Big Ten Football Rankings And Reactions, Week 5
Week 5 Game Recaps, Scores, Top Games, Top Players
Week 5 Rankings & Reactions
Ohio State and Michigan State once again looked shaky, and the Week 5 Big Ten football rankings and reactions reflects it. There’s a massive change-up with Wisconsin dropping, Iowa rising, and Michigan making a big move.
Big Ten Player of the Week
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 23 times for 274 yards and three scores, and caught two passes for 12 yards in the win over Indiana.
Week 5 Big Ten Football Rankings
1. Northwestern (5-0)
W, Minnesota 27-0: Just when it seemed like Northwestern was going to be in for a dangerous game against a decent Minnesota team, it pitched a shutout and looked terrific. The defense toyed with the Gophers allowing just 75 rushing yards and never letting it get interesting. The offense is still too reliant on RB Justin Jackson, but Clayton Thorson had a decent, effective day throwing the ball. This has been fun since the win over Stanford, but now comes the road trip to Michigan. Win that, and it’s truly going to be Game On.
2. Ohio State (5-0)
W, at Indiana 34-27: It’s nice to have the In Case Of Emergency option in Ezekiel Elliott when all else fails. As Urban Meyer said after the game, it’s going to be a work in progress for Cardale Jones to turn into the player he’s supposed to be – he wasn’t the problem. The 18-of-27, 245-yard stats were slightly misleading, but they were also good. The issue was a run defense that couldn’t figure out how to hit the curveball of the zone-read once Zander Diamont came in the game. For everyone freaking out about this game, remember, IU game the Buckeyes fits last year, too.
3. Michigan (4-1)
W, at Maryland 28-0: It’s not like the Wolverines plays all that well. The one good running play came on a trick, but the ground attack was still effective despite the absence of De’Veon Smith. Jake Rudock only completed half of his passes, and there were three turnovers. But when the defense is stuffing an offense to a dead stop – allowing just 105 yards and seven first downs – it doesn’t matter. Maryland might not be very good, but you have to beat who’s on your schedule, and the Wolverines came up with a stomping. They’re ready for Northwestern.
4. Michigan State (5-0)
W, Purdue 24-21: So what’s the problem? Is it the loss of defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to Pitt? The passing game isn’t taking any chances, and Connor Cook has just been okay. It’s as if he knows the team can beat the Purdues of the world by just running the ball and getting decent D, and his goal is to keep from making the truly bad throw. L.J. Scott ran for 146 yards and two scores averaging over eight yards per carry, but it’s like the defense fell asleep in the fourth quarter. It stepped up when it had to, but considering MSU held on to the ball for over 37 minutes, was a +3 in turnover margin and outgained the Boilers by over 100 yards, this should’ve been easy. The Spartans just aren’t playing well for a full sixty minutes. They won’t have to against Rutgers, either.
5. Iowa (5-0)
W, at Wisconsin 10-6: Wisconsin kept making mistakes, and Iowa didn’t. It’s that simple. Jordan Canzeri did what he needed to do to steady the offense with a grinding 125 yards, saving the day when the passing game failed to do anything outside of one good touchdown pass around the goal line. The defense bent, and bent, and bent, and then came up with the turnover. It wasn’t anything aesthetically pleasing, but this was the big one. Now, Iowa should be favored in every game the rest of the way except for the road trip to Northwestern.
6. Wisconsin (3-2)
L, Iowa 10-6: Wisconsin isn’t good enough to blow the turnover margin. There were two takeaways that helped the cause, but the four turnovers were brutal in a game that should’ve been a relatively easy win. Give Iowa credit for playing tough defense when it had to, but the Badgers couldn’t run the ball a lick and still came up with almost 100 yards more of total offense. Unfortunately for Bucky, with the young offensive line this is going to be a grind. There’s no ground attack to rely on like normal and that means it’s on Joel Stave to win games. And that means there will occasionally be multi-interception games.
