Big Ten Power Ranking – Post Week Four
Every week Phil Harrison gives you Big Ten power rankings based on who is playing the best. Here’s how everything looks after week four.
Now that we’ve finished the non-conference part of the schedule and have seen some Big Ten games, we have a little better idea of where a few teams stack up. Give it another week, and we’ll be in full Big Ten play. Alas, the power rankings after week four look like this:
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Last Week: 14
It was always going to be tough to go to Nebraska and win, but with the added drama of the firing of ‘Husker AD Shawn Eichorst, you really had no idea what to expect.
It ended up being about what was expected in Lincoln with Nebraska able to get a less-than-impressive win, but a win nonetheless. Rutgers did little to make any kind of statement, but at least we got to witness this unbelievable catch:
13. Illinois Fighting Illini
Last Week: 13
It was a bye week in Champaign so no opportunity to slide up or down here. The Illini are still searching for answers and will get a chance to make some noise next week at home vs. Nebraska.
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 12
Yeah, the ‘Huskers kind of took care of business against Rutgers, but it wasn’t an effort that turned any heads. There are still issues on both sides of the ball that need corrected before anyone takes Nebraska seriously. The Illini are up next, so there’s a shot to get a tumultuous week behind the program and move forward.
11. Maryland Terrapins
Last Week: 8
The football gods clearly don’t want the Terrapin program to have nice things, as it looks like backup QB Kasim Hill may miss at least some time. At the moment here on Sunday, there is no news to share, but without him things will be tough to piece together on offense.
And there’s little to look at for positives on the defensive side after giving up tons of points and yards to an American Athletic Conference UCF squad. It’s time to bake from scratch again for D.J. Durkin.
10. Northwestern Wildcats
Last Week: 11
The Wildcats enjoyed a bye, so inconsistency was put on the back burner for at least a week. A tough challenge awaits Saturday in Madison where we have no clue what purple team will step off the bus.
9. Michigan State Spartans
Last Week: 5
Okay, I give in. I had been prodding people to take note of the resurgent Spartans, and then Saturday happened. Notre Dame is a good enough team to cause issues, but not to the point of making Michigan State cower in the corner like it did and abandon all that it should stand for.
The running backs, O-line and defense need to look much better against stiffer competition. Beating Iowa at home next week would do a lot to change perceptions and move the needle in the right direction.
8. Indiana Hoosiers
Last Week: 10
Indiana’s offense just keeps lighting people up. And while a public flogging of Georgia Southern isn’t anything to Skype home about, it’s another step forward with some consistency. Much bigger challenges await.
7. Purdue Boilermakers
Last Week: 10
Okay, I have now bought in to some degree. The Boilermakers may have lost to Michigan, but with a few breaks in the second half, what ended up looking like a solid Wolverine win, could have been the opposite.
Purdue seems to have the playmakers in the starting lineup, but depth is still a concern. Michigan was able to pound away and eventually wear down the Boilermaker attack on both sides of the ball.
6. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last Week: 7
The Gophers weren’t rowing anywhere last weekend, but they get a bump in the power rankings because of Michigan State’s troubles. There still isn’t a true test to observe, but Fleck has the team playing solid — not spectacular — in all phases. QB play could be an issue down the road with a ramp up in competition.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes
Last Week: 6
The Hawkeyes were oh, so close to pulling off the big upset against Penn State, and did nothing to hurt their reputation. The offense was a bit challenged to say the least, but the defense fought like crazy and some big plays were made when they had to be. Now, let’s see if the effort is sustainable over the long haul and if it translates in a notable win.
4. Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: 4
We won’t know how good the win at Purdue is until a little later in the season, but it sure looked like a good one. The Boilermakers came to play and hung with Jim Harbaugh’s crew until things got away in the second half. The defense looks to be lights out again, and we’ll have to see how Wilton Speight’s injury plays out with John O’Korn providing a spark in a fill-in role.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 3
Ohio State’s passing game came to life against an outmached UNLV squad, but we have to take that with a grain of salt. That’s now two weeks in a row where J.T. Barrett and his receivers found room to work, but we still need to see it against the more elite teams. October 28 against Penn State at home will likely be the next measuring stick.
2. Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 2
The Badgers and their seemingly endless well of running back talent had a bye week, so there’s nothing to gain or lose. A tricky and unpredictable noon affair against Northwestern at home looms. Will we set a letdown coming off the bye, or will Bucky continue to roll?
1. Penn State Nittany Lions
Last Week: 1
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Iowa had the Nittany Lions by the tail, but couldn’t seal the deal. Every team that makes a run towards a championship has to get by a game or two like this, and that’s exactly what Penn State did.
Saquon Barkley had a superhuman performance and may have cemented himself as the Heisman front-runner. If there is one cause for concern, it’s the ability to finish off drives as the schedule moves into high gear.
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB