This Saturday in Big Ten football, there were a few blowouts, a few close calls, and, as always, a few normal, mediocre wins. If you want a more comprehensive look at how each team fared this past weekend, you can check it out here. For now, here are the Big Ten power rankings after five weeks of action.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Last week’s ranking: 2
Last week’s result: 48-7 win at Nebraska
Next week: vs. Michigan State
The Buckeyes move back to first in the rankings after Nebraska proved to not be much of a challenge. This game was one of the first true road tests for OSU, but Justin Fields and the Ohio State offense proved that they can produce efficiently even against more difficult opponents. Nebraska was also Ohio State’s first Big Ten opponent of the 2019 season, but considering how easily the Buckeyes cruised past the Huskers, they remain the favorite to take the Big Ten title this year.
Last week’s ranking: 1
Last week’s result: 24-15 win vs. Northwestern
Next week: vs. Kent State
The Badgers’ continued success after their win against Michigan keeps them in the top two for me. Their offense, led by some of the best in the nation in Jonathan Taylor and Jack Coan, has been a consistent threat this season, and though they did not put up as many points up as normal against a strong ‘Cats defense, they still have plenty of opportunities left to shine (Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, Nebraska). As of right now, they have the advantage in an apparent battle with Iowa to reach the top of the Big Ten West.
3. Penn State
Last week’s ranking: 3
Last week’s result: 59-0 win at Maryland
Next week: vs. Purdue
Penn State improved to 4-0 overall after a blowout against Maryland secured a win for their first Big Ten matchup. The Nittany Lions had struggled some offensively earlier this season, but this was clearly addressed as quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns. Their defense also proved to be tough to crack, which is a good sign as they prepare to take on Purdue at home.
4. Iowa Hawkeyes
Last week’s ranking: 4
Last week’s result: 48-3 win vs. Middle Tennessee
Next week: at Michigan
It was almost painful for me to rank Iowa this high considering the team has not seen a whole lot of real competition this season. But, nonetheless, their offensive performance against Middle Tennessee was solid. The remainder of the season is the real test for the Hawkeyes, and whether or not their offense shows up will be the key to whether or not they pass.
5. Michigan Wolverines
Last week’s ranking: 6
Last week’s result: 52-0 win vs. Rutgers
Next week: vs. Iowa
Following a crushing loss to Wisconsin, Michigan moved back up in the rankings by shutting out Rutgers at home. The Wolverines are now ranked 19th in the AP Top 25, and they are looking more and more like the talented team we expected them to be this season.
6. Michigan State
Last week’s ranking: 5
Last week’s result: 40-31 win vs Indiana
Next week: at Ohio State
This win over Indiana was a little too close for comfort. For a team that is known for its strong defense, the fact that the Hoosiers were able to rack up so many points is concerning. However, the offense definitely stepped up this weekend, and at 2-0 in Big Ten play, the Spartans are looking pretty good.
Last week’s ranking: 8
Last week’s result: 38-31 win at Purdue
Next week: vs Illinois
After barely scraping by against three non-conference opponents, the Gophers secured a conference win against Purdue after a standout performance from quarterback Tanner Morgan. His efficiency and offensive production was unparalleled, and honestly, his performance alone brings the Gophers up the ranks.
Last week’s ranking: 9
Last week’s result: 24-15 loss at Wisconsin
Next week: at Nebraska
I feel like we have talked about this game enough. Northwestern has the individual talent and potential to be a threat, but their slow start offensively made it nearly impossible to pull out a win on Saturday, even with the defense fixing their early mistakes and coming out ready for action.
Last week’s ranking: 11
Last week’s result: 40-31 loss at Michigan State
Next week: Bye
Indiana’s offensive play against Michigan State, assisted by the return of quarterback Michael Penix Jr., gave them the potential to beat a Top-25 team on the road. Though the Hoosiers fell short, their performance on Saturday — against a Spartan team known for its defense — shows that they have the capability to compete with some of the top-tier Big Ten teams. They were pretty close to jumping ahead of at least Northwestern on this list as well.
Last week’s ranking: 7
Last week’s result: 48-7 loss vs Ohio State
Next week: vs Northwestern
This Nebraska team was so hyped up going into the season, but the Cornhuskers just have not been able to compete at the high level they were expected to, and their loss to Ohio State proves that.
Last week’s ranking: 12
Last week’s result: 38-31 loss vs Minnesota
Next week: at Penn State
After losing two of its best offensive players before the first quarter ended on Saturday, the Boilermakers continued their streak of bad luck in their Big Ten opener against Minnesota. They did manage to close the gap a little after trailing 38-17 in the fourth quarter, but were ultimately unable to come out on top. If they continue their track record with injuries, they are bound to have a tough time competing with Penn State.
Last week’s ranking: 13
Last week’s result: Bye
Next week: at Minnesota
Illinois had a bye this past week, meaning their only Big Ten matchup so far has been an almost-upset against Nebraska. As Matt mentioned last week, quarterback Brandon Peters struggled in that one, so hopefully this bye week gave them some time to fix that.
Last week’s ranking: 10
Last week’s result: 0-59 loss vs Penn State
Next week: at Rutgers
Despite starting out the season with two strong wins, Maryland struggled big time in their Big Ten opener against Penn State. Next week’s matchup between Rutgers and Maryland will be a good indicator of whether or not this team’s early success was a fluke or if they are going to be able to compete with some of their upcoming Big Ten opponents (Purdue, Indiana, etc.)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Last week’s result: 0-52 loss at Michigan
Next week: vs Maryland
Let’s face it. Rutgers is not good. Starting quarterback McLane Carter is still out with a concussion, and his replacement, sophomore Artur Sitkowski threw for just 106 yards against Michigan.
Disclaimer: These are the opinions of the author and the author alone.