Big Ten Football: Power Ranking The Defenses Heading Into Week 5
After four weeks of lopsided affairs (mostly in the favor of the Big Ten teams), it's finally time for Big Ten conference play to begin. Who will hoist the Big Ten championship trophy at seasons end? Who will falter under the intense pressure and sometimes wide open matches the conference is known for?
One thing is for sure- each team's defensive squads better bring their A-game, because scoring crucial points may be at a premium.
#11: Michigan Wolverines
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The Michigan Wolverines are statistically the worst defense in the Big Ten and ranked #93 out of 120 teams.
Through four games this season and 280 plays on defense, the Wolverines have allowed a total of 1600 yards, 12 touchdowns and 5.71 yards per play. Crunching the numbers will show that Michigan have allowed their opponents 400 yards of offense.
Sure, Michigan has an explosive quarterback in Heisman Trophy favorite Denard Robinson, but unless they tighten up on defense, they may be unable to add a cushion between themselves and their Big Ten opponents for the remainder of the season.
#10: Minnesota Golden Gophers
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The Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive squad is ranked #85 in the nation through the first four games of the 2010 season.
With 208 total plays on defense, the Golden Gophers have allowed a total of 1,548 total yards, 17 touchdowns, and 7.44 yards per play. Crunching the numbers, Minnesota is allowing a staggering 387 yards per game.
With a tough Big Ten schedule this year, facing Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa- the Golden Gophers could very easily be the worst finishing team in the Big Ten this year.
#9: Northwestern Wildcats
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Here's the good news: the Wildcats are 4-0 to start the season, but their defense is ranked #77 in the country.
Through their undefeated start for 2010, the Northwestern Wildcats have allowed a total of 1,495 yards on 274 plays on defense. Having allowed 8 touchdowns thus far and 5.46 yards per play, the Wildcats are coughing up 373.75 yards per game.
Northwestern are another team with a tough Big Ten schedule and will play Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin on the road. The Wildcats may find themselves behind late in games and having to rely on quarterback Dan Persa to salvage a win a few times this season.
#8: Purdue Boilermakers
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The Boilermakers are 2-2 on the season thus far and have the 59th best defense in the nation.
Through their first four games of the season, Purdue have a total of 265 plays on defense and have allowed 1,398 total yards and 11 touchdowns. With their their opponents offense averaging 5.28 yards per play, the Boilermakers have coughed up a total of 349.50 yards per game.
With only three of their remaining games against un-ranked opponents, Purdue will have their hands full and could very easily finish 10th in the final Big Ten standings.
#7: Indiana Hoosiers
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The Hoosiers have started off the 2010 season undefeated after beating Towson, Western Kentucky and Akron by an average of 22 points, but their defense is ranked #52 in the nation.
Through their first three game, Indiana's defense have allowed a total of 1,015 yards and seven touchdowns on 185 total plays on defense. With their opponents averaging 5.49 yards per play against them, the Hoosiers are coughing up 338.33 yards per game.
With five of their nine remaining games of the season against ranked Big Ten opponents and only two of them away, the Indiana Hoosiers may be a legitimate middle of the road Big Ten team this season.
#6: Michigan State Spartans
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Michigan State are another undefeated Big Ten team through their first four "warmup" games of the 2010 season, having come up victorious against Western Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame and Northern Colorado.
The Spartans defense is ranked #51 in the nation through four games and 298 plays. Having allowed their opponents 1,351 yards of offense, nine touchdowns and 4.53 yards per play. Crunching the numbers, Michigan State allowed an average of 337.75 yards of offense.
With four of their remaining eight games against ranked Big Ten teams and all but one of them on the road, the Spartans could very easily find themselves in some sticky situations late in games.
#5: Illinois Fighting Illini
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The Fighting Illini are currently 2-1 on the season after losing to Missouri 23-13 in week 1, destroying Southern Illinois 35-3, and squeeking past Northern Illinois 28-22.
Illinois' defense is ranked #48 in the nation having allowed their opponents 999 yards of offense, five touchdowns, and an average of 4.95 yards through 202 plays. After whipping out your handy calculator, you will see that the Fighting Illini are allowing their opponents 333 yards per game.
Don't let these numbers fool you, they should be expected against teams like Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois.
#4: Penn State Nittany Lions
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The Nittany Lions 2010 season thus far has been one of feast or famine having wins over Youngstown State, Kent State and squeeking by Temple- and a loss to Alabama in week 2.
The Penn State defensive squad is ranked #18 in the nation through four games and 229 plays- after allowing a total of 1,103 yards, seven touchdowns and 4.82 yards per play. After crunching the numbers, you will see that the Nittany Lions defense are allowing only 275.75 yards of offense.
Although bending but not breaking at different times this season, especially against Temple, the Penn State defense has made plays when it counted. Their biggest challenge for the season is to be more consistent on defense, with big matchups against Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State on their remaining schedule.
#3: Wisconsin Badgers
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Wisconsin to some, are the favorite dark-horse pick to win the Big Ten title this season and haven't let anyone think otherwise thus far.
The Badgers' defense is ranked #16 in the nation, and have allowed 1,061 yards, seven touchdowns, and averaging 4.93 yards 215 plays- coughing up a total of 265.25 yards per game.
Four of their eight remaining games will be against ranked Big Ten teams, and all but one of them will be on the road. The Badgers defense will have to continue to bring their A-game for the remainder of the season to live up to the Big Ten title hype.
#2: Ohio State Buckeyes
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The Buckeyes as a whole are ranked #2 in the nation and have decimated all teams in their path to this point with an average margin of victory of 35 points. Their defense hasn't lacked thus far either- and are ranked #5 in the nation.
Through four games and 228 total plays on defense, the Buckeyes have allowed 961 yards, eight touchdowns, and an average of 4.21 yards per play- only allowing an average of 240.25 yards per game.
Ohio State will face four ranked Big-Ten teams in their remaining eight games, with two on the road and two at home. With the eyes of football fans all across the nation focused on them, the Buckeyes defense will need to continue to keep up their early season success.
#1: Iowa Hawkeyes
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Although losing to Arizona in week three (due mainly to special teams mistakes), the Hawkeyes defense are are ranked #1 in the nation and have allowed an average of only twelve points per game.
Through four games and 232 total plays on defense, Iowa has allowed their opponents 910 yards, six touchdowns, and an average of 3.92 yards per play- giving away only 227.5 yards per game.
Iowa's remaining eight games include five against ranked Big Ten teams, with all of them being at the friendly and loud confines of Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes have the weapons on defense to live up to the Big Ten title hype and will need to continue to live up to their reputation of being one of the stingiest defenses in the country.