World-Herald Big Ten conference beat writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten from top to bottom as published in The World-Herald on Monday, Sept. 2.
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1. Ohio State (1-0)
Last week: beat Buffalo 40-20. This week: San Diego State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN. Should be no contest here, even if the Buckeyes are short again because of suspensions and injuries. SDSU lost at home to FCS Eastern Illinois 40-19.
2. Michigan (1-0)
Last week: beat Central Michigan 59-9. This week: Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ABC. Irish coach Brian Kelly started a brushfire Sunday by saying the series with Michigan “isn't a historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalry.”
3. Northwestern (1-0)
Last week: beat California 44-30. This week: Syracuse, 5 p.m., BTN. Injuries already are piling up for the Wildcats. Running back and return star Venric Mark, who is “dinged up,'' was limited to 11 carries and no returns in the opener.
4. Wisconsin (1-0)
Last week: beat Massachusetts 45-0. This week: Tennessee Tech, 11 a.m., BTN. Having three backs rush for more than 100 yards, regardless of opponent, is a strong start for a new coach and offensive coordinator.
5. Nebraska (1-0)
Last week: beat Wyoming 37-34. This week: Southern Mississippi, 5 p.m., BTN. The defense has given up 602, 589 and 640 yards the past three games. Those are frightening, Cosgrove-ian numbers.
6. Penn State (1-0)
Last week: beat Syracuse 23-17. This week: Eastern Michigan, 11 a.m., BTN. Wide receiver Alan Robinson sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons. His second half? Seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown.
7. Michigan State (1-0)
Last week: beat Western Michigan 26-13. This week: South Florida, 11 a.m., ESPNU. The Spartans get another week to try to ignite their sputtering offense without much worry. South Florida lost to FCS McNeese State 53-21.
8. Indiana (1-0)
Last week: beat Indiana State 73-35. This week: Navy, 5 p.m., BTN. The score from the opener confirms everything said about the Hoosiers going into the season — explosive offense, suspect defense.
9. Minnesota (1-0)
Last week: beat UNLV 51-23. This week: at New Mexico State, 7 p.m., no TV. Two special-teams TDs and a defensive score helped soothe the hurt from getting outgained 419-320. Top RB Donnell Kirkwood (ankle) is out this week.
10. Iowa (0-1)
Last week: lost to Northern Illinois 30-27. This week: Missouri State, 11 a.m., BTN. The Hawkeye offense really struggled down the stretch. Makes you think if QB Jake Rudock had actually taken snaps last year, it might have been different.
11. Illinois (1-0)
Last week: beat Southern Illinois 42-34. This week: Cincinnati, 11 a.m., ESPN2. Any Illini win is a good win. But SIU, picked to finish eighth in its FCS league, threw at will and stopped Illinois from running the ball. Not good signs.
12. Purdue (0-1)
Last week: lost to Cincinnati 42-7. This week: Indiana State, 11 a.m., BTN. Poor fifth-year senior and injury plagued QB Rob Henry. He finally gets a chance to start, but the Boilermakers stick the option specialist in a West Coast offense.