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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week Five

Is most of the conference bad? Maybe!

Nebraska v Illinois
tfw you almost lose to illinois
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

It’s later in the week than usual, but the power rankings are back! After letting Alex run wild last week I’m back. No tiers this time around because there are only two tiers: Good (OSU and Wisconsin) and Maybe Bad? (Everybody Else). Here’s where the teams stand heading into week five action.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Last week: 76-5 win vs. Miami (OH) (4-0)

SP+ Ranking: 2

Wash, rinse, repeat. The Buckeyes have been atop our power rankings since the first edition and until they lose that’s where they’ll stay. They seem like a legit CFP contender and with Ryan Day and Justin Fields running the show they seem kind of…fun? They’re Ohio State so feel free to continue your hatred if you feel so inclined but this team feels just a touch different than any of Urban Meyer’s groups. Next week they’ve got Nebraska on the road and that one shouldn’t even be close.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

Last week: 35-14 win vs. Michigan (3-0)

SP+ Ranking: 5

If there’s anybody that’s going to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten crown it feels like it’ll probably be the Badgers. Last week they walloped Michigan, leading 35-0 late in the third quarter before giving up a pair of touchdowns that made the loss look more respectable for the Wolverines. Johnathan Taylor continues to look like one of the best running backs in the country, if not THE best of them all. If he keeps playing like this don’t be surprised to at least see him as a Heisman finalist.

Next up the Badgers, who have shot into the top 10 in the national poll, will host a pitiful Northwestern squad against which they’re favored by 24.5 points. The Wildcats should hope it stays that close.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions

Last week: Bye (3-0)

SP+ Ranking: 11

There’s not really anything to analyze here. They moved up courtesy of not playing anybody while Michigan fell flat on its face. Penn State’s next game is at Maryland, who may be good but may also not be good.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes

Last week: Bye (3-0)

SP+ Ranking: 29

They weren’t in action. I still believe in Nate Stanley. On Saturday the Hawkeyes get to pulverize Middle Tennessee State, so that’ll be fun.

5. Michigan Wolverines

Last week: 35-14 loss @ Wisconsin (2-1)

SP+ Ranking: 26

Him Jarbaugh. That’s about all you need to know about the Wolverines.

6. Michigan State Spartans

Last week: 31-10 win @ Northwestern (3-1)

SP+ Ranking: 20

Sparty looks like a hyper-concentrated version of their brand — bad, bad offense with a rather good defense. MSU’s front seven is among the best in the country led by Kenny Willekes and Raequan Williams. SP+ currently has the Spartan D rated as the best in the country, (Stephen A Smith voice) HOWEVER… the Spartan offense is ranked 87th in the nation. That, obviously, isn’t great. Hoosier fans will get a taste of the Michigan State experience on Saturday.

7. Indiana Hoosiers

Last week: 38-3 win vs. UConn (3-1)

SP+ Ranking: 32

You know these guys. They beat the tar out of UConn. Maybe Michael Penix Jr. is back? Maybe not? That’ll be the thing to watch as the Hoosiers head to East Lansing.

(P.S. If you missed it check out this tweet and the few that surrounded it from earlier this week. #9WINDIANA COMIN!!!)

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Last week: 42-38 win @ Illinois (3-1)

SP+ Ranking: 35

Nebraska won last week, but it felt like a loss. If you give up 38 points to Lovie Smith’s team you should be relegated to the MAC, however, the Illini made sure to trip over their own feet and save Scott Frost from what surely wouldn’t have been a pleasant week if the Huskers had lost. If you bought into the pre-season Nebraska hype don’t worry, you weren’t alone, but the Huskers might actually be bad now. Like bad enough for IU to be considered better at doing football than them. Crazy world we live in. Next up for the Huskers is a visit from Ohio State. Prepare for a potential bloodbath, because Ohio State is actually good.

9. Maryland Terrapins

Last week: Bye (2-1)

SP+ Ranking: 34

Still not buying the hype. The Turtles lost to Temple, which is famously not a good football school. In the meantime, their “good win” over Syracuse has aged about as well as basically any tweet done by a 16-year-old. The Orange have fallen to 75th in the latest SP+ rankings, two spots ahead of Kansas. Purdue would be a better win at the moment. Maryland will play a team that’s actually good this weekend when Penn State comes to College Park. If the Terps can hang with the Nittany Lions then maybe, maybe we can talk about them not being bad.

10. Purdue Boilermakers

Last week: Bye (1-2)

SP+ Ranking: 72

Having a worse record than Illinois? In this economy? Unthinkable.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Last week: Bye (3-0)

SP+ Ranking: 51

PJ Fleck’s crew has done absolutely nothing to impress anybody. Congratulations on barely escaping non-con play undefeated, I guess. After beating South Dakota State, Fresno State, and Georgia Southern by a combined 13 points they’ll open B1G play against Purdue. I’m not sure if I can recommend not watching that game enough.

12. Northwestern Wildcats

Last week: 31-10 loss vs. Michigan State (1-2)

SP+ Ranking: 72

The Wildcats gave up 31 points to Brian Lewerke and now they have a losing record. This weekend they’ll face a much better offense led by Johnathan Taylor. It’s looking like it could be a long season in Evanston.

13. Illinois Fighting Illini

Last week: 42-38 loss vs. Nebraska (2-2)

SP+ Ranking: 68

A bottom-tier B1G football program loses a heartbreaker against a historic program after leading in the fourth quarter at home? Where have I heard that one before? Pour one out for Illinois’ attempt at #CHAOSTEAM. The Illini get a week off. They’ll need it.