Week 4 was actually kinda bad for the B1G. A lot of ugly games, some lackluster performances, and a loss to perhaps the worst FBS team in the land. So in such a week, just winning your game - by whatever means necessary - can be enough to move you upe the rankings.
To be clear: these rankings are a reflection of just how well a team is playing, not a reflection of records, polls, number of NIL agreements signed by players, etc.
Simply put - the #1 team would, on a neutral field, beat the #2 team at least 51 times out of 100. The #2 team would beat the #3 team, #3 would beat #4, etc., etc.
Let’s get to it!
1. Penn State
Penn State had a complete demolition of Villanova on their hands, to the tune of 38-3*. Against a legit top 25 FCS team, that’s a good day at the office.
*Yes, the final score was 38-17, but first string offense against fourth string defense will do that to you.
And here we start with the ugly games. Iowa struggled pretty heavily with a rather not good Colorado State team, ultimately pulling away 24-14. The Hawkeye defense is legit, but they’re going to need to find some offense if they hope to compete for the B1G Championship.
3. Ohio State
For a brief moment in time, Ohio State was losing to Akron 7-0. Then the Buckeyes woke up and won 59-7. But still! If lowly Akron can march down the field and score on OSU, who can’t?
I’ll be honest - Michigan may be the fourth best team in the conference, but that’s not to say that the Wolverines are good, but rather that after the top few teams, there’s a kinda significant dropoff. The Wolverines appeared to be set to completely outmatch Rutgers, before the Scarlet Knights made some adjustments, and stymied Michigan’s offense. Unfortunately, RU gonna RU, and the Wolverines won 20-13. But again, without too much effort, a middling team stifled what is allegedly a top 5 team in the conference.
The Terrapins took care of business against Kent State, winning 37-16. They have a legitimate offense, but I do wonder how their defense will stack up. This weekend’s game against Iowa will be an interesting match of strength-on-strength.
6. Michigan State
Talk about a clunker. Michigan State needed overtime to take down Nebraska 23-20. Were it not for some special teams gaffes, it’s likely that Nebraska came out with the win. I can’t help but feel like MSU has gotten a bit lucky so far, and that their SPARTY NO moment is coming.
Oh, Wisconsin, what happened to you? The Badgers were in a close game against Notre Dame until the fourth quarter hit, when suddenly Graham Mertz threw two pick sixes, and the Domers tacked on a punt return for a touchdown as well. If the Badgers can’t sort out their offense, it could be a rough season in Madison.
A 33-31 win over Western Kentucky will not move you up these rankings, but I also have a hard time dropping you given some of the chaos happening across the country. I think Indiana has pretty clearly fallen off from last season’s magic, but just how much will be determined in the next few weeks.
The Boilermakers struggled their way to a 13-9 win over bottom-dweller Illinois, but hey, a win is a win. That being said, let’s add Purdue to the list of teams that need to sort out their offenses. Seems like a fairly long list at this point.
For basically no reason, I kind of want Rutgers to be good. Not beat Penn State good, mind you, but I wouldn’t hate to see RU get to bowl eligibility. Winning games as an underdog has to happen, and a prime opportunity was provided this past weekend against Michigan. Unfortunately, the Knights just couldn’t get out of their own way on a few too many plays, and ultimately succumbed 20-13.
Northwestern had a quietly good day at the office, beating Ohio 35-6. Given how poorly the Wildcats have played in some other games this year, this was perhaps their best weekend so far.
What’s weird about Nebraska is they’ve actually gone toe-to-toe with some of the ranked teams on their schedule, including a 7-point loss to Oklahoma and a 3-point overtime loss to Michigan State. But losses are losses, and right now the Cornhuskers are sitting below .500 on what could be a make-or-break season for Scott Frost.
Yeesh. Look, everyone has bad days, but there really isn’t an excuse for a team like Minnesota to lose to a team like Bowling Green. BGSU was winless in 2020, and had been winless in 2021 until just last week. Given that the Gophers had been awfully competitive with Ohio State back in week 1, it’s hard to see how they’ve fallen so far so quickly.
The Illini really tried against Purdue, but just couldn’t muster enough offense, losing 13-9. Better luck next week!
MOAR SQUIGGLY LINES:
Penn State, Iowa, and Ohio State all stand pat as the head-and-shoulders-better-than-the-rest top tier of the conference. Michigan, Maryland, and Michigan State rise in the next grouping, while Wisconsin takes a big tumble. Indiana stands pat, while Purdue makes a move up the rankings. Rutgers dips, and Northwestern is on the climb. Nebraska holds firm, while Minnesota plummets.
On to week 5!