Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Ohio State may be emerging as the class of the Big Ten, but strong performances by Michigan and Penn State shoot them up towards the top of this week's power rankings.
|1||Ohio St.||6-0 (2-0)||Leaders*||---|
|2||Michigan||3-2 (1-0)||Legends||+ 3|
|3||Penn St.||4-2 (2-0)||Leaders*||+ 6|
|5||Wisconsin||4-2 (2-0)||Leaders||+ 2|
|6||Michigan St.||4-2 (1-1)||Legends||---|
|7||Nebraska||4-2 (1-1)||Legends||- 5|
|9||Purdue||3-2 (0-1)||Leaders||- 7|
*Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible to play in the Big Ten Championship.
After falling to a 17-7 deficit against Nebraska, Ohio State scored four touchdowns in the second quarter and wound up blowing out the Huskers 63-38. Braxton Miller and the rest of the Ohio State offense (including Carlos Hyde, who scored four touchdowns) seemed to be clicking on all cylinders, although that might have been partially due to Nebraska's mediocre defense. The Buckeyes are the only remaining undefeated team in the conference and if the offense can retain its form from this past weekend, they'll be a somewhat serious threat to run the table in the Big Ten. Nebraska, on the other hand, has some serious issues: even though their offense has some playmakers (Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah, and Kenny Bell, in particular), Martinez's erratic arm and a porous defense could keep the Huskers from seriously contending for the Legends division. The upset loss to UCLA could have been written off as an aberration, but getting blown out in a big conference game on the road for the third time in two years has to be concerning.
Northwestern headed into Happy Valley undefeated and ranked #24, but Penn State responded to a Venric Mark punt return with 22 straight points in a 39-28 comeback win over the Wildcats. It was easy to write off PSU after they opened the season with two losses, but they've won four straight and could be playing as well as anyone else in the conference. Bill O'Brien has done a terrific job with the talent he inherited -- seriously, Matt McGloin is playing well at quarterback right now -- and the Nittany Lions have been incredibly resilient, especially with this impressive comeback against a decent team. This game highlighted some concerns for Northwestern, namely their defense's inability to close out opponents -- they've now allowed significant comebacks in consecutive weeks against Indiana and Penn State (although Indiana never got closer than a touchdown). Still, the Kain Colter/Trevor Siemian quarterback tandem and the big-play ability of Mark should give Northwestern enough firepower to allow their defense some leeway.
The most surprising result from this past weekend might have been Michigan's 44-13 demolition of Purdue on the road in West Lafayette. Denard Robinson and the Wolverines played mostly mistake-free and a fortunate tip and subsequent pick-six by Raymon Taylor opened Michigan's lead to an insurmountable three touchdowns early in the second quarter. The Wolverines looked awful in road losses to two top ten teams and struggled with the Air Force's quirky offense, but if they're able to look this dominant against a mediocre Big Ten, they could be the favorite to win the conference. People quickly backed off the Purdue hype during this blowout and for good reason: the Boilermakers were completely dominated at home. They face Wisconsin in a game that could decide the Leaders division this week, but they'll need to play much better to have any chance to beat out the Badgers for the division.
It would have been a catastrophic upset loss for Michigan State, but they rallied from a 17-point deficit against Indiana to eke out a 31-27 win over the Hoosiers. Despite being stymied by Indiana's up-tempo spread offense in the first half, the Spartans adjusted extremely well and held the Hoosiers scoreless after halftime. Michigan State's offense did little to assuage its concerns -- the offensive line played poorly and drops plagued Spartan receivers -- but Le'Veon Bell wore down the Indiana front seven and true freshman Aaron Burbridge emerged as a relatively reliable target for Andrew Maxwell. Michigan State did come away with the win, but their defense is far from invincible and their offense was pretty mediocre, even against the Hoosiers. Indiana lost their third game in a row and even though they look much better than they did a year ago, it's still going to be a long rebuilding process for Kevin Wilson.
Illinois took an early lead against Wisconsin, but the Badgers rattled off 24 straight points and a late Montee Ball touchdown sealed the 31-14 win. Jared Abbrederis caught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Wisconsin's offense is seemingly starting to click with Joel Stave at the helm. Nathan Scheelhaase had a decent game for Illinois (18/29 passing, 178 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, with 84 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown), but the rest of the Illini offense continues to struggle.With four losses already, it's going to be an uphill climb to reach bowl eligibility for Illinois.
Iowa and Minnesota both were idle.
--- Iowa at Michigan State
--- Northwestern at Minnesota
--- Wisconsin at Purdue
--- Illinois at Michigan
--- Ohio State at Indiana