|Joe Hermitt, PennLive|
1. Ohio State (3-0, 0-0) / Even
Got a pretty good scare, all things considered, against Northern Illinois last week. I didn't watch all of the game, but the highlights weren't very...highlight-y. Call it a let down game, whatever it was Ohio State better get used to it because their schedule is full of mediocre teams they should probably beat by 50.
2. Michigan State (3-0, 0-0) / Even
What can I say, they're good. Should probably be tied for 1st after OSU's close call with the MAC. Connor Cook is the real deal and his favorite target Aaron Burbridge is also the real deal. His circus touchdown catch was maybe the best catch of the season so far.
3. Northwestern (3-0, 0-0) / +3
I'm in. I'm buying the Wildcats. Whatever it is they're doing right now it's working. Their defense has been stellar only giving up 16 total points in 3 games. Going to Duke and winning doesn't sound impressive but I'm still impressed. And after watching Stanford beat up USC last week, NW's win versus the Cardinal in week 1 is now looking even that much more impressive.
4. Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0) / -1
Not the most dynamic offense I've ever seen out of Madison, but solid enough to get comfortable wins against Miami (NTM) and FCS Troy...watch out for Hawaii this week. Part of the B1G logjam, Wisconsin's schedule will do them favors if they can maintain or improve their output.
5. Minnesota (2-1, 0-0) / -1
I mean yeah, they beat Kent State. But only by 3...10-7. Soooo...yeah. Life is about to get a lot tougher for Minnesota and wins won't come by so easily in the coming weeks. Expectations were high for the Gophers this year, and it's only mid-September, so we'll see how they adjust with their 98th-ranked offense. Expected much better things from QB Mitch Leidner.
6. Iowa (3-0, 0-0) / +2
Iowa gets a big bump this week because of their impressive win over Pitt. This could be one of those "Iowa is good now" kind of years. Their defense has been stellar so far...which pretty much fits the mold for most of the Big Ten right now. They should get the win this week against North Texas before they head to Madison in week 5.
7. Michigan (2-1, 0-0) / Even
I'm keeping Michigan at 7 for the 4th-straight week because beating UNLV is sort of a non-factor. Like Iowa and Minnesota, defense has been great while the offense is sort of working things out. This week vs BYU will be a tough test for this defense and the team as a whole. I predict Michigan won't be ranked 7th next week.
8. Nebraska (1-2, 0-0) / -3
Nebraska's been the recipient of some tough breaks in their two losses this year vs BYU and Miami (YTM). On paper, the Huskers seem like a team that should be 3-0...and really, they should be. Their impressive comeback in Miami last weekend was heroic, even if it was built on Tommy Armstrong Jr's wild back-foot, cross-field passes...which ultimately cost them in overtime. It'll be interesting to see how the Huskers react from here.
9. Penn State (2-1, 1-0) / Even
Really, the winner of the Penn State - Rutgers game should've been awarded a burning dumpster trophy. Regardless of what a 28-3 win against Rutgers means, Penn State offense is still lost in the woods. Christian Hackenberg, I dunno man. I think Penn State should just hand the ball off as much as possible...which is pretty much what they did.
10. Maryland (2-1, 0-0) / Even
Not a good team...but in an Indiana kind of way. Decent some weeks, really bad others. Decent against FCS Richmond. Really bad against Bowling Green. Decent against South Florida. We'll see how they travel this weekend when they visit Morgantown, WV. Gotta give Maryland credit though, their offense ranks out higher than their defense, which bucks the trend in the league.
11. Indiana (3-0, 0-0) / Even
Maybe the worst 3-0 team in the country? Yeah. The worst 3-0 team in the country. They can score points, no doubt about that. But much like Indiana teams of year's passed, the defense is nowhere to be found and special teams seem like an afterthought. Call me when they play a team with a pulse.
12. Illinois (2-1, 0-0) / Even
Things seemed to be trending in the right direction, and they still are really, under interim head coach Bill Cubit. But last week's blowout loss to UNC was a stark reminder that Illinois is still Illinois. The rebuilding process will take some time. But the Illini are headed in the proper direction and that in and of itself is a big step.
13. Rutgers (1-2, 0-1) / Even
We're still unsure if Kyle Flood will ever coach again or go to jail. Six players are currently suspended. The program is in disarray. Interim head coach Norries Wilson held maybe the best post-game press conference of all time after the loss to Penn State. Let's focus on that instead.
14. Purdue (1-2, 0-0) / Even
Rutgers is ranked higher than you, Purdue. I get that Virginia Tech is a good opponent, so that loss, while ugly, was expected. I'd also say that Bowling Green this week should be another loss.