It was a wild weekend of college football in the Big Ten. We saw walkoff winners from Ohio State and Northwestern, while teams like Penn State football and Maryland cruised to dominant victories. Now that we’re fully into conference play, the pecking order becomes more delineated. How did Week 4 impact our newest Big Ten power rankings?
Updated Big Ten power rankings
After another exciting week of college football, some clear separation is happening in the Big Ten. The top tier of three teams is a clear upper echelon of the conference, with a bright red line separating them and the next level.
A second tier is forming and, for now, has two teams. But this could expand as we get deeper into the season. These two teams are not at the big boy level yet and have a few flaws, but have played fairly well to this point.
And below them is a lower third tier with everyone else. These teams could be ranked in any order, and it would be justified. All the teams in this third tier have major flaws. Unless they have a drastic turnaround, they certainly will not be reaching the elite part of the conference this year.
With all of that said, let’s get to this week’s edition of the Big Ten power rankings.
No. 14 Indiana 2-2 (Last week 13)
The good news is the Hoosiers beat Akron. The bad news is they needed four overtimes to do it despite being 16-point favorites. The Zips had a chance to end it in regulation but missed a 32-yard field goal. The Hoosiers are still dropping to the bottom of the Big Ten power rankings this week.
It’s hard to see too many more victories on the schedule. The Terps are up next.
No. 13 Northwestern 2-2 (Last week 14)
The Wildcats pulled off a surprising victory over Minnesota Saturday night. They were down 31-10 at the start of the 4th quarter but scored three unanswered touchdowns to force overtime, where they won it in the extra frame.
Quarterback Ben Bryant had a career night with 396 yards and four touchdowns. It will be tougher to put up that kind of performance against Penn State football next week.
No. 12 Purdue 1-3 (Last week 11)
The Boilers could not stop Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen or the Badgers fast start on their way to a 38-17 home loss. Hudson Card rushed for a touchdown but threw two interceptions on a three-turnover night for Purdue.
This looks like it could be a rough first year for head coach Ryan Walters. He will face off against his old team, Illinois, next Saturday.
No. 11 Nebraska 2-2 (Last week 12)
Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg got the start again for the Huskers and was the team’s leading rusher with 157 yards. He had a touchdown on the ground and through the air as Nebraska defeated Louisiana Tech 28-14.
After an 0-2 start, the Huskers have recorded back-to-back victories. It may be short-lived as the Wolverines come to Lincoln this Saturday.
No. 10 Michigan State 2-2 (Last week 9)
The Spartans are in complete disarray on and off the field. Against Maryland, they turned over the ball five times on their way to a 31-9 defeat. They outgained the Terps in total yards, but the turnovers were absolute killers.
If Michigan State keeps it up, it may find itself even lower in the power rankings next week. But the Spartans travel to offensively challenged Iowa next Saturday night, so perhaps their fortunes will turn.
No. 9 Illinois 2-2 (Last week 10)
Illinois was down 10-0 to FAU after the first quarter and needed a comeback to defeat the Owls 23-17. After a rough outing against Penn State football the previous week, Luke Altmyer had a better day with over 300 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions.
Squeaking by FAU does not breed much confidence, though. But with what is below the Illini in the power rankings, they actually get to move up a spot. The Illini are at Purdue next week.
No. 8 Rutgers 3-1 (Last week 8)
The Scarlet Knights scored on their opening drive against Michigan on a 69-yard pass from Gavin Wimsatt. That would be all their scoring as Michigan scored the final 31 points. There were plenty of missed opportunities for Rutgers, none more costly than a pick-six, with the Scarlet Knights driving in the third quarter only down 10 points. That pretty much sealed Rutgers’s fate.
This still may be a decent Rutgers team, but against its best competition so far, it failed. However, there is no shame in losing to the No. 2 team in the country, so they stay put in the rankings for the week. Up next is a sure-to-be win against FCS Wagner.
No. 7 Minnesota 2-2 (Last week 7)
Minnesota blew a three-score lead in the fourth quarter and then lost to Northwestern in overtime. Darius Taylor was a workhorse with nearly 200 yards on the ground and a touchdown. But the Gophers do not have a very good quarterback in Athan Kaliakmanis, and the defense gave up nearly 500 yards to a bad Wildcat offense.
This was a bad loss for Minnesota, but it is difficult to drop them even a spot because of what is behind them in the rankings. The Gophers will look to bounce back next week against Louisiana.
No. 6 Iowa 3-1 (Last week 5)
Brutal. Ugly. Pathetic. Those are just a few adjectives used to describe the Hawkeyes’ performance in a 31-0 shutout loss to Penn State football. They had 76 total yards and had an equal amount of first downs as they did turnovers with four each.
There is a ton of finger-pointing from fans after a game like this, and they are primarily pointing at Kirk and Brian Ferentz. The good news for Iowa is that it likely will not face as good of a defense as it did with Penn State again. Iowa certainly can right the ship this week with a home game against Michigan State.
No. 5 Wisconsin 3-1 (Last week 6)
Wisconsin finally got off to a fast start, scoring touchdowns on its first three offensive possessions. The Badgers held off Purdue for the victory, but it came at a cost, as running back Chez Mellusi was lost for the season with a broken leg.
The Badgers get a bye week at a good time, as they will adjust without Mellusi. After the off week, they will host Rutgers.
No. 4 Maryland 4-0 (Last week 4)
The Terps cruised to another comfortable victory, defeating Michigan State 31-9. It was Maryland’s first victory in East Lansing since 1950.
Maryland’s offense, led by Taulia Tagovailoa, gets much attention, but the Terp defense has been pulling its weight. The Terps have only allowed four touchdowns in their first four games and have come up with 11 turnovers. Up next is a home date with Indiana.
No. 3 Penn State 4-0 (Last week 3)
The Nittany Lions took it to Iowa in front of a White Out crowd, shutting out the Hawkeyes. This was a redemption win for the 2021 loss at Kinnick. Most impressively, Penn State controlled the ball for over 45 minutes and ran 97 plays to Iowa’s 33 snaps.
The margin between Penn State and Ohio State looks awfully thin. Still, for now, the Buckeyes remain ahead in the Big Ten power rankings. Luckily, there is a game between the two in about a month that will settle it. For now, Penn State football travels to Northwestern next.
No. 2 Ohio State 4-0 (Last week 2)
On Saturday night, Ohio State pulled off a thrilling 17-14 victory over Notre Dame in South Bend. They had a 3-0 lead at halftime, then a 10-0 lead early in the third quarter. The Irish scored the next two touchdowns, and it was not until nearly the very end the Buckeyes scored the game-winner with a Chip Trayanum 1-yard rush at the goal line. The Irish also had only 10 guys on the field for the Buckeyes’ last two snaps.
For Penn State, it was better for Ohio State to remain undefeated. The two teams appear to be on a collision course for a top-10 matchup in a few weeks in Columbus. For now, Ohio State gets a bye week.
No. 1 Michigan 4-0 (Last week 1)
The Wolverines started slow against Rutgers, but finished strong in Jim Harbaugh’s first game on the sidelines this season. JJ McCarthy was efficient, going 15 of 21 for 214 and a score. Blake Corum also had two scores along with 97 yards. After giving up an explosive play for a touchdown on Rutgers’s third play of the game, the Wolverine defense settled in giving up less than 190 yards the rest of the way and returning an interception for a touchdown.
The Wolverines will finally leave the comforts of home as they hit the road to Lincoln next Saturday.
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