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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 4

I dreamed a dream in time gone by

“Landscape with Fall of Icarus (Paesaggio con caduta di Icaro), by Carlo Saraceni, 1606-1607, 17th Century, oil on copper, 34 x 54 cm”

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 4 is in the books and unfortunately, our rankings have once again shimmied around. Let’s get to it!

1. Ohio State


After a week all the way down at the #2 spot in these rankings, OSU went out and demolished West “contender” Wisconsin 52-21. And really, the game wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. Based on the first rule of these here rankings, you’d be hard pressed to find a team playing as well as the Buckeyes right now.

Next up, home vs. Rutgers (avert your eyes!).

2. Minnesota

Don’t look now, but Minnesota is undefeated and is trouncing fools. Their latest victim is Michigan State, whom they thrashed 34-7. Isn’t it nice that the Lions always get the toughest teams in the West in their crossovers?!

Next up, home vs. Purdue.

3. Penn State

Ultimately, the Lions secured a 3-score win over a well-coached MAC team. But after going up 14-0, the team couldn’t step on CMU’s throat and let them even the game at 14 before pulling away. A solid win, to be sure, but a shaky enough performance to warrant a demotion. We reached for the sun, and like Icarus, crashed back to Earth.

Next up, home vs. Northwestern.

4. Michigan

I’m not saying Michigan is a bad team, but they struggled mightily with the first team they played with a pulse, sneaking by Maryland 34-27. If the Terrapins had any semblance of defense I think that game goes differently.

Next up, away at Iowa (hey, speaking of defense).

5. Maryland

Yes, the Terrapins lost to Michigan, but they took the fight to the defending Big Ten champions. Their offense looks good, though without a complementary defense, they’re going to lose some shootouts.

Next up, home vs Michigan State (bury the Spartans plz).

6. Purdue

Honestly, from here through about #10, it’s a big ol’ pile of meh. Purdue got a win, but it was an ugly, white-knuckle 28-26 win over FAU, where a missed 2-point conversion from the Owls in the fourth quarter was the difference in the game. Not the best look for the second-ranked West team in these rankings.

Next up, away at Minnesota (Spoilermakers?).

7. Wisconsin

I’m not sure what there is to say about the Badgers, who got embarrassed by Ohio State. Perhaps they can shoot for a spoiler against Minnesota later in the season?

Next up, home vs. Illinois.

8. Iowa

Looks like the Hawkeyes have rediscovered offense, beating Rutgers 27-10. That being said it was Rutgers, who is in a dogfight with Indiana for the worst team in the East, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Next up, home vs. Michigan (be real neat if you could knock Michigan down a peg).

9. Michigan State

An early season top 10 ranking was fool’s gold, as the Spartans are in free fall. After being smashed by Minnesota, and a potent Maryland offense coming up, Sparty could be in a race to the bottom of the East.

Next up, away at Maryland.

10. Illinois

The little engine that could, the Illini are chugging their way up out of the basement, following a 31-0 win over Chattanooga. Given the state of the West, perhaps Illinois could make some noise between here and November.

Next up, away at Wisconsin (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can).

11. Rutgers

Despite how well-coached Greg Schiano’s team is, there is still a talent disparity against most teams, and Iowa simply proved too much to handle for the Knights. Things won’t get any better this week, I fear.

Next up, away at Ohio State.

12. Indiana

The Hoosiers are just not a good football team right now, having lost to Cincinnati 45-24. The only reason I don’t have them any lower in these rankings is not a statement on Indiana, but on who is below them.

Next up, away at Nebraska (jeez that’s gonna be a pillow fight).

13. Northwestern

Northwestern REALLY wants to be the worst team in the West, and by extension the conference. A 17-14 loss to Miami (OH) is easily the worst loss of the weekend for the B1G, and were it not for Nebraska, would firmly place them at the bottom. But Nebraska has so far proven to be inept at the sport of football, and so I’ll leave the Wildcats teetering on the edge for at least one more week.

Next up, away at Penn State.

14. Nebraska


Next up, home vs. Indiana (a chance for Nebraska, Captain of Mediocrity, to show his quality).

The squiggly lines giveth and the squiggly lines taketh away.

OSU jumps back to the top spot, and red hot Minnesota is right behind them. Penn State and Michigan tumble after so-so wins, while Maryland hangs out. Purdue and Wisconsin flip-flop, and Iowa rejoins the fray. Michigan State drops again, and Illinois is on the rise. Rutgers moves into the first-floor bedroom, while Indiana, Northwestern and Nebraska all hang out in the padded cell in the basement.

On to Week 5!