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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 3


Heather Weikel | Black Shoe Diaries

Week 3 brought some entertaining games, though not quite as much chaos as last week (I see you, Pitt). Still, we had some movement in these rankings as some teams must win and some teams must lose.

To be clear: these rankings are a reflection of just how well a team is playing, not a reflection of records, polls, number of NIL agreements signed by players, etc.

Simply put - the #1 team would, on a neutral field, beat the #2 team at least 51 times out of 100. The #2 team would beat the #3 team, #3 would beat #4, etc., etc.

Let’s get to it!

1. Penn State


Penn State has played the hardest schedule in the Big Ten, and is 3-0. There can be no other position for the Lions through three weeks, as PSU took care of #22 Auburn 28-20 under the lights and intensity of the White Out. A bit of a reprieve looms as Villanova comes to town, before the schedule gets tough once more. But for now? Number 1 bay-bay!

2. Iowa

A completely workaday 30-7 win over Kent State. Really not much else to say here. Iowa will suffocate you on defense, and will be okay on offense, and will do that forever and for always.

3. Ohio State

Man, wouldn’t it have been something if Tulsa had bested OSU? It wasn’t to be, as the Buckeyes got the 41-20 win, but once again Ohio State just did not look that good. However, I still have a hard time thinking that OSU would beat most of the teams in the conference straight up, so until they drop another one (or two or three or four) I’m leaving them at third.

4. Wisconsin

Early season BYE for the Badgers.

5. Michigan

‘Member when Michigan wasn’t good? That was fun. Through three games, against a weak schedule, Michigan looks GOOD. Defense is tough, run game is tough, pass game is meh. But a lot of B1G teams have won a lot of games on tough defense and a solid run game. We’ll see how long the Wolverines can keep it up.

6. Maryland

Maryland only beat bottom-dweller Illinois 20-17, but win they did. Still, the Terrapins continue their Jekyll-and-Hyde act, which makes it infuriating to figure out just where to slot UMD.

7. Michigan State

Speaking of Michigan teams that were bad but are now not bad, how ‘bout Sparty? MSU took down a ranked Miami squad on the road 38-17, in what has to be one of the most improved teams from 2020 (Penn State obviously being the most improved). Don’t you just love that Penn State’s schedule seemingly gets harder with each passing week??

8. Indiana

The Hoosiers gave #8 Cincinnati everything they could handle for about three quarters, but ultimately the Bearcats pulled away, winning 38-17. I still don’t believe Indiana is bad per se, but the luster seems to have worn off from the magical 2020 season. Be nice to have a fairly easy game for Penn State in a couple weeks.

9. Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights dominated FCS Delaware to the tune of 45-13. UDel is not a bad FCS team by any means, so a 30-point win is actually pretty good. Again, love how difficult Penn State’s schedule is this year!

10. Minnesota

So here’s what’s funny. Texas A&M, ostensibly a top 10 team, stuh-RUGGLED with Colorado, barely winning 10-7. Then Minnesota went and whooped the Buffaloes 30-0. By that math, Minnesota would beat TAMU by 27 points, yes?

11. Purdue

I was really rooting for the Boilermakers against Notre Dame, but they just couldn’t quite seem to get ahead of the Domers, and ultimately succumbed 27-13. Purdue may still be a difficult team to deal with, but if they can play “okay” football and still lose by two TDs to a solid team, I’m not sure how much noise they’ll make out West.

12. Nebraska

Is Nebraska secretly good? Or is Oklahoma secretly bad? My money is on the latter, as the Sooners barely beat Big Red 23-16. It’s my assertion that other than perhaps Alabama (who looked mortal against Florida), there really aren’t any truly dominant teams in college football this year. I’m getting serious 2007 vibes this year, and I think it’s just a matter of time before OU - and a bunch of other top 10 teams - get exposed.

13. Northwestern

In a battle of the nerds, Northwestern lost to Duke 30-23. Apparently the Blue Devils’ mathematical approach to the game was more fundamentally sound than the Wildcats’. Better luck next time!

14. Illinois

Speaking of 2007, Illinois is just a team of chaos. They didn’t beat Maryland, but they took a seemingly offensive powerhouse Maryland squad and held them to just 20 points. Will the Illini trip up some random team along the way? Who knows! But it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.


YOUR PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS TAKE OVER THE TOP SPOT. Iowa drops due to Penn State’s rise, while OSU and Wisconsin stand pat. Michigan is climbing fast, while Maryland treads water. Michigan State is climbing even faster, while Indiana takes a nosedive. Rutgers and Minnesota hold in the rankings, while Purdue drops. Nebraska, Northwestern, and Illinois all hold stead at the bottom.