Big Ten Power Rankings: Ohio State remains on top; bottom feeders brace for more insults

Rob Oller
The Columbus Dispatch

Conference play shifts into second gear − full-throttle begins next week − which means Purdue and Northwestern get another chance to lose to a non-conference opponent, while Indiana faces a likely loss against Cincinnati. The bottom half of the Big Ten is so anemic we considered ranking only half the league, to protect the innocent. But the downtrodden need to own their embarrassment.

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Meanwhile, Ohio State continues to lead the pack, Michigan finally plays a decent opponent and Penn State looks like more of a threat in the East. Nebraska has the week off to decide how hard it wants to pursue Urban Meyer.  

1. Ohio State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Sep 16, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, United States; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) tries to outrun Toledo Rockets safety Zachary Ford. Mandatory Credit: Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch

Last week: 1

This week: Wisconsin

What to know: Let’s see how the Buckeyes’ improved defense does against an opponent whose offensive playbook has all the finesse of ancient cave drawings.  

2. Michigan (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Sep 3, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines players celebrate with the student section after defeating the Colorado State Rams at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week: 2

This week: Maryland

What to know: Wake-up call? The Wolverines face a team with more wins (3) than the combined total (2) of their previous three opponents. 

3. Penn State (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten)

Last week: 3

This week: Central Michigan

What to know: Coach James Franklin was spotted on video dancing up a storm after winning at Auburn. Crushing the Chippewas earns only a few fist bumps.

4. Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Tyler Johnson #6 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates a second half touchdown with Ko Kieft #42 while playing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field on December 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. Minnesota win the game 34-10.

Last week: 5

This week: at Michigan State

What to know: Does Minnesota's potent run game hit a wall? The Golden Gophers’ previous two FBS opponents rank 121st (New Mexico State) and 131st and last (Colorado) in rush defense. Sparty ranks 26th.   

5. Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Wisconsin's Graham Mertz (5) thorws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington StateSaturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Last week: 6

This week: at Ohio State

What to know: The Badgers face a perplexing problem: how to match the Buckeyes’ electric point-a-minute offense when your own offense runs … and runs… on batteries?   

6. Michigan State (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Sep 17, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Keon Coleman (0) catches a touchdown pass against the Washington Huskies during the second quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week: 4

This week: Minnesota

What to know: MSU is tired of being labeled a fraud, but the Spartans only escape the insults if they take care of business against the perpetually phony Gophers. 

7. Maryland (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Maryland Terrapins RB Antwain Littleton II (31) leaps over Southern Methodist Mustangs linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia (41) for a second quarter touchdown in College Park, Maryland.

Last week: 7

This week: at Michigan

What to know: And this is where the Terps’ feel-good movie fades to black before reaching a satisfying ending.  

8. Iowa (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Members of the Iowa Hawkeyes football team celebrate after receiver Arland Bruce IV scored a touchdown against Nevada during a non-conference NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Last week: 13

This week: at Rutgers

What to know: The good news in Iowa City? The Hawkeyes have allowed only 13 points a game, second best in the nation. The bad news? They’re averaging 13.7 points of offense.  

9. Rutgers (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Sep 3, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights running back Al-Shadee Salaam (26) rushes for a touchdown during the second half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Last week: 8

This week: Iowa

What to know: The Scarlet Knights have won two of their three games by a total of three points, which is only 10 more than Iowa has allowed total. I smell trouble in Piscataway.

10. Purdue (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten)

Sep 17, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver TJ Sheffield (8) is pushed out of bounds by Syracuse Orange defensive back Garrett Williams (8) in the fourth quarter at JMA Wireless Dome.

Last week: 9

This week: Florida Atlantic

What to know: Purdue’s loss at Syracuse was a clown show of penalties and coaching gaffes. Don’t expect a similar circus against FAU. 

11. Indiana (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten)

Sep 2, 2022; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver D.J. Matthews Jr. (7) celebrates his touchdown with teammates in the second quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium.

Last week: 10

This week: at Cincinnati

What to know: The Hoosiers' season so far in a single play: a 51-yard field goal in overtime was needed to slip past Western Kentucky. 

12. Illinois (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten)

Illinois Fighting Illini running back Chase Brown (2) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the first half against Wyoming.

Last week: 11

This week: Chattanooga (Thursday).

What to know: The Illini get to 3-1 for the first time since 2015. That’s called smart non-conference scheduling.  

13. Northwestern (1-2, 1-0 Big Ten)

Aug 27, 2022; Dublin, IRELAND; Northwestern Wildcats running back Evan Hull is tackled by Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Nick Henrich in the Aer Lingus college football series at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Moran-USA TODAY Sports

Last week: 12

This week: Miami (OH)

What to know: Apparently, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is still raging in Evanston, and the Wildcats don’t have the manpower to extinguish it.

14. Nebraska (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten)

Sep 17, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Ajay Allen (9) runs with the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Last week: 14

This week: idle

What to know: Huskers fans chanted “We want Urban” before last week’s game against Oklahoma. After the 49-14 loss the chant became “We’ll settle for Bo Pelini.”

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