Big Ten Football Power Rankings: Post Week 3 of Non-Conference Play

Phil Harrison@@PhilHarrisonCFNCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 18:  Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball against the Ohio Bobcats at Ohio Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Where is Michigan State after the jaw-dropping game against Notre Dame?  

Did Michigan slide any after its scare against UMass?  

There were certainly some interesting developments after Week 3 of the non-conference schedule for the Big Ten and teams are starting to gain identities, perceptions, and a pecking order.  

Though we will get a better idea of how each team matches up as they begin to navigate their way through the choppy waters of the Big Ten, here is a look at this week's power rankings in the conference.


1.  Ohio State

About the only thing to knock on the Buckeyes for is what everyone else has thus far: special teams.  Ohio State has looked every bit as good as their No. 2 national ranking.  

The defense is deep, talented, and fast, while the offense is beginning to gain a more mature and sustainable identity under the direction of a more seasoned Terrelle Pryor.

A bit different than years past, this year's version of "The" Ohio State University has actually been blowing people away rather than playing to their level.  Pryor has the keys, and the team may just ride as a passenger all the way to Glendale with him.


2.  Iowa

Yes, I know that the Hawkeyes just lost a game, but don't believe that they are dead just yet.  What happened in the desert was an uncharacteristic type of perfect storm on special teams and turnovers that may not happen again this season.  

Despite the abundance of sloppy play, and blown assignments, this team still has the talent to play and beat almost anyone in the country.  Much like 2002 when Iowa lost to a team they shouldn't have in Iowa State, this might be a wake up call.

Under the guidance of the steady hand of Kirk Ferentz, is there any doubt that the ship will get righted?  The Hawkeyes are not national title-type of good, but they are certainly skilled enough to steal the Big Ten crown away from Ohio State this year.


3.  Wisconsin

The perception of Wisconsin started right around here and they have certainly not done anything to overwhelm anyone towards moving them up.  Still, they have won every game and done so the Wisconsin way.  

The Badgers have a way of never looking like world-beaters, yet still answering the bell most of the time.  Don't be fooled by the closer-than-they-should-be games against what could be perceived as inferior competition.  

Wisconsin will continue to play the better teams well and then fall prey to a team that has no business hanging with them.  They will be there at the end because of their solid running game, adequate defense, and penchant for not making the big mistake.  

4.  Michigan

It feels a little hard to believe that Michigan has completely turned it around doesn't it?  Something just doesn't feel right about this team, yet they keep winning because of the superhuman performances of Pat White...uh, I mean Denard Robinson.

The Wolverines are suddenly ranked even though they survived a scare last week against UMass.  Time will tell how good this team really is when they start getting hit in the mouth during Big Ten play, but right now, they have passed every test, and done it with Heisman types of performances from Mr. Robinson.  Just like Denard's shoelaces, the Wolverines fans are "fit to be tied" at this point in the season.


5.  Michigan State

If you can make a case for Michigan, you can certainly make a case for Michigan State.  As always, Sparty has found a successor in the backfield, but this time they have a two-headed monster, with two backs that average over 100 yards each.  

With Baker and Bell in the backfield, and Cousins working in clutch plays when needed, Michigan State may be ready to make a lot of noise this year in the Big Ten.  Like a lot of teams, it is hard to tell just how they stack up until they start playing the big boys.  It will be a "show me" game in a couple of weeks when Wisconsin comes to town.


6. Penn State

Almost every season, you pencil in Penn State as a contender, and not much changed after the first week of the season.  Oh how expectations can be adjusted when being severely outmatched by the No. 1 team in the conference.  

Penn State went down to Tuscaloosa and came back with their tails between their Nittany legs. Bolden is going to have to grow up quickly in order for Penn State to have any hopes at finishing in the top three of the conference this year.  

Unfortunately, the template may have been set at Alabama to overwhelm the freshman with persistent pressure.   

7.  Northwestern

Aside from going to Vanderbilt and winning on a controversial ending, the Wildcats have just not played anyone to get any kind of feel to how good they are this season.  Dan Persa has out-of-this-world numbers thus far, completing over 80 percent if his passes, but he has done it against the likes of Rice and Illinois State.  

Like years past, the offense seems to be humming, but the jury is still out on whether the defense can hold enough people down in the Big Ten to be a surprise team.  Right now, we'll slot them about where they have been over the last few years. 

8.  Indiana

Ahhh, the annual tradition continues of Indiana scoring a lot of points against inferior competition, raising expectations, and then crawling to the finish line.  Chappell can certainly sling the ball around against teams like Towson, but history has shown that the Hoosiers must make a decision on what side of the ball to put their athletes.  

That side of the ball always seems to be the offense, while the defense tries to slow down better competition just enough.  There is no difference here.  Indiana won't be able to outscore everyone and will struggle to reach a bowl game.


9.  Purdue

Coming into the season, the thought was that Purdue would be much improved despite starting a newcomer at quarterback.  The overall talent level is there, and given time, Robert Marve should mature into a high-level type of quarterback.  

Despite the hopes of Boilermaker fans, it is obviously taking time for the offense to gel, and now that their No. 1 receiver is lost for the year, it won't happen as quickly as anticipated.  Purdue is decent on both sides of the ball, but this year, that is just not going to be enough to make the improvement in the standings that everyone is hoping for.   

10.  Illinois

If this is the bottom of the Big Ten based on the eye test, then the Big Ten is not that bad this year.  Illinois has actually looked halfway decent this year despite the doom and gloom hanging around the program.  

The Illini held their own against Missouri, then decided to beat the top half and bottom half of their own state (Northern and Southern Illinois).  Illinois still has some talent from the decent recruiting classes that the Zooker pulled in, but they don't seem to have an identity or a direction.  They could surprise this year, but that would go against the trend.


11.  Minnesota

This week’s caboose is the Golden Gophers.  After showing no signs of life the first two weeks of the season, Minnesota actually looked like it wanted to be on the field against the Trojans.  Still, they found no way to get the job done and are now going to be climbing up hill the rest of the season.

The representatives from the twin cities came into this season wanting to be more physical and pound the running game, but they just don't have the personnel.  Brewster wants to win in the worst way, but the desperate move this year to change philosophy clearly states that the program is soul-searching.    

In reality, there is not enough body of work to get a good pulse on the hierarchy of the Big Ten just yet this season, but based on what we have seen thus far, there are not too many surprises.  

We are really not going to know much more after this week's Big Ten-MAC challenge, but things will begin to come into focus with the first week of Big Ten play.  At this point, it appears to be Ohio State and everyone else.


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