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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 3

Survive and advance

Northern Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

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 third week of the 2023 season is in the books, and for most teams, it was a week to forget. Let’s get to it!

1. Penn State

Yikes. Big yikes, in fact. Penn State got a three-score, road-win against a conference opponent with an 11 AM local kick, and it felt difficult, to say the least. The run game couldn’t get going against an 8-man front, and the passing game couldn’t exploit said 8-man front. Luckily the defense played out of its mind, and a 30-13 road win is never a bad thing. But man, the Lions have some things to clean up.

2. Michigan

Another week, another “eh” win, this time 31-6 over Bowling Green. Bowling Green is actually marginally worse than UNLV, Michigan’s week two opponent, who is actually marginally worse than ECU, Michigan’s week one opponent, so I suppose I can respect the consistency.

3. Ohio State

Seems the Buckeyes may have sorted out their offense, coming alive with a 63-10 win over Western Kentucky. Their game against Notre Dame next week looms large.

4. Maryland

A 42-14 win over a Power 5 team is always a good day at the office, and Maryland did just that in beating Virginia. The Cavaliers are not very good, but still, the Terps have done well so far this season.

5. Iowa

RED ALERT RED ALERT. IOWA SCORED MORE THAN 25 POINTS. I REPEAT. IOWA SCORED MORE THAN 25 POINTS. I mean, it was against Western Michigan, potentially in the bottom 10 of all FBS teams, but still!

6. Wisconsin

A solid 35-14 rebound win over Georgia Southern for the Badgers.

7. Rutgers

Holy crap is that Rutgers in the top half of these rankings?? Way to go Scarlet Knights! Let’s see what bottom dweller they beat to get here - Virginia Tech?? 35-16?? Wow. Wow wow wow. Wow.

8. Minnesota

Ugly 31-13 loss to UNC, and the Big Ten West is back to looking fairly blech.

9. Indiana

Yet again, Indiana is managing to move up in these rankings despite a loss, this time 21-14 to Louisville. The Hoosiers were competitive in a loss, which I can’t really say for the next team.

10. Michigan State

Look, MSU was likely not going to be very good this year. And Mel Tucker’s suspension likely wasn’t going to help anything. And Washington is a top 10 team. But a 41-7 loss is atrocious, no matter how you slice it.

11. Illinois

I thought about moving the Illini up for the same reason as Indiana, as they were competitive in a 30-13 loss to Penn State. But their offense was abysmal, and if the Lions had played remotely close to the first 2 weeks, this is a loss by 30+ points.

12. Nebraska

Ahh bottom-tier chaos, how I love thee. A 35-11 win over Northern Illinois hauls Nebraska from the dregs of the conference (for now).

13. Purdue

Purdue lost 35-20 to Syracuse, and perhaps we should keep an eye on the Orange. But for now, this was not a good day for the Boilermakers.

14. Northwestern

Ayyy welcome back Wildcats! A week after moving out of the basement, Northwestern returns to its former digs, following a 38-14 loss to Duke. Can jNW climb back out of their hole at some point this season? Stay tuned!

6 in the morning, police at my door, fresh squiggle squeak across the bathroom floor.

The top three of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State hang out, while Maryland continues to climb. Iowa drops, and Wisconsin rebounds. Rutgers continues their ascent, but Minnesota tumbles. Indiana fails upward, and Michigan State plunges. Illinois chills out and Nebraska climbs out of the basement. Purdue and Northwestern are vying for the bottom spot.

On to week 4!