Big Ten Power Rankings: Week Nine
1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Penn State 63-14
This week: @ Purdue (1-6, 0-3)
There’s not a lot to say about Ohio State’s rout of Penn State on Saturday. The Buckeyes put up the most total yards against a Penn State football team in their schools’ history. Senior quarterback Braxton Miller showed just how elusive of a runner and thrower he can be, with time in the pocket.
Senior running back Carlos Hyde continues to climb draft boards with consistent numbers week after week.
Like I said, there’s not a lot to say about Ohio State, they took care of business and showed why they are by far the best team in the Big Ten. Next week starts the prep work for Michigan at the end of the season, as the Buckeyes travel to West Lafayette, to take on Purdue. Expect everything on both sides of the ball from last Saturday, to take place this Saturday, and more.
2. Michigan State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Illinois 42-3
This week: vs. Michigan (6-1, 2-1)
The nation’s number one statistically rated defense showed why they are for real. Illinois came in to the matchup averaging over 260 passing yards per game. Michigan State held them to 103. Illinois had also come into Saturday averaging just under 140 rushing yards per game. Michigan State held them to 25. This defense may not face the most lethal of offenses in the Big Ten, but you have to believe it could take any offense out of rhythm with great combination of speed and size.
Sophomore quarterback Conner Cook went 15 of 16 for 208 yards and three touchdowns and further established his role as the starting quarterback. Michigan comes to East Lansing this week and they are polar opposites when it comes to defensive output. If Michigan State can pull out this victory, they will sit comfortably in the drivers seat in the Legends Division.
3. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: @ Iowa (5-3, 2-2)
The last time we saw the Wisconsin Badgers, they were scoring all over Illinois, especially on the ground behind running backs James White and Melvin Gordon. This weekend is going to be an old-school, black and blue, Big Ten matchup, that we all are used to seeing.
Iowa’s only losses have come to Northern Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State, teams all in the Top 25 of the latest BCS rankings.
The running game as mentioned before led by White and Gordon will need to be relied on down the stretch as the weather gets colder and the wind starts to become more of a factor. The Badgers have looked quite impressive on offense the last two times out, since
the Ohio State loss, and will need a repeat performance to get by an Iowa team that is starting to find its identity.
4. Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: @ Michigan State (7-1, 4-0)
A much needed bye week for Michigan allowed the Wolverines to try and get healthy before they take on in-state rival Michigan State in East Lansing. Senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan had a lingering foot injury dating back to the Penn State game, but alongside Lewan will be staples in the line such as Michael Schofield and Graham Glasgow.
Linebacker Jake Ryan has been labeled as 100% by coaches, after playing in only the last two games for Michigan. All eyes will be on the Michigan offense when going up against a Michigan State defense, that only gives up an average of 14 points per game. Considering Michigan’s defense has only held two opponents under 14 points all season, the offense will need be stellar to come out of East Lansing with a win.
5. Minnesota (6-2, 1-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Nebraska (34-23)
This week: @ Indiana (3-4, 1-2)
The Gophers are playing inspiring football since head coach Jerry Kill decided to take a leave of absence to deal with his epilepsy induced seizure dilemma. Tracy Claeys has since then guided the Gophers including ending the Minnesota 53-year losing streak to Nebraska. Not since 1960 had Minnesota beat Nebraska.
Now granted, they’ve only played each other on a yearly basis for a short time, but this was a great win for Minnesota.
Sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson was seven for 15 with 152 yards and a touchdown through the air, as well as 55 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. Junior running back David Cobb had a season high 138 yards rushing for the Gophers and dominated the Nebraska front seven all game. Let’s see how high the Gophers can ascend.
6. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Minnesota (34-23)
This week: vs. Northwestern (4-4, 0-4)
The hot seat got a whole lot warmer for Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini after this weekend. Nebraska’s young defense couldn’t make stops and were run over all day in the ground game.
Now the questions will start to rise yet again, should Bo Pelini be fired after the season?
The fact that the best win of the Cornhuskers season has come against Wyoming will not sit well with anyone involved with the program. The remarks by former Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier have only added fuel to the fire in this conflict. There is one goal to reach at Nebraska and that’s a National Championship. Since Bo Pelini has been
in charge, 10 and 11 win seasons have occurred, and would be accepted as success at most programs.
Not at Nebraska. If Nebraska drops this week’s game at home to Northwestern, you can put the nail in the coffin, because there will not be a next season for Pelini.
