The Big Ten went 12-1 last week.
Many teams dominated inferior competition.
Indiana provided the highlight with an upset of then-No. 18 Missouri, one week after the Hoosiers lost to Bowling Green. Michigan provided the low with the lone loss to Utah at home.
1. Michigan State (2-1); Last week: 1
The Spartans steamrolled Eastern Michigan 73-14 last Saturday — the program’s third-highest scoring output since 1931. Michigan State blasted Northwestern 76-14 in 1989 and Arizona 75-0 in 1949. This year’s Spartans, ranked No. 9, appear to be the class of the Big Ten.
Michigan State’s loss came to No. 2 Oregon in a game the Spartans led by nine in the third quarter.
Michigan State is first in the conference in turnover margin and has committed the fewest penalties. Spartans quarterback Connor Cook leads the conference in pass efficiency, as he’s completed 69.7 percent of his passes and thrown for seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Spartans host Wyoming (3-1) this week.
2. Wisconsin (2-1); Last week: 2
Wisconsin holds its spot behind Michigan State after a record-setting performance in a 68-17 win over Bowling Green.
The No. 19 Badgers ran for a conference-record and school-record 644 yards. They also set a program record with 756 total yards. Melvin Gordon finished with an astounding 253 yards and five touchdowns on 13 carries.
Bowling Green was coming off a 45-42 win over Indiana.
The Badgers face South Florida (2-2) this week.
3. Nebraska (4-0); Last week: 5
Nebraska moves up after a 41-31 win over Miami (Fla.) highlighted by Huskers running back Ameer Abdullah’s big night.
Abdullah accounted for 313 yards — rushing for 229 yards on 35 carries — and two touchdowns. He became Nebraska’s career leader in all-purpose yards (5,762), passing 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers’ total of 5,586.
Abdullah ranks second in the Big Ten in rushing (156.2), and Nebraska is tops in the conference in total offense (559.8).
The Huskers open Big Ten play against Illinois at home Saturday night.
4. Ohio State (2-1); Last week: 3
Ohio State had a bye last week.
The No. 22 Buckeyes’ lone loss to Virginia Tech at home suddenly doesn’t look as respectable. The Hokies dropped their last two games to East Carolina and Georgia Tech, respectively.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett threw for six touchdowns and one interception against Kent State. He’s completed 59.5 percent of his passes and thrown nine touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
The Buckeyes face Cincinnati (2-0) this Saturday.
5. Penn State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten); Last week: 4
The Nittany Lions have emerged as a threat in the Big Ten after a perfect start.
But Penn State’s first four opponents are a combined 5-9.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg has proven to be one of the top passers in the country and leads the Big Ten in passing with 315 yards per game. The Nittany Lions’ defense has been impressive, too, as the unit is allowing only 11 points per game.
Penn State has limited opponents to 49.5 rushing yards per game — the fewest in the country.
The Nittany Lions host Northwestern (1-2) on Saturday.
6. Maryland (3-1); Last week: 7
Led by dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown, Maryland’s offense has been effective this season.
The Terrapins are averaging 36.8 points per game. Brown is averaging 208.2 yards passing and 61 yards rushing while accounting for 10 total touchdowns.
But the defense has been a problem.
Maryland fell 40-37 to West Virginia before beating Syracuse 34-20 last week.
The Mountaineers racked up 694 total yards, with 511 through the air. The Orange piled up 589 total yards, with 370 on the ground.
The Terrapins are allowing 460.5 yards per game.
Maryland faces Indiana this week for its introduction to the Big Ten.
7. Iowa (3-1); Last week: 9
C.J. Beathard stepped in at quarterback to lead Iowa to a comeback 24-20 victory over Pittsburgh last week.
After starter Jake Rudock went down with a hip injury, Beathard led the Hawkeyes to 17 points in the second half. Beathard completed 7 of 8 passes for 98 yards.
Beathard will likely be under center for Iowa this Saturday at Purdue.
