The Big Ten finally brought as a big upset and, with it, a total shake up of the standings and these power rankings.
Michigan State’s win over Michigan puts the Wolverines well behind the 8-ball and makes wins over BOTH Penn State and Ohio State imperative. The Spartans, meanwhile, quietly move into Michigan’s spot with an unbeaten Big Ten record. While it’s hard to imagine them competing with the big dogs, the possibility is still there.
14. Rutger (1-4, 0-2)
13. Illinois (2-3, 0-2)
Loss at Iowa, 45-16
12. Northwestern (2-3, 0-2)
Loss vs. Penn State, 31-7
Northwestern actually “held” Saquon Barkley to 18 touches and 84 yards, but he scored twice and they let Trace McSorley throw and run for a TD. The Wildcats gets a brief reprieve against Maryland next week.
11. Minnesota (3-2, 0-2)
Loss at Purdue, 31-17
In hindsight (and maybe even in the moment), Minnesota’s 3-0 start was flukey considering how bad their opponents were. Losing at home to a broken down Maryland team and an average Purdue team is a bit more telling, it seems.
10. Nebraksa (3-2, 2-1)
Loss vs. Wisconsin, 38-17
There may not be a Big Ten team with a more deceiving record. Their three wins this year have come against a .500 Sun Belt team, Illinois and rutger. Given their schedule, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they don’t win another game this year. Especially if their defense continues to get shredded by good teams.
9. Maryland (3-2, 1-1)
Loss at Ohio State, 62-14
All things considered, the fact Maryland is still above .500 on the year is impressive. Unfortunately for them, after playing Northwestern next week, the combined record of their last six opponents is 23-8 and that’s even including 1-4 rutger. Because Big Ten divisions.
8. Purdue (3-2, 1-1)
Win vs. Minnesota, 31-17
Jeff Brohm has been a pretty resounding success in his first year already. And because they play in the West Division and have a crossover game against rutger, they’re very likely going to be bowling this season.
7. Indiana (3-2, 0-2)
Win vs. Charleston Southern, 27-0
The last time Indiana shutout an opponent - October 30, 1993 - Tom Allen was fresh out of college and coaching at Temple Heights High School in Florida.
6. Iowa (4-2, 1-2)
Win vs. Illinois, 45-16
I’m not certain Iowa belongs in this tier. They’re on very unsteady ground for me. Maybe I’m just putting too much stock into their near-upset over Penn State. Barring an upset, we won’t find out how serious a contender they are until they host Ohio State in three weeks.
5. Michigan State (4-1, 2-0)
Win at Michigan, 14-10
Given my past rankings, it probably shouldn’t surprise you that I don’t have Michigan State above Michigan. This is still the team that struggled a bit too much with Western Michigan and got throttled by Notre Dame. But it’s also the team that holds win over two teams in the top six of these rankings and that’s more than anyone else can say. It’s razor thin with them and Michigan right now.
4. Michigan (4-1, 1-1)
Loss vs. Michigan State, 14-10
Turns out all of Michigan’s problems on offense weren’t Wilton Speights’ fault. The problems with the Wolverines aren’t new. Their offense has been putrid all season long and so long as that’s the case, score lines are going to be close. I think it’s fair for IU fans to be optimistic about the upcoming game.
3. Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0)
Win at Nebraska, 38-17
Wisconsin damn near belongs in tier one, but I’m not sure how much of their domination is because the West Division is trash and how much is how good they are. Their best win might really be this one and their next three opponents - Purdue, Maryland and Illinois - aren’t going to offer any more answers.
2. Ohio State (5-1, 3-0)
Win vs. Maryland, 62-14
Ohio State is not-so-quietly morphing into a prototypical Kevin Wilson-style offense, putting up 54, 56 and 62 points over the last three weeks. Consider also that they held Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager - who Maryland signed on a free transfer from Dortmund - and the Terrapin offense to a whopping 66 yards as the defense has also come around and the match-up against Penn State in two weeks looks like it’ll be an absolute dandy.
1. Penn State (6-0, 3-0)
Win at Northwestern, 31-7
While it came against Northwestern, Penn State did win a game in which Saquon Barkley didn’t look like a superhuman. The gauntlet starts for Penn State now as they have a bye before Michigan and Ohio State back-to-back. Win those and they basically guarantee a trip to Indianapolis.