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September 17, 2013

Big Ten Power Poll: Week 3





Three weeks of college football are in the books, so it's time to update the BadgerBlitz.com Big Ten Power Poll, where Jon McNamara, Jon Gorman and I will rank the Big Ten teams from 1 to 12 every week.

I complied the list in a traditional power poll style- a first place vote was good for 12 points, a second place one for 11, and so on.

1. Ohio State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) - 36 points (3 1st place votes)
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated California 52-34

No Braxton Miller? No problem. Kenny Guiton threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns in relief of Miller, who sat out the week with an injured knee. It was more of a precaution, but Ohio State fans should know that they're in good hands if Miller's knee injury lingers this season. Oh, and Guiton had 92 rushing yards on 14 carries. They're still clearly the class of the Big Ten, but I'm not sure if I can predict them to run the table the rest of the way.

2. Michigan (3-0, 0-0) - 33 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Akron 28-24

Call me crazy, but I'm not panicking over Michigan after they escaped from the Zips by the skin of their teeth. Their defense bailed them out of a few tough situations, but I think this was a letdown game after they thumped Notre Dame last week. Every team has off weeks, so I'm not going to sell my Wolverines stock just yet. They'll have a chance to bounce back this week against UConn, but that game is out on the road. We'll know if Michigan's problems with Akron were just a blip or something more concerning after their game with the Huskies.

3. Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0) - 30 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Arizona State 32-30

What else needs to be said? The Badgers were robbed of a chance to win or lose their game with Arizona State by the Pac-12 officiating crew, who botched the last 18 seconds of play and prevented them from attempting a field goal. We don't know if Kyle French would have made a game-winning field goal, but I'm giving the Badgers the benefit of the doubt here. They struggled at times against a good team, but they still rallied and put themselves in a position to capitalize and potentially win the game before the whole officiating fiasco started.

4. Northwestern (3-0, 0-0) 29 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Western Michigan 38-17

It was same old, same old for the Wildcats. They dominated a weaker opponent, which is what they should be doing at this time of year. They'll play Maine next week, so it's unlikely that we'll learn much more about them until October when they host Ohio State in Evanston. We'll find out that week if the Wildcats are for real, and no sooner. I like their potential, but just like the Badgers last week I still need to see more of them before making a real judgment.

5. Michigan State (3-0, 0-0) - 26 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Youngstown State 55-17

No, I don't care that it came against Youngstown State- it was just refreshing to see Michigan State score points because of plays their offense actually called. They've identified a starting quarterback in Connor Cook, who threw for 202 yards and four touchdowns last week against the Penguins. We'll see if the Spartans can carry that momentum in to the rest of their season- they'll need it in the Big Ten season, because it's hard to win games when your offense can't score.

6. Nebraska (2-1, 0-0) - 21 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: lost to UCLA 41-21

Is it just me, or are things looking ugly in Lincoln? I didn't expect Nebraska's defense to be particularly good this season, but the Cornhuskers put on a collapse clinic against the Bruins. Nebraska was outscored 31-0 after halftime, and had no answer for a very good UCLA team. The Huskers can still stop weaker teams, but they're going to have problems with teams that are just pretty good on offense. Bo Pelini seems to be on shaky ground, especially since his team's defensive problems have lingered for a while.

7. Penn State (2-1, 0-0) - 17 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to UCF 34-31

The UCF Knights gave Penn State all they could handle, and Penn State just couldn't keep up even with a pretty good day from Christian Hackenburg. Hackenburg completed 21-of-28 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown on the day, but it just wasn't enough to make up for poor play on defense. We'll see how Penn state responds this week against Kent State- that should be a pretty good bounce-back opportunity for them.

8. Iowa (2-1, 0-0) - 13 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Iowa State 27-21

Iowa scraped out a win over their in-state rival, but I'm doubting that many of Iowa's wins this season are going to be pretty. Mark Weisman rushed for 145 yards on 35 carries, which seems like an unsustainable pace. Jack Rudock was ok- passing for 160 yards and two touchdowns, but Iowa will take what they can get at this point.

9. Minnesota (3-0, 0-0) - 12 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: defeated Western Illinois 29-12

Head coach Jerry Kill's seizure before halftime obivously overshadowed the actual game, and we wish him the best as he moves forward with the Gophers. But Minnesota showed some flaws against an FCS team- quarterback Phillip Nelson was injured early on in the game, so that's a situation worth monitoring. The Leathernecks also lead the Gophers until about the end of the third quarter, but they closed out the game with two fourth quarter scores. We'll really see what this Minnesota team is made of this week when they play San Jose State.

10. Indiana (2-1, 0-0) - 9 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Bowling Green 42-10

The Hoosiers bounced back after a tough loss to Navy last week, and beat a Bowling Green team that should contend in the MAC this year. I thought this was a tricky game for the Hoosiers, but their defense flashed a little bit and their offense came back to life. Watch out for Indiana in the next few weeks- a bowl game is still in the conversation for them this season, but they'll likely need 3 Big Ten wins. That's hard, but doable.

T-11. Illinois (1-2, 0-0) - 6 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Washington 34-24

Illinois came back to earth a little bit in their loss to Washington, and a rough game from Nathan Scheelhaase didn't help matters. Scheelhaase completed 9-of-25 passes for 156 yards, and threw one touchdown and one interception. The Illini's success against Cincinnati last week was largely because of Scheelhaase- they need to get him going again if they want to be competitive in the Big Ten.

T-11. Purdue (1-2, 0-0) - 6 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Notre Dame 31-24

Purdue actually put up a pretty decent fight against the Fighting Irish, but couldn't take advantage of a few key mistakes and missed a gold opportunity to knock off the Irish at Ross-Ade Stadium. They looked better than they have in previous weeks, but I think they're still going to struggle in the Big Ten as their offense tries to gel together. This week presents a tough road game against Wisconsin, whom they haven't beaten since 2003.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.



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