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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 2

Wisconsin falls to Wazzu, Nebraska hits rock bottom and Iowa’s offense might just be the worst in the country.

Find Week 1 rankings here.

1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (2-0), W - 45-12 vs. Arkansas State, Next Week: vs. Toledo

After a quiet performance against Notre Dame last week, Ohio State’s offense came back to life in a blowout win over Arkansas State on Saturday. Quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns to officially kick off his Heisman campaign. The Buckeyes were without wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba in this one, but Marvin Harrison Jr. stepped up big time in his absence, finishing with 184 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the win. Ryan Day and company get another favorable matchup this weekend when Toldeo travels to Columbus.

2. (2) Michigan (2-0), W - 56-10 vs. Hawai’i, Next Week: vs. UConn

Michigan had no issues taking care of business against a bad Hawai’i team, but the most important news to come out of this game was the play of quarterback J.J. McCarthy. It was announced that the sophomore had won the starting job after throwing for three touchdowns in the win. We won’t learn just how good this year’s Michigan team is at least for another two weeks, as lowly UConn will travel to Ann Arbor this Saturday.

3. (4) Penn State (2-0), W - 46-10 vs. Ohio, Next Week: at Auburn

The Nittany Lions made quick work of Ohio on Saturday, jumping out to a 26-7 halftime lead and never looking back. Freshman running back Nick Singleton was the story in this one, rushing for 175 yards and two touchdowns on just ten carries. Both Sean Clifford and freshman Drew Allar played well under center in the blowout win, as the Nittany Lions now turn their attention to a tricky road game at Auburn this weekend.

4. (5) Michigan State (2-0), W - 52-0 vs. Akron, Next Week: at Washington

Like most of the teams in the Big Ten over the weekend, the Spartans had an easy home matchup in Week 2. Mel Tucker’s team cruised to a win over Akron in East Lansing using a balanced effort. On offense, the Spartans leaned on their running game, finishing with 260 rushing yards, while defensively they forced four fumbles and held the Zips to just 229 total yards. Michigan State’s first real test of the season will come this weekend when they travel out west to take on Washington and former Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

5. (6) Minnesota (2-0), W - 62-10 vs. Western Illinois, Next Week: vs. Colorado

The Golden Gophers physically dominated FCS Western Illinois on Saturday, rushing for 307 yards and seven touchdowns on their way to a lopsided win. Minnesota’s defense was similarly dominant, holding the Leathernecks to just 194 total yards and eight first downs in the game. There wasn’t much else to take from this game, as it was clear that Western Illinois was completely overmatched. Minnesota will host Colorado this Saturday in a game that figures to be much more competitive.

6. (8) Maryland (2-0), W - 56-21 at Charlotte, Next Week: vs. SMU

Maryland’s offense exploded for 617 total yards to lead the Terps to a stress-free road win over Charlotte on Saturday. Mike Locksley’s team took care of business early in this one, scoring touchdowns on their first five possessions to jump out to a 35-0 halftime lead. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The Terrapins will host SMU this weekend in a matchup that should light up the scoreboard.

7. (11) Purdue (1-1), W - 56-0 vs. Indiana State, Next Week: at Syracuse

The Boilermakers made it look easy against their in-state foe Indiana State on Saturday. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for four touchdowns, while wide receiver Charlie Jones had another massive game, finishing with 133 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the win. Purdue’s defense completely shut down Indiana State and held the Sycamores to just 145 yards of total offense. There wasn’t much else to take from a game this lopsided, however, the Boilermakers will take on Syracuse this weekend in a matchup that should be much closer than this one.

8. (3) Wisconsin (1-1), L - 17-14 vs. Washington State, Next Week: vs. New Mexico State

The Badgers tumble five spots this week after an incredibly disappointing performance in their loss to Washington State. Wisconsin outgained the Cougars in total yards 401 to 253, but three turnovers, two missed field goals and some questionable play-calling ultimately doomed the Badgers.

