B1G Power rankings after Week 5
The races for the Big Ten division titles became a whole lot clearer this weekend.
So did the race for the bottom.
Ohio State and Northwestern now occupy the top two spots in our power rankings — the Buckeyes have been No. 1 all season but the Wildcats keep rising up the charts after knocking out Wisconsin. OSU overcame quite a scare from Indiana, which only drops one spot and deservedly stays in our top 3. Meanwhile, Penn State stays rooted to last place with a historic (in a bad way) 0-5 start.
Here are our rankings after Week 5:
14. Penn State (0-5, lost to Iowa 41-21)
We said recently that this was the most disappointing team in the country. After the Nittany Lions laid another egg on Saturday against Iowa, that hardly seems adequate. PSU, 0-5 for the first time ever, must be the most disappointing sports team in the Western Hemisphere. Up next: The world.
13. Michigan State (1-3, idle)
The Spartans wound up with a week off after the game against Maryland was canceled. The only question is, is that even bad news in East Lansing? MSU has done nothing on offense since beating Michigan and up next is another headache: A meeting against unbeaten Northwestern.
12. Rutgers (1-4, lost to Michigan 48-42, 3OT)
The Scarlet Knights are going to get tired of moral victories if they aren’t already. Rutgers took Michigan to triple overtime but, in truth, that game was there to be won well before OT even started. A blown 17-0 lead at home against a struggling Wolverines team shows how far Greg Schiano’s team has to go.
11. Nebraska (1-3, lost to Illinois 41-23)
After beating Penn State the previous week behind new starting quarterback Luke McCaffrey, it seemed that things were maybe looking up in Lincoln. Oops. Three interceptions later, the Nebraska offense is back under the microscope. But the defense, after allowing 490 yards to Illinois, looks worse.
10. Michigan (2-3, beat Rutgers 48-42, 3OT)
It took triple overtime for the Wolverines to overcome a Rutgers program that is, despite obvious gains this season, still probably the least talented team in the B1G. This is where Michigan is. One positive is that the team has probably found its quarterback in Cade McNamara, who threw for 4 TDs.
9. Illinois (2-3, beat Nebraska 41-23)
The Fighting Illini are on a 2-game winning streak after downing Nebraska. A balanced offense did the trick against the Cornhuskers, with Illinois gaining 205 yards passing and 285 rushing. That impressive ground performance came a week after Lovie Smith’s bunch rushed for 338 in beating Rutgers.
8. Minnesota (2-3, beat Purdue 34-31)
The Golden Gophers bounced back from a drubbing at the hands of Iowa to knock off Purdue, despite being outgained 492-394. Mohamed Ibrahim (25 carries, 102 yards, 3 TDs) continues to be one of the most reliable players in the entire conference at any position.
7. Maryland (2-1, idle)
The Terrapins lost a second game to a COVID-19 outbreak, this time against Michigan State. The Terrapins have reported that 22 members of the program have had positive coronavirus tests including head coach Mike Locksley. It’s hard to predict when Maryland might play again.
6. Purdue (2-2, lost to Minnesota 34-31)
The Boilermakers were mad after an offensive pass interference penalty wiped out what would have been a go-ahead touchdown late in Friday’s game . Jack Plummer was terrific in his debut as the starting quarterback, giving Purdue a nice problem: Two effective QBs — Plummer and Aidan O’Connell.
5. Iowa (3-2, beat Penn State 41-21)
Kirk Ferentz became just the fourth coach with 100 career B1G victories as the Hawkeyes eased past the Nittany Lions. Iowa raced to a 31-7 lead and hung on, with an offense that was not explosive (longest play 28 yards, average 4.9 yards per play) but took advantage of its scoring chances.
4. Wisconsin (2-1, lost to Northwestern 17-7)
Too many turnovers, penalties and wasted chances. Sometimes football really is a simple game and the explanation for the Badgers losing to Northwestern was as simple as 5 turnovers and two critical penalties on an early Wildcats TD drive. Wisconsin must rebound fast with rival Minnesota looming.
3. Indiana (4-1, lost to Ohio State 42-35)
The Hoosiers have arrived. Any doubters had to have been impressed at the way Indiana came back from a 35-7 deficit and gave itself a chance to tie the score with two late possessions. The Hoosiers could not come all the way back but Michael Penix and IU’s receivers were a matchup nightmare even for OSU.
2. Northwestern (5-0, beat Wisconsin 17-7)
The Wildcats reflect their coach perhaps as well as any program in the country. Pat Fitzgerald’s team plays the way he played in Evanston: Smart, physical, disciplined and tenacious on defense. The offense still hasn’t found its stride but the huge win over the Badgers proves the Wildcats are for real.
1. Ohio State (4-0, beat Indiana 42-35)
Yes, the game became way too close for Buckeyes fans after a 35-7 lead almost evaporated. Yes, the pass defense allowed nearly 500 yards through the air. But even on a mediocre day for Justin Fields, OSU’s offense can light up the scoreboard with just about anyone. On Saturday, it had to.