T. Barrett threw a touchdown on 20 percent of his passes and Noah Brown hauled in all four of them.
2. Michigan (1) [2.3] Record: 3-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 2
We knew Michigan would be tested more than in previous weeks but nobody would’ve expected Colorado to jump out to an early 21-7 lead. Wilton Speight certainly didn’t have his best game but the Wolverines stormed back to win by seventeen despite two missed field goals. Do-everything superstar Jabrill Peppers had his best game as a collegiate athlete picking up 9 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, a sack, over 200 all-purpose yards, and returning a punt 54 yards to the house.
Expect a cleaner start against Penn State.
3. Michigan State [2.8] Record: 2-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 5
Michigan State has been a road underdog three times in the past year. They’re 3-0 in those games. The Spartans bullied the Fighting Irish for most of the night before letting them back in the game near the end and receiver Donnie Corley looks like a budding star.
4. Wisconsin [4.3] Record: 3-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 4
Coming from behind to beat a winless FCS team is not a great look for the Badgers but it’s certainly less damaging than the alternative. A sloppy performance might lead to a change behind center and Wisconsin will have to step it up immediately with a trip to East Lansing looming.
5. Nebraska [5.0] Record: 3-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 6
A great back-and-forth win over Oregon was a big statement for a Nebraska team on the fence. Tommy Armstrong did everything he could to lead the Cornhuskers, throwing for three scores and running for another. A nice test before the start of conference play, Nebraska suddenly looks like they can challenge for the West.
6. Iowa [6.4] Record: 2-1 (0-0) Previous Rank: 3
The Hawkeyes were stunned on a last second field goal by FCS North Dakota State. C.J. Beathard’s three touchdown passes weren’t enough to to hold off a ‘how-are-they-still-FCS’ pack of Bison team coming off five consecutive FCS championships.
The Bison have knocked off their last six FBS opponents and I don’t think others are lining up to pay them for a visit anymore. They’re better than most think but it’s still an inexcusable loss for an Iowa team with Big Ten championship aspirations.
7. Minnesota [6.8] Record: 2-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 7
Minnesota had the week off, the first of two straight byes before the start of Big Ten play. Well, technically they play Colorado State next but it’s basically a walkthrough.
8. Indiana [7.] Record: 2-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 8
Like Minnesota, the Hoosiers didn’t play this week but unlike the Golden Gophers, Indiana has a brutal stretch of games coming up. They’ll host a decent Wake Forest team and remain home for a visit from the Spartans before taking a trip to The Shoe. Oh and then the Cornhuskers visit. A split would be great though they’ll likely be underdogs in three of the four.
9. Penn State [9.0] Record: 2-1 (0-0) Previous Rank: 9
Penn State never trailed but they never put the game out of reach for Temple either. Saquon Barkley did his thing and Trace McSorely had an efficient passing day sans his one interception. Three turnovers kept the game close and if they struggle to hold on to the ball in Ann Arbor, they’ll lose by twenty.
10. Maryland [10.1] Record: 3-0 (0-0) Previous Rank: 11
A win is a win right? Maryland will take them any way they come but there’s certainly cause for concern when needing double overtime to finish off a UCF team that shouldn’t have been able to keep it close, not with four turnovers to Maryland’s zero. Backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome’s 24 yard scamper capped the victory in his only snap after starter Perry Hills left with a shoulder injury but the Terrapins have a lot to work on during their bye before opening conference play with Purdue.
11. Illinois [11.3] Record: 1-2 (0-0) Previous Rank: 10
How many games could Western Michigan win in the Big Ten this year? They’re 2-0 against the B1G this season and a sleeper New Year’s Six bowl pick. None of that will make the Illini feel better about getting beat up on by the Broncos. Illinois couldn’t get much going on the ground and had to abandon it after falling behind big early. They’ll have an extra week to prepare for a tough trip to Nebraska where things aren’t likely to get easier.
12. Northwestern [12.0] Record: 1-2 (0-0) Previous Rank: 14
And the Wildcats are on the board! After losing to MAC and FCS schools, all it took was a Power 5 matchup to prevent Northwestern’s first 0-3 start since 1992. Expect the euphoria to wear off after kickoff against Nebraska this week.
13. Purdue [13.1] Record: 1-1 (0-0) Previous Rank: 13
Purdue joined in on the bye week party meaning the Boilermakers will go two weeks without a loss! If they can get past the Wolfpack this week, fans might start to forget how bad this team is. Party on kids, party on.
14. Rutgers [13.3] Record: 2-1 (0-0) Previous Rank: 12
Rutgers fell behind the Lobos by 21 early but senior sensation Janarion Grant wouldn’t stop making plays. The Rutgers wide receiver returned a punt 69 yards for a score and even threw a touchdown pass. Robert Martin had a field day on the ground turning 21 carries into 169 yards and a touchdown topped by an 80 yard sprint to the endzone. Unfortunately Purdue’s bye week was just a little more impressive relegating Rutgers back to the basement.