Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 6
After five straight weeks with the Ohio State Buckeyes sitting atop our Big Ten Power Rankings, a new regime has grabbed hold of the coveted No. 1 ranking. The Michigan Wolverines embarrassed Rutgers on Saturday, once again establishing themselves as one of the elite programs in the country.
Penn State is also climbing in the rankings with their performance against Maryland. Illinois sits at the bottom of the list.
1. Michigan Wolverines (6-0): In today's era of college football, Michigan's 78-0 win over Rutgers is basically equivalent to Georgia Tech's 222-0 win over Cumberland. This may have been the best all-around performance this season from any FBS team. Jabrill Peppers, Wilton Speight and the Wolverines are rolling with no stop in sight. Also, you can watch all 11 Michigan TDs in 60 seconds.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0): There's something about Indiana that leaves the Buckeyes a little flustered. The defense performed near peak level again, but the Hoosiers defense proved the Buckeye passing game can be stopped.
3. Wisconsin Badgers (4-1): Wisconsin had a crucial bye week ahead of their top-10 clash with Ohio State in Madison, WI. If Wisconsin wants to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it's a Big Ten contender, next weekend is its chance.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0): Another bye week for a top-tier Big Ten program. Nebraska has Indiana on the road next week, and if the Huskers were paying attention, that game no longer appears to be a breeze.
5. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-2): Penn State seems to be gaining momentum. Two straight conference wins, including the man-handling of up-and-coming Maryland, appears to have the Nittany Lions back on track. The offense has been there for most of the season, and the defense shut down the Terps on Saturday.
6. Indiana Hoosiers (3-2): After coming off a monumental home win against Michigan State, Indiana battled Ohio State tightly until the bitter end. The Hoosiers are the only team to truly fluster Ohio State's offense, especially the passing game. Indiana has a chance to build on momentum next week versus Nebraska.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2): It's rarely pretty with Iowa, but if they win 14-7 every week, they'll find themselves in the Big Ten title game. With a solid defense, Iowa has a conference title still to play for.
8. Maryland Terrapins (4-1): Maryland fell three spots because of a lopsided defeat at Happy Valley, but the damage in the rankings could've been much worse had the remaining teams below the Terps not looked awful.
9. Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-2): A rough start to the Big Ten portion of the schedule continues for Minnesota. The defense is okay, but the offense lacks any real explosion. Seven points and nine three-and-outs against Iowa: yikes.
10. Northwestern Wildcats (2-3): Northwestern had a bye this week, setting itself up for a crucial matchup at Michigan State next weekend. Both teams badly need the win, but Northwestern's nicely timed bye week may be just the extra preparation it needs.
11. Michigan State Spartans (2-3): Things aren't looking good for Mark Dantonio on either side of the ball. In a matter of weeks, Sparty went from Big Ten title contender to bottom feeder. And the win against Notre Dame doesn't look too special anymore, either.
12. Purdue Boilermakers (3-2): While everyone was enjoying the thrilling finish between Tennessee and Texas A&M, Purdue was quietly pulling off an overtime win at Illinois. Not the most important game from a national standpoint, but for coaches fighting to keep their jobs, Purdue's win was a big one.
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-4): Michigan could very well win the national title this year, but 78-0 is as bad as a loss can get. Perhaps the two most telling stats from Saturday: 600 to 39 total yards and 23 to 2 first downs, both in favor of the victors.
14. Illinois Fighting Illini (1-4): Poor Lovie Smith. Illinois has one win on the season against FCS-foe Murray State. A showdown with Rutgers this week may be the Illini's best chance to grab a conference win.