Now that every team has played two conference games, the Big Ten is starting to take shape. Sure, there are many more games to be played, but frontrunners are starting to come to fruition, especially in the Big Ten East. The West? Who knows. Here’s the Big Ten power rankings after Week Five:
1. Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 1
Last Result: 49-10 win vs. Rutgers
Next: at Michigan State
Why wouldn’t Ohio State be here? Has it done anything that would make it fall? No, but exactly the opposite. The Buckeyes are blowing out teams left and right, including two Big Ten teams in Wisconsin and Rutgers.
The only team that can compete for the top spot right now is Ohio State. Michigan should get its chance later in the season, but Ohio State is the best team in the conference.
2. Michigan (5-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 2
Last Result: 27-14 win at Iowa
Next: at Indiana
Michigan had an impressive win in a place where it is historically not good, and it beat Iowa in a wire-to-wire win. A few things stand out for the Wolverines: Blake Corum is one of the best running backs in the country, Ronnie Bell continues to solidify himself as the top wideout for J.J. McCarthy and the defense looks like no joke.
Some Michigan fans would argue that their team should be number one right now, but until it gets its chance against Ohio State (or Ohio State loses), it’ll stay here.
3. Penn State (5-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 4
Last Result: 17-7 win vs. Northwestern
Next: at Michigan
Penn State jumps in the rankings, partially due to Minnesota’s shocking loss, but also because it is a top 15 team in America. Sure, PSU did not blow Northwestern out of the water, but some of that can be attributed to the rain. There are also a few positives from the game: the Nittany Lions usually won’t turn over the ball five times, and their defense looks like one of the best in the country — especially their secondary, which leads the nation in PBUs.
Penn State has a HUGE chance to jump these rankings in two weeks. If it goes into Ann Arbor against presumably No. 4 Michigan, and take down Jim Harbaugh and Co. in the Big House, they’ll immediately jump into the CFP conversation.
4. Maryland (4-1, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 5
Last Result: 27-13 win vs. Michigan State
Next: vs Purdue
Now that the Terps have played both Michigan teams, one thing can be said: their offense will cause most, if not all teams, problems. Taulia Tagovailoa continues to solidify himself as a top quarterback in the conference, and his quartet of wide receivers (Jeshaun Jacob Copeland, Dontay Demus, and Rakim Jarrett) are a nightmare for opposing teams.
Sure, Maryland lost to Michigan, but it gave the Wolverines a game in Ann Arbor. Mike Locksley’s team has opportunities to shock the world, with matchups against Penn State and Ohio State later in the year.
5. Minnesota (4-1, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 3
Last Result: 20-10 loss vs. Purdue
Next: at Illinois
Minnesota does not drop tremendously in the rankings due to the fact that the Big Ten West is so unclear at this moment in time, but the Gophers should be kicking themselves after their loss at home to Purdue. P.J. Fleck’s team had a chance to take control of the West and put itself on a collision course to Indianapolis, but now its road got much harder.
The main concern is their offense. Sure, they were blowing out teams in non-conference games, but putting only 10 points up against a Purdue team that could not stop much throughout the first four weeks is concerning.
6. Illinois (4-1, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 9
Last Result: 34-10 win at Wisconsin
Next: vs. Iowa
Brett Bielema has the Fighting Illini going in the right direction, and Saturday was their most impressive win. Not only did they beat Wisconsin in Madison, they blew the doors off of them. Illinois has talent on offense, with one of the best players in the conference in Chase Brown, and Tommy DeVito looks like a respectable quarterback.
Their offense will be tested this week against Iowa, and they are sure to face some late season tests (they visit Michigan on Nov. 19), but there should be a lot of positivity in Champaign right now.
7. Purdue (3-2, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 12
Last Result: 20-10 win at Minnesota
Next: at Maryland
This win summarizes what Purdue was in conference play last year, which was an upset threat for top teams in the conference. The Boilermakers needed a big win to right the ship, and now they are up and running. But, if they are similar to last year’s team, they’ll lose a few unranked matchups in the next few weeks.
They face a real test at Maryland, as Purdue’s defense is coming off their best performance of the year and will face a top offense in the conference.
8. Iowa (3-2, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 6
Last Result: 27-14 loss vs. Michigan
Next: at Illinois
The Hawkeyes don’t drop much in the rankings because they suffered a loss to one of the best teams in the country, Michigan. Instead of talking about Iowa’s putrid offense, let’s highlight its defense for a second: it is an opportunistic group, with stars such as Jack Campbell and Cooper DeJean.
Iowa has a defense that can win it the Big Ten West. But, the Hawkeyes have an offense that can lose them every game.
9. Michigan State (2-3, 0-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 7
Last Result: 27-13 loss at Maryland
Next: vs. Ohio State
Things just keep going downhill for the Spartans after two blowout victories to start the season. While the matchup against Maryland seemed close, the Terps beat them from wire to wire. There can be an argument made that for 12 straight quarters, Michigan State has been the inferior team.
No worries, though, because they have a chance to right the ship against... Ohio State.
10. Nebraska (2-3, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 14
Last Result: 35-21 win vs. Indiana
Next: at Rutgers
Nebraska played its best game of the season in a win over Indiana, and it showed its talent. Casey Thompson and Trey Palmer both had exceptional games, and if the Huskers are able to win more Big Ten games, it is because of this combination in their offense.
This Huskers team has gone through a lot, and finally it gets out of dead last.
11. Rutgers (3-2, 0-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 14
Last Result: 49-10 loss at Ohio State
Next: vs. Nebraska
One of the main goals for Greg Schiano and Co. should be to win at least two conference games this year, and they are not off to a good start. Sure, they played Ohio State and Iowa, but they did not look competitive in either of them. This has to be on Schiano.
The quarterback battle is still one to watch, as Noah Vedral, Gavin Wimsatt and Evan Simon will all get opportunities as the season goes on.
12. Wisconsin (2-3, 0-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 8
Last Result: 34-10 loss vs. Illinois
Next: at Northwestern
Wisconsin deserves to be this low, as it just got embarrassed by Illinois in Madison. This resulted in Paul Chryst’s firing, and things are murky for the Badgers.
It’s fine though, because they play Northwestern this week.
13. Indiana (3-2, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 10
Last Result: 35-21 loss at Nebraska
Next: vs. Michigan
Indiana should be happy it is not lower on these rankings. The Hoosiers looked bad, and got outplayed on the road against Nebraska. It’s going to be hard for them to win another game this season, as they still face Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, along with a few other unranked opponents who will still give them difficulty. But, at least they aren’t last!
14. Northwestern (1-4, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 13
Last Result: 17-7 loss at Penn State
Next: vs. Wisconsin
There is not much to say about the ‘Cats, and the way the season has been going, it’s no surprise that they are here. Just to sum up Saturday: the defense was good, the offense was not. To sum up a few Saturdays before: the offense was good, the defense was not. Northwestern is yet to play a balanced game.
‘Cats fans, welcome to the all too familiar bottom. It’s definitely not enjoyable.