The Big Ten is really starting to come to fruition, with conference play in full swing. Still, there have not been many “huge upsets,” but there are definitely some teams to look out for. Here are the Big Ten power rankings after Week Six:
1. Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 1
Last Result: 49-20 win at Michigan State
Next: vs. Iowa
The Buckeyes look like they can’t be stopped, with Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka leading the way in the passing attack. Both are becoming star receivers for C.J. Stroud. The scary thing? Jaxon Smith-Njigba, one of the best (if not the best) receivers in the nation, should be returning Saturday.
Ohio State is facing an a great Iowa defense this weekend, which should provide them with a little test.
2. Michigan (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 2
Last Result: 31-10 win at Indiana
Next: vs. Penn State
The Wolverines avoided a trap game, as they did not look good through the first two quarters in Bloomington. But, they did what good teams should do and eventually ran away with it.
Michigan has a chance to take the No. 1 ranking this weekend, with No. 15 Penn State coming into town.
3. Penn State (5-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 3
Last Result: 17-7 win vs. Northwestern
Next: at Michigan
Penn State had a bye this past weekend, which means it had more time to prepare for its battle with Michigan. If the Nittany Lions do win this game, they will jump into the CFP conversation.
For Penn State fans’ sake, hope the team does not turn over the ball five times again. Michigan is not Northwestern, and it scores off of turnovers.
4. Illinois (5-1, 2-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 6
Last Result: 9-6 win vs Iowa
Next: vs. Minnesota
Brett Bielema has Illinois ranked for the first time since 2011, and this team looks as talented as ever. Not only do the Illini have Chase Brown, who is one of the nation’s premier running backs, but Illinois’s pass rush is among the best in the country.
Could Illinois come out of the Big Ten West? Time will tell, but for now, they are the only team that is ranked in the West.
5. Purdue (4-2, 2-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 7
Last Result: 31-29 win at Maryland
Next: vs. Nebraska
These are the Boilermakers that many expected at the start of the season; after a disappointing first few games, Purdue seems to have found its feet. It upset Minnesota, who was No. 21 at the time, and then went on the road and beat a high-flying Maryland offense.
If Purdue continues to play consistent and gets contributions defensively, it can win the West.
6. Maryland (4-2, 1-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 4
Last Result: 31-29 loss vs Purdue
Next: at Indiana
As good as the Maryland offense is, its success in the conference might come down to their defense. In the one conference game the team won this season, the Terrapins let up 13 points against Michigan State. In the two games they lost, to Michigan and Purdue, they gave up over 30. Sure, Maryland can play in shootouts, but it needs its defense to play well to win Big Ten games.
7. Minnesota (4-1, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 5
Last Result: 20-10 loss vs. Purdue
Next: at Illinois
The Gophers fall in the rankings, even though they did not play this week. If P.J. Fleck is the coach most think he is, Minnesota should be extremely motivated against a ranked Illinois team this weekend.
What do the Gophers need to pull off an “upset,” even though they would probably be favored if they won last week? They need Tanner Morgan to be more than a serviceable quarterback. Mo Ibrahim has been dealing with injuries, but he is expected to play. Then again, Illinois has one of the best defensive lines in the country.
8. Nebraska (3-3, 2-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 10
Last Result: 14-13 win at Rutgers
Next: at Purdue
Don’t look now, but can the Huskers compete, or even be at the top of the Big Ten West? This looks like a completely different team than it was under Scott Frost, and now with Mickey Joseph, there is some hope in Lincoln.
Nebraska has put together its two best games of the season in these two weeks. No, Indiana and Rutgers are not good, hence why they will both be lower on these rankings, but Nebraska grinded out both wins.
9. Wisconsin (3-3, 1-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 8
Last Result: 42-7 win at Northwestern
Next: at Michigan State
The Badgers started off the Jim Leonhard era with a blowout in in Evanston. Yes, the Badgers beat Northwestern, but Graham Mertz looked the best that he has in a while.
This was also a big bounceback for the Wisconsin defense. Supposed to be one of the best in the country, it was good for it to get back on track against the Wildcats.
10. Iowa (3-3, 1-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 8
Last Result: 9-6 loss at Illinois
Next: at Ohio State
The Hawkeyes just cannot score. That’s all there is to say.
They are good on the defensive side of the ball. Really good. Offense? It hurts to watch.
11. Rutgers (3-2, 0-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 11
Last Result: 14-13 loss vs Nebraska
Next: vs. Indiana
Like every week, Rutgers’ quarterback dilemma needs to be brought up: Noah Vedral returned and looked fine and Evan Simon showed flashes. Gavin Wimsatt, one of Rutgers’ best recruits ever, has yet to make an impact.
Rutgers was able to hold Casey Thompson and Nebraska to 14 points. But, it still lost.
12. Indiana (3-3, 1-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 13
Last Result: 31-10 loss vs Michigan
Next: vs. Maryland
Even though they lost last weekend, the Hoosiers deserve to move up a spot in the rankings. At least for the first half, they looked competitive against one of the best teams in the country.
If Tom Allen is a good coach, Indiana can maybe find a way to win one more Big Ten game. Maybe.
13. Michigan State (2-3, 0-3 B1G)
Last Ranking: 9
Last Result: 49-20 loss vs Ohio State
Next: vs. Wisconsin
The Spartans blew out Western Michigan and Akron in their first two games, then everything went downhill. Michigan State has not looked competitive since those games, with its closest margin of defeat being 11 points.
Michigan State looks really bad. But, they can’t be dead last. Because...
14. Northwestern (1-4, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 14
Last Result: 42-7 loss vs. Wisconsin
Next: at Maryland
If you go back to my five takeaways article after the loss to Penn State, I said this ‘Cats team can maybe steal a Big Ten game. I take that back. Northwestern looks like the worst team in the Big Ten and it is not even close.
Was the win in Dublin a dream? No, it happened. But, since then, Northwestern has been one of the worst teams in CFB. It hurts, but Wildcats fans should be happy they aren’t 15th.