Rudock has completed 66.9 percent of his passes in four games. He’s also passed for five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Hawkeyes rank 13th in the conference in scoring with 22.2 points per game.
8. Rutgers (3-1, 0-1); Last week: 6
Rutgers lost its top playmaker for the season last week.
Scarlet Knights leading rusher Paul James suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Rutgers’ 31-24 win over Navy.
James had rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on seven carries against the Midshipmen before the injury. He ran for 363 yards on 63 carries. He also accounted for seven of the team’s 15 touchdowns.
Desmon Peoples has rushed for 205 yards on 46 carries for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers finishes its non-conference schedule Saturday against Tulane (1-3).
9. Indiana (2-1); Last week: 14
Indiana bounced back from a loss to Bowling Green with an impressive 31-27 win over then-No. 18 Missouri last week.
The Hoosiers went for 493 total yards in the win. Tevin Coleman ran for 132 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld went 18 of 33 for 252 yards and a touchdown.
Coleman is the Big Ten’s leading rusher, averaging 189.7 yards per game.
Indiana ranks in the top half of the conference offensively, but its defense sits at the bottom.
10. Michigan (2-2); Last week: 8
After Michigan’s loss to Utah last week, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke is on the hot seat.
Two weeks earlier, Michigan suffered a 31-0 loss to Notre Dame. The 26-10 loss to Utah at Michigan Stadium highlighted the Wolverines’ flaws while adding to the pressure on Hoke.
Starting quarterback Devin Gardner went 14 of 26 and threw two interceptions against the Utes. Backup Shane Morris was 4 of 13 with an interception. Morris also lost a fumble. In their two losses, the offense did not maintain a drive into the red zone.
Hoke has said he will not announce a starting quarterback for Michigan’s game against Minnesota until Saturday.
The Wolverines rank last in the conference in turnover margin at minus-10. Illinois is second-to-last at minus-three.
11. Minnesota (3-1); Last week: 10
The Golden Gophers’ passing game is nonexistent.
Minnesota quarterback Chris Streveler completed just 1 of 7 passes and threw an interception in a 24-7 win over San Jose State last week. The Gophers have relied on a potent ground attack, led by running back David Cobb.
Cobb ran for 207 yards against San Jose State and is averaging 134.8 yards per game.
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is hoping to get starting quarterback Mitch Leidner back for the Michigan game Saturday. Leidner, who was out last week with a knee injury and turf toe, has completed just 48.1 percent of his passes this season.
Streveler completed just one pass as the starter, but he rushed for 161 yards last week.
Minnesota’s three wins have come against teams with a combined 4-7 record. The Golden Gophers were dominated in a 30-7 loss to Texas Christian.
12. Illinois (3-1); Last week: 11
Illinois has survived close calls against Conference USA’s Western Kentucky and Texas State of the Sun Belt.
The Fighting Illini won those games by eight points and seven points, respectively.
Illinois’ other win came against Youngstown State. The Illini’s loss was a 44-19 blowout suffered against Washington.
Quarterback Wes Lunt has been a bright spot, ranking second in the Big Ten in passing behind Hackenberg with 309.2 yards per game. Lunt has also thrown for 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
13. Purdue (2-2); Last week: 12
Purdue has already surpassed its win total from 2013.
But the Boilermakers’ two wins aren’t exactly impressive.
Purdue has beaten Western Michigan and Southern Illinois. The team has dropped contests against Central Michigan and Notre Dame.
After going 0-8 in conference play last year, the Boilermakers will likely spend another year at the bottom of the Big Ten standings.
14. Northwestern (1-2); Last week: 13
Northwestern got in the win column last week, but the Wildcats got off to a slow start in a 24-7 win over FCS program Western Illinois.
Freshman running back Justin Jackson ran for 92 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries to lead the Wildcats offense.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian, who went 15 of 25 last week, has thrown for just two touchdowns and three interceptions this season.
Northwestern fell to California and Northern Illinois to start the year.
The Wildcats rank last in the Big Ten in scoring with 21 points per game.