Power Rankings: How high did 2-0 Illini ascend?

We have two weeks in the books, and teams continue to jockey for position in my weekly power rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. Here is how I stack the Big Ten schools following two weeks of action. Keep an eraser handy.


1. Ohio State. The good news, the Buckeyes rolled. The bad news, Braxton Miller got hurt, but we are told his left will be OK for next week’s trip to Cal. I hope so. Oh, that’s 14 wins in a row for Ohio State, the longest winning streak in America.
Last week: No. 1
Up next: at Cal

2. Michigan. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Devin Gardner, the Wolverines’ next great quarterback. After carrying Michigan to victory over Notre Dame, should he be in the Heisman race? By the way: What ever happened to Denard Robinson?
Last week: No. 2
Up next: vs. Akron

[ MORE: Dienhart: This was a win Devin Gardner needed ]

3. Northwestern. Kain Colter, Trevor Siemian, it doesn’t matter who takes snaps in Evanston. Each is awesome. This offense is operating at full force. And the Wildcats didn’t even have star running back Venric Mark, who was out vs. Syracuse with injury.
Last week: No. 3
Up next: vs. Western Michigan

4. Nebraska. The defense yielded only 284 yards on Saturday. Yes, Southern Miss is bad, losers of 14 in a row which is the longest skein in the FBS ranks. But who cares? This is just what the Cornhuskers needed a week after allowing 602 yards to Wyoming.
Last week: No. 4
Up next: vs. UCLA

5. Wisconsin. The Bill Snyder Memorial portion of the schedule is over for the Badgers, who have blasted UMass and Tennessee Tech to the tune of an aggregate 93-0 score. Now, the serious stuff is about to start. Is Wisconsin ready? (I’m shrugging my shoulders.)
Last week: No. 5
Up next: at Arizona State

[ MORE: What did Tom learn in Week 2? | Get Tom’s Week 2 honors, grades & more ]

6. Penn State. Christian Hackenberg threw for over 300 yards in just his second career start. How good is he going to be? Don’t sleep on this team, which can be a big-time spoiler this season with games vs. Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Last week: No. 6
Up next: vs. UCF

7. Illinois. Meet the Big Ten’s early entrant for “Cinderella” team. No school surprised more this week than the Fighting Illini, which took apart Cincinnati. The offense is clicking under new coordinator Bill Cubit. Oh, and Illinois already has matched last year’s win total.
Last week: No. 11
Up next: vs. Washington (at Soldier Field)

[ MORE: Get Gerry DiNardo’s Week 2 Sunday Ruminations ]

8. Michigan State. The latest episode of “Who Will Be the Spartans Quarterback?” provided no more clarity. So, the questions about signal-callers that Mark Dantonio hates so much to answer will persist for another week.
Last week: No. 6
Up next: vs. Youngstown State

9. Minnesota. The Gophers special teams are rolling. One week after bringing a kick and a blocked field goal back for six points, Marcus Jones took a punt 65 yards to the house. It also was nice to the Gophers get physical with 342 yards rushing. And Minnesota did this without top tailback Donnell Kirkwood, who was out with injury.
Last week: No. 9
Up next: vs. Western Illinois

[ MORE: Week 2 Big Ten predictions revisited ]

10. Iowa. The Hawkeyes didn’t dominate a FCS foe like it should have. And the offense looked spotty. Regardless, Iowa just needed to taste victory. And did. Congrats.
Last week: No. 10
Up next: at Iowa State

11. Indiana. The euphoria from that 73-point effort in the opener vs. Indiana State? It has vaporized. In fact, it seems like it happened eons ago. But, it looks like Nate Sudfeld may have shown he is the Hoosiers’ top signal-caller.
Last week: No. 8
Up next: vs. Bowling Green

[ MORE: View BTN.com’s Week 2 Leaders of the Week ]

12. Purdue. A win is a win is a win. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. But I wonder: Will the Boilermakers sip from the Cup of Victory again in 2013?
Last week: No. 12
Up next: vs. Notre Dame

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (14 Comments)
shookwriter27 on 9/8/2013 @ 10:47am EDT Said:

People may have to talking about Illinois as a bowl contender soon.

Gene Bobrowski on 9/8/2013 @ 11:54am EDT Said:

Ohio State is untested with its two wins against powder puff teams. Nebraska’s defense puts up a good show against a team on a 14 game losing skid and that proves what? The power rankings are a joke!!!

Jason A on 9/8/2013 @ 11:56am EDT Said:

My Question for Tom: How is Michigan not #1? Ohio has beaten two cream puffs while Michigan has beaten a cream puff and then a top 15 team and looked a lot better in doing it.

duhu on 9/8/2013 @ 12:31pm EDT Said:

I agree with this list, with the exception that at this point I’d place Wisconsin over Nebraska and I’d place Indiana over Iowa. Wisconsin has been more solid on defense, and Indiana has a better win than Iowa and a better loss.

