The Big Ten had a tough second week as five teams were topped by non-conference competition. Though teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State cruised to victories, traditional powers Nebraska and Ohio State showed signs of struggle but eventually came out victors.
Minnesota lost to a usual bottom dweller in New Mexico State and head coach Jerry Kill became subject to headlines after suffering a seizure with just under a minute in regulation.
Iowa suffered an embarrassing loss to Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk Series for the first time since 2007.
The two most noteworthy games on Saturday were Penn State hosting Alabama and Michigan playing Notre Dame in Michigan Stadium's first ever night game. Alabama's defense was as good as advertised as they held Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin to just 12 completions on 39 attempts. Later that evening in Ann Arbor, Denard Robinson led a Michigan comeback over Notre Dame in what was the most exciting game of the young 2011 season.
With week 2 completed, here are the rankings for the Big Ten:
1. Wisconsin (2-0)
For the second week in a row, the Badgers hold the top spot in the rankings after a 35-0 rout over Oregon State. The vaunted rushing attack was held in check for much of the first half and Russell Wilson continued his stellar play completing 81% of his passes and connecting on three touchdowns. Montee Ball ended the day with 118 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
2. Michigan State (2-0)
Many around the midwest criticized Michigan State for their 28-6 victory in Week 1, but overall the Spartans played very efficiently. Sparty played even better in Week 2 and shut out FAU, 44-0. It was an incredible defensive performance that yielded FAU just one first down the entire contest. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins continued his stellar play thus far in 2011 with two touchdown passes. Outscoring their opponents 72-6 in two games is nothing to turn your head at.
3. Nebraska (2-0)
Nebraska struggled against an always solid Fresno State squad. The front seven became victim to Fresno State's nearly five yards per rush. Taylor Martinez was once again brilliant on the ground and average through the air. Rex Burkhead rushed for a couple scores, but was held in check. The punting unit for Nebraska did not look good for much of the day, but thanks to Ameer Abdullah's kickoff return for six in the fourth quarter, Nebraska escaped Fresno State, 42-29.
4. Ohio State (2-0)
The Buckeye offense showed signs of missing players like Boom Herron, as they were only able to muster 112 yards on 34 carries last Saturday. Joe Bauserman was the only QB that Luke Fickell turned to as both Ohio State and Toledo struggled severely in third-down situations. The good news is that the rush defense looked great and there are still suspended players, such as Travis Howard and Jordan Hall, that are hopeful to return for Ohio State's showdown with Miami (FL).
Who Is The Best Team in the Big Ten Following Week 2?
In one of the most talked about games in Michigan history the Wolverines, led by Denard Robinson, came back to shock Notre Dame, 35-31. Notre Dame might be winless, but they have a wealth of talent and the way these teams play when they face-off makes every game feel like a heavyweight match. Michigan overcame a 24-7 deficit and scored the game winning touchdown with two seconds left in regulation. Denard Robinson accounted for 446 total yards (338 passing, 108 rushing) and five touchdowns.
6. Northwestern (2-0)
Once again without Dan Persa, Northwestern turned to Kain Colter whom accounted for 213 total yards and three scores (all on the ground). They controlled the clock and, despite having two lapses on defense that led to touchdowns of 70+ yards, Fitzgerald and his Wildcats played brilliantly.
7. Penn State (1-1)
Whether or not the Nittany Lions played one of the better defenses in the country, their overall play (outside of the first five minutes) was atrocious for a team in the Top-25. The score was not as bad as it should have been. Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin have not shown they can lead this team into the upper echelon of the Big Ten and if Illinois is able to muster out a win against Arizona State next week, Joe Pa's team could slip some more. The offensive line needs to be fixed. They could not get Silas Redd any running lanes and could not keep Bolden or McGloin from being hurried.
8. Illinois (2-0)
Ron Zook and his Fighting Illini have a great chance to make an impression on the rest of the conference as they host Arizona State under the lights in week three. Nathan Scheelhaase didn't have to do much as he rushed for two scores and completed 6 of 8 passes for 102 yards in a 56-3 rout of South Dakota State.
9. Iowa (1-1)
James Vandenberg once again played well for the Hawkeyes as he threw for two touchdown passes and Marcus Coker rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns as Iowa was shocked by in-state rival Iowa State, 44-41 in three overtimes. As good as Iowa's offense was, Steel Jantz and Shontelle Johnson shredded the Hawkeye defense and helped the Cyclones defeat the Hawkeyes for the first time since 2007.
10. Purdue (1-1)
A week after blocking a FG to win the game, Purdue saw its fate in Week 1 take a turn for the worse in Week 2. Rice blocked a Purdue field goal as time expired to win, 24-22.
11. Minnesota (0-2)
The Gophers were thought to be on the rise after competing in Week 1 with USC, but have started their descent to the bottom of the Big Ten after suffering an embarrassing loss to New Mexico State, a team that won just two games in 2010. In more important news, Jerry Kill's condition is improving after suffering a seizure in the final minute of regulation.
12. Indiana (0-2)
The Hoosiers suffered another close loss to the hands of the Virginia Cavaliers. Robert Randolph hit a 23-yard field goal as time expired to propel Virginia to a rare road win in Bloomington.