Big Ten power rankings: Iowa nearing top-three status in B10 ... but not quite yet

Kirkland Crawford
Detroit Free Press

It's too early to hand out "pretenders" status to any team in the Big Ten, especially so early in the season. 

But a few of the superlative Week 2 performances were snuffed out by what happened in Week 3. More specifically what we saw in East Lansing and Philadelphia.

Michigan State football, which seemed to get its offense in order against Western Michigan, fell back about two steps in the 10-7 loss to Arizona State.

And then Maryland, which had blow away its first two opponents, found Temple to be much more difficult in the 20-17 loss at Temple. 

Michigan State Spartans' Drew Beesley (86) and Kenny Willekes (48) after a stop against Arizona State during the second half Sept. 14, 2019 at Spartan Stadium.

But, as you'll see below, our power rankings don't change all that much. Let us explain why:

1. Ohio State (3-0)

Last week: 1. Starting to become old hat, right? The Buckeyes systematically tear through their September opponents – this time, 51-10 at Indiana – and show to be impervious to anything the Big Ten has to offer. We remind you, it's early. But we also remind you, Ohio State has more talent than just about anyone in the region.

Next up: vs. Miami (Ohio), 2:30 p.m. Saturday, BTN.

USA TODAY coaches' poll:MSU drops out; U-M remains No. 10

2. Wisconsin (2-0)

Last week: 2. An off week for the Badgers to get ready for their first big test of the season. And even with the off week, Jonathan Taylor is still tied for the conference lead with five rushing touchdowns. 

Next up: vs. Michigan, 11 a.m. Saturday, Fox.

3. Michigan (2-0)

Last week: 3. Well, at least a week off after a varied rushing attack should have the Wolverines more than ready for this showdown in Madison. The questions surrounding the new offense remain, though. Even with the celebrated Don Brown Defense, it feels like U-M will have to win a shootout or two to stay in the Big Ten race, right?

More on U-M:Zach Charbonnet was groomed to be a freshman star. Here's how

Next up: at Wisconsin, 11 a.m. Saturday, Fox.

Iowa's Keith Duncan (3) celebrates with Colten Rastetter, left, after kicking a field goal during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa won 18-17. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

4. Iowa (3-0)

Last week: 5. A very solid road win in a rivalry game for the Hawkeyes, who overcame an eight-point second-half deficit to beat Iowa State, 18-17. Just enough offense and a stingy defense made a few plays late. Don't be surprised if Kirk Ferentz's team sticks to this formula, as it has done in the past, to remain a factor for the Big Ten West.

Next up: vs. Middle Tennessee State, Sept. 28, time and TV TBA.

5. Penn State (3-0)

Last week: 4. Speaking of making plays late in a rivalry game, the Nittany Lions held off Pittsburgh at home for a 17-10 victory. Just to let you know how far the days of Saquon Barkley are: Penn State basically has four No. 1 running backs. Journey Brown had 10 carries (for 109 yards, though one was for 85), Noah Cain had six carries, Devyn Ford five and Ricky Slade four.

Next up: at Maryland, 8 p.m. Friday, Fox Sports 1.

6. Michigan State (2-1)

Last week: 6. Above the missed calls by the officials. Above the 12-men-on-the-field penalty wiping out the game-tying field Above the defense yielding the go-ahead touchdown late. The Spartans have got to figure out how to score more than seven points at home. Or they'll be looking up at these five teams ahead of them all season long.

Mark Dantonio:Late-game chaos threw me off a bit vs. Arizona State

Next up: at Northwestern, noon Saturday, ABC.

7. Maryland (2-1)

Last week: 7. The Terrapins are part of the reason why MSU didn't fall in the rankings. Anthony McFarland is giving Taylor a push for league's top back, but the Terps struggled to find traction in the 20-17 loss at Temple. But, because the loss came after coming up short on by a few inches at the goal line, there's no real drop for Maryland, either.

Next up: vs. Penn State, 8 p.m. Friday, Fox Sports 1.

8. Northwestern (1-1)

Last week: 8. The Wildcats defense pitched a second-half shutout in the 30-14 win over UNLV. But ... it was UNLV, at home no less. And with the way Stanford is looking, that loss out to Palo Alto is looking worse by the week. What will Pat Fitzgerald have in store for the Spartans this week?

Next up: vs. Michigan State, noon Saturday, ABC.

Nebraska running back Dedrick Mills (26) runs past Northern Illinois safety Adam Buirge, bottom, for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

9. Nebraska (2-1)

Last week: 9. No, we're not just being lazy and ranking the teams where they were last week and calling it a day. There was math involved here. And logic. And, well, look, if you're going to hammer a MAC team, that was bowl-eligible last season, at home, then you don't get too many kudos. A 44-8 win over Northern Illinois is what was expected, especially at the start of this season.

Next up: at Illinois, 8 p.m. Saturday, BTN.

10. Minnesota (3-0)

Last week: 11. See, it's far from a simple copy-and-paste from last week. The Gophers jumped up a spot, in part because we're a bit more impressed with the late comeback – albeit at home – against Georgia Southern, a good FCS team, 35-32. Tyler Johnson continues to cement his status as the best wideout in the Big Ten with three TD catches, including the winner with 13 seconds to go. 

Next up: at Purdue, Sept. 28, time and TV TBA.

11. Purdue (1-2)

Last week: 10. Easy call dropping the Boilermakers a bit here after getting trounced at home by TCU, 34-13. Purdue ran for just 23 yards on 25 carries against the Horned Frogs. But more than that, Rondale Moore had only four touches on offense. That's not good enough.

Next up: vs. Minnesota, Sept. 28, time and TV TBA.

Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Donovan Hale (6) makes a contested catch during the game against Ohio State at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

12. Indiana (2-1)

Last week: 12. Hard to gauge just how good Indiana can be after the beatdown by the hands of Ohio State. Then again, the Hoosiers allowed 306 rushing yards, and 193 to J.K. Dobbins, so we imagine this is a case of Tom Allen just burning the game tape and getting ready for next week.

Next up: vs. Connecticut, noon Saturday, BTN.

13. Illinois (2-1)

Last week: 13. As we remind you weekly, we love the MAC, and especially Eastern Michigan, which pulled off its third straight win over a Big Ten opponent with the 34-31 win in Champaign. Lovie Smith doesn't have a problem with the offense at least, with Brandon Peterson throwing for 297 yards and Reggie Corbin running for 1444.

Next up: vs. Nebraska, 8 p.m. Saturday, BTN.

14. Rutgers (1-1)

Last week: 14. No fault of their own this time. The Scarlet Knights can't even get the bye week boost because ... well, it's Rutgers. But we will see if they can catch another team reeling as Boston College is coming off a disappointing loss to Kansas.

Next up: vs. Boston College, noon Saturday, BTN.

Contact Kirkland Crawford: Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere.