What an emotional victory for Indiana on Saturday night.
How far do the Hoosiers move up in my weekly rankings? Read on to find out.
Tier 5: Purdue
Look, Indiana has put 50+ points on Purdue a few times recently. And we haven’t thought too much about it because that’s what IU’s offense tends to do. Also, IU’s defense would still give up a bunch of points in those games too. But last weekend, Purdue let Maryland hang a half a hundred on them in College Park. And not just that, but the Boilers put up only seven points. These are tough times in West Lafayette.
Tier 4: Rebuilds are tough, man
Chris Ash got waxed by his old team in Columbus, as Greg Schiano’s defense didn’t allow a single point to the Scarlet Knights. Considering Washington’s rise in the Pac-12, it’s quite possible that Rutger has already played two CFP teams this season.
The 31-16 final score is a little deceiving because the Illini had the lead on Nebraska going into the final quarter. I still think Lovie Smith will be fine in the long run, but a loss to Purdue this weekend may change my mind.
Tier 3: The chaotic middle
Finally got the offense rolling, as the Wildcats rushed for almost 200 yards in a 38-31 win over Iowa. They’ll get a bye week before they roll into East Lansing with a chance to get back to .500.
Are the Hawkeyes experiencing buyers’ remorse on their giant extension for Kirk Ferentz? Since the extension was announced, the Hawkeyes have gone 2-2, with both losses coming at Kinnick Stadium.
Lost in overtime in Happy Valley. Next up: a battle for THE PIG.
8. Penn State
The Nittany Lions needed that one. I was listening to The Solid Verbal podcast, and one of their listeners joked that PSU’s OT win over Minnesota might be the signature victory of the James Franklin era. But given his lack of big wins, this may actually be true.
7. Michigan State
In my summer preview, I mentioned that with the OSU/Michigan arms race in full force, repeating the annual 11-win seasons in East Lansing would be a tough task for the Spartans. With MSU in an 0-2 hole to start B1G play, and Indiana winning back the Spittoon for the first time in a decade, the descent from the top of the standings for Sparty may be more than any of us imagined before the season started.
The D.J. Durkin era is off to a 4-0 start after crushing Purdue. Next up is Penn State, a game that the Terps can definitely win. With a favorable cross-division schedule, is it possible these guys could bring back memories of the Ralph Friedgen era by getting to 8-9 wins?
Hey, why not 5th place? The Hoosiers still need to get into the end zone more, and the kicking game is a question. But I never would have thought that an Indiana defense would be ranked 37th in S&P+ (11 spots above the offense!) at any point under Kevin Wilson. The progress when you watch these guys each week is evident.
Tom Allen for Governor.
Tier 2: The favorites to lose in Indy
The Huskers seem to mess around for three quarters before putting teams away in the fourth. But now they’re 5-0, ranked 12th, and get a bye before IU’s Homecoming game on the 15th. For all of the angst surrounding Mike Riley last season, he seems to have tuned it out, and there’s a good chance the Huskers could be 7-0 before they face Wisconsin on Halloween weekend.
I’m not going to criticize Alex Hornibrook and the Badger offense too much - this is a freshman QB starting in the Big House against the top defense in the country, overall. But the Badgers’ defense has been a force this season, and like many Wisconsin teams both in football and hoops, they’re more than happy to grind it out for an entire game with an opponent.
Tier 1: On a collision course for November 26
Beat Wisconsin by the very B1G score of 14-7. However, in the process of this win, they lost left tackle Grant Newsome for the year. The Wolverines now head to Rutger this weekend to settle one of the most hilarious beefs of the offseason.
1. Ohio State
Shut out Rutger, but at least the Scarlet Knights will get a nice little payday for voluntarily playing in Columbus as a nonconference opponent. The Buckeyes might be the most complete team in the country right now. They’re favored against the Hoosiers by THIRTY-TWO this weekend. This could get ugly real quick.
All in all, it’s looking very likely that these two teams could be undefeated heading into Columbus on Thanksgiving weekend, which would essentially set up a CFP play-in game, assuming they get past the West champ in Indy the next week.
Three non-B1G teams I liked:
Clemson - Beat Louisville 42-36 in a game I didn’t really see because it was at the same time as IU-MSU, but from all accounts this was the best-played game of the year, as the Tigers slowed down Lamar Jackson just enough to sneak by with a victory. DeShaun Watson and Clemson’s offense seemed stagnant the first couple weeks of the season, but the well-oiled machine seems to have been turned on again.
Washington - Obliterated Stanford, 44-6, shutting down Christian McCaffrey at every possible carry. In only three seasons, Chris Petersen has taken this program from a Pac-12 also-ran to a CFP contender.
Colorado - Crushed Oregon State, 46-7, but now are ranked and 4-1, and were the only team to really put up any points against Michigan thus far. The Buffs were really good for most of my childhood, but have been lingering since Dan Hawkins told players to go back to intramurals, so it’s fun to see them doing well again.
Three non-B1G teams I didn’t like:
Texas - Last year, Charlie Strong demoted his OC after a few games. This year, it’s DC Vance Bedford who has gotten a demotion, as the Longhorns’ defense has struggled mightily thus far. The constant staff shuffle has concerned some UT fans, and the general consensus seems to be the Strong might be in over his head at a job that demands perfection from Texas’ powerful and wealthy group of donors. If Texas decides to let go of strong, the competition between them and LSU for Tom Herman will reach a fever pitch.
Georgia - The Bulldogs thought they had it won with a Jacob Eason touchdown with 10 seconds to go. But Josh Dobbs threw a Hail Mary TD as time expired to get the 34-31 win for Tennessee. All in all, not a terrible loss to a ranked team, but despite Kirby Smart taking over, UGA is still losing games in the same way that Mark Richt was criticized for.
Florida State - LOL.