Big Ten Post-Week 2 Power Rankings
Athlon recaps the Week 2 action in the Big Ten.
By: Braden Gall | 9/10/12, 6:00 AM EDT
It could be a long year in Big Ten country. The league went 5-6 this weekend against FBS competition and 0-3 against the Pac-12. Teams that were considered Big Ten title contenders, Nebraska and Wisconsin, lost games in which they were favored, while Arizona State embarrassed the Fighting Illini. Throw in costly non-conference losses to Iowa State and Virginia by Iowa and Penn State respectively, and the league's season record against BCS leagues (and Notre Dame) now sits at 2-7 after two weeks. Those two wins? Northwestern's victories over Syracuse and Vanderbilt.
That leaves two teams that appear to be head and shoulders above the rest in Michigan State and Ohio State.
Post-Week 2 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - The sophomore signal caller is making a big statement early on. He posted another dynamic performance in the Buckeyes win by throwing for 155 yards and one touchdown to go with his 27 carries, 141 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground.
2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State - The burly runner certainly wasn't needed against Central Michigan like he was against Boise, but Bell still delivered with 70 yards and two touchdowns on 19 total touches. He now has 280 yards rushing and four scores in two wins for the Spartans.
3. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan - The Michigan quarterback bounced back this week with a typical Shoelace performance. He accounted for 101% of the Wolverines offense. That is right, he actually accounted for more total yards (426) than the entire Wolverines' team (422).
Post-Week 2 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Will Compton, LB, Nebraska - Yes, the Huskers allowed 36 points and lost, but it wasn't due to lack of effort from team leader Compton. He posted his second-straight 12-tackle game while adding a sack and tackle for loss as well.
2. Kawann Short, DL, Purdue - One the league's top talents played well in leading the Boilermakers to a near upset of two-touchdown favorite Notre Dame. He posted four total tackles, 2.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss while holding the Irish to 52 yards rushing on 36 carries.
3. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - The depleted Nittany Lions played with heart this weekend and Mauti was the leader. He posted nine tackles, forced a fumble and helped the defense stop Virginia's two-headed rushing attack. The Cavs turned the ball over four times and totaled 32 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
Post-Week 2 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State - The Spartans likely should have defeated Boise State by a wider margin in Week 1. There was no such concern this weekend as the only conference contender to soundly demolish its opponent was Michigan State.
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - The Ohio State Buckeyes look like they could be the best team in the league. They have what looks like the best player in Miller and possibly the best coach in Meyer. The countdown to Ohio State at Michigan State on Sept. 29 has already begun.
3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - There is a real lack of candidates after the big two above, but one of the only teams in the nation with two wins over BCS opponents is Northwestern. This defense showed marked improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 and it paid off with a win over an SEC team.
Post-Week 2 Power Rankings
1. Ohio State (2-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 2 result: Beat UCF 31-16
The Buckeyes are unbeaten, have outscored opponents by 61 points and have the conference player of the year under center. But there are still plenty of areas Urban Meyer would like to see improvement for Ohio State. His pass defense is rated 96th nationally at 281.0 yards allowed per game and in 95 pass attempts against, OSU has registered 3.0 sacks. Clearly, Meyer wants to see his team pressure the quarterback more consistently. On offense, the Buckeyes lost another running back when starter Carlos Hyde left with a knee injury after only seven carries and 27 yards. With original starter Jordan Hall already sidelined with his own issue, young playmakers will have to step up in the backfield. That said, if its superstar quarterback can continue to lead the Big Ten in rushing at 151.0 yards per game, Ohio State will continue to win games.
This week: Cal (1-1)
2. Michigan State (2-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 2 result: Beat Central Michigan 41-7
The Spartans might be the best team in the Big Ten, but if Mark Dantonio wants to return to Indianapolis this winter, quarterback Andrew Maxwell is going to have to play better than he did in Week 1. A romp through the Central Michigan secondary is exactly what the doctor ordered for the first-year starter. After no touchdowns and three interceptions last week, the strong-armed junior improved his production in every major passing category by completing 20-of-31 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. Meanwhile, the Big Ten's best defense had another day at the office, allowing 245 total yards, forced three turnovers and shutout the CMU offense. The Chips needed an interception return touchdown in the final minutes to register its only points of the day. Next up will be a physical test against a Notre Dame team that pounded it 31-13 last season.
