Ohio State dips, Northwestern nosedives in Big Ten power rankings
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Can I just be completely honest for a minute? I sure didn’t see these three things coming:
Ohio State’s no-show against Oklahoma: Don’t get me wrong, I’ll accept all pats on the back for picking the Sooners to beat the Buckeyes in Columbus. No, really, I did. But a 31-16 uppercut to the chin that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated? That was an absolute stunner. Urban Meyer got his rear end handed to him by 34-year-old Lincoln Riley, the youngest coach in major-college football. This was one to remember.
Northwestern — cream puff? The Wildcats couldn’t even begin to block Duke’s defensive front in a 41-17 defeat. Soft, sorry, sad.
Illinois’ steel curtain: A week after being whipped at the line of scrimmage in a lucky victory against Ball State, the Illini held Western Kentucky to six yards rushing in a 20-7 triumph. We see you, Lovie Smith.
Question of the week
Is it too soon to book New York travel for two to the Heisman Trophy presentation?
Reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville has more than 1,000 yards of total offense and eight total touchdowns in two weeks. Fellow quarterback Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, who already has fourth- and third-place Heisman finishes, just destroyed Ohio State with 386 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
Good luck hanging with them.
‘‘For us this year, it was like beating Akron.’’
That was Penn State coach James Franklin after a 33-14 victory Saturday against Pittsburgh, 364 days before the Nittany Lions will face the Panthers in, you know, Pittsburgh. Last time the Nits played there — in 2016 — they lost. Just saying.
Big Ten power rankings
1. Penn State (2-0): Things could’ve been smoother offensively in Week 2, but the defense was stiff on demand. Great sign.
2. Wisconsin (2-0): Different year, different stable of scary-good running backs. Freshman Jonathan Taylor is a superstar.
3. Ohio State (1-1, 1-0 Big Ten): One loss doesn’t a playoff dream dash. Still, these Buckeyes are suspect in the passing game on both sides of the ball.
4. Michigan (2-0): An odd struggle to beat Cincinnati leaves us wondering how close the Wolverines really are to contending for a league title.
5. Iowa (2-0): The Hawkeyes have a legit quarterback in sophomore Nate Stanley, who tossed five touchdown passes in an overtime victory at Iowa State.
6. Maryland (2-0): That opening upset at Texas looks even better after other conference teams struggled in Week 2.
7. Minnesota (2-0): Whoa, 48-14 at Oregon State? Maybe new Gophers coach P.J. Fleck really does walk on water.
8. Indiana (1-1, 0-1): Step aside, Richard Lagow. Take a bow, Peyton Ramsey. Seriously, how much does each guy play going forward? And who knew Indiana was Quarterback U.?
9. Michigan State (2-0): Sparty has two victories against Mid-American Conference opponents, but who’s counting? It’s a decent — and desperately needed — start.
10. Purdue (1-1): Not to overstate the impact of new coach Jeff Brohm, but this appears to be one of the most improved teams on the planet. Or at least in the Big Ten.
11. Nebraska (1-1): The Huskers hung tough in a 42-35 defeat at Oregon, but still. Do legit Blackshirt defenders exist anymore?
12. Illinois (2-0): It’s called offense, and perhaps the Illini will give it a look someday. Meanwhile, not losing is way cool.
13. Northwestern (1-1): ‘‘Chicago’s Big Ten team’’ isn’t going to light the town on fire if it keeps playing like this. When does basketball season start?
14. Rutgers (0-2): Why are we talking about the Scarlet Knights again?
Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.