It could always be worse, Spartans. At least you’re not Rutgers. Still, Michigan State and the Scarlet Knights were the biggest losers of the weekend but don’t forget about Maryland whose hot start was met with a reality check. Penn State’s James Franklin may save his job yet and Michigan’s otherworldly performance might make businesses reconsider running promotions when facing Rutgers.
The top four and bottom three are well established but there will be plenty of jostling between the middle seven teams. Like always, individual rankings can be found in the graphic at the bottom of the page. Enjoy.
(Indicates 1st place votes) [Avg Rank]
1. Ohio State (5) [1.4] Record: 5-0 (2-0) Previous Rank: 1
A 21 point win over Indiana looks nice on paper but in reality, the Buckeyes struggled to put away a team with a vast talent gap. J.T. Barrett completed less than half of his passes for less than one hundred yards and he had to run the ball 26 times to keep the offense flowing. Against Indiana, that’s fine. Teams like Wisconsin and Michigan? Not so much.
2. Michigan (3) [1.6] Record: 6-0 (3-0) Previous Rank: 2
600 yards gained by Michigan. 39 yards allowed by Michigan. Sometimes dominance can be explained in simple numbers. 78-0 is another one. How about 200 for each recruit Rutgers helped push Michigan’s way? Yeah, it was a much better weekend for the Wolverines than it was for the Scarlet Knights. They’ll get a week off before beating up on another overmatched team, this time, Illinois playing the victim. Oh yeah, one more thing. #Jabrill4Heisman
3. Wisconsin [3.4] Record: 4-1 (1-1) Previous Rank: 3
One would imagine Paul Chryst didn’t sleep a lot during the Badgers bye week while preparing for Ohio State. We’ll see just how good Wisconsin can be when the Buckeyes come to Madison. They’ll definitely need offensive improvement to pull off the upset and of course limit J.T. Barret’s opportunities.
4. Nebraska [3.6] Record: 5-0 (2-0) Previous Rank: 4
The Cornhuskers also had the week off as well before they’ll face a potential trip up in Bloomington. Nebraska is the better team but they won’t have anything given to them. After two winnable games, the Cornhuskers will hit the road for brutal games in Madison and Columbus so it would be in their best interest to come out ready to play. J.T. Barrett found success against Indiana on the ground but Nebraska would like Tommy Armstrong to fare better in the passing game than Barrett managed.
T5. Iowa [5.6] Record: 4-2 (2-1) Previous Rank: 8
C.J. Beathard didn’t have his best in Minnesota but running back Akrum Wadley and the Hawkeye defense picked up the slack. It hasn’t been the year many expected from Iowa but they avoided another possible setback and should have another week to help find their way when they take on hapless Purdue.
T5. Indiana [5.6] Record: 3-2 (1-1) Previous Rank: 5
The Hoosiers weren’t expected to have much success in Columbus but they showed why they can be a dangerous team this year. When things are going right, this offense has a high ceiling and the defense has held their own. Indiana returns home to welcome Nebraska in what should be a great test.
7. Penn State [7.3] Record: 4-2 (2-1) Previous Rank: 9
Saquon Barkley. That’s it.
Oh, yeah, and please stop roughing up my boy, Joey Julius. Smh, what he ever do to anyone? Some people’s kickers man, I tell ya.
8. Maryland [8.3] Record: 4-1 (1-1) Previous Rank: 6
The Terrapins crashed quickly back to earth in their first Big Ten road game under D.J. Durkin. Things went south after quarterback Perry Hills left the game with an apparent shoulder injury. The offense lost its way under Tyrrell Pigrome and Maryland will need Hills to play as expected on Saturday against a Minnesota team that is trying to right their own ship.
9. Minnesota [8.8] Record: 3-2 (0-2) Previous Rank: 10
As we’ve established many times, Mitch Leidner isn’t capable of carrying the Golden Gophers. So why, Mr. Claeys, do you insist on asking him to do so? You have capable running backs that were having success, yet you insist on asking Leidner to throw it 33 times? When they weren’t hitting the ground, Iowa was catching them. Now Leidner is out with a concussion to make an already dangerous trip to Maryland more difficult. Why? Just, why.
10. Michigan State [10.0] Record: 2-3 (0-2) Previous Rank: 7
Well, it’s official. The 2016 Spartans are not a very good football team. Another embarrassing home performance led to a quarterback switch and a full blown competition, but Michigan State’s struggles are far more troubling than quarterback play. The Spartans are being pushed around in the trenches on both sides of the ball making it all but impossible to play at a high level regardless of who starts at quarterback. Mark Dantonio and his staff will have to do some serious soul searching to turn things around but at this point, even a bowl berth is questionable.
11. Northwestern [10.5] Record: 2-3 (1-1) Previous Rank: 11
The Wildcats had an awful start to the year but beating the Spartans in East Lansing would signify the completion of their recovery. They’ve had a week off to prepare and Michigan State looks increasingly vulnerable. Look for Justin Jackson to set the tone early in what will most likely be a physical game.
12. Purdue [12.3] Record: 3-2 (1-1) Previous Rank: 14
It took overtime but Purdue picked up their first (and possibly only) Big Ten win behind a great effort by running back Brian Lankford-Johnson. I’ve said this a lot, but seriously. Savor it Boilermaker fans. It might not happen again this season. Purdue is firmly in the bottom three where they are likely to remain but at least they can lead the pack right?
13. Illinois [12.8] Record: 1-4 (0-2) Previous Rank: 12
Chayce Crouch played a great game after Wes Lunt left with an injury but Chase McLaughlin’s first field goal miss of the season came at the end of regulation, costing the Illini a chance at their first conference win under Lovie Smith. If they can’t find a way to win at Rutgers this week, they probably won’t get that win this year. Good Luck.
14. Rutgers [14.0] Record: 2-4 (0-3) Previous Rank: 13
Last week I said the Scarlet Knights would have to fight to avoid a second straight shutout. They tapped. Under the lights in primetime, for the whole world to see. Rutgers biggest recruiting weekend ever looked more like a Jim Harbaugh satellite camp. Seriously, whose idea was that? #fired