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Should Penn State football fall in latest Big Ten power rankings?

After a sluggish showing on Saturday, should Penn State football fall in the latest Big Ten power rankings?



Penn State football, Big Ten power rankings
Sep 16, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Kaytron Allen (13) cannot make a catch near the end zone against Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Seth Coleman (49) during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Another week of Big Ten football is in the books. Penn State football got out of Champaign with a 30-13 win over Illinois last Saturday. However, it wasn’t the best showing on the offensive side of the ball for the Nittany Lions. Did this performance push Penn State back, or could the Nittany Lions hold firm in our latest Big Ten power rankings?

Updated Big Ten power rankings

As Week 3 of the college football season has ended, there’s much more shifting in this week’s Big Ten power rankings than in previous editions. Here’s where we stand going into Week 4:

14. Northwestern 1-2 (Last week 13)

The Wildcats could not do much of anything against Duke this past Saturday, falling to the Blue Devils 38-14. There are no signs Northwestern will be competitive much this season. They host the Gophers this Saturday night.

13. Indiana 1-2 (Last week 12)

The Hoosiers held their own against Louisville at Lucas Oil Stadium. They even had a chance to tie the game near the end of the 4th quarter but were denied on a 4th and goal from the 1-yard line.

The good news for Indiana is they may have found its quarterback in Tayven Johnson. The Hoosiers host Akron next.

12. Nebraska 1-2 (Last week 14)

The Cornhuskers played at home for the first time this season, and it paid off as they defeated Northern Illinois 35-11. Heinrich Haarberg, filling in under center for injured Jeff Sims, threw for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

Nebraska will attempt to get a winning streak going with a home game against Louisiana Tech this Saturday.

11. Purdue 1-2 (Last week 11)

The Boilermakers failed to establish a rushing attack, committed 11 penalties, and turned over the ball four times. It all spelled disaster as they fell to Syracuse 25-20.

This year’s team is certainly not the team that went to the Big Ten Championship game a year ago. They open up conference play at Wisconsin this Friday, hoping to rebound.

10. Illinois 1-2 (Last week 8)

The Illini defense tried its best and kept the team in the game as much as they could Saturday against Penn State football. But it was the mistakes, five turnovers in total, that eventually did them in.

A bright spot for Illinois is defensive tackle Johnny Newton. He singlehandedly kept the Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen, and Penn State football rushing attack in check, and blocked a field goal. The Illini will look to bounce back against Florida Atlantic.

9. Michigan State 2-1 (Last week 7)

Not a surprise, but Sparty got blown out by Washington this week 41-7. The Huskies totaled over 700 yards total offense, with Michael Penix contributing 473 yards through the air.

The Spartan program is in a rough spot, and it is hard to see how they will climb out of the hole this season. Their non-conference slate is over, and Maryland is up next. Their slide down the power rankings could continue.

8. Rutgers 3-0 (Last week 10)

Rutgers earned a 35-16 victory over a hapless Virginia Tech team reeling from injuries. Nevertheless, the Scarlet Knights are 3-0 for the third consecutive year.

A realistic goal for this team is bowl eligibility. Michigan looms large at the Big House this Saturday. But Wagner, Michigan State, and Indiana remain so six wins is certainly possible for Greg Schiano’s team.

7. Minnesota 2-1 (Last week 6)

The Gophers took their first loss of the season, falling to North Carolina 31-13. Freshman running back Darius Taylor had a solid outing, but Athan Kaliakmanis continues to struggle under center.

Minnesota gets back into conference play with a date in Evanston Saturday night.

6. Wisconsin 2-1 (Last week 8)

It was a slow start for the Badgers against Georgia Southern. They were tied 7-7 at halftime, and the Eagles took a 14-7 lead early third quarter. 28 unanswered points later by the Badgers and they won running away. Braelon Allen had a bounce-back game with 94 yards and two scores.

There will continue to be growing pains for Wisconsin, but they can still be a contender in the West division. Wisconsin opens Big Ten play by hosting Purdue on Friday night.

5. Iowa 3-0 (Last week 5)

Iowa only led Western Michigan 14-10 at the halftime break, but the Hawkeye offense exploded in the second half to win 41-10. Their defense continues to be the star of this team though.

The Hawkeyes are just in the top 25 and face their toughest test yet with a trip to Penn State. They will face the Nittany Lions without some key players, including star tight end Luke Lachey.

4. Maryland 3-0 (Last week 4)

For the second consecutive week, the Terps spotted their opponent 14 points. It did not last for long as they then routed Virginia 42-14.

If they continue, Maryland’s slow starts may catch up to them in conference play. The Terps are in East Lansing to start the Big Ten slate.

3. Penn State 3-0 (Last week 2)

The Nittany Lions won, but a slight drop in the power rankings occurred because the offense struggled against Illinois. If it were not for Manny Diaz’s defense collecting five turnovers, including four interceptions, the outcome could have been a lot different.

Penn State football needs to correct some issues on offense, particularly the offensive line that was supposed to be a strength this season but has yet to dominate. The Nittany Lions host Iowa in their annual White Out game this Saturday.

2. Ohio State 3-0 (Last week 3)

It may have been concerning for Buckeye fans as they were only up 14-10 over Western Kentucky midway through the second quarter. Those fears were short-lived as the Buckeye offense exploded with 35 points in that second quarter on their way to a 63-10 rout.

Has the Ohio State offense finally come alive? Perhaps but let’s see them against a higher quality opponent before passing judgment. Luckily they have a quality opponent next in Notre Dame.

1. Michigan 3-0 (Last week 1)

The Wolverines defeated Bowling Green 31-6 in their final game without head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines. What may be concerning were the three interceptions J.J. McCarthy threw. Blake Corum topped 100 yards for the first time this season and may be rounding into form.
Big Ten season now starts as Michigan hosts Rutgers.

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Shane has been a Penn State fan since he attended his first game in Beaver Stadium when he was 8 years old. A Class of 2005 alum, he has been a contributing writer for Victory Bell Rings, Saturday Blitz and now Basic Blues Nation. He also hosts The Nittany and Badger: A Big Ten Football Podcast. Shane lives near Pittsburgh with his wife and son.


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