Quarterback Graham Mertz was not the issue in this loss; when given the chance, the junior actually played pretty well, throwing for 227 yards, one touchdown, and a pick. Wisconsin’s offensive line looked uncharacteristically shaky on Saturday, as the Cougars were able to get pressure on Mertz most of the afternoon and the Badgers rushed for a modest 4.0 yards per carry. There will be plenty to work on for Paul Chryst and his staff this week as they get ready to take on New Mexico State on Saturday.

9. (12) Rutgers (2-0), W - 66-7 vs. Wagner, Next Week: at Temple

The Scarlet Knights welcomed FCS Wagner to town on Saturday and made quick work of the Seahawks. There wasn’t much to glean from this game due to the disparity of talent between the two teams, but Rutgers made sure to put this one away early. The Scarlet Knights scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and the game was all but wrapped up as they head into the half with a 38-7 lead. Quarterbacks Gavin Wimsatt and Evan Simon split time under center, with starter Noah Vedral still out with an injury in this one. Rutgers gets a slightly more challenging test this weekend when they travel to Philly to take on Temple.

10. (13) Indiana (2-0), W - 35-22 vs. Idaho, Next Week: vs. Western Kentucky

The Hoosiers overcame a shaky first half and scored 23 points in the third quarter to pull away from Idaho on Saturday night. Indiana was held scoreless in the first half and trailed 10-0 at the break after a dreadful half that included a missed field goal and two turnovers. Auburn transfer Shaun Shivers had a huge game on the ground to lead the comeback, rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown in the victory. The Hoosiers will welcome Western Kentucky to Bloomington this weekend in another winnable game for Tom Allen’s team.

11. (14) Illinois (2-1), W - 24-3 vs. Virginia, Next Week: BYE

The Illini relied on a great defensive effort to notch a solid power-five win over Virginia on Saturday. Brett Bielema’s squad held the Cavaliers scoreless the final three quarters and forced three turnovers (2 INTs, 1 fumble) in the game. Running back Chase Brown continues to lead the way on offense for Illinois, as the junior finished with 146 rushing yards in the win. The Illini have a bye this upcoming weekend.

12. (9) Northwestern (1-1), L - 31-23 vs. Duke, Next Week: vs. Southern Illinois

Coming off a bye, Northwestern fell behind 21-0 in the first half and never recovered, as they dropped a winnable home game against Duke. The Wildcats defense was the weak spot on Saturday, allowing 6.3 yards per carry to the Blue Devils as well as four touchdown drives of 77+ yards. On the bright side, running back Evan Hull had another big game and continues to be one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten. This time around the junior did his damage through the air, hauling in 14 catches for 213 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Hull and company will try and get back on track when they host Southern Illinois in Week 3.

13. (7) Iowa (1-1), L - 10-7 vs. Iowa State, Next Week: vs. Nevada

After Iowa managed to score just three points on offense against South Dakota State last week, many Hawkeye fans were hoping for a bounce-back performance against Iowa State. Unfortunately for Iowa, the offense still looked just as bad, if not worse against the Cyclones. The Hawkeyes managed just 2.3 yards per carry, while quarterback Spencer Petras threw for only 92 yards and an interception in the loss. To make matters worse, the offensive coordinator is Brian Ferentz, head coach Kirk Ferentz’s son, so a coaching change seems off the table as well. The Hawkeyes are currently 23-point favorites against Nevada this upcoming weekend, so we’ll see if the offense can get anything, and I mean anything going against the Wolfpack.

14. (10) Nebraska (1-2), L - 45-42 vs. Georgia Southern, Next Week: vs. No. 6 Oklahoma

Head coach Scott Frost was fired on Sunday after the Cornhuskers allowed 642 yards of total offense in a home loss to Georgia Southern. Frost ends a disappointing four-plus year run at Nebraska that saw the Huskers go 16-31 overall and earn no bowl berths. Against Georgia Southern this past weekend, Nebraska simply had no answer on defense for the Sun Belt team’s offensive attack. The Eagles rushed for 7.8 yards per carry and quarterback Kyle Vantrease threw for 409 yards on the Huskers. Associate head coach and wide receivers coach Mickey Ward will take over as interim head coach for the rest of the season. The Cornhuskers will look to begin the post-Frost era with an upset win over No. 6 Oklahoma this Saturday in Lincoln.