Penn State had one of the more impressive wins of the weekend, but the Hawkeyes keep hold of the top spot in Parker Gabriel's weekly league rankings.
1. Iowa (3-0, 1-0)
Previous: 1. Last week: W 30-7 vs. Kent State.
The Hawkeyes kept it rolling against a pretty good Kent State team. Tyler Goodson ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns. That defense is mean, though, and is going to provide a stiff challenge to just about everybody in the Big Ten. They close out nonconference play with Colorado State before diving headlong into the league slate.
2. Penn State (3-0, 1-0)
Previous: 2. LW: W 28-20 vs. Auburn.
Perhaps the best win in the Big Ten for the week, the Nittany Lions knocked off the No. 22 Tigers in an electric environment at Beaver Stadium. PSU ran for just 84 yards, but punched in a short touchdown in each quarter and held Auburn in check offensively. Villanova is up next for James Franklin’s team before Indiana and Iowa back-to-back. A long way to go, but the Big Ten East is in PSU’s hands until somebody takes it from them.
3. Ohio State (2-1, 1-0)
Previous: 3. LW: W 41-20 vs. Tulsa.
The Buckeyes poured it on late to pull away from Tulsa, but overall weren’t particularly impressive. A TU touchdown with 12:07 remaining pulled the visitors within 27-20 before two late touchdowns for the hosts forged the more comfortable final margin. The good news? Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson is really good. He rushed for 277 and three touchdowns.
4. Michigan State (3-0, 1-0)
Previous: 7. LW: W 38-17 at Miami.
How about the Spartans? Mel Tucker’s team is off to one of the most impressive starts in the conference and certainly the most surprising. MSU was locked in a close game with the Hurricanes on the road, but dominated in the fourth quarter to the tune of 21-3. Kenneth Walker rushed for 172 yards and Peyton Thorne threw four touchdown passes. Walker, a Wake Forest transfer, has 493 rushing yards and five touchdowns through three games and is averaging 8.6 per carry.
5. Michigan (3-0, 0-0)
Previous: 4. LW: W 63-10 vs. Northern Illinois.
Another blowout nonconference win for the Wolverines, who now play Rutgers at home and Wisconsin and Nebraska on the road before their bye week. Blake Corum has been one of the Big Ten’s best backs so far. Take nothing away from UM’s start to the season, but we’ll have a good idea of where they’re at in terms of competing for the East over the next three weeks.
6. Minnesota (2-1, 0-1)
Previous: 5. LW: W 30-0 at Colorado.
The Gophers suffered a major injury in Week 1 when Mohamed Ibrahim was lost against the Buckeyes. Then they struggled against Miami (Ohio). That must have made Saturday feel even better as Minnesota hammered Colorado on the road. P.J. Fleck’s team held Colorado to minus-19 rushing yards, 63 yards overall and six first downs. Hello. UM has a brutal closing run, but its next six look like this: Bowling Green, at Purdue, Nebraska, Maryland, at Northwestern and Illinois.
7. Wisconsin (1-1, 0-1)
Previous: 6. LW: Idle.
The Badgers didn’t play and will come off the bye week looking for better quarterback play. They’ll hope they don’t see too much of it in the opposite huddle, too, when they face Notre Dame and former UW signal-caller Jack Coan.
8. Maryland (3-0, 1-0)
Previous: 8. LW: 20-17 at Illinois.
The Terps are off to a good start under Mike Locksley. Taulia Tagovailoa is leading the Big Ten in total offense per game and has a potent set of receivers to throw the ball to. Maryland had fumble problems and needed some help from Illinois to get out of Champaign with a win, but got the job done. Kent State is up next before perhaps the most rugged stretch of any Big Ten team: Iowa, at Ohio State, at Minnesota, Indiana, Penn State, at MSU and then Michigan.
9. Rutgers (3-0, 0-0)
Previous: 9. LW: W 45-13 vs. Delaware.
The Scarlet Knights rolled past Delaware and are off to a 3-0 start under Greg Schiano. Quarterback Noah Vedral had an efficient day and Rutgers had 35 on the board by halftime. It gets much tougher from here, beginning with a trip to Michigan. Then, Ohio State and Michigan State come to New Jersey. That’s life in the Big Ten East.
10. Indiana (1-2, 0-1)
Previous: 10. LW: L 38-24 vs. Cincinnati.
Both of IU’s losses this year are to teams that are now ranked in the top 10, but it’s a disappointing start for Tom Allen’s team nonetheless. After a trip to Western Kentucky this weekend, two more top 10 teams await the Hoosiers in October in Penn State and Ohio State.
11. Purdue (2-1, 0-0)
Previous: 11. LW: L 27-13 at Notre Dame.
The Boilermakers hung with the Irish, but didn’t have enough offense to get the job done. Concern, too, for star wide receiver David Bell, who left the game with a scary-looking head/neck injury. His health is most important, but it’s also clear that Jeff Brohm’s offense won’t be the same going forward if he’s out.
12. Illinois (1-3, 1-1)
Previous: 12. LW: L 20-17 vs. Maryland.
The Illini’s spiral downward continued. They got the ball back in a tie game with a chance to drive the field and win, but instead went sack, sack, penalty and gave up so much ground that they set up Maryland on the plus side of midfield. Three plays later, a field goal sent UI to its third straight loss. Bret Bielema has his hands full with the rebuild in Champaign.
13. Nebraska (2-2, 0-1)
Previous: 13. LW: L 23-16 at Oklahoma.
Close but no cigar for the Huskers on the road against the No. 3 Sooners. Nebraska had several chances to win the game, but made too many mistakes and cost itself a chance at what would have been by far the best win under Scott Frost. It’ll be no picnic for the Huskers on Saturday night at Michigan State, either.
14. Northwestern (1-2, 0-1)
Previous: 14. LW: L 30-23 at Duke.
The Wildcats' rough start to the fall continued with a loss against the Blue Devils. They trailed 30-7 at halftime and made the game close late. Now Pat Fitzgerald’s crew finishes nonconference play against Ohio before getting back into league games on Oct. 2 at Nebraska.