This week: Notre Dame (2-0)
3. Michigan (1-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 2 result: Beat Air Force 31-25
For the third time in his career, quarterback Denard Robinson was Mr. 200 as he topped 200 yards both passing and rushing in the same game. He accounted for 426 total yards and all four Michigan touchdowns, showing fans his preseason Heisman Trophy form. But for the second time in two weeks, the Wolverines' porous rushing defense is the headline. After Alabama used its massive O-Line to crush the Maize and Blue last weekend, Air Force nearly cost Michigan its first win of the year by running the ball 70 times for 290 yards and three scores. The defensive front was the major point of concern throughout the summer and it appears it might be worse than Brady Hoke will ever admit. Yes, Alabama is the nation's best team and Air Force runs the triple-option, but teams that loom large on the schedule have power rushing attacks that UM fans have to be nervous about. Shoelace can't carry his team to a win every week in the Big Ten, he won't last the year.
This week: UMass (0-2)
4. Nebraska (1-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 2 result: Lost to UCLA 36-30
Rex Burkhead is the heart and soul of the Nebraska offense and while Ameer Abdullah was successful — 16 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns — it is hard to believe that Burkhead isn't worth at least six points throughout the course of any given game. Be it leadership, blitz pick-ups or carrying the load, not having Burkhead had to have helped UCLA pull off the tight home win. A much bigger culprit, however, would be the Black Shirts defense. Nebraska allowed 653 total yards and let Johnathan Franklin top the 200-yard mark for the second time this season (26 att., 217 yds, TD). The Huskers didn't slow quarterback Brett Hundley down much either, as the freshman threw for 305 yards and four scores to go with his own 53 yards rushing. Finally, quarterback Taylor Martinez wasn't close to the same passer he was last week against Southern Miss. He went from the league's most efficient passer (212.46) to someone who took costly sacks, completed only 54% of his passes and failed to throw a touchdown (96.9 QB). The good news for Huskers fans is that UCLA is simply that much better than expected and the offense churned out 438 yards.
This week: Arkansas State (1-1)
5. Wisconsin (1-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 2 result: Lost to Oregon State 10-7
A botched onside kick official review that should have given the ball to Wisconsin down by three points with just over a minute to play might have given the Badgers a chance to win the game. But make no mistake, the better team won the game Saturday in Corvallis. Bret Bielema's team couldn't move the football, Matt Canada's play-calling was uninspiring, and the defense couldn't get off the field when it had to. The Badgers didn't convert a third down until late in the fourth quarter and totaled 207 yards of offense. Danny O'Brien was inefficient and Montee Ball couldn't move the offense (15 att., 61 yards). But after leading the Big Ten in multiple offensive categories over the past few seasons, the void left by Paul Chryst was never larger than in the first non-conference regular season loss by Bielema. Many believed this was an 8-9 win Wisconsin team entering the season, but after two weeks of play and Utah State visiting Camp Randall this weekend, UW might be lucky to get to seven wins this fall. Which, of course, could still get them to the Big Ten title game.
This week: Utah State (2-0)
6. Northwestern (2-0)
Previous rank: 7
Week 2 result: Beat Vanderbilt 23-13
The numbers speak for themselves. The Wildcats allowed 596 total yards of offense, 41 points, a 68.2% completion rate and 3.9 yards per carry to the Syracuse Orange. Against an SEC team in Week 2, Northwestern improved sharply across the board, allowing 318 total yards, one total touchdown, a 51.5% completion rate and 3.0 yards per carry. Quarterback Kain Colter looked physically healthy after removing himself from the game last week with bruised ribs and scored on a late touchdown run to seal the game, but Trevor Siemian passed the football efficiently as well, completing 10-of-16 passes with no turnovers. That said, tailback Venric Mark was the star offensively, carrying the ball 24 times for 123 yards and a touchdown that sparked a 17-point fourth-quarter for the guys in purple. While neither win is a signature victory, Pat Fitzgerald's bunch has two BCS conference wins, and in a race to six victories, there is no such thing as a bad 2-0.
