B1G Power Rankings after Week 4
Week 4 was more of a setup week in the Big Ten than anything else. Wisconsin finally played it second game and won emphatically, as the Badgers remained undefeated along with Indiana and Northwestern.
So that set up two huge game next week involving undefeated division leaders: Ohio State against Indiana in the East and Wisconsin facing Northwestern in the West. The participants in the B1G Championship Game won’t be settled but we’ll know a lot more about who is most likely to be in Indianapolis on Dec. 19.
At the bottom of our power rankings, two tradition-laden programs careen toward rock bottom. Here are our rankings after Week 4:
14. Penn State (0-4, lost to Nebraska 30-23)
This is the second 0-4 start in Nittany Lions history and a shocking fall from a preseason top-10 ranking. Penn State fell into a 24-3 hole before making a game of it against the Cornhuskers. But for the second time this season PSU failed to take advantage of a massive yardage edge (this time 501-298).
13. Michigan (1-3, lost to Wisconsin 49-11)
So is this Rich Rod bad? Is this pre-Bo (i.e. 1960s) bad? UM fans are undoubtedly reaching for superlatives, and not in a good way, to describe this team. That convincing win over Minnesota must feel like 10 years ago after the Badgers absolutely ran the Wolverines off the field in The Big House.
12. Michigan State (1-3, lost to Indiana 24-0)
The Spartans offense has scored a total of 7 points in the past two games combined. The defense isn’t stopping anybody. All of that equals a loss in which Michigan State was outgained 433-191 and had the ball for just 20:46. At this rate, Sparty will have the UM rivalry win to boast about and nothing else.
11. Minnesota (1-3, lost to Iowa 35-7)
For a team that returned most of its offense from 2019, the Golden Gophers seem to have lost their zip. Minnesota entered Saturday just 64th in the nation in yards per play at 5.7 and did themselves no favors in that category on Friday, with 4.3 yards per play against the Hawkeyes.
10. Rutgers (1-3, lost to Illinois 23-20)
The fact that a close loss now counts as a gut-wrenching result shows how competitive this team has become in 2020. The Scarlet Knights led most of the way but Noah Vedral’s career-high 259 passing yards were overshadowed by his three interceptions, including one that led to Illinois’ winning field goal.
9. Illinois (1-3, beat Rutgers 23-20)
Much like their game against Purdue, the Fighting Illini had to erase a big deficit. But unlike that game, Illinois completed its comeback this time to overcome the Scarlet Knights and record its first win in 2020. Illinois still isn’t very good but a last-second winning field goal is a boost.
8. Nebraska (1-2, beat Penn State 30-23)
Quarterback controversy? What quarterback controversy? Luke McCaffery made his first start for the Cornhuskers in place of Adrian Martinez and, though he didn’t have spectacular stats, he was steady enough to lead Nebraska to a desperately needed victory to keep the Nittany Lions reeling.
7. Maryland (2-1, idle)
The Terrapins are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that caused their game against Ohio State to be canceled. Maryland has won two in a row and, though the OSU game would most likely have been a loss, coach Mike Locksley and staff lost a chance to measure where their rebuilding program is.
6. Iowa (2-2, beat Minnesota 35-7)
After two close losses to open the season, the Hawkeyes have caught fire in the past two games and look like one of the best teams in the B1G West. Running back Tyler Goodson’s stellar performance against Minnesota led an Iowa rushing attack that gained 235 yards on 35 carries.
5. Purdue (2-1, lost to Northwestern 27-20)
The Boilermakers are not out of the West Division race, but it’s a really hard road from here. Purdue had a chance to force overtime late in the fourth quarter but a final drive went nowhere. For the game, the Boilermakers really went nowhere on the ground, with 2 yards rushing total on 17 carries.
4. Northwestern (4-0, beat Purdue 27-20)
It’s rarely easy and it’s never dazzling, but what the Wildcats do is effective. A 4-0 start has suddenly put Northwestern in the B1G title conversation a season after a 3-9 disappointment. This time the Wildcats didn’t get it done on the ground but Peyton Ramsey threw for 212 yards and 3 TDs.
3. Wisconsin (2-0, beat Michigan 49-11)
The Badgers had 341 yards on the ground and allowed just 219 total yards, which is about all you need to know about how lopsided Wisconsin’s victory was. The Badgers scored 28 points before they allowed the Wolverines to gain a first down. Now Northwestern awaits in a critical West showdown.
2. Indiana (4-0, beat Michigan State 24-0)
Hoosiers wide receiver Ty Fryfogle is lighting up opposing defenses and did so again against the Spartans. He had 200 receiving yards and his 16-yard TD reception from Michael Penix, in which Fryfogle simply refused to be tackled on his way to the end zone, is emblematic of how tough the Hoosiers are.
1. Ohio State (3-0, idle)
The Buckeyes got an impromptu bye week to prepare for the Hoosiers in a game that should all but decide the East Division representative in the B1G title game. The Buckeyes have won 25 in a row in this series but this Indiana team is a very serious threat.