The fourth week of the college football season is upon us with conference play kicking into gear across the entire Big Ten. Here’s a look at my power ranking of all 14 teams heading into the weekend.
1. Ohio State (3-0, 1-0 B1G) last week: 40-28 W vs. No. 15 TCU
Right now, it’s OSU and everyone else in the Big Ten and the gap feels quite large. The Penn State game in a few weeks could be a huge one, but this feels like the Big Ten’s best shot at a playoff team. Dwayne Haskins may be the most gifted pure passer the Buckeyes have had in a long time.
2. Penn State (3-0, 0-0) last week: 63-10 W vs. Kent State
For as much grief as Penn State has gotten for being overrated coming into the year, then barely beating Appalachian State in Week 1, all they have done since then is blow the doors off of every team they’ve played. Everyone in the East is going to have that stretch of games that show if a team is for real or not. They have Illinois this weekend before a home night game vs. OSU and a showdown with Michigan State.
3. Iowa (3-0, 0-0) last week: 38-14 W vs. Northern Iowa
The Hawkeyes are undefeated and welcome Wisconsin this weekend for one of those dreaded night games at Kinnick. We’re all too familiar with how things can happen in games of that variety. This is a big “pretender or contender” game for them.
4. Michigan (2-1, 0-0) last week: 45-20 W vs. SMU
I still have major questions about Michigan, but their body of work to this point is not as bad as its made out to be, though that loss at Notre Dame is looking a bit shakier, as the Irish have not been all that impressive in recent weeks. We aren’t going to know what this team is until Oct. 13 when Wisconsin comes to Ann Arbor, which kicks off a stretch of games with th Badgers, at Michigan State and home against Penn State.
5. Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0) last week: 24-21 L vs. BYU
People are concerned about Wisconsin and rightfully so after a home loss to BYU. They probably have to win out to have any shot at a playoff spot, but their stock took a major hit over the weekend. They can boost it with a win over Iowa at Kinnick this weekend.
6. Minnesota (3-0, 0-0) last week: 26-3 W vs. Miami (OH)
Minnesota has quietly had a nice start to the year, albeit by winning three games they were expected to win. They could be in for a bit of an awakening once conference play hits, but PJ Fleck has his team playing well.
7. Michigan State (1-1, 0-0) last week: Bye
This does not look like a great football team right now and they have many of the same problems that Michigan does. The loss to ASU in the desert maybe did not look so bad at first, but then San Diego State ran up 300-plus yards on the ground and took down Herm Edwards and company.
8. Indiana (3-0, 0-0) last week: 38-10 W vs. Ball State
At some point Indiana will come down, as this does not feel like a good football team. However, Vegas may know something we don’t, as MSU is only a 4.5 favorite heading to Bloomington this weekend. Things could get weird down in Hoosier country.
9. Maryland (2-1, 0-0) last week: 35-14 L vs. Temple
Just when I was ready to commend Maryland for how they have fought through their circumstances to start the year, they go out and lay an egg to a 0-2 football team. They’re still good enough to poke some bears in the east, but they do not seem like a candidate to upset anyone.
10. Illinois (2-1, 0-0) last week: 25-19 L vs. South Florida
I don’t think Illinois is very good, but they probably have 4-5 winnable games left on their schedule. They will not win them all and could very well wind up lower on this list in the near future, but this is where we stand today.
11. Northwestern (1-2, 0-0) last week: 39-34 L vs. Akron
The Wildcats had a nice win to open the season against Purdue, but both teams have proven in recent weeks to be two of the worst in the West.
12. Nebraska (0-2, 0-0) last week: 29-24 L vs. Troy
Scott Frost’s debut season is going far from planned so far with a QB injury and a tough loss against a Sun Belt team at home. It’s clearly going to take some time here and it won’t be this season, it appears.
13. Purdue (0-3, 0-0) last week: 40-37 L vs. Missouri
The honeymoon appears to be over for Jeff Brohm at Purdue. They could scratch out a few wins against the bottom feeders of the league, but they are back in the cellar here.
14. Rutgers (0-3, 0-0) last week: 55-14 L at Kansas
Horrible. Awful. Inexcusable. Nothing else to be said here.