This week: Boston College (1-1)
7. Illinois (1-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 2 result: Lost to Arizona State 45-14
The Fighting Illini were without starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase Saturday night in the desert, but it may not have mattered. The defense was just as horrendous, as the quarterback play in a game that was never in doubt for Arizona State. Reilly O'Toole and Miles Osei combined to throw three interceptions and only 101 yards, while contributing one touchdown to the Illinois offense. Defensively, Arizona State had its way with the Orange Crush, finishing with over 500 yards of offense while five different players scored six total touchdowns. A positive sign was the improved running game for U of I. It gained only 115 yards on 41 attempts (2.8 ypc) against Western Michigan, but was able to average 4.6 yards per carry on 50 attempts this weekend (231 yards). In a division that is wide open, the loss means little for Tim Beckman's ultimate goals, but getting Scheelhaase back under center before the start of conference play is imperative.
This week: Charleston Southern (0-2)
8. Iowa (1-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 2 result: Lost to Iowa State 9-6
Kirk Ferentz's hold on the Iowa coaching job just got a little more tenuous after a second straight three-point loss to in-state rival Iowa State. And it doesn't take a hardened 30-year football vet to see what is the problem. After two weeks, Iowa ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring (12.0 ppg), last in total offense (286.0 ypg), second to last in rushing (103.5 ypg) and last in passing efficiency (90.25). Two costly James Vandenberg interceptions - who has yet to throw a touchdown pass in 75 attempts - and an ineffective running game (68 yards rushing), gave Iowa State its first win in Iowa City in a decade. Iowa gets an upset-minded Northern Iowa team this weekend and will be in for a long season if new offensive coordinator Greg Davis doesn't figure out a way to score more points.
This week: Northern Iowa (1-1)
9. Purdue (1-1)
Previous rank: 9
Week 2 result: Lost to Notre Dame 20-17
How many quarterbacks is too many quarterbacks? Purdue got a great defensive effort from its front seven as Kawann Short and company held Notre Dame to 52 yards rushing on 36 carries. But two key Caleb TerBush interceptions, four sacks and one game-winning 27-yard field goal with seven seconds to go left Purdue heart-broken in South Bend. Danny Hope alternated TerBush with back-up Robert Marve most of the game and neither played particularly well and it has led to the Boilers leading the Big Ten in turnovers lost (7). Marve kickstarted the offense at the end of the first half and then again late in the third-quarter but left the game with yet another knee injury. Marve had an MRI on Sunday and talk from Purdue camp feels ominous about his brittle lower half. Marve's injury-marred career may have a sad ending but the silver lining may be Hope settling on one signal caller.
This week: Eastern Michigan (0-2)
10. Penn State (0-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 2 result: Lost to Virginia 17-16
Opening weekend was likely a painful experience for many Nittany Lions fans, but the one point loss to Virginia must have felt like salt in the wound. Penn State outplayed the Cavaliers for much of the game Saturday and got a valiant effort from its senior-led defense. But with 1:28 to go in the game, the Wahoos scored a touchdown to take the lead. Matt McGloin then led his squad down the field to the 22 yard line where a 42-yard field goal would have given Bill O'Brien the first win of his career. But Sam Ficken, kicking in place of the departed Anthony Fera, missed his fourth field goal of the game as time expired. This team doesn't have too many chances to get wins this year, so this loss is crushing to the morale of a program that desperately needs some good news.
This week: Navy (0-1)
11. Minnesota (2-0)
Previous rank: 11
Week 2 result: Beat New Hampshire 44-7
Minnesota was tip-toeing around the Wildcats 9-7 with less than a minute left in the first quarter when senior leader MarQueis Gray exploded up the middle for a 75-yard touchdown run. The score led to arguably the most complete game of the Jerry Kill era. Gray protected the football, produced as both a passer (100 yards, 2 TD) and runner (17 att., 109 yards, TD) and the defense was stifling (231 total yards allowed). With Western Michigan, Syracuse, Iowa and Northwestern up next, Kill has Golden Gopher fans thinking bowl game.
This week: Western Michigan (1-1)
12. Indiana (2-0)
Previous rank: 12
Week 2 result: Beat UMass 45-6
Kevin Wilson has doubled his first-year win total of one by hammering FBS newbie UMass this weekend. The Hoosier lead the Big Ten in protecting the football with only one turnover lost in two weeks. And quarterback Tre Roberson looks like a poised veteran. Unfortunately, just as IU fans start to get excited about the team, Roberson was taken off the field in an ambulance with a serious leg injury. As the rest of the Big Ten struggles, it appeared Indiana had reason for optimism under Roberson. That may all be gone now as sophomore Cameron Coffman now takes over under center.
This week: Ball State (1-1)
by Braden Gall
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