Big Ten Power Rankings Week Seven
Big Ten Week Seven Power Rankings
The Big Ten is entering week seven and there is finally a clear number one team in the conference. Ohio State has emerged as the conference’s top team and, as for right now, there is no one that is even a close second.
There are not just two teams in the Big Ten that are ranked in the top 25, compared to the five that started the season ranked. The league is experiencing somewhat of a down season and that is expected to turn around when conference play heats up and teams start to get hot.
Northwestern was one of two undefeated teams going into week six, but left with their first loss of the season to Penn State in Happy Valley.
Nebraska travelled to Ohio State to take on the Buckeyes in a primetime game that was likely both teams’ biggest game of the season. The Buckeyes were victorious, annihilating the Cornhuskers 63-38 in impressive fashion.
Braxton Miller’s Heisman stock jumped to top-three levels after this win and Ohio State fans everywhere were throwing their hands up in anger and asking why this year has to be the year they are banned from postseason play. They would certainly be favorites to win the Big Ten and make it to the Rose Bowl, or possibly run the table and make it to the BCS title game.
However, the perfect world doesn’t exist and punishments happen. With the off year the Big Ten is experiencing, they Buckeyes are hoping it remains this way for when they are bowl eligible.
Take a look at who I put as my best and worst teams in the Big Ten going into week seven.
12. Illinois(2-4, 0-2)
I can finally say that Indiana is no longer the worst team in the Big Ten. After yet another rough week, Illinois has lost four of five and have given up over 30 points in every loss. The defense was supposed to be the strong point of the team going into the season-- not the case so far. The looked horrid against a struggling Wisconsin team, establishing no run game and accumulating just under 300 yards. Nathan Scheelhaase returned to action but that proved unhelpful as the Illini drop to 2-4.
11. Indiana(2-3, 0-2)
The Hoosiers should have all the confidence in the world heading into week seven's matchup with the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes. Indiana kept up with Michigan State for three quarters, leading by 10 points going into the fourth, 27-17. They looked like they were on pace to get their first Big Ten home win since 2009, but the Spartans ripped the hearts out of Hoosiers everywhere. They went on to hold Indiana to 34 yards and two first downs in the second half. Cameron Coffman had a great game at quarterback, but the inexperience of the Hoosiers shined bright as the game progressed.
10. Minnesota(4-1, 0-1)
Minnesota got a much needed bye week after getting spanked by an inconsistent Iowa team to begin conference play. The Gophers were one of three undefeated teams left in the conference until they faced the Hawkeyes, and were made to look like a fluke. They lost respect from everyone after this loss because it just showed that they aren't ready to be the best because they can't beat the teams that they are supposed to beat. Although Iowa is a solid team year after year, they have had one of the worst offenses in the conference and that wasn't exploited by Minnesota's defense.
9. Purdue(3-2, 0-1)
Purdue was my pick to win the Big Ten Leaders Division, but this game made me second guess my choice. I am not one to change my picks, however, so I'm sticking with this team. They had a rough game, losing 44-13 to a Michigan team that is still searching for an identity. If any game was perfect for making a statement, this was it. They were at home, the game was hyped up and the team seemed to be ready and poised to take down a goliath in their eyes. They couldn't get the job done as their defense couldn't stop Denard Robinson and their offense couldn't move the ball down the field.
8. Iowa(3-2, 1-0)
The Hawkeyes are having a very un-Hawkeye-like season so far. They are used to being in the talks as a contender for the Big Ten title, but this season seems to be that of a rebuilding year for head coach Kirk Ferentz and his team. The offense has been suspect this season as James Vandenberg has yet to find his stride with the receivers. They also suffered a black eye off the field as three Iowa players were arrested this past weekend for various reason, none expected to miss any playing time. Ferentz hopes that the bye week last week helps this team wake up a little bit as they travel to East Lansing this weekend to take on Michigan State.
7. Northwestern(5-1, 1-1)
This may be kind of a harsh ranking for Northwestern, but I was less than impressed with the way they let the lead against Penn State slip away in the final quarter of play. Great teams can win in the clutch and hold a lead, Northwestern does not fit that description and makes me wonder if they are ready to be a conference elite team. Northwestern has a top-20 rushing attack in the country, but were seemingly stopped in their tracks as they were held to just 112 yards. Venric Mark had one of his lowest outputs of the season with just 72 yards on 13 carries and Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter were basically a non-factor late in the game.
6. Wisconsin(4-2, 1-1)
The Badgers are starting to come together as a team. I say this because, through the first five games, and in that fifth game, they looked to be turning it around, leading Nebraska by a large margin on the road. This lead crumbled with the hopes of a Rose Bowl season for Badger fans everywhere and it seemed like that woul seemingly put their season to rest. They had a great comeback week, defeating the Fighting Illini 31-13 and looked more like the Wisconsin offense that everyone was expecting. They put up 427 yards of total offense and looked solid rushing and passing the ball. Time will tell if this team really is back and ready to contend for a conference title.
5. Nebraska(4-2, 1-1)
Nebraska was feeling good about themselves as they led Ohio State on the road after the first quarter on Saturday, 14-7. Taylor Martinez wasn't putting the ball in the air as much, but the ground attack, led by Rex Burkhead proved to be successful in the quarter as he looked healthy as ever. The first quarter was just a faint memory as the second quarter started and the Buckeyes realized they can score points-- a lot of points. The Buckeyes outscored the Cornhuskers 56-24 in the last three quarters of play, annihilating them on their home field, 63-38.
4. Penn State(4-2, 2-0)
Penn State had a statement win on Saturday, dropping the total number of Big Ten teams with no losses to just one. Northwestern went into the game with high hopes and left with hung heads and a long flight home. Penn State has been one of the hottest teams in the conference and seem to be finding the identity that they had been desperately searching for at the beginning of the season when they started out 0-2. They denied the Wildcats of a 6-0 start and held their potent offense to just 247 yards of total offense. This team may just be for real.
3. Michigan State(4-2, 1-1)
Michigan State may be one of those teams that will leave you scratching your head throughout the entire season. Saturday was no exception to that as they began the game flat and found themselves trailing the lowly Hoosiers 17-0 after the first quarter and 27-14 at halftime. The Spartans seemed dead and it was all but over going into the fourth with Mark Dantonio breathing fire into this teams spirits. He motivated the team and they responded, reeling off 14 straight points, including the game-winning score by junior receiver Bennie Fowler that proved they may just be turning things around in East Lansing. A win like this, no matter who the opponent, is huge for any struggling team.
2. Michigan(3-2, 1-0)
The Wolverines had quite possibly the most surprising win of the week as they demolished Purdue on the road by a whopping 31 points. Although Denard Robinson looked good on the ground and solid through the air, they are still worried about their running backs. Fitzgerald Toussaint had one of his worst games as a collegiate, rushing the ball 17 times for just 19 yards. The Wolverines are easily the second best team in the conference right now and are one of just two ranked Big Ten teams, but they need to establish a run game to take the pressure off the one-man wrecking crew, Robinson, if they want to be number one.
1. Ohio State(6-0, 2-0)
This was the easiest choice of teams topping my power rankings that I have ever had. Ohio State. They're talented, they're young and they are led by one of the best and most dynamic quarterbacks in the country, Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes are easily at the top of the ladder and will be until someone can prove that they aren't as good as everyone thinks. It's just unfortunate that the best team in the conference can't make a bowl game this year or even represent the conference in the national title game. Maybe next year.