World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten conference teams following the second week of the college football season.
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1. Michigan (2-0)
Last week: beat Notre Dame 41-30. This week: Akron, 11 a.m., BTN.
The Wolverines move to the top for having the Big Ten's best victory so far. The offense operated smoothly against a strong Notre Dame defense. As for UM's defense and special teams, a month of softies on the schedule give time for retooling.
2. Ohio State (2-0)
Last week: beat San Diego State 42-7. This week: at California, 6 p.m., Fox.
Quarterback Braxton Miller can probably kiss his Heisman Trophy hopes goodbye. After a wobbly first week, he left Saturday in the first quarter with a sprained knee ligament and didn't return. Will the injury slow him all season?
3. Northwestern (2-0)
Last week: beat Syracuse 48-27. This week: Western Michigan, 8 p.m., BTN.
The Wildcats are a true Big Ten title contender if they can stay healthy. QB Kain Colter (concussion) was back Saturday and as good as ever. But RB/KR star Venric Mark (leg) didn't play and might sit until Oct. 5 against Ohio State.
4. Nebraska (2-0)
Last week: beat Southern Mississippi 56-13. This week: UCLA, 11 a.m., ABC.
Much better, Huskers. That's how you're supposed to handle struggling opponents. This week, the opportunity to regain some national respect comes against UCLA, but it won't be easy.
5. Wisconsin (2-0)
Last week: beat Tennessee Tech 48-0. This week: at Arizona State, 9:30 p.m., ESPN.
The Badgers like their new 3-4 pressure-based defensive alignment. They have shut out the first two opponents of the season for the first time since 1958. The first real test, though, comes this week against Arizona State's rapid attack.
6. Penn State (2-0)
Last week: beat Eastern Michigan 45-7. This week: Central Florida, 5 p.m., BTN.
Nittany Lions fans are finding a lot to like about true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Through two games, he has completed 70 percent of his passes and calmly led PSU's efficient offense.
7. Michigan State (2-0)
Last week: beat South Florida 21-6. This week: Youngstown State, 1 p.m., BTN.
Coach Mark Dantonio is on edge over the mess at quarterback and general offensive ineptitude. Pulling the redshirt on true freshman QB Damion Terry, slowed last week by strep throat and a sore thumb, is still an option.
8. Illinois (2-0)
Last week: beat Cincinnati 45-17. This week: Washington at Soldier Field, 5 p.m., BTN.
Remember the name Bill Cubit. His hiring in the offseason as offensive coordinator after being fired as head coach at Western Michigan has pumped unexpected life into a moribund Illini program.
9. Minnesota (2-0)
Last week: beat New Mexico State 44-21. This week: Western Illinois, 11 a.m., BTN.
The Gophers scored two more non-offensive touchdowns Saturday (65-yard punt return, 50-yard fumble return), bringing their two-game total to five. Almost impossible to keep that pace up, so offense needs to click soon.
10. Indiana (1-1)
Last week: lost to Navy 41-35. This week: Bowling Green, 11 a.m., ESPNU.
Indiana has enough problems stopping today's style of offense. Subjecting itself to Navy's triple-option was a big mistake. The Hoosiers gave up 444 yards on the ground and never really stopped Navy until an end-of-game kneeldown.
11. Iowa (1-1)
Last week: beat Missouri State 28-14. This week: at Iowa State, 5 p.m., Fox Sports 1.
If there's truth to the old coaching axiom that the most improvement comes between the first and second games of the season, Hawkeye fans should prepare to duck and cover the next three months. That was an ugly show against an average FCS team.
12. Purdue (1-1)
Last week: beat Indiana State 20-14. This week: Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ABC.
This is the last thing a struggling Boilermaker program with a first-year coach needs. A prime-time game against a legitimate top 20 opponent that is angry after a tough loss. Ugh!