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B1G Power Rankings: Week Five

  1. Iowa: I feel much better about this ranking this week than last week.  Listen to and/or watch my instant reaction podcast following the Maryland win, here.
  2. Penn State:  With #3 Oregon’s loss, Penn State likely moves up to #3 and Iowa moves up to #4 in this week’s AP Rankings.  According to Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica of ESPN, it will be the first game involving two Top Five rated Big Ten teams that does not include Ohio State, since 1987, when Michigan and Penn State faced off.  Furthermore, it’s the first matchup of Top Five rated Big Ten teams that did not involve Ohio State AND Michigan since 1962!
  3. Ohio State:  The Buckeyes had a 45-7 lead at halftime against Rutgers and racked up over 300 yards passing and over 200 yards rushing.
  4. Michigan State:  Spartan running back Kenneth Walker III continues to put up impressive numbers, rushing for 126 yards against Western Kentucky.  He has 554 on the year.  But perhaps more impressive is that Michigan State has found a trigger man in Payton Thorne, who has throw for 909 yards in five games with 10 TD’s and 1 INT.
  5. Michigan: The Wolverines beat the heck out of Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday, both on the scoreboard (38-17) and with physical play, knocking out QB Graham Mertz among other starting offensive players.  Michigan’s passing game came to life, too.  Wisconsin still has a great rushing defense, but Penn State and Michigan have exposed them deep through the air.
  6. Nebraska:  Yes, I realize this might be a shock, but the Cornhuskers have actually played solid to very good football since losing their season opener to Illinois.  No, the stink of that loss still isn’t off of Nebraska, but it’s getting closer.  The Huskers fought tough against Oklahoma two weeks ago and should have beaten Michigan State on the road last week.  This week, they destroyed Northwestern 56-7 and led 35-7 at the break.  It really was 1990’s throwback day in Lincoln, as the Huskers rushed for over 400 yards and amassed over 600 total yards against Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats.  In my opinion and based on what I have seen, the Huskers are the second best team in the B1G West and I am more concerned about Iowa’s trip to Lincoln than I am Iowa’s trip to Madison.
  7. Wisconsin: They are 1-3, and this says more about the lower half of the Big Ten than it does Wisconsin.  They looked horrible against Michigan, gaining just 12 first downs, going 3 of 14 on third down and rushing for just 43 yards on 1.3 yards per carry.   I can’t imagine there have been too many games since Barry Alvarez got things rolling where the Badgers averaged so few yards per rush.  Wisconsin running backs averaged just 2.7 yards per rush against Michigan after averaging just 2.9 yards per rush against an overrated Notre Dame team.  I have felt since the first game of 2020 that the Wisconsin OL did not look anywhere near their standard, and my thoughts have not changed on that front nearly midway through the 2021 season.  QB Graham Mertz’s availability for the Illinois game is undetermined at this time after suffering a chest injury and being knocked out of the game against Michigan.
  8. Minnesota: They are hard to figure out.  Perhaps that is life without your star running back you lost in the first week of the season (Mo Ibrahim).  They held Colorado to less than 100 yards of total offense two weeks ago and then came home and lost to Bowling Green last week.  This week, they won 20-13 at Purdue.
  9. Indiana: Maybe?  Penix looks like a shadow of the player we saw last year prior to the knee injury in the bowl game.  He’s just not recovered and it’s affecting his throws.
  10. Maryland:  I think?  This is where things start to get real hard, because we are judging different shades of bad here.  Iowa made the Terrapins look like an FCS squad, and Maryland’s lack of on-field discipline reminded me of low-tier FCS football.  Mike Locksley is always gonna Mike Locksley.
  11. Purdue: Only because they beat Oregon State
  12. Rutgers: That 3-0 start is a thing of the past.  They did look respectable against Michigan last week, losing 20-13, but Ohio State took them to the woodshed.
  13. Northwestern: Life with a new DC ain’t easy…but then again, Northwestern can’t score, either
  14. Illinois: Still a couple of years away, it would seem.

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