Big Ten Power Rankings Week 6: Big Red Turned Upside Down in Madison, Wisconsin
Big Red Nation was turned upside down and tipsy-turvy after invading the hostile turf in Madison Wisconsin.
Nebraska came into their first Big Ten season after leaving the Big 12 as second best. The best team in the Big 12, Oklahoma, was ranked No. 1 in the nation, but Nebraska proved they have a long way to go to compete against the Big Ten's best.
Last Saturday night on ABC, the Huskers showed the world that they were not ready for prime time and saw their way back to Lincoln, Nebraska with a sad look on their faces. They faced the powerhouse Wisconsin Badgers and lost big, 48-17.
Nebraska (4-1, 1-1) fell to almost No. 17 in the AP Poll. I have them ranked somewhere above that in my Big Ten list, but where they are remains a mystery to you unless you stay put for a few minutes and listen to what I have to say.
What's that dirty thing you said about me? Smile when you say that and add a "Mr." at the beginning of it. Now, let's go...
12. Minnesota Golden Gophers: Deeper in the Ditch and Still Smiling
Michigan threw more dirt on the Gophers (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten) who had already dug themselves a ditch.
Coach Jerry Kill has been experiencing seizures for the last three weeks. He’s a cancer survivor, and I wish him and his team the best through their adversity. Don't ditch the smiles.
11. Indiana Hoosiers: Closer to Minnesota Than Meets the Eye
The adverse Hoosiers have the same record as Minnesota. At 1-4, Indiana and the Gophers have been broken and long playing vinyl record while everybody else in the Big Ten are playing CDs and MP3s.
10. Purdue Boilermakers: Biceps and All Bounced by Notre Dame
Last week, the Boilermakers (2-2, 0-0) faced the music and lost to Notre Dame who has bounced two Big Ten teams this season.
Michigan State was the Fighting Irish's other victim.
Purdue begins their Big Ten season with the battle of attrition against Minnesota this week. The Gophers are looking to buck the losing trend and the Boilermakers could help.
9. Ohio State Buckeyes: Bucking the Winning Trend in Beautiful Columbus
The Buckeyes (3-2, 0-1) blew a heart-breaker to Michigan State in Columbus. The offense has been breaking the OSU fans’ hearts most of the season.
OSU’s defense is only giving up 14.6 points per game—stellar enough to be ranked No. 11 in the FBS for that category, but the offense is ranked No. 111 in passing yards per game and No. 91 in scoring points per game. The musical chairs approach at quarterback isn’t helping.
8. Northwestern Wildcats: Persa the Passer Being Persecuted
Quarterback Dan Persa was on a roll during the away game loss at Illinois last Saturday until he was forced to leave the game because of a debilitating injury.
If not for the persecution of injuries this season, Persa could be in the mix for top Big Ten passer. His replacement, Kain Colter is an admirable backup, but it’s hard for the Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) to achieve continuity on offense when the signal caller could be different at any given moment each week.
7. Penn State Nittany Lions: Pride Comes Before Beaver Stadium
The Nittany Lions playing away from home struggled against Indiana last week, but Joe Paterno’s team edged the Hoosiers to win their Big Ten opener.
Now the meaty part of the schedule begins with upset-minded Purdue, Northwestern and forces in Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin coming up.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the first thought on Paterno’s mind after seeing it was, “Who in the Stagg-Paterno Trophy’s name made this schedule?”
The Lions have to find a way to get past Iowa at Beaver Stadium next before the best of the big boys slide through.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes: Black and Blonde Coming to Beaver Stadium
Iowa was idle last week and will travel to play against Penn State and leave it to Beaver in a battle between two unranked teams.
The Hawkeyes have a chance to prove Kirk Herbstreit right. He picked them to face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Herbstreit predicted the Buckeyes would be 5-0.
Oops. At least Kirk’s predictions could bounce back and be half right.
5. Michigan State Spartans: Bouncing Back Tackling Their Issues in Fine Fashion
After losing in righteous fashion to Notre Dame at South Bend, Michigan State (4-1, 1-0) bounced back with a big win at home against Central Michigan and a squeaker on the road against once mighty Ohio State.
The Spartans are the last of five Big Ten teams ranked in the USA Today 25. They didn’t make the top 25 in the AP rankings.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers: Big Red Must Stand on Their Own 2 Feet
Big Red Nation can't sit back and wonder what happened; you all have to stand up and fight back. The thrashing by Wisconsin was a No. 7 against No. 8 game.
It showed Nebraska was overrated and Wisconsin was underrated. My familiar refrain is that the Huskers have to get their passing game in order before they can be considered serious contenders for the national championship.
3. Illinois Fighting Illini: Still Getting Ill
Ranked No. 24 last week, Illinois (5-0, 1-0) fought their way to No. 16—just behind Nebraska in the USA Today Poll and could work themselves into the national championship picture with a few more big wins.
Nathan Scheelhaase could be the best passer in the conference next to Russell Wilson. Scheelhaase has more eligibility and could become one of the best the Big Ten has ever had. He led the Illini back from an 18-point third quarter deficit.
I can’t wait to see the matchup with Wisconsin the week before Thanksgiving Day. Even Big Ten outsiders will tune in to watch the Scheelhaase-Wilson matchup.
2. Michigan Wolverines: Jugheads
Not many outsiders know that since 1909, No. 12 in the AP Michigan and Minnesota have matched up for a prize known as the Little Brown Jug.
The Wolverines kept it, but I hope they aren’t drinking their own Kool-Aid. Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the nation and slipping not sipping.
Michigan’s passing game looked good with the slip screens and trick plays they pulled off against the overmatched Gophers. In the process, the Wolverines (5-0, 1-0) clawed their way past Nebraska in the national rankings.
I’ll wait to see how Michigan does against a true Big Ten defense before I start sipping from the Little Brown Jug.
1. Wisconsin Badgers: Juggernauts
Speaking of jugs, against the vaunted Blackshirts defense at proud Nebraska, Wisconsin showed they’re justified juggernauts.
The Badgers juked Nebraska and jammed them with the worst whipping the proud Huskers have ever had, in my opinion.
Far and away the cream of the Big Ten early in this season, Wisconsin looks more like a Big Ten dynasty in the making each week. My writing dynasty is looking like it's in the making.
I thank you for making it happen. If you happen to check me out next week, then you, too, will continue to be entertained.
Contact Lake Cruise:Lakecruise@att.net.