The Michigan Wolverines improved to 3-0 after handling the Bowling Green Falcons on Saturday. It was a strange week for the Wolverines, eclipsed only by even stranger outcomes that spanned the entirety of the sport on Saturday.
The Big Ten was no exception to this, with several teams in the conference struggling to put away their respective competition. With the dust having settled on a weird week in college football, let’s have a look at where things stand after Week 3.
14. Northwestern Wildcats (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) — Last week: 13
Northwestern reclaims the bottom spot in the conference following a 38-14 loss to Duke. The offense continued to look meager and the defense was atrocious against the Blue Devils’ rushing attack, which accounted for 268 yards.
13. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) — Last week: 14
Nebraska moves up a peg in this week’s rankings after Matt Rhule and company were finally able to get their first win. The Husker defense continues to look sound, while the presence of a run game outside of Jeff Sims will do just enough to make this team dangerous at times.
12. Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 7
The Illini defense was competent, but quarterback Luke Altmyer turned the ball over four times, while running back Josh McCray added a fumble of his own. This was not a close game for them this week, and the offense frequently put the team in a bad situation.
11. Indiana Hoosiers (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) — Last week: 11
Indiana trailed big in this one, but found resurgence behind quarterback Tayven Jackson, who finished with 299 yards and one touchdown. While the Hoosiers didn’t pull out the victory, they get a stern nod for doing some things right and attempting a gutsy 21-point comeback.
10. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-2, 1-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 10
Minnesota was manhandled by North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye this week, in yet another week of pedestrian play calling for the Gophers. Athan Kaliakmanis accounted for only 133 yards and one interception, and has proven to be a far cry from Tanner Morgan.
9. Purdue Boilermakers (1-2, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 9
Purdue needs a defense after surrendering 35+ points in two of the team’s first three outings. They were outmatched last week by Syracuse, and unable to get the run game going on top of that. Ryan Walters has plenty of work ahead of him.
8. Michigan State (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 8
An ugly week for Michigan State was made even uglier courtesy of an electric performance by Michael Penix Jr. The Spartans showed little life against the Huskies, but remain unmoved in this week’s ranking solely due to lack of a current successor.
7. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 7
Rutgers continues to look strong, winning two of its first three victories against Power 5 competition in dominant fashion. Kyle Monangai continued his stellar start to the season against Virginia Tech with 143 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Greg Schiano once again has his team looking like a tough out.
6. Wisconsin Badgers (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 6
Wisconsin got back to playing defensively-dominant football, as the Badgers cruised to victory behind a five-interception showing. Luke Fickell is still trying to find how Braelon Allen best fits into his game plan, but these are luxury problems for the first-year coach.
5. Maryland Terrapins (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 5
Something about Maryland and slow starts…
The Terps haven’t faced a quality opponent yet, but they have scored at least 38 points in every game of the 2023 season. A Big Ten opener against a wounded Michigan State team positions Mike Locksley well to keep things going into conference play.
4. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 4
Iowa remains at No. 4 following a dominant 41-10 victory over Western Michigan. The bad news: the Hawkeyes lost tight end Luke Lachey to injury long-term and have to travel to Happy Valley in Week 4.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 2
Saturday was the first inidication of the cracks in Penn State’s armor, which is saying something considering it won the game 30-13. Drew Allar was tested against a strong defense, while the Nittany Lions’ defense looks about as tough as they come at this point in the season.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 3
Kyle McCord played like the QB1 Ohio State fans had been waiting for on Saturday. Marvin Harrison Jr. Was finally able to have a big game, while TreVeyon Henderson continues to play at an improved level. This is everything Ryan Day could have hoped for heading into the team’s road test against the Fighting Irish.
1. Michigan Wolverines (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) — Last week: 1
Week 3’s matchup against Bowling Green was far from impressive for the Wolverines. J.J. McCarthy threw three interceptions, while other areas of Michigan’s game shined. Blake Corum recorded his first 100-yard game of the season, and the defense was elite once again. Far from a perfect showing, but the team will undoubtedly approach Saturday’s Big Ten opener with renewed purpose following the conclusion of the head coach’s suspension.