Week 13 B1G Power Rankings: Can anyone get on Wisconsin's level?
This past weekend, I took a trip up to Madison to see if Wisconsin passed the “eye test.”
OK, it wasn’t really a trip just for that, but go with me on this one.
All year long, the talk about the Badgers has been “well, their schedule is horrible” and we really don’t know if they’re good. Their schedule has not been good. That much we know. Many people will assume that Ohio State will run all over the Badgers in the B1G Championship.
But why are we so certain that Wisconsin isn’t heads and shoulders above the rest of the league?
In a year in which bizarre losses seem to happen on a weekly basis among good teams, the Badgers are still undefeated. They didn’t throw up on themselves against Iowa like Ohio State did. They didn’t fall apart in a close game like Penn State did against Ohio State. They didn’t struggle to close the door like Michigan State did against Northwestern.
The Badgers haven’t stubbed their toes, nor have they really had a bad second half of football all year. For all we know, Wisconsin won’t allow 20 points to Ohio State and the college football world will finally take the Badgers seriously.
For now, though, all they can be is No. 1 in these here B1G Power Rankings:
14. Illinois (LW: 14)
Who’s got two thumbs and isn’t going to win a B1G game in 2017? Those guys…in Champaign.
13. Nebraska (LW: 12)
I mean, the ending was cool. Covering the spread against a good Penn State team isn’t really a silver lining, but it did at least establish the believe that the Huskers are not totally quitting in 2017. Yet. We’ll see if that’s the same story in the second half against Iowa.
12. Minnesota (LW: 10)
How bad is Nebraska? A week after Minnesota picked up its second victory of B1G play, the Gophers were trucked 39-0 at Northwestern. P.J. Fleck’s offense is still very much a work in progress, which we found out against a team that actually felt like tackling. The Gophers won’t row their way to a bowl game unless they can hand beat unbeaten Wisconsin for the first time in 14 tries. Good luck with that.
11. Maryland (LW: 11)
Yes, transitive property is all kinds of messed up with Maryland. I get that the Terps beat Indiana, but it was a 3-point win at home. Let’s not pretend like the Terps haven’t lost six of their last seven games, four of which were by 16 points or more. The quarterback situation is brutal, but it can’t completely excuse the rest of Maryland’s inferior play.
10. Rutgers (LW: 8)
What’s an easy way to drop three spots in these rankings? Lose 41-0 on the road to a team that had one B1G win (sort of). The Knights blew any shot at a bowl berth, which would’ve been a huge sign of progress in the second year of the Ash era. Consistency ain’t easy.
9. Indiana (LW: 13)
I had a feeling that when the Hoosiers’ schedule got easier, they’d have a chance to look better than their record. A 41-0 win against Rutgers confirmed that. In its last 2 games, IU held inferior offenses to just 14 total points. Tom Allen’s defense has a prime opportunity to continue that in an all-or-nothing Bucket Game this weekend.
8. Iowa (LW: 7)
So, how did that Ohio State game happen again? For the second week in a row, Iowa was a complete mess offensively in a losing effort. Falling at home to Purdue certainly can’t sit well with a fanbase that really doesn’t know what to expect from its team anymore. Can we say with certainty that the Hawkeyes will run all over the hapless Bob Diaco-led Nebraska defense like they should?
7. Purdue (LW: 9)
Speaking of inconsistency, Purdue finally beat a B1G team that’s not Illinois or Minnesota. And given how well Missouri played the last month or so, that win is looking even more impressive. How perfect it is that Jeff Brohm and Tom Allen will battle each other for the Bucket, and more importantly, a bowl berth in their first seasons.
6. Michigan (LW: 6)
This is insane.
It's been 414 days since Michigan beat a team with a winning record.
— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) November 18, 2017
That says a lot about the quality of Michigan’s wins. Do the Wolverines beat up on inferior teams? Yes. Do they usually hang with the elite teams? For the most part, yes. But to be considered one of the best, eventually you have to beat one of the best. The Brandon Peters injury ended any shot at a Michigan comeback in what would’ve been the most impressive win of the Jim Harbaugh era. Perhaps the Wolverines had to wait an extra week to get that.
5. Michigan State (LW: 4)
Want a weird stat? Michigan State only outscored Indiana, Iowa, Maryland and Minnesota by an average of 7 points. That’s it. Want another weird stat? All 3 of Michigan State’s losses came against teams who have won at least 6 games in a row this year. I don’t really know what that second stat means. Perhaps MSU has been on the wrong end of some streaky teams? I don’t know. Either way, the fact that a 10-win season is still a possibility for MSU is nothing short of incredible.
4. Northwestern (LW: 5)
Yowza. What did P.J. Fleck ever do to Pat Fitzgerald? That was a beatdown his squad put on the Gophers. Northwestern could finish the season on an 8-game winning streak as long as it doesn’t trip over its own shoelaces. Who would’ve thought that after the Duke loss that Northwestern would potentially be climbing into the top 15-20 by season’s end?
3. Penn State (LW: 3)
Saquon Barkley and the Penn State ground game found their mojo against a Nebraska defense that all but gave up on 2017. The Lions can’t do anything to impress the selection committee and unless Baker Mayfield somehow does something even worse than grab his, you know, then Barkley won’t be winning the Heisman Trophy. Still, the Lions can finish with double-digit victories for the second time in the 21st century.
2. Ohio State (LW: 2)
How dare Ohio State for not covering a 41-point spread against Illinois. For shame. On a different note, the Buckeyes can still play for a New Year’s Six berth with wins against two really good teams away from home. Want an interesting stat? The Buckeyes have 3 wins against teams away from the Horseshoe. Those teams are a combined 8-16 in conference play.
Oh, and here’s something else.
People still under the impression that 2-loss Ohio State has a Playoff path…hear this.
In the 3-year Playoff era, NO team has ever made the field after losing a game by 15-plus points.
Ohio State has 2 such losses this year.
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) November 20, 2017
1. Wisconsin (LW: 1)
It’s the Badgers’ world and we’re all just living in it. Well, not really. With the exception of 2015 Iowa, there probably hasn’t been an undefeated Power 5 team that people have been more skeptical of. Never mind the fact that the Badgers have the No. 2 scoring defense in America and they have a Heisman-caliber tailback. For all the talk about Wisconsin not looking dominant, the Badgers still haven’t allowed a team to surpass 17 points since the B1G opener.
Can we fast forward to the B1G Championship please?