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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 2

Well that was an interesting week

Syndication: York Daily Record Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hello there and welcome to the Big Ten Power Rankings! Each week we’ll rank how the teams across the conference are playing, in the hopes of seeing just who is a contender, and who is a pretender over the course of the season.

The rules are few, but resolute:

  • Teams are ranked by how they’re playing at that time. Not body of work, not rankings in the polls, but simply how each team is playing at that point in the season.
  • The approach to the rankings is not necessarily on the field results (though those do count, as an obvious, tangible data point), but more generally if the two teams played at a neutral site 100 times, which team would win 51 times (or more).
  • These rankings are subjective. As the author I get to follow the rules as closely or loosely as I want to, and if you don’t like the rankings, you’re wrong.

The second week of the 2023 season is in the books, and it was a weird one. Let’s get to it!

1. Penn State

For many teams, this week was Cupcake Week™ , and so for many teams, things more or less will stay the same. Still, we can glean at least some things from these games. For instance, in 2021, Penn State played Villanova, a ranked FCS team, and managed to win 38-17. Fast forward 2 years, and Penn State played Delaware, a ranked FCS team, and managed a 63-7 win. See a difference? I do.

2. Michigan

Another week, another “eh” win, this time 35-7 over UNLV. UNLV is actually marginally worse than ECU, Michigan’s week one opponent, so I suppose I can respect the consistency.

3. Ohio State

Remember how I referenced the ranked FCS bit? Well, for reference, Delaware is the #19 FCS team. Ohio State played FCS #25 Youngstown State, but only mustered a 35-7 win. Again, for the second week in a row, among the top 3 teams, PSU has looked the best.

4. Iowa

The Hawkeyes defeated in-state rivals Iowa State 20-13 to take the ¡El Assíco! crown. Funny enough, though, the Hawkeyes have yet to clear the 25-point metric set forth in Brian Ferentz’s contract.

5. Maryland

The 38-20 final over Charlotte masks the fact that the Terrapins were trailing 14-0 to start the game. The Terps can score, but can they play defense?

6. Minnesota

A 25-6 win over Eastern Michigan is another day at the office. Cupcake handled.

7. Wisconsin

Woof. Perhaps the worst loss of the week goes to Wisconsin, who fell to Washington State 31-22. The Badgers tumble in these rankings, as well as the polls, removing them from the top 25.

8. Michigan State

A 45-14 win over FCS Richmond is fine, no more, no less.

9. Rutgers

Is that a single digit number next to Rutgers? Doth mine eyes deceive me? Welcome back to single digits, Scarlet Knights! Keep putting up wins like your 36-7 win over Temple and you’ll keep on rising!

10. Indiana

The Hoosiers took care of business against FCS Indiana State, 41-7.

11. Illinois

Another candidate for worst loss, the Illini got spanked by Kansas 34-23. The final score is not indicative of how poorly Illinois played. This could be a long season in Champaign.

12. Purdue

Sometimes you need to hit (near) rock bottom to enjoy the climb. A week after losing to Fresno State, the Boilermakers took down Virginia Tech 24-17. Jekyll and Hyde much?

13. Northwestern


14. Nebraska

Look, Colorado is likely a decent team. And going to play in Boulder is definitely a change in altitude. And this is Matt Rhule’s first year. But 36-14?? C’mon man.

Gettin’ squiggly wit it.

Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State retain their spots at the top. Iowa, Maryland, and Minnesota rise to fill the void left by Wisconsin. Michigan State holds serve, while Rutgers and Indiana climb. Illinois takes a tumble, with Purdue and checks notes Northwestern on the rise. Nebraska is your new denizen of the deep.

On to week 3!