Big Ten Power Rankings: Week Six
1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Northwestern 40-30
This week: BYE
Not a lot can be said about Ohio State’s first true road test of the season. The Buckeyes imposed their will on both sides of the line and seemed to only get stronger as the game went along. Braxton Miller may not have had a touchdown, but the entire nation learned how much senior running back Carlos Hyde means to OSU’s running game.
Compiling 168 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, Hyde singlehandedly ran the clock down in the 2nd half. The secondary still got torched for over 300 yards passing and will need to be addressed in the teams’ much needed bye week. –Ryan Stevens
2. Michigan (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Minnesota 42-13
This week: @ Penn State (3-2, 0-1)
Michigan took advantage of a depleted Minnesota team this week to win big at home. The Golden Gophers were at a disadvantage as head coach Jerry Kill was unable to travel with the team, because of another sudden seizure. The Wolverines displayed a well-balanced attack on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. For the first time this season, Devin Gardner was nearly mistake-free, which could be dangerous for opposing teams as the season progresses.
Next week Brady Hoke’s team travels to the deafening Beaver Stadium to take on a Penn State team, that has yet to really discover its identity. It should be a good one in Happy Valley, as the two-loss Nittany Lions match up well against the Wolverines. –Tyler Feldman
3. Northwestern (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Ohio State 40-30
This week: @ Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1)
Northwestern alum Michael Wilbon, described the atmosphere at Ryan Field as ‘energy the campus had never experienced before’. Unfortunately, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde was too much for the Wildcats defense to contain. Hyde ran for a career-high 168 yards and three touchdowns to rally the Buckeyes from 10 down in the third quarter to victory.
Down 34-30 late in the fourth quarter Pat Fitzgerald decided to go for it on 4th down. The spot of the ball was given a questionable position causing a very difficult turnover on downs. This week Northwestern heads to Madison, Wisconsin, as they look to get back on track against the Badgers. Despite the loss this week, this talented Wildcats team is still poised for a very strong season. –Tyler Feldman
4. Michigan State (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Iowa 26-14
This week: Indiana (3-2, 1-0)
The Spartans outscored the Hawkeyes 16-0 in the second half to comeback and win on the road in the always-difficult Kinnick Stadium. Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook looks to be more comfortable in the pocket as he threw for a career-high 277 yards and two touchdowns. The Spartans are a sneaky team this season.
They present a well-balanced attack, especially when a pair of Darqueze Dennard interceptions is part of their win over Iowa. Next week will be a true test as they must battle against Indiana and its high-powered offense. –Tyler Feldman
5. Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: vs. Northwestern (4-1, 0-1)
For the first time all year, Wisconsin has moved from the no. 4 spot in our rankings, thanks to some clever convincing from TF. The only problem is they have yet to show us why they should be higher up. Not the “sexy” pick to a lot of people and only care about themselves, doesn’t that just summarize a Wisconsin team perfectly?
The last time we saw Wisconsin, they couldn’t close out an upset bid in Columbus over the Buckeyes and this week, a dejected Northwestern team comes into Madison. If Wisconsin can pull through this one, they should be favored in every game from here on out with hopes of still making it to Indianapolis. –Ryan Stevens
6. Nebraska (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Illinois 39-19
This week: @ Purdue (1-4, 0-1)
The Cornhuskers ran all over the Illini on Saturday. Literally. Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 225 yards and two touchdowns to lead Nebraska to a big 20-point victory at home. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong did a stellar job for the second week in a row filling in for Taylor Martinez.
Bo Pelini’s defense, which forced two turnovers, is the deciding factor for his team. They were much improved against Illinois, but the unit must continue to make strides in the right direction if they are going to want to come out of the Big Ten on top. Next week they travel to Indiana for an easy contest against a depleted Purdue squad. –Tyler Feldman
7. Indiana (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Penn State 44-24
This week: @ Michigan State (4-1, 1-0)
Ask anyone around the Big Ten, and they would of said Indiana had a legitimate chance of taking down Penn State on Saturday, and they were right. The hurry up offense of Indiana seemed to be in check for the 1st half, but 31 points in the 2nd half proved otherwise. Sophomore Nate Sudfeld was under the center the whole game and didn’t have a lot of issues handling Penn State’s lack of a pass rush or the weak secondary.
The big stat for the Hoosiers was holding Penn State’s rushing offense to a combined 70 yards on the afternoon. This was the same defense that surrendered over 400 yards to Navy just a couple weeks ago. Indiana will travel to East Lansing for their first road game of the season. It will be interesting if the offense can stay up to speed on the road. –Ryan Stevens
8. Illinois (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Nebraska 39-19
This week: BYE
The Illinois offense that was gaining so much exposure over last week’s debacle of Miami (OH) had a huge reality check in Lincoln. Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase accounted for a quarterback rating just under 19, while sophomore runningback Josh Ferguson carried the load on offense.
Ferguson led the Illini with 19 carries for 114 yards and one touchdown as well as eight catches for 82 yards. The suspect Illini defense gave up 228 rushing yards to junior running back Ameer Abdullah while senior quarterback Taylor Martinez sat out again this week. The road only gets tougher for Illinois after the bye week with home games against Wisconsin and Michigan State. –Ryan Stevens
9. Penn State (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Indiana 44-24
This week: vs. Michigan (5-0, 1-0)
The most disappointing performance of the weekend came out of Bloomington, and it wasn’t by virtue of the Hoosiers. After a bye week and maybe the biggest news for Penn State football in the last year, not a lot saw a loss of this magnitude happening. Every weakness by the Nittany Lions was put on full display by the Hoosiers offense Saturday.
With a young and inexperience secondary, the hurry up offense to the level of a Kevin Wilson run offense was simply overwhelming for Penn State. Offensively, a lot of people are going to point fingers at the 55 passing attempts from freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the 1.8 rush yards per attempt against one of the worst run defenses in the country. There still seem to be more questions than answers for the Nittany Lions heading into Saturday’s affair with Michigan in Happy Valley. –Ryan Stevens
10. Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Michigan State 26-14
This week: BYE
The Hawkeyes squandered a great opportunity at home in a defeat to the Spartans. Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns, but he also surrendered two interceptions. The difference was the abysmal Hawkeyes rushing attack, which only tallied 23 yards on 16 attempts.
For the first time this season, Kirk Ferentz’s squad looked very vulnerable offensively against a very talented defense and special teams. Now Iowa has two weeks to prepare for its bout at Ohio State. –Tyler Feldman
11. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Michigan 42-13
This week: BYE
A 0-2 start to the Big Ten season is not how the Golden Gophers scripted the beginning of their season. With the health uncertainties of head coach Jerry Kill, it becomes very difficult to prepare.
It is a very unfortunate situation, but after a huge loss to Michigan without Kill on the sidelines, this talented Minnesota team must utilize its BYE week to devote toward prepartion, for a tough upcoming contest versus Northwestern. –Tyler Feldman
12. Purdue (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: vs. Nebraska (4-1, 1-0)
Well, at least we didn’t have to talk about one week of horrible Purdue football. The Boilermakers are as solid at the #12 spot as Ohio State is at the #1 spot. Now the way first year head coach Darrell Hazell has to look at the situation, is that there’s no where to go but up from here. The play from freshman quarterback Danny Etling will give a reason for people to tune into Purdue.
The way to keep them interested is put a competitive team out on the field week after week. Purdue will more than likely not win another game the rest of the year, but the Boilermakers have to find a way to keep everyone interested in what was once a prideful football program just a few years ago. –Ryan Stevens