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September 2, 2014

Big Ten Power Poll: Week 2

It's time to update the BadgerBlitz.com Big Ten Power Poll, where Jon McNamara, Zack Miller and I will rank the Big Ten teams from 1 to 14 every week.

I complied the list in a traditional power poll style. A first place vote was good for 14 points, a second place one for 11, and so on.

BadgerBlitz.com Big Ten Power Poll: Week 2

1. Michigan State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) - 42 points (3 1st place votes)
Weekly change: N/A
Last week: Beat Jacksonville State 45-7
Highest vote: 1
Lowest vote: 1

No surprises here once again. Michigan State trounced Jacksonville State on Friday, even though they had a brief injury scare with starting quarterback Connor Cook. Their defense looked good once again: they picked off three passes in the game. They have a big test coming up this week though when they travel to Oregon with the Big Ten standard in tow.

2. Ohio State (1-0, 0-0) - 39 points
Weekly change: N/A
Last week: Beat Navy 34-17
Highest vote: 2
Lowest vote: 2

Ohio State had a brief scare when they couldn't get their offense going against the Midshipmen. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett eventually got it together, though: he completed 12 of 15 passes and threw two touchdown passes. Their offense has a stiff test coming up this week with Virginia Tech.

3. Wisconsin (0-1, 0-0) - 34 points
Weekly change: N/A
Last week: Lost to LSU 28-24
Highest vote: 3
Lowest vote: 5

The Badgers held on to the No. 3 spot despite their loss to LSU over the weekend. They got some good news in that Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring are both expected to return to the field in the next few weeks, but their quarterback situation is concerning enough where I bumped them down to No. 5 in my own poll. If they can figure something out in the passing game I'd feel a lot better about them.

4. Nebraska (1-0, 0-0) - 31 points
Weekly change: +1
Last week: Beat FAU 55-7
Highest vote: 4
Lowest vote: 5

Nebraska steamrolled FAU on Saturday, with Ameer Abdullah rushing for 232 yards and Tommy Armstrong throwing for 271 yards and two scores. Defensive end Randy Gregory is dealing with a knee injury, though, and we probably won't get a great idea of just how good this team is until they travel to Fresno State in week three.

T-5. Iowa (1-0, 0-0) - 30 points
Weekly change: -1
Last week: Northern Iowa 31-23
Highest vote: 3
Lowest vote: 6

Iowa struggled to put away Northern Iowa this week, but I liked what I saw out of their passing game. Jake Rudock completed 31 of 41 passes to 13 different players in the game, and their running game was effective, if not very explosive. We'll see if they can handle Ball State and Iowa State a little easier, otherwise I'll be forced to drop them down in my own rankings.

T-5. Michigan (1-0, 0-0) - 30 points
Weekly change: +1
Last week: Beat Appalachian State 51-14
Highest vote: 4
Lowest vote: 6

The Wolverines got their revenge on the Mountaineers behind a stellar performance from Devin Funchess, who scored three touchdowns on the day. Devin Gardner was nearly perfect on the day: 13 for 14 for 173 yards, but I'd like to see the Wolverines perform as well against a top shelf opponent before I move them up on my own list. They head down to South Bend this weekend for their last regularly scheduled game against Notre Dame.

7. Penn State (1-0, 0-0) - 23 points
Weekly change: N/A
Last week: Beat UCF 26-24
Highest vote: 7
Lowest vote: 8

Penn State pulled out a nice overseas win over Central Florida over the weekend, but it looked to me like this team is going to rise and fall along with Christian Hackenberg. He completed 32 of 47 passes but threw two interceptions that helped keep UCF in the game. This was the first of what will probably be many wins for James Franklin at Penn State, but as of now they need to keep Hackenberg at the top of his game- the depth just isn't there if he isn't.

8. Minnesota (1-0, 0-0) - 21 points
Weekly change: N/A
Last week: Beat Eastern Illinois 42-20
Highest vote: 7
Lowest vote: 9

It took the Gophers a little while to get going on offense, but eventually they were able to pull away from the Panthers. The passing game is still a concern, and Minnesota's first real test comes in two weeks when they have to travel down to TCU. They have a week to iron things out, though, because I doubt that Middle Tennessee will pose much of a threat.

9. Maryland (1-0, 0-0) - 18 points
Weekly change: +1
Last week: Beat James Madison 52-7
Highest vote: 8
Lowest vote: 10

Maryland moves up a spot after trouncing James Madison in their first game as a Big Ten member. Quarterback C.J. Brown performed well enough, mixing in 61 yards on the ground with 111 passing yards. They have a lot of weapons in the passing game, so we'll see if they can keep up that offensive performance against USF on the road this weekend.

10. Indiana (1-0, 0-0) - 15 points
Weekly change: N/A
Last week: Beat Indiana State 28-10
Highest vote: 9
Lowest vote: 11

Indiana stumbled a little bit against Indiana State. Nate Sudfeld didn't perform as well as I expected him to, but Tevin Coleman went off for 247 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns as well. If they can get their passing game back on track I still think they can make a bowl game, but they'll definitely need to step up in the coming weeks.

11. Northwestern (0-1, 0-0) - 13 points
Weekly change: -2
Last week: Lost to California 31-24
Highest vote: 10
Lowest vote: 11

Cal wasn't very good last year, but Northwestern couldn't overcome a strong offensive performance from Sonny Dykes' team. It's a new season, so last year's struggles don't necessarily carry over to this year, but this team really needs a quality win to get back on track and show anything to prove that they can compete in the Big Ten West.

12. Illinois (1-0, 0-0) - 8 points
Weekly change: N/A
Last week: Beat Youngstown State 28-17
Highest vote: 12
Lowest vote: 13

Illinois struggled to put away Youngstown State until the fourth quarter, when Wes Lunt threw three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The comeback was impressive in that they pulled it off, but not many teams are going to give them the same margin for error.

13. Rutgers (1-0, 0-0) - 7 points
Weekly change: +1
Last week: Beat Washington State 41-38
Highest vote: 12
Lowest vote: 13

Rutgers moves up a spot after an impressive comeback victory over Washington State on the road. I'm still in wait and see mode on the Scarlet Knights, but there's no doubting their skill position talent. If they can figure things out, they'll definitely exceed my expectations.

14. Purdue (1-0, 0-0) - 3 points
Weekly change: -1
Last week: Beat Western Michigan 43-34
Highest vote: 14
Lowest vote: 14

Sorry Purdue, you're back in the basement, even after a win. It was important for Purdue to get a win over an FBS team, but they still have a lot of things to figure out before they can really compete against the other four-fifths of the FBS consistently.

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

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