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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week Five

The Nittany Lions remain atop the ranking while the middle of the pack is entirely in flux

NCAA Football: Indiana at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten did its best impression of the NFL this week by making no damn sense. While the top teams handled their opponents, the middle of the Big Ten is a mess and it’s impossible to figure out who is actually good.

The best win of the week may have come in East Lansing where the Spartans knocked off Iowa one week after the Hawkeyes came agonizingly close to upsetting Penn State. Maryland’s win on the road over Minnesota was impressive especially considering the Terrapins are basically on their 18th quarterback this season.

14. rutger (1-4, 0-2)
Loss vs Ohio State, 56-0

In their five games against Michigan and Ohio State, rutger has been outscored 290-23. That’s an average of exactly 58 points allowed per game. And they haven’t scored in 14 quarters against those two teams.

13. Illinois (2-2, 0-1)
Loss vs. Nebraska, 28-6

12. Northwestern (2-2, 0-1)
Loss at Wisconsin, 33-24

Two bad teams continue to lose. Northwestern’s loss offered more optimism because Wisconsin is Actually Good, but it’s still a loss. There’s no rest for the weary in the Big Ten as they get Penn State next week.

Illinois, meanwhile, has lost six of their last seven Big Ten games and Lovie Smith’s seat is warming up very quickly.

11. Nebraska (3-2, 2-0)
Win at Illinois, 28-6

Could you ask for an easier start to conference play than rutger and Illinois?

10. Minnesota (3-1, 0-1)
Loss vs. Maryland, 31-24

This is the part where the Big Ten makes no sense. Minnesota was No. 7 in the rankings last week and then went and loss to a Maryland team that picked up a guy from the local grocery story to play quarterback.

9. Purdue (2-2, 0-1)

8. Maryland (3-1, 1-0)
Win at Minnesota, 31-24

Maryland might actually be good depending on if they can keep a quarterback healthy, but it probably won’t matter next week when they meet Ohio State.

7. Indiana (2-2, 0-2)
Loss at Penn State, 45-14

I’m not ready to jump off the ship for IU. They do have two losses, but those are to two of the top ten teams in the nation. The defense still looked great last week even minus some key players. They should be able to bounce back this week.

6. Michigan State (3-1, 1-0)
Win vs. Iowa, 17-10

One of the biggest jumps this week comes from the Spartans. I was high on Iowa after last week and low on Michigan State and this game is a microcosm of how weird the middle of this conference is.

5. Iowa (3-2, 0-2)
Loss at Michigan State, 17-10

By nature, power rankings are supposed to include a hefty amount of recency bias. By that logic, Iowa should probably drop, but I’m still convinced they’re one of the five best teams in the conference. But the gap between them and the rest certainly shrank this week.

4. Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0)
Win vs. Northwestern, 33-24

We should probably start talking about the fact that the Badgers are going to waltz into Indianapolis most likely undefeated and will be one win away from being a playoff team.

3. Michigan (4-0, 1-0)

2. Ohio State (4-1, 2-0)
Win at rutger, 56-0

Weird to still be playing non-conference games this late in the year

1. Penn State (5-0, 2-0)
Win vs. Indiana, 45-14

You can qualify this win with Indiana’s #chaosteam-esque miscues, but at the end of the day, Penn State destroyed IU, arguably the best team they’ve played this year. After what should be a win next week against Northwestern, we get to see the Nittany Lions in back-to-back games against Ohio State and Michigan and ban the damn divisions.