Big Ten power rankings: Penn State wins Whiteout game against rare SEC sojourner

Rob Oller
The Columbus Dispatch

WEEK 4 POWER RANKINGS

Penn State students sing along to "Sweet Caroline" during the fourth quarter against Auburn at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in State College.

Hes Dr 091821 Pennstate 44

Penn State welcomed Auburn to Happy Valley — the Tigers’ first Big Ten road game since 1931 — by staging a world-class Whiteout win. Speaking of correction fluid, Ohio State keeps getting replaced in the rankings. The Buckeyes went from first to third to fourth in just two weeks after losing to Oregon and looking less than spectacular against Tulsa. As for the bottom half of the bracket, Nebraska proved that rumors of its demise are premature by hanging with Oklahoma. 

1. Penn State (3-0)

Last week: 1

This week: vs. Villanova

What to know: Sean Clifford says he’s the most confident quarterback in the country. After completing 28 of 32 passes against Auburn, hard to argue with him.  

2. Iowa (3-0)

Last week: 2

This week: vs. Colorado State

What to know: The Hawkeyes defense has eight takeaways to one for the Rams. The main takeaway from that? Iowa improves to 4-0.

3. Michigan (3-0)

Last week: 4

This week: vs. Rutgers

What to know: Fans thinking this is the year UM defeats Ohio State might want to wait to make sure it’s not the year Rutgers pulls the rug out from under them. 

4. Ohio State (2-1)

Last week: 3

This week: vs. Akron

What to know: Nothing like a game under the lights to illuminate the pressurized expectation that Buckeye Nation won’t be happy with anything less than a 45-point win.

5. Michigan State (3-0)

Last week: 6

This week: vs. Nebraska

What to know: Sparty is fresh off a nice win against Miami, which makes this a “Which Team is For Real?” game against the Cornhuskers, who put a scare into Oklahoma last week.

6. Wisconsin (1-1)

Last week: 5

This week: vs. Notre Dame at Chicago’s Soldier Field

What to know: The Badgers head to the Windy City looking to re-inflate their season by deflating the Fighting Irish. Someone’s playoff hopes are about to go pfffft. 

7. Minnesota (2-1)

Last week: 7

This week: vs. Bowling Green

What to know: The Golden Gophers celebrated their first shutout (30-0 against Colorado) since 2006. They haven’t had two straight since 1962. Could happen against the Falcons. 

8. Maryland (3-0)

Last week: 8

This week: vs. Kent State

What to know: Just when you thought the Terps’ offense could not be stopped, it clunks along for only 20 in a three-point win against Illinois. Ugh. 

9. Rutgers (3-0)

Last week: 9

This week: at Michigan

What to know: The Scarlet Knights want to party like it’s 2014 — the last time they defeated the Wolverines. Don’t see it happening at the Big House. 

10. Purdue (2-1)

Last week: 10

This week: vs. Illinois

What to know: The marching band’s big bass drum was kept outside Notre Dame Stadium last week. It returns on Saturday, with the Boilermakers using the Illini pass defense as drumsticks.

11. Nebraska (2-2)

Last week: 13

This week: at Michigan State

What to know: Winning at East Lansing would not normally be a major victory, but the Huskers have lost their past 11 road games against ranked Big Ten opponents.

12. Indiana (1-2)

Last week: 11

This week: at Western Kentucky

What to know: What’s that smell? A Hilltoppers upset? Depends how long the Hoosiers lick their wounds following a tough loss to Cincinnati. 

13. Northwestern (1-2)

Last week: 12

This week: vs. Ohio

What to know: Gutsy: rallying from 27-0 to give Duke a scare. Reality: still losing 30-23 to the Blue Devils. But Wildcats get the Dub against winless Bobcats. 

14. Illinois (1-3)

Last week: 14

This week: at Purdue

What to know: Illini played Maryland close last week. So you’re telling me there’s a chance? Maybe 1 in 10. With luck 1 in 5.

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