Feit: Big Ten Power Rankings – week of 9/25/2017
It’s time once again for the Big Ten Power Rankings, where we rank the fourteen Big Ten teams using a proprietary formula of expert analysis, biased opinions, and blind guesses. For another look at how I predicted the division races, click here.
- Penn State. They won the game of the week, and looked good doing it. Saquon Barkley showed why he is the best running back in the conference – if not the nation. He may rush for 300 against Indiana this week.
- Wisconsin. The Badgers had the week off to prepare – not that they really need it. Wisconsin should be heavy favorites in their next six games.
- Michigan. The Wolverine defense shut down a Purdue attack that was averaging 35 a game. It wasn’t a pretty victory, but 4-0 is 4-0. Michigan gets an off week to deal with a pending QB controversy before taking on Michigan State.
- Iowa. Give the Hawkeyes credit for battling Penn State until the final play, and for almost pulling off a big victory. The next step is to take care of business on the road against a vulnerable Michigan State squad.
- Ohio State. So far, we know that Ohio State can beat up lesser schools, and fell at home to Oklahoma. And that’s probably all we’ll know about the Buckeyes until they host Penn State at the end of October.
- Minnesota. This is the point in the rankings where they should be an OPEN space, as the gap between the top half and the rest of the league is rather wide. You could make an argument for pretty much any of the teams to be here, but I’ll go with Minnesota. Why? Well, it’s mainly because they’re undefeated. Hopefully, next week’s games – including the Gophers heading to Maryland – clears things up a little more.
- Northwestern. Yeesh. Things are really muddled up now. Seven through 12 is like a reverse beauty pageant where you try to determine which loss(es) were the least ugly. And it should tell you something that a 24 point loss to Duke comes out on top. The Wildcats are already in the make-or-break part of their schedule with Wisconsin coming to town and a trip to Happy Valley on deck, so this may be their high water mark.
- Purdue. The Boilers have long been a cellar dweller in these rankings, so I’m going to take advantage of a chance to get them a taste of the top 10. Yes, they have two losses, but not many teams on this list would beat Washington and Michigan. Go ahead and take the week off to celebrate.
- Michigan State. If you want to find a silver lining in Michigan State’s 20 point loss to Notre Dame, it may be a factor on if Brian Kelly gets another year in South Bend. Otherwise, the Spartans’ week was a bust. Iowa should be a good measuring stick for this team.
- Nebraska. There’s a part of me that wants to put Nebraska higher, and there is a part that thinks they should be lower. This week (Illinois) is the calm before the storms (Wisconsin and Ohio State).
- Maryland. You can make a case that Terps should be above Nebraska. But as a Husker already tired of Scott Frost speculation, Maryland gets punished for getting smoked by Central Florida.
- Indiana. The goal for Indiana football this week: avoid being in the highlight package that is played when Saquon Barkley is introduced at the Heisman ceremony. Frankly, that should probably be a counted as a victory.
- Illinois. For this week’s Friday night game against Nebraska, Illinois was offering four tickets and $20 in concessions for some ridiculously cheap price. When you’re intentionally trying to draw in Husker fans instead of trying to price them out, that says a lot about where your program is at.
- Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights aren’t a horrible team. I’m not saying they are a good team, but they aren’t as abysmal as they have been throughout their B1G tenure (see what I did there?). Still, they are 1-3, with their lone win coming against an FCS school, and Ohio State coming to blow the doors off this week. Putting them last now saves me time next week.
Dave Feit is a freelance writer living in Lincoln. Additional thoughts on the Huskers (and everything else) can be found on his site: www.feitcanwrite.com