Big Ten Power Rankings: Post Week 4 of Conference Play
Okay, so Ohio State laid a Scarlet and Gray egg in West Lafayette, while Iowa continued to win a tough road contest. Penn State decided to flex its muscle in a dreadfully early snowfall, while Michigan State just continues to pull games out.
Things have been shaken up a bit since my last installment of the Big 10 Power Rankings. I have no other excuses not to put Iowa on the top of the list (the Kool-Aid tastes good), but what about Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State?
Is there a new bottom feeder after Purdue's impressive win?
We can only assume that things will continue to be shaken up through the remainder of the season, but alas, here is this week's installment:
#11 Illinois: They Have Run Out of Juice
Last Week: 10
Change: Down 1
This just in: Illinois may have been overrated to start the season.
This season has been a disaster starting with the shellacking against Missouri.
Things have gotten progressively worse as Illinois continues to fight within themselves with a quarterback contraversy, and fight for field position against every team thus far in the Big 10.
The offense has digressed over the past two years, and the defense can't get off of the field when it needs a big stop.
Congratulations Illinois, you are now the weakest link of a conference that is not that strong this year.
#10 Indiana: Basketball is Just Around the Corner
Last Week: 9
Change: Down 1
Midnight Madness in basketball happened last weekend in Bloomington. That's a good thing, because it appears as though the Indiana football team is not as good as the bandwagon jumpers wanted to believe.
I know that Indiana won last weekend, but it was against an awful Illinois team. I am also aware that a revival of sorts is in the works in Bloomington, or perhaps not.
In our knee jerk reaction society, a lot of so called experts were stamping Indiana as being relevant. They are not.
Indiana's offense is halfway decent, and their defense is not horrid, but there is not anything that they do exceptional except for rub that piece of rock that happens each game.
The good news: The Indiana basketball team is looking to improve this year.
#9 Purdue: They Pur-did
Last Week: 11
Change: Up 2
Purdue finally had a team turn the ball over more than them in a game. The result: They won over what everyone pereived as a much more talented Ohio State team.
If Purdue can limit its turnovers, it could make its way back to respectability this year. If not, well, it could still be a long season despite the fact that there is less than half of it to go.
Though their record is not indicative of what kind of team Purdue is, let us know forget that they still had three turnovers Saturday (along with a would-be fourth on a curious non-fumble call).
The bottom line: Purdue is probably not as bad as their record says, but not as good as being able to beat on the big boys of the Big Ten. Despite this, after last week, there is hope...right Danny?
#8 Northwestern: Ebb and Flow?
Last Week: 8
Is there a team that is harder to figure out on a year by year basis in the Big Ten? One year, they surprise everyone and finish in the mid to upper echelon of the conference. The next, they never quite get out of the starting blocks.
Northwestern is not that bad this year, but there is just something missing with this team. They continue to compete and be in games each week, but can't pull it out.
It is time to move forward this week, or fall back in terms of reaching a bowl game.
# 7 Minnesota: How Will It End?
Last Week: 7
The Jury is still out on Minnesota. They are certainly better than in the recent years, but just how good are they?
They have been competitive and are currently stuck in a log jam in the middle of the conference standings.
Just when everyone thought they could move the ball against anyone, the get shut out in Snowy Valley. Eric Decker may be the most complete receiver in the Big 10, but what Minnesota might need to finish strong is a resurgence of the running game.
This week against Ohio State will tell a lot. At this point, Minnesota is just an average team.
#6 Michigan State: Solid But Inflated?
Last Week: 6
Don't be fooled by Michigan State's tie for second in the Big 10. They are the benefactors of a relatively weak conference schedule this far.
You can give Sparty credit for winning the games that they should, but things are going to get tougher from here on out. The fighting Dantonios have to play both Iowa and Penn State yet.
The question that needs to be answered is: When, if ever, will MSU turn the corner. For now, they are stuck right on it.
# 5 Michigan: The Verdict is Still Out
Last Week: 5
After I put Michigan ahead of Michigan State last week, I received several messages calling me crazy because Michigan Sate had just beaten Michigan.
So, I decided that this week, Purdue should be ranked ahead of Ohio State then. I am, of course joking. The argument about a team beating another head to head in a vaccuum is ridiculous.
If you take the body of work, I still go with Michigan as being the better team, and in at #5.
Just how good Tate Forcier is, will determine how far Michigan can go. As we have seen, when he plays well, Michigan tends to as well. When he struggles, so does the winged helmets.
Chances are, with Forcier being a Freshman, Michigan will still lose a game or two.
The good news: We can all safely say that Michigan is much better than last year. The bad news: There is that little monkey called Ohio State that they need to get off of their back.
#4 Wisconsin: Time to Show Up
Last Week: 2
Change: Down 2
Wisconsin is a solid football team, but they keep playing weird games. First, they control the game against Ohio State but give up three non-offensive touchdowns (which seems to be the only way Ohio State can score these days) and lose.
For an encore, they significantly outplay Iowa for a half last week but then come out and turn the ball over in the second half in a game they could have easily won.
Had Wisonsin won last week, there is a good bet that they finish in the top two of the Big 10. Their schedule is still comparitively light the remainder of the way, but they need to show up for a full game, in all aspects of the game.
They are a bowl team, but will it be before or after the New Year?
#3 Ohio State: A Pryor Life
Last Week: 1
Change: Down 2
To start off with good news: Ohio State can make its own tracks to a Big 10 title. To bring in the pessimism, Ohio State might just have the worst offense in the Big 10 and could lose another game or two.
This team has plenty of talent across the field, but the play has been so inconsistent at times at quarterback, many have begun to wonder if Terrelle Pryor will ever be the special quarterback that he is destined to become.
Ohio State will go to a bowl. Ohio State will be in the mix for the Big 10 title until the end of the year. Ohio State may still be the best team in the Big 10, but you would be crazy to call them that at this point.
If Pryor can ever get the jolly old Buckeye ship steered in the right direction, Ohio State just might beat Iowa and everyone else on its schedule. If not, he may sink the ship right on down to a third of fourth place finish in the Big 10.
# 2 Penn State: Still Got it
Last Week: 2
How can you call a place Happy Valley when it has a significant snowfall in mid October?
When the team plays like the sun is shining on them, that's how. People are forgetting about Penn State, but they shouldn't.
I know Penn State has not played anyone outside of the conference, but they have only looked bad in the Iowa game (four turnovers will do that to a team).
Penn State looks to be the most explosive team on both sides of the ball in the Big 10. Unless Ohio State gets it together, If they get by Michigan this week, there is a very good chance that they will win out and have a chance for at least a share of the crown.
#1 Iowa: How Can You Not?
Last Week: 4
Change: Up 3
The little engine that could, IS! Despite everyone waiting for Iowa to lose (including me), they refuse to go down. So, when will the inevitable happen?
Turnovers, close shaves, and lucky plays have been the reasons that everyone keeps throwing out as why everything will catch up to them.
Well, we are now seven games into the season and Iowa has not yet lost. Despite how they look on the field, the team seems to be a solid unit across the board and will not beat itself.
There is still the chance that Iowa will lose in one of these close games (at Ohio State?), but the team that beats them will have to have outplayed them and not made mistakes.
So far, nobody has been able to do that for a full game. Advantage: Iowa