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September 10, 2013A weekly look at the Big Ten power rankings. Michigan was the most impressive of the bunch again in Week Two and appears set to enter Big Ten play undefeated.
1: Michigan (2-0; beat Notre Dame 41-30): This was the biggest test of the early season for any Big Ten team, and the Wolverines took care of business. The running game still needs work and the defensive line was a bit disappointing, but quarterback Devin Gardner hides a lot of warts. If and when he eliminates the one big mistake that seems to plague him in each game, he's a legitimate Heisman candidate - and Michigan is a favorite to win every game on the schedule.
2: Ohio State (2-0; beat San Diego St. 42-7 ) Braxton Miller went down early with a knee injury, but backup Kenny Guiton completed 19 of 28 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns and added 83 yards rushing and a TD. Make no mistake, though: this is not Brady Hoke's San Diego State the Buckeyes beat. The Aztecs lost to Eastern Illinois in their opener. There's a lot of talent on this team, however, and OSU remains a candidate to run the table before facing Michigan Nov. 30.
3: Northwestern (2-0; Beat Syracuse 40-27): Dynamic running back Venric Mark still didn't play but the Wildcats won easily. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian combined for 375 yards passing and four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Orange. Colter also led the Wildcats in rushing with 87 yards on 11 carries. Northwestern plays WMU and Maine the next two weeks and will be 4-0 before opening the Big Ten slate Oct. 5 at home vs. Ohio State.
3 (Tie): Wisconsin (2-0; Beat Tennessee Tech 48-0): It's still the same crappy non-conference schedule for the Badgers but Wisconsin is doing what it's done to them the last several years - pummeling them on the ground. This time three running backs eclipsed 100 yards, leading to 387 yards on the ground. Corey Clement notched 149 (including a 75-yard touchdown run) and the Badgers got140 yards and a touchdown from Melvin Gordon and 109 yards from James White. Quarterback Joe Stave threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns. We'll know more about this team next week when it travels to Arizona State.
5: Penn State (2-0; Beat EMU 45-7): Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw for 311 yards and a touchdown against hapless EMU, and Allen Robinson notched 129 yards receiving. PSU also rushed for 251 yards, and the only touchdown against came on a fumble return. The Nittany Lions have a decent test against UCF this weekend but will likely be undefeated when Michigan comes to town Oct. 12. That could be a fun one in Happy Valley.
6: Nebraska (2-0; Beat Southern Miss. 56-13): Quarterback Taylor Martinez threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns, and running back Ameer Abdullah rushed for 114 yards and two scores. The Cornhuskers finished with 285 yards rushing, but more importantly improved on defense after an abysmal performance against Wyoming. They notched first-quarter interceptions for touchdowns and Nebraska held Southern Miss to 62 rushing yards (four in the first three quarters) and 284 total yards.
7: Michigan State (2-0; Beat South Florida 21-6 ): Michigan State managed only 94 yards passing and 265 total yards against a team that was routed by McNeese State a week earlier, giving up 52 points. The defense again outscored the offense, putting up 14 points, but the Spartans would have trailed deep in the third quarter if not for a dropped pass deep in MSU territory. Youngstown State is next - a team that put up 718 yards of offense last week - but Notre Dame is up the following week and will be the Spartans' first even decent opponent. Yikes.
8: Illinois (2-0; Beat Cincinnati 45-17) This one might have been the Big Ten's surprise of the week. The Illini struggled a week earlier with Southern Illinois but put up 522 yards of offense behind quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The senior completed 26 of 37 passes for 312 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions; the Illini also rushed for 210 yards. The defense improved, too, holding Cincinnati to 3-for-13 on third down. A bigger test awaits with No. 20 Washington Saturday.
9: Minnesota (2-0; Beat New Mexico State 44-21) Like Wisconsin, Minnesota is taking advantage of its weaker non-conference slate to put up big numbers. The Gophers have been impressive on the ground, though - they put up 342 yards rushing. Quarterback Philip Nelson continued to impress with his legs, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota should be 4-0 heading into the Big Ten opener with Iowa.
10: Iowa (1-1; Beat Missouri State 28-14) Iowa opened with a disappointing home loss to Northern Illinois and struggled again with Missouri State, leading only 7-0 at the half. Mark Weisman notched 30 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns as part of a 296-yard rushing effort and the defense allowed only 196 total yards. Quarterback Jake Rudock remains a question mark - he was decent, but also threw a pick six.
11: Indiana (1-1; Lost to Navy 41-35) Many anticipated the Hoosiers would struggle with the Navy triple option, and they did, surrendering 444 yards. IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld led his team back from a 17-0 deficit with 363 yards and four touchdowns, but Navy racked up 24 first downs rushing and controlled the clock. Bowling Green and Missouri will test the Hoosiers the next two weeks.
12: Purdue (1-1; Beat Indiana State 20-14): The good news - Purdue won. That's about where it ends. One of the Boilers' touchdowns came on a kickoff return and quarterback Rob Henry looked average in throwing for 150 yards. He did avoid twitter in the postgame, however.