7. Indiana (4-1)
L, Ohio State 34-27: How injured are QB Nate Sudfeld and RB Jordan Howard on their respective leg injuries? Zander Diamont almost pulled it off against Ohio State, and the team kept on pushing and pushing despite getting hit by Ezekiel Elliott home runs that should’ve put the game away. The defense might not have been great, but it was great on third downs, forced three takeaways, and held firm just enough to make it a fight. It was an acceptable loss, but if the Hoosiers really are solid, they’ll beat Penn State next week.
8. Illinois (4-1)
W, Nebraska 14-13: Illinois won because of … the defense? Nebraska’s passing game went absolutely nowhere, but neither did the entire Illini offense for three quarters. Ke’Shawn Vaughn had a great game running the ball with 98 yards, but it was Wes Lunt heating up that saved the game. It was a frustrating performance for about 45 minutes, but it was still a ball game thanks to several third down stops in critical moments, and two takeaways. This might not be a special team, but with Iowa and Wisconsin up next, there’s a chance to become one.
9. Nebraska (2-3)
L, at Illinois 14-13: What was going to happen when Tommy Armstrong had a bad game? We just found out. Terrific so far, Armstrong struggled, completing just 10-of-31 passes and never getting into a groove. The defense did a good enough job to get the win, but the offense stalled and stalled and stalled again. Nothing moved in the second half with a field goal off a short drive, but there were four punts and a pick, and now comes a visit from the Wisconsin defense. Uh oh. When was the last time Nebraska was 2-4 to start a season? It went 2-3-1 to start 1961, but 1959 was the last time the program started the season with four losses in the first six games.
10. Penn State (4-1)
W, Army West Point 20-14: And there’s the Penn State passing game again. Just when it seemed like the Nittany Lions finally turned a corner with a decent offensive performance against a good San Diego State team, the offense went back to stall ball. Christian Hackenberg got a few nice pass plays, but the 156 yards were just okay – he needed to do more with the running game not going anywhere. Considering the run defense did a decent job against the option, allowing just 261 yards, and the team was +3 in turnover margin, this should’ve been a blowout. But even with all of the problems, Penn State is still 4-1 with Indiana up next. Win that, and 5-1 going into the Ohio State game won’t seem so bad.
11. Minnesota (3-2)
L, at Northwestern 27-0 : Mitch Leidner will be blamed, because it’s easy to blame the quarterback, but the offensive line didn’t generate any sort of a push whatsoever for the stagnant running game. The Gophers just aren’t getting any sort of a push, running for just 2.2 yards per carry and only breaking free on two runs. Leidner completed 10-of-21 passes with a pick, but Demry Croft wasn’t any better, completing just 5-of-11 passes for 27 yards. 0-for-4 on fourth downs, 173 yards of total offense – this was a disaster. As bad as this might have been, the season will take a big turn down if the Gophers can’t get by Purdue next week.
12. Maryland (2-3)
L, Michigan 28-0: The defense did what it could against an okay, but predictable Michigan offense – at least when it’s not running a wide receiver in the clear – but the offense couldn’t do a thing. The Terps converted just one of 18 third down chances and did nothing on the ground. With no running game – with 29 yards on 26 carries – the pressure was on the mediocre quarterbacks who couldn’t make anything happen. Caleb Rowe was awful, throwing three picks and completing just 8-of-27 passes for 47 yards – but Daxx Garman didn’t do anything better. The O needs an identity – a positive one – and it starts with better play from the line.
13. Purdue (1-4)
L, at Michigan State 24-21: It’s like the Boilermakers just need one little positive moment to happen and then everything will start to click. They held up well early on against Michigan State, and they could’ve easily have packed it in down 21 to a top three team on the road. The three turnovers were disastrous, and there weren’t any big pass plays down the field, but they kept fighting. The defense held up under the pressure and the offense had its chances late, but this close call only matters if it’s able to build off of it. Minnesota isn’t playing well – Purdue has to come up with the win at home.
14. Rutgers (2-2)
BYE WEEK: Up next, Michigan State