This weekend exhibited perhaps the single largest upset of the 2019 season, as Wisconsin - formerly #6 in the AP Poll, and #2 in these rankings - lost to Illinois by the score of 24-23. The Illini were underdogs by approximately a 4-touchdown spread, yet pulled off the improbable, thus putting the college football world on its head. Let’s get to it.
As a reminder, this isn’t a ranking of teams based on record, or place in the polls, but rather my assessment of how the teams are playing at the time. If two teams met on a neutral field and played 100 times, a team that wins 51 times gets ranked ahead of the team that wins 49 times.
Let’s see what we got this week, shall we?
1. Ohio State
Look, Northwestern is not good, but 52-3? Are you kidding me? I’m still hoping Wisconsin can at least put a scare in the Buckeyes, but man, if OSU doesn’t win the B1G there will be severe disappointment in Columbus.
2. Penn State
After relinquishing the #2 spot after struggling with Pitt, the Lions are back, following their 28-21 win at home over #16 Michigan. Up next is Michigan State, and the final game of the 2019 gauntlet we all feared at the beginning of the season.
If you’d told me that Minnesota would have sole possession of first place in the B1G West before Halloween, I’d have laughed in your face. But here we are, and the Golden Gophers looked very good in a 42-7 win over Rutgers (but then, who doesn’t?).
After the 17-12 loss to the Lions, the Hawkeyes took care of business against a pesky Purdue team, winning 26-20. They’re not out of the West hunt just yet.
The Wolverines got into a big 21-0 hole against Penn State, but fought back to within 7 points. That they couldn’t quite complete the comeback doesn’t change the fact that the Wolverines are starting to put things together on both sides of the ball. Ohio State having to take on Penn State and Michigan back-to-back to end the season will be fun to watch.
Here’s the thing - Wisconsin is still a very good program, and is probably still the favorite to win the West. But you just cannot lose to a team like Illinois and also be considered a playoff contender.
This is just your casual reminder that while 17-12 and 28-21 wins can be frustrating, a win is a win, especially in college football, where weird stuff happens.
7. Michigan State
Sparty had a bye week, at the perfect time before playing Penn State! Yayyyy . . . .
Maryland may be in free fall, but a 34-28 win on the road over a non-BTPR division foe is always a good day at the office.
The upset of the season, if I’m being honest, as Georgia lost to a South Carolina team that at least had a pulse. The Fightin’ Lovies could just be good enough to spoil some teams this season.
Maryland’s placement in these rankings has the look of a roller coaster - there are other teams bouncing around, but no one has had their peaks and valleys be quite as steep as the Terrapins.
Bye week for the Huskers.
For those of you poo-pooing the Lions’ game against the Boilermakers, what with Rondale Moore and Elijah Sindelar both being out, take a look at what Purdue has accomplished without those two. Against a very good Iowa defense, Purdue was one touchdown away from an upset of their very own. The Boilermakers are not upper echelon of the West, but they are good enough to score and even upset some teams.
Gosh, I honestly did not see Northwestern having this bad of a year. I didn’t think they’d repeat as West champs, but I thought a respectable 8-4-type season was on the table. Yeesh.
Is this the worst Power 5 team? Not just this season, but possibly ever? I know there’s been a coaching change, and the talent level wasn’t great to begin with, but are they actually even showing up on Saturdays in Piscataway?
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, your updated standings!
OSU is steady at the top, with Penn State rising. Minnesota is right behind the Lions, while Iowa resumed its climb. Michigan takes a slight dip after a close road loss, while Wisconsin plummets after the biggest upset of the season. Michigan State and Indiana are next, while Illinois shoots up the rankings. Maryland is in free fall, Nebraska and Purdue slide down a bit, and Northwestern is not showing many signs of life. Rutgers.
Let’s see what week nine brings us!