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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 5

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Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

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 5 is in the books and we’ve got some big movers in the conference. Let’s get to it!

1. Ohio State

OSU appears to have entered Death Star Mode™, having beaten Rutgers 49-10. Granted, it was against Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights have at least appeared competent under Greg Schiano. That mattered little as the Buckeyes scored at will. After a “down year” in 2021, it looks like OSU is on a march to the playoffs.

Next up, away at Michigan State.

2. Michigan

I don’t think Iowa is very good at football, but Michigan put in a very thorough day at the office, winning 27-14. Were it not for some garbage time theatrics, Iowa’s output would have been even less. Still, there’s a big gap between #1 and #2 in these rankings.

Next up, away at Indiana.

3. Penn State

An ugly 17-7 win over Northwestern gave me some pause on where to put the Lions, but having rewatched the game and reviewed some of the stats, it really was nowhere near as close as the score would indicate. 5 turnovers can’t (and most assuredly won’t) happen again, but playing in the remnants of a hurricane, I’m going to give PSU a pass.

Next up, idle.

4. Maryland

Michigan State appears to be #bad, but the Terrapins did some work, winning 27-13. The defense remains suspect, but the offense is more than capable of putting up points on most teams. The B1G East is again beastly.

Next up, home vs. Purdue (who can top 50 points first?).

5. Purdue

One of the bigger wins of the weekend goes to the Boilermakers, who upset Minnesota 20-10. Granted, Minny didn’t have Mo Ibrahim, but Purdue shut down a prolific Gopher offense. The West is still very much up for grabs.

Next up, away at Maryland.

6. Minnesota

Just when Minnesota gets an ounce of national recognition, they go and ship their pants. I’ll give them a minor break in these rankings for having played without their top RB, but a lot of teams are already dealing with some injuries and are handling them okay.

Next up, idle.

7. Illinois

Don’t look now, but the Fighting Illini are 4-1, and control their own destiny in the West. Bret Bielema has turned the program around with a quickness, and the 34-10 win over Wisconsin was easily the best win in the conference this weekend. How high can the Illini climb?

Next up, home vs. Iowa.

8. Iowa

Iowa went out and did Iowa things, barely posing a threat to Michigan until the game was well in hand. At this point I feel their role is going to be spoiler for the better teams in the West.

Next up, away at Illinois (speaking of spoiler (I don’t actually think Iowa has a chance in this one but I do love chaos)).

9. Wisconsin

Oh Wisconsin, what happened to you? Illinois embarrassed you, and Paul Chryst got the axe. The mighty have fallen rather quickly.

Next up, away at Northwestern (Pillow Fight of the Week).

10. Michigan State

Seems like the wheels have fallen off Transfer State University, and while I still think Mel Tucker is a good coach, it’s tough to build a ton of success without some home grown talent development.

Next up, home vs Ohio State (oh lawd).

11. Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights were about as competitive as I expected them to be against OSU, but unfortunately that still slots them fairly far down in these rankings. It’s not their fault they’re stuck in the East, perhaps we’ll get to see their true potential whenever the B1G does away with the current divisions.

Next up, home vs Nebraska (Pillow Fight of the Week 2).

12. Nebraska

Hey look, a sign of life! Granted, it was a 35-21 win over fellow cellar-dweller Indiana, but a win is a win! Let’s see if the Huskers can keep the momentum going.

Next up, away at Rutgers.

13. Indiana

Not sure what I can say about the Hoosiers, aside from being easily the worst team in the East.

Next up, home vs Michigan.

14. Northwestern

On the one hand, they held Penn State to the same number of points (17) as their previous opponent (Miami (OH)). On the other hand, were it not for a hurricane, the game wouldn’t have been as close as it was. Also, resorting to weird snap counts and presnap shifts, then having your OL initiate contact any time the DL jumped offsides (thanks to said weird snap counts and presnap shifts) seems a little bush league IMO. But when your offense is only getting a yard per play, why not?

Next up, home vs. Wisconsin.

My rankings don’t squiggle squiggle, they fold.

OSU holds on at the top, while Michigan leapfrogs PSU. Maryland and Purdue are on the climb, but Minnesota plummets. Illinois is the fast riser, while Iowa stands pat. Wisconsin and Michigan State trend downward, and Rutgers holds steady. Nebraska moves out of the basement, while Indiana and Northwestern move in.

On to Week 6!