Big Ten Football: Power Ranking the Conference Teams Going Into Week 4
The Big Ten good start has continued past Week 3. Five teams are 3-0 and Indiana stands at 2-0. However, Iowa missed a big chance to jump into the national title discussion after losing at Arizona Saturday night.
While well-known stars such as Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Michigan's Denard Robinson continue to impress, lesser-knowns such as Northwestern's Dan Persa and Michigan State two-headed running attack of Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell have stolen some headlines.
So here are the Big Ten Team Power Rankings going into week four, the last week before conference play begins. Thank heavens.
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Adam Weber said it best following the Golden Gophers’ loss to USC last Saturday.
“Losing is getting old,” Weber said.
Minnesota is struggling in all facets of the game. A loss Saturday against Northern Illinois might put UM fans over the edge.
The hot seat on coach Tim Brewster is close to reaching a boiling point at this, point and there isn’t much hope for the rest of the season, not with five ranked teams still left on the schedule.
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The Boilermakers appear to still be trying to find themselves this season. It’s odd to a Purdue passing attack ranked No. 80 in the country after three games.
Robert Marve’s numbers aren’t bad by any means (502 yards, three touchdown, four interceptions), but they aren’t extraordinary either.
They’ll have plenty of opportunities to chuck it around in the next three weeks against Toledo, Northwestern, and Minnesota, teams that don't exactly feature stifling secondary play.
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The Fighting Illini might want to rename themselves the Running Illini following last week’s win over Northern Illinois, in which Illinois totaled 389 total yards, 319 of them on the ground.
Nathan Scheelhaase did most of his damage with his legs as well, rushing 16 times for 115 yards. He threw for only 70 yards on 16 attempts.
Next, after their upcoming bye week, Illinois hosts Ohio State and then travels to Penn State and Michigan State.
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It was a tale of two halves last Saturday night in Tucson. In the first half, Arizona used an 85-yard pick-six and a 100-yard kickoff return to jump out a 27-7 halftime advantage.
Things changed in the second half as the momentum swung the Hawkeyes favor, and following two Ricky Stanzi touchdown passes and 20-yard interception return by Broderick Binns, the game was nodded up at 27.
But, the point after was blocked, Nick Foles led the Wildcats on a touchdown drive and Stanzi was sacked on three of Iowa’s last four plays.
Making matters worse for the Hawkeyes is that for the second year in a row, the injury bug has crippled the running back position.
After tearing his right ACL in 2009, Jewel Hampton injured his left ACL last Saturday.
Paki O'Meara was injured on a kickoff. That leaves starter Adam Robinson and basically no else in the Iowa backfield for perhaps a few weeks.
7. Penn State
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One week after being dominated by No. 1 Alabama, Penn State got back in the win column with a solid but unspectacular victory against Kent State.
Next up is a feisty Temple which is 3-0 and coming off a win against Connecticut.
Coach Joe Paterno said this week that he has no issues with star running back Evan Royster, who is off to a very slow start to the year.
Royster, just 371 yards away from being Penn State’s leading rusher, has only run for 110 yards on 31 carries this season. He didn’t carry the ball after the first five minutes of the second half last Saturday.
After this week’s game against Temple, the Nittany Lions travel to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes, a game that will be a night game on ABC.
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The Hoosiers been the equivalent of bullies beating up the scrawny nerds this season, pounding Towson and Western Kentucky by a combined score of 89-38.
Ben Chappell is off to a very solid start to the year, completing 74 percent of his passes for 548 yards and five touchdowns, in addition to tossing no interceptions and being sacked only once.
Last week, Indiana welcomed back star receiver Tandon Doss, who missed the opener with a groin injury.
The string of cupcakes will end after the Hoosiers welcome Akron on Saturday, as they host Michigan and then travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State.
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If it wasn’t for Denard Robinson, Dan Persa might be the favorite for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year at the moment. The Senior from Bethlehem, Pa., has passed for 769 yards and six touchdowns on the year while guiding the Wildcats to two road wins early in the season.
It is very possible that Northwestern will be 7-0 heading into a late October matchup against Michigan State, in what could be a showdown between two surprising Big Ten title contenders.
Northwestern also has the benefit of not playing either Ohio State or Michigan this year.
4. Michigan State
This past weekend the Spartans experienced the highest of highs followed by the lowest of lows.
Shortly after Michigan State’s thrilling overtime win against Notre Dame, winning on a touchdown pass off a fake field goal, coach Mark Dantonio was admitted to Sparrow Hospital Emergency Room early Sunday morning with symptoms of a heart attack.
A cardiac catheterization procedure was performed on Dantonio, which restored blood flow to a blocked blood vessel.
While Dantonio is out indefinitely, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell will assume head coach’s responsibilities.
The Spartan offense has been clicking to open the season as Kirk Cousins has tossed four touchdown passes while both Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell have rushed for over 300 yards and four touchdowns.
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Yes, the Badgers are 3-0. Yes, they will probably be undefeated heading into their showdown with Ohio State on Oct. 16. However, the Madison Men can’t be happy with their early season performance.
Wisconsin has not played well in any of their three victories, and were a few lucky breaks away from losing at home to Arizona State last Saturday. Scott Tolzien has a 73 percent completion percentage but only has two touchdowns to show for it.
Nothing’s wrong with reigning Big Ten Player of the Year John Clay, who has 383 yards and five touchdowns to open the season.
The Fighting Denard Robinson’s got more than they bargained for last Saturday against Massachusetts, needing everyone of Robinson’s 345 yards and three scores to beat the Minutemen 42-37.
Three games into the season, Robinson has accounted for 1,230 yards and eight touchdowns. If the Heisman voting ended today, he would be the award’s recipient.
Michigan shouldn’t be tested until the second week of October when they host in-state rival Michigan State.
1. Ohio State
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The nation’s consensus No. 2 team keeps on rolling to open the season. After beating Miami two weeks ago, the Buckeyes throttled in-state foe Ohio 43-7 last Saturday.
Next up for OSU is Eastern Michigan at 3:30 Saturday in Columbus.
For the most part, OSU is firing on all cylinders. Terrelle Pryor has taken good care of the ball, turning the ball over just twice in three games.
The offense has exhibited a relatively good balance of run and pass along with a few big plays.
The Buckeye defense has been very impressive, giving up just two touchdowns so far in 2010.
Senior “star” defensive back Tyler Moeller and senior Cameron Heyward have been two of the stalwarts for the “Silver Bullets.”
They should dominate what will probably be a helpless Eagle defense on Saturday.