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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 4


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 Minnesota at Northwestern Photo by Ben Hsu/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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.

The fourth week of the 2023 season is in the books, and some chaos let loose in the Big Ten West. Let’s get to it!

1. Penn State

A drubbing. A demolishing. A rout. A beatdown. A nuke from orbit. Call it what you will, but Penn State’s 31-0 defeat of Iowa was more lopsided than the score would have you believe. That it happened on national television in primetime with the Whiteout is just icing on the cake.

2. Michigan

Okay I’ll break tendency with Michigan on this one (though, seriously, 30-something to single-digit-something is becoming an increasingly bizarre trend) and say that for the first time this season I thought Michigan looked pretty good. Funny, since they’re 4-0 and have never been in any real danger, but Rutgers came out to play. The Wolverines weathered the early storm and got the 31-7 win.

3. Ohio State

Ooooh what a fun game. OSU needed 59 minutes and 59 seconds to get the win over Notre Dame, plus a smidge of help from the Fighting Irish, who obliged by only having 10 men on the field for the last two plays, but a 17-14 road win against a top 10 team is a good day no matter how you slice it.

4. Maryland

Maryland may be legit, y’all. 31-9 over Michigan State (who is admittedly #notgood) but the Terrapins are 4-0. How they fare against the big 3 in the East will be fun to watch unfold.

5. Wisconsin

The final score of 38-17 belies the fact that Purdue was in the game against the Badgers, were it not for a handful of key mistakes. Regardless, Wisconsin will likely be duking it out with Iowa for the West title this year, so any win is a good win.

6. Iowa

Granted, Iowa does not have a good offense to begin with, and Penn State has one of the best in the country. But whew lad that was a showcase in offensive incompetency. The only regret I have is that Brian Ferentz now needs to average 26.75 points per game the remainder of the season to not get fired, and I’d rather see him on the Iowa sideline for many years to come.

7. Rutgers

I thought about moving the Scarlet Knights down, but frankly, they played well against a superior opponent. That, and the bottom half of these rankings get to be pretty stinky pretty quickly.

8. Indiana

Hey, a win is a win. But a 29-27 overtime win over Akron is nooooot a great one. Still, add one to the W column!

9. Illinois

Speaking of, Illinois also got a win, 23-17 over FAU. That is a sentence that I have typed, that you have now read, which is factual in nature. Do with it what you will.

10. Nebraska

Hey look! Nebraska won! 28-14 over Louisiana Tech! Nice.

11. Michigan State

There are a lot of extraneous things going on in East Lansing, and the Spartans are not a particularly talented team. But a 31-9 loss to Maryland is just not a great day no matter how you slice it.

12. Northwestern

Doth mine eyes deceive me? Is that Northwestern with a win? It is! A 37-34 overtime win over Minnesota! Look, NW is likely not going to win many games this year, so let’s take the chance to celebrate them when they do show up.

13. Minnesota

Yeah, losing to the former basement-dweller of these rankings is gonna move you down in them. Way, way down.

14. Purdue

Kinda feel for the Boilermakers, who were competitive with West-leading Wisconsin for a bit. But, a three-score loss is going to move you down, and they didn’t have very far to go to reach the bottom.

Now Peter Piped picked peppers, but squiggles rocked rhymes.

PSU, UM, OSU, and UMD all hang out in the top four. Wisconsin and Iowa flip-flop, while Rutgers holds serve. Indiana is on the rise, followed by Illinois and Nebraska. MSU slips, and Northwestern makes a move up the rankings. Minnesota careens off a cliff, but Purdue beats them to the bottom.

On to week 5!