Ian on 9/8/2013 @ 12:40pm EDT Said:

The top three teams should be Michigan, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. Ohio State has playmakers, but seem a bit off. They might win, but really showing much power. Nebraska is nearly similar to Ohio State, but just can’t keep it together. Northwestern gets let down with play calling, yet they can really do damage when right plays are called. It is the beginning of the season, so let’s see how things are midway through, and come November when everything gets turned up.

JoeW on 9/8/2013 @ 12:48pm EDT Said:

That cream puff SDSU team won its conference last year, won more games than Michigan did, and returned 17 starters. SDSU was dominated far more than the 35 point differential with the OSU backup QB playing 90% of the game. The biggest difference between these two teams is overall team speed and depth. OSU literaly is six deep at RB, has 5-6 receivers that play,and game breaking speed in the new freshman. The d line is young, but loaded with top flight talent and will have 11 games under their belts prior to The Game. Michigan has a lot of games ahead with not nearly the depth, so they will need to stay injury free paticularly at the offensive skill positions. Additionaly, Michigan has a recent history of winning September games and then struggling in B10 play on the road. Maybe that’s why Tom is reluctant to move Michigan to the top spot.

Big Ten Fan on 9/8/2013 @ 2:46pm EDT Said:

Right now, the top three teams in no particular order have to be Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Penn State has the best D of the three. Wisconsin has the best O. Michigan has faced to best opponent. However, Penn State has the greatest potential for improvement and could be the Big Ten’s top dog for years to come.

Doug on 9/8/2013 @ 3:05pm EDT Said:

“Will the Boilermakers sip from the Cup of Victory again in 2013?” Yes–they’ll beat Indiana. Have you seen Indiana’s defense? No, really, have you seen it? IU is looking for it. They lost it years ago.

Jason A on 9/8/2013 @ 7:15pm EDT Said:

Dude. SDSU got crushed by E. Illinois sit down. What they did last year in a week conference has nothing to do with now. They aren’t a good team. Period. Michigan has plenty of depth, not sure where you’ve been. They are 5 deep at RB and lets not even talk about the D-line and Linebackers. Take off the rose colored glasses dude.

chris on 9/8/2013 @ 9:03pm EDT Said:

Actually JoeW, that creampuff SDSU lost the week before to FCS Eastern Illinois. 40-19. They were undeniably a creampuff.

Craig on 9/9/2013 @ 9:08am EDT Said:

After the first two games I don’t see any way Purdue can win another football game this year. I appreciate Hazell’s belief in a one quarterback system but when that quarterback can’t produce isn’t it time to move to the next? If nothing else to prepare for the future? As with most of the last 7 or 8 years Purdue football is uninspiring, mistake ridden and down right embarrassing to watch.

Scott on 9/9/2013 @ 12:21pm EDT Said:

Funny how Michigan fans start out every season popping off about how good they are and how OSU & everybody else in the B1G suck. But in the end, like in the last decade you fade horribly and come up with numerous BS excuses as to why they fall short. Keep up the bashing, its fun to watch year after year.

kurt on 9/9/2013 @ 12:59pm EDT Said:

You homers both need to take off the rose-colored glasses. OSU has more offensive depth than Michigan. Who’s after Gardner and Gallon? That said, Michigan has looked damn impressive, and OSU hasn’t been as dominating as would be expected of the hype vs. the competition thus far.

My top three are OSU and Michigan as 1 and 1a. Northwestern as #3 definitely capable of beating either of the big 2. After that…Nebraska’s defense is seriously suspect and Wisconsin always beats the extra-fluffy powder puffs on its schedule badly. I haven’t seen proof of anything other than a really good one-diminsional offense. Their defense may be lights out, but these first two games aren’t a proof of that. Also in the mix is PSU, which is going to be in a lot of games with heart and good coaching. They’ll come up short a few times with that formula and surprise a team or two with it.

Aasim on 9/9/2013 @ 6:11pm EDT Said:

My rankings.

1. Michigan – best win of a B1G team so far

2. Ohio St. – didn’t dominate, Miller is hurt

3. NW – found a way to win a close game without their 2 best players = impressive

4. Nebraska – homer pick

5. Wisconsin – good play against poor competition. If they beat ASU, then they will be #3.

6. Penn St. – new QB is looking goo

7. MSU – great D, offense still has no answers

8. Illinois – 1 close game, 1 good game against a team with an injured QB. Really interesed to the Illini play Washington

9. Minnesota – has been scoring in a lot of different ways (D, Special Teams)

10. Indiana – good offense, no D.

11. Purdue – Akeem Hunt, who else is on this team?

12. Iowa