Week 14 B1G Power Rankings
Isn’t it nice that there’s debate?
You look back at years past, and there is almost always just one B1G team that is heads and shoulders above the rest. Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all spent time atop the conference at season’s end, and in somewhat undisputed fashion.
As it sits, three teams showed in the final week of the regular season that they deserve to be No. 1. It’s no wonder why all three of those teams are in the top six of the polls. The B1G is the only conference with multiple teams in the top seven. Even the almighty SEC only has one team in the top 10.
So with that said, let’s get to the most powerful of the power conference power rankings.
Biggest riser: Maryland, Indiana +2
Biggest faller: Rutgers -2
14. Rutgers (prev. 12)
It’s never a good sign when the season starts off with key skill players serving suspensions. Throw in an armed robbery with a handful of players, failed drug tests, an impermissible contact scandal with the coach, one ugly late-season collapse and you get Rutgers. Whoever takes over that program is going to have one massive mess to clean up.
13. Purdue (prev. 13)
Of the bottom five teams in the power rankings, Purdue is the only one that didn’t deal with a change at head coach. But you can bet that if the Boilers put together another two-win season, Darrell Hazell will be looking for work at this time next year.
12. Maryland (prev. 14)
The Terps were about 30 minutes away from locking up the highly coveted bottom spot in the end-of-regular-season power rankings. Then Rutgers happened. Brandon Ross put the Terps on his back and delivered an oddly satisfying end to a tumultuous season. Still, if Maryland can’t land one of its top coaching targets, it’s going to be an uphill battle in the B1G East for a long time.
11. Illinois (prev. 11)
Every chance Illinois had to get over the hump this season, it fell short. When it had a prime opportunity to beat Wisconsin at home with the Badgers dealing with a mess of injuries, Illinois fell short. When all it had to do was take one winnable game from either Minnesota or Northwestern, Illinois came up short. Injuries hurt Illinois, but it’s not an excuse for its countless self-inflicted wounds.
10. Minnesota (prev. 9)
Speaking of self-inflicted wounds, talk about letting one slip away. Turnover after turnover killed Minnesota in what would’ve been a big momentum game for the program. Instead, Tracy Claeys fired two assistants the next day and the team lost its top quarterback recruit. With all the talent the Gophers are losing on the defensive side, Claeys will have his work cut out for him just to prevent that unit from taking another step back.
9. Nebraska (prev. 8)
It’s amazing how much things can change in a year. Last year, Nebraska overcame a three-touchdown deficit in Iowa City to lock up another nine-win season under Bo Pelini while Kirk Ferentz’s seat burned as hot as any. This year, the Huskers are waiting to see if they can get into a bowl at 5-7 while Iowa is a game away from the College Football Playoff, with mostly the same 2014 roster. In the same way last year’s regular-season finale collapse motivated Iowa all offseason, Saturday’s loss should do the same for Nebraska.
8. Indiana (prev. 10)
This was truly a historic season in Bloomington. Besides going bowling for the first time since 2007, the Hoosiers were within one possession 55 minutes into every game this year besides Penn State. That game, IU was down to its third-string quarterback and Jordan Howard was out. What does that mean for the program? It means that for once, the Hoosiers will have off-season momentum. And for Kevin Wilson, it should mean some more dollars in his pocket.
7. Penn State (prev. 7)
The bookends of the Lions’ season were not pretty, to say the least. This was supposed to be the building block year for James Franklin and the Lions, but you could argue that they regressed. With Mark Dantonio, Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer leading teams in that division for the foreseeable future, Penn State can’t have patchwork offensive line play. You hate to say a coach as talented as Franklin could be on the hot seat, but there’s no way losing to those three teams by an average of 26 points will fly in 2016.
6. Wisconsin (prev. 6)
Despite all the frustrating times for the Badgers this season, they kind of did exactly what they thought we would. The defense kept them in nearly every game, Joel Stave was inconsistent and the running game did most of the heavy lifting. But without a victory against a top-25 team, nine wins have a hallow, Nebraska-like feel.
5. Michigan (prev. 4)
Despite what happened on Saturday, Michigan’s revival under Jim Harbaugh was and is one of the top storylines in college football. What Harbaugh did with a 5-7 Michigan team solidified his credentials perhaps more than any rebuild he’s ever done. Once he gets his recruiting classes in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines will get back to winning B1G titles, and maybe more.
4. Northwestern (prev. 5)
With that strength of schedule, it’s amazing that the Wildcats pulled off a 10-win season. Here’s something to chew on. If the Wildcats were to win in the Citrus/Outback Bowl, they could easily finish the season in the top-10…ahead of every non-Alabama SEC team.
3. Ohio State (prev. 3)
All the Buckeyes needed to wake them up was their rivals. Unfortunately for Ohio State, Saturday marked the first time all year that it earned significant style points. Had the Buckeyes turned on the jets a bit earlier, they obviously could’ve been in a much more Alabama-like playoff scenario. Now, it’s that same Alabama team that the Buckeyes will be rooting against from their couches.
2. Michigan State (prev. 2)
Talk about some late fire. My goodness, the Spartans are rolling. Finally, this defense is playing like the unit we thought it could be. This team’s best way to cover up its weakness in the secondary always has and always will be getting pressure on the quarterback. MSU’s front seven is as talented as any, and when it plays at that level, there aren’t many teams in America that look as good as the Spartans.
1. Iowa (prev. 1)
If you’ve heard this stat before, I apologize, but it’s the exact reason the Hawkeyes are still at No. 1. They haven’t trailed in the fourth quarter all season. Clemson and Ohio State are the only others that can claim that. Iowa isn’t some team that’s surviving because of miracles or late breaks. They’ve been the better team every single time they stepped on the field. More importantly, they played like it. Before anybody predicts a Michigan State rout, they should be reminded that Iowa never falls apart late. The Hawkeyes wouldn’t mind if that streak continued a little longer.