Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 6

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn't much action in Big Ten land last week, but one surprising team continues to climb through the ranks. Spoiler alert: it's Illinois, and I feel gross about it, too.

Only 5 teams have played a Big Ten game, so it's still very premature to stack the conference up. And only a few teams even played last week, so it's not like there's going to be much turnover from last week's inaugural rankings. But we also have seen the first important matchup of the B1G slate, the renaissance of Iowa, and the continued fall of Purdue. And it sure seems like we're in for a season-long wait to see if anyone can beat Ohio State.

This week's theme, by the way? Anchorman.

Rank Team Why?
1

(5-0, 1-0; Last week: #1) "At the bottom of my gut, with every inch of me, I plain, straight hate you. But dammit, do I respect you."

Ohio State didn't play their best game against Wisconsin, and will be heading forward without Christian Bryant, thinning out an already young and inexperienced defense, but Braxton Miller looks like a different player. Sure, it was just a glorified hail mary, but that 40-yard strike at the end of the first half that ended up being the margin of victory isn't a pass he could make last year.

2

(3-2, 1-1; Last week: #2) "Knights of Columbus, that hurt!"

Wisconsin has to be the best two-loss team in the country, right? And while you could make the argument that they should take a tumble down the rankings, I'm not sure how many other Big Ten teams could hang with Columbus in the shoe, especially after losing Melvin Gordon and given how horribly the first half ended. The Badgers couldn't really get their power run game going, and still lost by 7 at Ohio State. That's a good sign.

3

(4-0, 0-0; Last week: #3) "I'm in a glass case of emotion!"

As if this week's game with Ohio State needed any more hype for the Wildcats, College Gameday will be in town. For some reason, that makes me pretty positive that Northwestern is going to get embarrassed in prime time, even if Venric Mark will return. If Mark and Kain Colter can work the read option, though...there may be a chance.

4

(3-1, 0-0; Last week: #6) "Sweet Lincoln's mullet!"

Miami of Ohio might be the worst team in the country. But Illinois, unlike some of their other conference brethren (COUGH COUGH MICHIGAN COUGH), made them look like it. Nathan Scheelhaase threw more touchdown passes in the first half last week than he did all last season. And, call me crazy, they have a legitimate chance to win in Lincoln. That, more than any rant, would heaten up Bo Pelini's seat.

5

(4-0, 0-0; Last week: #4) "I'm kind of a big deal...I'm very important. I have many leather bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany."

Michigan was idle last week, and after a horribly uninspiring finish to their non-conference slate, starts Big Ten play with Minnesota. No team needed the week off-conference cupcake duo more than Brady Hoke and co., as the inevitable steamrolling should get things once again moving in the right direction.

6

(3-1, 0-0; Last week: #5) "I immediately regret this decision."

The big news out of East Lansing is that Mark Dantonio is sticking with Connor Cook at quarterback, even though he was pulled in the second half of the loss to Notre Dame. The decision might have been a tougher one if Andrew Maxwell had completed a pass in his stint.

7

(3-1, 0-0; Last week: #7) "It's an optical illusion. I was just about to take them back... to the pants store.."

Okay, fine, so we found out the sanctions were going to be reduced before I put up last week's power rankings, but this sums up the collective Penn State fanbase last Tuesday, right?

Actual analysis: In their two losses this year, and most of them last year, the Hoosiers got off to very sluggish starts. Unfortunately, so have the Lions this year. Get Hack into a groove early, and this could be a nice confidence boosting win.

8

(4-1, 1-0; Last week: #10) "Brick, where did you get a hand grenade?"

Remember when Iowa looked dead in the water after a loss to Northern Illinois, and ugly wins over Missouri State and Iowa State? Well, they're coming off the total domination of Minnesota, and ride some serious momentum into Kinnick to take on Michigan State this week. It'll be the first real test for Jake Rudock, but Iowa's defense (and the Sparty offense) should give him plenty of margin for error.

9

(3-1, 0-0; Last week: #8) "Wow, this burrito is delicious, but it is filling."

Taylor Martinez is listed as questionable for this week's game, and though it may be too early to panic (and, okay, Tommy Armstrong looked pretty great against San Diego State), the horrific Husker pass D going up against a suddenly dominant Illinois offense means that if T-Magic can't go, it wouldn't be a shock to see Illinois hang with or even shock Nebraska, even in Memorial Stadium.

10

(2-2, 0-0; Last week: #11) "I'm storming your castle on my steed, m'lady."

Indiana was off last week, and returns home to take on a Penn State defense that suddenly seems a lot less terrible, now that it looks like UCF is actually a darn good squad. Whether they can force Nate Sudfeld into turnovers is the biggest question mark in this one, because when the Hoosiers aren't making mistakes, they've got a pretty potent, dynamic offense.

11

(4-1, 0-1; Last week: #9) "Damn it! Who typed a question mark on the teleprompter?"

Minnesota crumbling at the first sign of resistance shouldn't have been unexpected, though the sudden resurgence of a quarterback competition might be. With a very tough Big Ten schedule (no Purdue, at Indiana), it's going to take a couple upsets just to get into a bowl game. Don't feel bad, Gopher fans. You'll always have that win over Western Illinois.

12

(1-4, 0-1; Last week: #12) "I'm not even mad. That's amazing."

Look, Northern Illinois is a fine squad, but Darrell Hazell's first year couldn't be going any worse. Now, the Boilermakers turn to a true freshman quarterback, Danny Etling, they'd been hoping to redshirt. At least it's become a rebuilding effort, and not just a slow slog to the finish.

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