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Sam McKewon's Big Ten football power rankings, Week Two

Sam McKewon's Big Ten football power rankings, Week Two

Editor's note: The Huskers’ game Saturday against Wisconsin has been canceled and logged as “no contest” after the Badgers announced on Wednesday that it had too many positive COVID-19 tests this week. Read more here.

The World-Herald's Sam McKewon compiled his Big Ten football power rankings entering Week Two.

* * *

1. Ohio State (1-0)

Last week: Beat Nebraska 52-17. This week: at Penn State, 6:30 p.m., ABC

The Buckeyes can’t get cute in what’s still a big game against a ranked team. Chances are OSU quarterback Justin Fields won’t let that happen. He’s one talented, smooth operator. I thought Ohio State’s defensive line was pretty good, too. The back end isn’t as fast or physical as it was last year.

2. Michigan (1-0)

Last week: Beat Minnesota 49-24. This week: vs. Michigan State, 11 a.m., Fox

Hello! Michigan’s offense popped all over the place with new quarterback Joe Milton at the helm. Milton threw some bullet passes and UM averaged 8.26 yards per carry. The Wolverines notched five sacks, too. Now, Michigan will beat the brakes off a rival.

3. Wisconsin (1-0)

Last week: Beat Illinois 45-7. This week: at Nebraska, canceled

I don’t know how the Badgers do it on defense. They’re not that talented. The scheme isn’t that tricky. Wisconsin just makes it work. Guys are in place to make tackles and contest passes, and the tackling gets done, right there, on the spot.

4. Indiana (1-0)

Last week: Beat Penn State 36-35. This week: at Rutgers, 2:30 p.m., BTN

What a win for the Hoosiers! There’s a lot of Paul Rhoads (former Iowa State coach) in IU coach Tom Allen. This won’t be the last IU upset win. The real trick is making sure not to slip up at pesky Rutgers.

5. Penn State (0-1)

Last week: Lost to Indiana 36-35. This week: vs. Ohio State, 6:30 p.m., ABC

James Franklin has emerged as one of the good guys during the Big Ten’s journey back to football, so it hurt a little to watch his team make such a basic error at game’s end, when a PSU running back scored an ill-advised touchdown when he didn’t have to. Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (17 carries) ran it too much, too.

6. Purdue (1-0)

Last week: Beat Iowa 24-20. This week: at Illinois, 11 a.m., BTN

No Rondale Moore, no Jeff Brohm, no problem. The Boilermakers gave up 460 yards — which is a lot for Iowa — but only allowed the Hawkeyes to score two touchdowns on five red-zone trips. New defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s defense bent, but didn’t break.

7. Northwestern (1-0)

Last week: Beat Maryland 43-3. This week: at Iowa, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

The Wildcats have a nice 1-2 running back combo in thunder Isaiah Bowser (23 carries, 70 yards against Maryland) and lightning Drake Anderson (10 carries, 103 yards). Iowa, already on the ropes after a season-opening loss, will provide a stiffer test.

8. Iowa (0-1)

Last week: Lost to Purdue 24-20. This week: vs. Northwestern, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

The Hawkeyes probably should have won, given they racked up 460 yards. A huge game now looms with the Wildcats. Given the sheer nightmare of Iowa’s offseason — a strength coach leaving, an internal investigation into whether Kirk Ferentz runs a racist program, now a lawsuit — the season could go sour quickly.

9. Minnesota (0-1)

Last week: Lost to Michigan 49-24. This week: at Maryland, 6:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN

P.J. Fleck and his staff got outcoached — to be fair, Michigan’s offensive plan was terrific — while the Gophers’ defense, absent all those Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys recruits, moves into full rebuild mode. A game at awful Maryland should help Fleck and Co. get well.

10. Nebraska (0-1)

Last week: Lost to Ohio State 52-17. This week: vs. Wisconsin, canceled

The urgency ramps up in a big way this week. Wisconsin is not a mulligan game like Ohio State. It’s a division rival that Nebraska has to find a way to beat. How much did the Huskers hold back?

11. Rutgers (1-0)

Last week: Beat Michigan State 38-27. This week: vs. Indiana, 2:30 p.m., BTN

Snapped a long Big Ten losing streak by forcing turnovers and running the football. Greg Schiano has already left his imprint on the program, and former Wahoo Neumann and Nebraska quarterback Noah Vedral — wearing the No. 0 — won his first game as a starter.

12. Illinois (0-1)

Last week: Lost to Wisconsin 45-7. This week: vs. Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN

The margin of defeat is a little misleading — the Illini failed to convert a few fourth-down plays in Badger territory — but the offense didn’t score. That’s never good.

13. Michigan State (0-1)

Last week: Lost to Rutgers 38-27. This week: at Michigan, 11 a.m., Fox

Sparty played one awful half of football, followed by a better one that still resulted in a loss to Rutgers. The long transition to Mel Tucker may take all season and probably won’t be pretty. The offense, which committed seven turnovers, is still a mess.

14. Maryland (0-1)

Last week: Lost to Northwestern 43-3. This week: vs. Minnesota, 6:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN

It could be a depressing season for second-year coach Mike Locksley, who’s recruited many of the right players who are just now starting to take their lumps. Fallouts from bad cultures usually lag behind the revelation of the culture, so some of the full-on mess of the D.J. Durkin drama from two years ago is playing out now.

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