7. Iowa (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (W/OT) vs. Northwestern 17-10
This week: vs. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1)
Kirk Ferentz always has his Iowa teams playing at their best, down the stretch of every season. With just one more win needed to become bowl-eligible, Iowa has certainly surpassed expectations this year.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock stood tall in overtime delivering a pass to senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. that led to an overtime barn-burner in Iowa City. It certainly wasn’t a flashy victory, but it’s Iowa. When is anything done with flash in Iowa?
If the Hawkeyes can knock off Wisconsin at home this Saturday, it would go a long way in terms of bowl positioning for Iowa at the end of the season.
8. Penn State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Ohio State (63-14)
This week: vs. Illinois (3-4, 0-3)
Saturday was as low as Penn State has been in a very long time. Look back to 1899 in fact, that was the last time a Penn State defense had ever allowed such a total of yards on defense. From the opening snap, Ohio State took the souls out of Penn State and hung them out to dry.
Whether it was personnel, defensive scheming or whatever the reasoning was, Penn State was simply the lesser team on Saturday. After coming off such a triumphant victory at home against Michigan just two weeks ago, Penn State was taken out behind the shed and beaten like a piece of meat.
Ok, enough with the analogies and that’s what Penn State has to do now. Forget the trip to Columbus ever happened. Illinois hasn’t won a Big Ten game since October 8th, 2011. There is no postseason appearance for Penn State no matter how the season goes from here on out, but there is still so much to play for, heading into the last month of the regular season.
9. Northwestern (4-4, 0-4 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Iowa 17-10
This week: @ Nebraska (5-2, 2-1)
At one point, Northwestern was a clear favorite to make it to Indianapolis, and represent the Legends Division. Now, the Wildcats are fighting to simply become bowl-eligible. After failing to knock off Ohio State at home four weeks ago, Northwestern has been in a torrential downfall.
Senior quarterback Kain Colter battled to stay on the field with an apparent injury and still tried to find a way to rally the offense that is still without their most dynamic playmaker in senior running back, Venric Mark. Sophomore receiver Dan Vitale had the only touchdown for Northwestern on a pass from Colter. Something has to give on Saturday when Northwestern travels to Nebraska. Will the seat get hotter for Nebraska coach Bo Pelini or will the downfall only continue for Northwestern?
10. Indiana (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: vs. Minnesota (6-2, 2-2)
The last time we saw Indiana, they were going back and forth with Michigan trying to see who could play worse defense. All season long, the story has been Indiana trying to outscore opponents and for the defense to hold their ground.
That caught up to the Hoosiers last week when a little better of an offense outscored them and a little bit better of a defense was able to get stops at key points.
Coming into Bloomington, this week is as mysterious an opponent Indiana will see all year. Minnesota isn’t anything to write about offensively, but what they’ve done, playing for their head coach Jerry Kill, can’t be analyzed. Everyone knows that Indiana will put up points in bunches, but this defense will yet again be called upon to try and get the Hoosiers season back on track.
11. Illinois (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Michigan State (42-3)
Next week: @ Penn State (4-3, 1-2)
We knew going into Saturday how good Michigan State’s defense was, but they made Illinois look insignificant on offense. Led by new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, this was suppose to be the fixings that would allow senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to use all of his weapons available.
The first Illini drive led to a field goal from sophomore kicker Taylor Zalewski, and gave so much confidence that they could be a mismatch for the highly vaunted Michigan State defense.
The conference losing streak that dates back to 2011 will be tested yet again when Illinois travels to State College, to take on Penn State. If there is a week to get the win, it could possibly be this one. Penn State’s defense has been exposed, and it is now known that they do not have the necessary attributes to be a dominant Big Ten defense.
12. Purdue (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: vs. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0)
It’s that time of the week again. Time to preach patience to the Purdue Boilermakers despite the fact that they will probably lose by at least 40. I thought it would be easier to analyze Purdue heading into a bye week, but it’s much more tougher post bye week. It’s hard to picture what will ensue in West Lafayette, on Saturday.
The only thing I can say to the Boilermaker faithful, is to remember 2009 when Purdue knocked off the seventh-ranked Buckeyes. Drew Brees or Kyle Orton isn’t coming back any time soon to soften the blow, but Danny Etling’s learning curve on Saturday will be just another lesson for future seasons. Just close your eyes and go to a happy place Purdue fans, Saturday will be over before you know it, if that helps.