Hello there and welcome to the Big Ten Power Rankings! Each week we’ll rank how the teams across the conference are playing, in the hopes of seeing just who is a contender, and who is a pretender over the course of the season.
The rules are few, but resolute:
- Teams are ranked by how they’re playing at that time. Not body of work, not rankings in the polls, but simply how each team is playing at that point in the season.
- The approach to the rankings is not necessarily on the field results (though those do count, as an obvious, tangible data point), but more generally if the two teams played at a neutral site 100 times, which team would win 51 times (or more).
- These rankings are subjective. As the author I get to follow the rules as closely or loosely as I want to, and if you don’t like the rankings, you’re wrong.
Week 6 is in the books and things are starting to become a bit clearer at the halfway point of the season. Let’s get to it!
1. Ohio State
People continue to scoff at OSU winning by multiple scores over everybody (the latest being a 49-20 trouncing of Michigan State), saying “they only put up this number or that statistic,” and doing everything possible to discount the Buckeyes. Yet every advanced metric indicates that Ohio State is just that damn good. Can Penn State hang with them? Sure, they always play OSU tough. But until proven otherwise, the Buckeyes are the class of the conference by a wide margin.
Next up, idle.
Indiana put up a fight against the Wolverines, but Michigan ultimately proved to be too much, pulling away for a 31-10 win. I’m willing to call it a trap game as Michigan looked ahead to their showdown with Penn State, but I also think the Hoosiers exposed at least a few flaws that Penn State can look to exploit.
Next up, home vs Penn State.
3. Penn State
The Lions were idle, and it came at a good time, as their last two victories looked shaky at best. Now they begin the 3-game gauntlet that will ultimately define the 2022 season.
Next up, away at Michigan.
Team Chaos continues, as it took a failed two-point conversion attempt by Maryland for the Boilermakers to survive, 31-29. Purdue is easily one of the favorites in the West, pairing solid defense and offense for the first time in . . . perhaps ever? I joke, but it seems like the boys from West Lafayette are usually good at putting up points, but not stopping them.
Next up, home vs. Nebraska.
The Terrapins’ rally fell just short, a two-point conversion away from overtime, and who knows from there. But I won’t penalize a team that played hard against its peer in these rankings, only to lose by a single possession.
Next up, away at Indiana.
The Gophers were idle, having stumbled against the Boilermakers just before the bye week. When healthy, they may still be the best team in the West, but they’ll have their work cut out for them the rest of the way.
Next up, away at Illinois.
Holy ugly football Batman! The Illini got the 9-6 win over Iowa, which means they’re 5-1 and ranked in the top 25. But man, was that an ugly game to watch. The Illini are tied atop the West, and control their own destiny, which means this week’s game will have a fairly sizeable impact on conference standings.
Next up, home vs. Minnesota.
From here through about #12 or so, it’s all a big shrug. Wisconsin beat up on Northwestern 42-7 in not a hurricane, and are the best of the rest at this point. The Badgers get a favorable crossover game against the Spartans to try to pad their stats a bit.
Next up, away at Michigan State.
Like I said, big shrug. Nebraska is still not a very good team, but everyone below them lost, and appear to be trying to beat Northwestern to the basement. Still, a 14-13 win over Rutgers is at least a conference win, and SOMEbody has to fill these mid-tier positions.
Next up, away at Purdue.
On a serious note - why do both Wisconsin and Iowa turn into world-beaters when they’re on Penn State’s schedule, then fall off a cliff as soon as the Lions don’t have to play them? It’s not fair!
Next up, idle.
11. Michigan State
Look, I know MSU is not very good this year, but a 49-20 drubbing by OSU is noooooot a great look. The Spartans won a NY6 bowl last year, if you’ll believe it, and are now staring at a big ol’ goose egg in the win column in conference play.
Next up, home vs Wisconsin.
If Greg Schiano could get the Scarlet Knights to play four competent quarters of football, I have no doubt they would be a bowl-eligible team. When they’re playing well, they’re sound in their fundamentals, and avoid shooting themselves in the foot. Then they kind of forget how to football for half of the game, and lose in ever weirder ways.
Next up, idle.
At this point the Hoosiers are in spoiler mode, and for a little over a half made it very interesting against the Wolverines. The Michigan talent eventually won out, but they highlighted some of the shortcomings that UM has - so, thanks Indiana!
Next up, home vs Maryland.
I assumed the 17-7 loss to Penn State was an anomaly, due almost 100% to the fact that the game was played in a hurricane against a PSU team that was absolutely looking forward to a week off and just getting the hell off the field. But a 42-7 loss to Wisconsin, who at one point completely forgot how to run the ball (imagine!) is a fast way to stay locked in the cellar.
Next up, idle.
I got 99 problems but a squiggle ain’t one.
OSU, Michigan and Penn State hold steady at the top, while Purdue continues its climb. Maryland dips one spot, while Minnesota and Illinois stand pat. Wisconsin and Nebraska rise to fill the void left by Iowa, Michigan State, and Rutgers. Indiana stays out of the basement solely due to Northwestern’s death grip on it.
On to Week 7!