The Big Ten had a decent week last week as the conference went 9-2. The two losses for the Conference came at the hands of the Pac-10 as USC beat Minnesota and Arizona beat Iowa.
The question within the power rankings this week is how far should Iowa fall?
This upcoming week, the conference members must have decided that there is no place like home as 10 of the 11 teams play home games. The only team, Illinois, not playing at home has the week off to put up their feet at home.
11. Minnesota (1-2)
The return of safety Kyle Theret was a big boost to Minnesota’s defense as he made seven tackles, grabbed an interception, and disrupted several other plays. The main problem for Minnesota, however, was that the Gophers played not to get blown out against the Trojans and the strategy worked, as USC only beat Minnesota 32-21. Minnesota should have been more aggressive as USC looked vulnerable and ripe for an upset.
Next game: Minnesota hosts Northern Illinois.
10. Illinois (2-1)
The Illini beat Northern Illinois 28-22 in a hard-fought game. Illinois scored the decisive touchdown in the game with 1:43 left in the fourth quarter. Illinois, however, has become one dimensional on offense; they only had 70 yards through the air against the Huskies and have only accounted for 390 passing yards on the season. Illinois is going to need to find a way to move the ball through the air very soon.
Next game: Illinois is idle.
9. Purdue (2-1)
The Boilermakers beat Ball State 24-13 to improve to 2-1, but the game almost came at a steep price. Quarterback Robert Marve left the game with a slight knee injury. Purdue has already lost leading rusher and running back Ralph Bolden and leading receiver Keith Smith. Fortunately, Marve’s injury appears to be minor and he should be able to play this weekend.
Next up: Purdue hosts Toledo.
8. Indiana (2-0)
Indiana convincingly beat Western Kentucky 38-21. Indiana Coach Bill Lynch was asked about his nonconference schedule and was very forthright in his feelings about it. “Well, I certainly don’t want to apologize for the schedule we’re playing now because the Big Ten, once you get in it, it’s tough,” Lynch said. “It’s so important, in Division I football, the goal of everybody is to get into postseason play, and the determining factor is wins.”
You have to love the honesty of Coach Lynch.
Next up: Indiana hosts Akron.
7. Northwestern (3-0)
The Wildcats, taking a page out of Indiana’s playbook, beat Rice 30-13. Statistically, Dan Persa has been as good as any quarterback in the country, connecting on 81.6 percent of his passes, throwing for 769 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Northwestern appears poised to potentially play the role of spoiler this year.
Next up: Northwestern hosts Central Michigan.
6. No. 21 Penn State (2-1)
The Nittany Lions rebounded nicely after their loss to Alabama by pounding Kent State 24-0. However, everything didn’t go according to plan in the game against the Golden Flashes. Penn State’s running back Evan Royster still hasn’t gotten on track as he only has 11 yards on the season and hasn’t gained more than 40 yards in any one game this season.
Next up: Penn State hosts Temple.
5. No. 18 Iowa (2-1)
Iowa played a poor game against Arizona. Arizona scored touchdowns on an interception and used a very short field after a blocked punt to jump out to an early 14-0 lead. Despite playing poorly, Iowa came back to tie the game at 27 in the fourth quarter before eventually losing 34-27. The most disheartening aspect of the game for many Iowa fans was the fact that Arizona sacked quarterback Ricky Stanzi on the last three plays of the game for Iowa.
Next up: Iowa hosts Ball State
4. No. 23 Michigan State (3-0)
The Spartans pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat by calling for a fake field goal in overtime to beat Notre Dame 34-31. Because Michigan’s road over Notre Dame was more convincing, the Wolverines pass the Spartans this week.
The Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins is likely the most underrated quality quarterback in the conference. Hopefully, head coach Mike Dantonio will be able to make a speedy recovery after reportedly suffering a minor heart attack.
Next up: Michigan State hosts Northern Colorado.
3. No. 20 Michigan (3-0)
Michigan, with Denard Robinson running the team, is likely the most dangerous team in the Big Ten with the possible exception of Ohio State. The Wolverines beat Massachusetts 42-37 as Robinson accounted for 345 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, Michigan’s defense has some work to do as Massachusetts passed for 222 yards and ran for 217 yards. Michigan’s defense will have one more week to figure things out before the Big Ten season begins in earnest.
Next up: Michigan hosts Bowling Green.
2. No. 10 Wisconsin (3-0)
The Badgers are the least impressive team among the top 10 ranked teams in the country. The Badgers needed a blocked extra point late in the game to beat Arizona State at home 20-19. The only consistent bright spot for Wisconsin this year has been running back John Clay who has rushed for 383 yards and five touchdowns.
Next up: Wisconsin hosts Austin Peay.
1. No. 2 Ohio State (3-0)
The Buckeyes destroyed Ohio 43-7 and are clearly the most complete football team in the Big Ten. Coach Jim Tressel must guard against his team getting too confident and falling prey to an upset.
Next up: Ohio State hosts Eastern Michigan.