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Big Ten Power Rankings heading into Week 3

Let’s take a look at where things stand in the Big Ten after Week 2.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Michigan David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

There weren’t many matchups to write home about during the Big Ten’s Week 2 slate, with four of the 14 squads taking on FCS opponents, and five others grinding it out against Group of Five programs.

There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s dive right in to this week’s Big Ten Power Rankings.

14. Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-2, 0-1 Big Ten) — Last week: 12

Nebraska has plummeted from the good graces of cautious optimism and is now being taunted for the haunting similarities between Matt Rhule’s unlucky 0-2 start and the beginning days (well, all days) of the Scott Frost era. Perhaps Colorado was always going to be a tough out for the Huskers, but the Week 1 loss to Minnesota does more than help bump them all the way back in the pecking order for the time being.

13. Northwestern Wildcats (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten) — Last week: 14

Northwestern handled UTEP easily on Saturday, but visions of the Wildcats’ Week 1 dismantling at the hands of Rutgers are still fresh in the minds of many. Still, Northwestern is on the upswing after handling business by a score of 30+ over a lesser opponent.

12. Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 7

This is quite the turn of events for Bret Bielema and company. The Fighting Illini find themselves up against the ropes early following an uncharacteristic 34-23 loss to Kansas. Prior to the start of the season, the Illini were pegged as a candidate to win the Big Ten West, but after a loss in Lawrence preceded by a game that they narrowly escaped against Toledo, it’s hard to justify anything better than this ranking.

11. Indiana Hoosiers (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten) — Last week: 13

It’s still early, but Indiana appears to be in a position to slightly exceed expectations in 2023. The Hoosiers held their own against Ohio State in Week 1 and followed it up with a dominant against Indiana State, routing the Sycamores 41-7.

10. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-1, 1-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 10

The Gophers followed up their Week 0 win over Nebraska by pulling out a two-score victory over Eastern Michigan in Week 2, which is good enough to stay securely fastened at the 10th spot in this week’s Power Rankings.

9. Purdue Boilermakers (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 9

Many have been quick to dismiss the Boilermakers following the team’s disappointing Week 1 loss to Fresno State, but they make up some groups this week after taking down Virginia Tech. Despite a lot of change during the offseason, Purdue still looks every bit as capable offensively and will likely push the middle of the pack once again in 2023.

8. Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 8

The Spartans have handled business through the first two weeks of the regular season, but a dark cloud of drama and negativity surrounding head coach Mel Tucker has arrived this week, which could pose a threat to the team’s focus. Still, potential exists for this year’s team to be a tough out in the conference if they can drown out the noise and rise above the current circumstances.

7. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 11

Have we seen this movie before? For yet another week, the Scarlet Knights looked good. Gavin Wimsatt played well, but it was the run game that really got things going, led by Kyle Monangai with 165 yards. Recently, Rutgers has been no stranger to hot starts in the early-season, but has fallen flat during Big Ten play. Could this be the year Greg Schiano’s hard work pays dividends?

6. Wisconsin Badgers (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 4

Wisconsin remains one of the Big Ten’s better teams following a one-score loss on the road in Washington State, but we’re still knocking them for the upset this week. The run game is better than it showed on Saturday, but some growing pains are to be expected with a new coaching staff in place, as well as a new identity.

5. Maryland Terrapins (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 5

Maryland ultimately hung this past weekend after coming back from a 14-0 deficit to Michigan 2.0 (Biff Poggi’s Charlotte). The run game was the difference in this one, with Taulia Tagovailoa adding two costly interceptions to go along with his 300 passing yards. Positive things from the Terps overall, but a relatively similar start to the season doesn’t lead one to believe this team differs greatly from years past.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 6

Iowa is so back. And by back, we mean good ole fashioned, turnover generatin’, 100-yard passing gamin’ Hawkeye football, baby! Cade McNamara was Cade McNamara this week, going 12-of-22 for 123 yards, but this Iowa defense continues to prove year-in and year-out a defense that can generate points can make even the most pedestrian of offensive playbooks a threat.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 3

The gaudy touchdowns through the air arrived, with Marvin Harrison Jr. returning to normal form against Youngstown State after an uneventful Week 1 performance. Still, this continues to look like a team doing everything it can to prove something, and it will be interesting to see what kind of identity the Buckeyes end up with in 2023. There are still many questions about this team to be answered, with the quarterback being one of them.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 2

No shocker here. Penn State obliterated Delaware, 63-7, on Saturday, furthering the belief the Nittany Lions present the Wolverines’ most difficult challenge of the 2023 Big Ten season. Drew Allar was efficient, but paled compared to the impact of Kaytron Allen, who amassed 103 yards on 19 carries.

1. Michigan Wolverines (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 1

The Wolverines continue to look the part of a slightly different team in 2023, leaning heavily on the improved skills of second-year starter J.J. McCarthy to propel the team to success. The quarterback is rapidly garnering national attention for his improved pocket-presence, as well as his downfield decision-making.

Michigan has also dominated their respective competition in Weeks 1 and 2 defensively, and looks to be poised for another lockdown year on that side of the ball. With the level McCarthy is playing at, coupled with the emergence of the pass rush in Week 2, it’s hard to imagine what slows this train down anytime soon.