The Big Ten has changed a lot in the past decade, yet the narratives have mostly remained the same. And everything seemed awfully familiar in the conference last Saturday:
- Indiana played Ohio State close for a while... again.
- Northwestern upset Sparty... again.
- Iowa won the Floyd of Rosedale... again.
- Wisconsin ran all over Nebraska... again.
- Michigan blew out an inferior opponent at the Big House... again.
- Rutger lost... again.
Here are my post-week 6 power rankings:
14. Rutger (1-5)
If the Scarlet Knights can’t get a win against Maryland or Northwestern in the next couple weeks, a 1-11 finish is very likely.
13. Nebraska (0-5)
The disappointment continues for Scott Frost with a loss in Camp Randall. Last year, the vaunted Blackshirt defense for Nebraska was the biggest issue with the team, and that seems to have carried over to this season, as the Huskers gave up 370 rushing yards to Wisconsin last Saturday night.
12. Illinois (3-2)
The victory over Rutger was the first Big Ten win for the Illini since November 5, 2016. That’s right, Donald Trump hadn’t even been elected president the last time Lovie and company won a conference game.
11. Minnesota (3-2)
The Gophers drop after giving up 48 points to Iowa in a game that they never really had a chance in. After losing key players for the season such as Antoine Winfield Jr. and Rodney Smith, it could be a long season of boat-rowing for PJ Fleck.
10. Purdue (2-3)
Bye week, but Drew Brees’ record-setting game last night gave the Boilers faithful plenty of opportunity to remind everyone that Drew Brees went to Purdue, even though he was from Texas, and no other Division 1 school even gave him a chance, and did you know he took Purdue to a Rose Bowl, etc.
9. Northwestern (2-3)
So the B1G does this weird scheduling system where they schedule one inter-division rivalry for teams for six whole years, then rotate it to someone else (other than the perennial IU-Purdue protected game). For Northwestern, their current protected rival is Michigan State, and for three straight years, Pat Fitzgerald has had Mark Dantonio’s number. This feels like the type of victory that could propel the Wildcats to some late-season success, and with Nebraska and Rutger coming up, they have a good chance to get above .500 soon.
8. Indiana (4-2)
As Kyle and others have said on Twitter, that wasn’t a terrible game called by the Hoosiers on Saturday. And yet again, Indiana was playing Ohio State competitively well into the third quarter. However, the Buckeyes had just too much talent for the Hoosiers, and for the third straight season, OSU turned a close second-half game into a 20+ point victory. The passing defense could be a concern for the Hoosiers too, as Dwayne Haskins threw for six touchdowns for the Buckeyes. With Nate Stanley and Trace McSorley coming up next, Indiana can’t afford another letdown in the secondary.
7. Maryland (3-2)
Lost big to Michigan in a strange rain-delayed game at the Big House, but for the moment I’ll put them ahead of the rest of the pack because of their win over Texas, since the Longhorns look to be “back” after a thrilling 48-45 Red River Shootout win over Oklahoma in quite possibly the best game of the season so far.
6. Michigan State (3-2)
Sparty’s three victories this year are over Utah State (actually good!), Indiana, and CMU. If Saturday’s game to Penn State goes badly, they could be in danger of falling further down this list.
5. Iowa (4-1)
Every season there seem to be one or two random Iowa games in which the Hawkeyes pile on the points to an unsuspecting opponent. That happened Saturday, as Iowa crushed Minnesota 48-31 to win the Floyd of Rosedale for the 4th straight year.
In addition, Kirk Ferentz, who has a reputation for his vanilla offenses, broke out the old bag of tricks in the second quarter on a fake field goal, and it worked perfectly.
4. Wisconsin (4-1)
3. Michigan (5-1)
Both won easily on Saturday in advance of their big game this weekend with College Gameday in town for. We’ll get to see if either team can distinguish itself on Saturday when the Badgers roll into the Big House.
2. Penn State (4-1)
Took the weekend off to mull over that dumb 4th-and-5 playcall from last week. Next up: a visit from Michigan State for the coveted Land Grant Trophy.
1. Ohio State (6-0)
Dwayne Haskins is threatening to make the Big Ten title race very boring. With Minnesota, Purdue, and Nebraska next, the Buckeyes should continue to roll through their schedule in the next few weeks.