The Big Ten recovered from their poor week one performance to give us a much better week two. The conference had some good non-conference wins and a pair of poor losses (looking at you Rutgers and Maryland!). Northwestern and Illinois continue to surprise but that may change when both teams hit Big Ten play.
Big Ten East
Ohio State was almost unimpressive yet still managed to win 38-0 against Hawaii. That's why this team is ranked number one in the country. Michigan State got revenge on the Ducks for last year but Maryland and Rutgers stunk the joint up. However, we have reason to rejoice! Our first Big Ten conference game of the year is here!
The football played in State College this weekend may be so poor in quality that it leads to a black hole. For your own safety, please watch this game from afar.
1) Ohio State (2-0, 0-0)
The top-ranked team in the country continues to cruise along. Their game with Michigan State will likely decide who represents the Big Ten East in the Big Ten championship game and will almost guarantee a spot in the college football playoff. They host Northern Illinois this week.
2) Michigan State (2-0, 0-0)
Their 31-28 win over top-10 Oregon at home was huge for the conference and huge for the Spartan's college football playoff hopes. The Spartans face the Air Force and their unique offense this week.
3) Michigan (1-1, 0-0)
It's a long drop from number two to number three. Michigan has figured out what their identity is right now. Great defense and running the ball. It worked against Oregon State. Will it work against the rest of the Big Ten this season? The Wolverines take on UNLV at home this week.
4) Indiana (2-0, 0-0)
By virtue of their 2-0 record (courtesy of wins against FIU and Southern Illinois), the Hoosiers get the number four spot in the Big Ten East. They take on Western Kentucky at home. The Hilltoppers beat Vandy in week one. Can Indiana's defense get enough stops?
5) Penn State (1-1, 0-0)
The Nittany Lions survived a challenge from Buffalo and won by 13 at home. My favorite match-up of the week features our first Big Ten conference game: Penn State hosts Rutgers. Can the Nittany Lions hold up against a (supposed) Power-5 program?
6) Rutgers (1-1, 0-0)
After winning big in week one, the Scarlet Knights found a way to lose late against Washington State, a program that found a way to lose to Portland State the week before. Rutgers has a chance to redeem themselves this week when they head to Happy Valley to take on Penn State. Rutgers nearly beat the Nittany Lions in their Big Ten debut last year but fell 13-10 at home. I expect this year's installment to be close too.
7) Maryland (1-1, 0-0)
The Terps lost at home by three touchdowns to a team it was favored to beat by double digits. Who said the MAC wasn't a powerhouse? Maryland fans are now suddenly realizing that they may be facing a long, long season. The only saving grace for this fan base will be that each passing week means that they are closer and closer to seeing Dwayne Haskins at quarterback next season.
The Terps face off against South Florida at home this week. Maryland turned the ball over six times in this game last year and still managed to win. This year, they have much less margin for error.
Big Ten West
The Big Ten West bounced back from a 3-4 performance in the first week of the season to deliver a perfect 7-0 in week two. Most were routs. The competition gets a little tougher this week as three teams in this division (Northwestern, Illinois, and Purdue) play ACC schools (Duke, UNC, and VT).
1) Wisconsin (1-1, 0-0)
The Badgers are still the best team in the Big Ten West in my opinion. They rolled over Miami (OH) and will likely do the same, if not worse, to Troy at home this week.
2) Minnesota (1-1, 0-0)
The Golden Gophers are still the second best team. They went into a hostile environment and came out with a win in overtime against a dangerous Colorado State team. They will take on Kent State at home this week.
3) Northwestern (2-0, 0-0)
Let's shake up the rankings. Northwestern has given up six points in two games this season and pitched their first shut-out since 2007. It came against an FCS team but still. The Wildcats are playing great defense and they will face a tough test this week as they travel to play another very good (and very smart) football team in Duke.
4) Nebraska (1-1, 0-0)
The Huskers bounced back after their insane, Hail-Mary loss to BYU (which doesn't look quite as bad now after BYU did the same thing to Boise State last week). The Huskers better get ready because they are heading to Miami to take on the Hurricanes and this Miami team is looking to get some payback after Nebraska bullied them around last year.
5) Iowa (2-0, 0-0)
C.J. Beathard looks pretty good under center for the Hawkeyes. They might have the makings of an eight, nine, or ten win team out in Iowa City. They are physical and hunkered down and beat a pretty good Iowa State team on the road last week. Pitt lost stud running back James Conner for the year with an MCL injury. That means Iowa's task is immensely easier. Pitt is a tough team to beat but the Hawkeyes will be playing this game at home.
6) Illinois (2-0, 0-0)
Illinois still hasn't played anyone of note yet this season. That's why their big numbers on offense and their stingy defense don't mean much to me. That changes this week when the Fighting Illini head to Chapel Hill to take on UNC. If Illinois can beat the Tar Heels on the road, they will show that they are a threat to win the West.
7) Purdue (1-1, 0-0)
A win against Indiana State doesn't mean you get to move up in the rankings. The Boilermakers get a visit from Virginia Tech this week. This nationally televised game could actually be quite interesting considering VT won't have their first-string quarterback. With Purdue's improved offense, I'm going to put the Hokies on upset alert. Will it happen? Probably not. But it could.