Big Ten Week 4 Power Rankings

As always, last weekend of college football did not disappoint. Alabama survived their roadblock against Ole Miss, while Cal and North Dakota State spoiled Texas’ and Iowa’s unblemished records and likely knocked them out of the College Football Playoff race.

I was actually surprised of the actions of Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon and Cal’s Vic Enwere more so than the upsets. The return men dropped the ball before crossing the goal line at about the one yard line. Mixon and Enwere though caught a huge break as the play would stand. Just like the rest of the nation, I’m very curious how this developing trend is happening so rapidly. This nonsense has happened four total times this season, including two the past weekend. What exactly is the appealing element when releasing the ball before crossing the goal line?

Thanks for putting up with my rant. Now let’s get on with the power rankings. The Big Ten had a 9-2 mark in week three with too many close calls.


1. Ohio State (Last week: 1)

BYE


2. Michigan State (5)

Typical MSU proved to the critics and experts to never count them out, as then-No. 12 Michigan State defeated then-No. 18 Notre Dame 36-28. The Spartans snapped a three-game skid against the Irish and won in South Bend for the first time since 2007. After seizing the Megaphone Trophy for the first time since 2010, MSU now holds control of all their rivalry game trophies.

The Spartan offense was humming along, as they erupted towards a 36-0 scoring run which lasted roughly a quarter and a half. Quarterback Tyler O’Connor knows how to deliver on the big stage, throwing for 241 yards and a pair of scores. The ground game ignited 260 rushing yards led by Gerald Holmes (100) and LJ Scott (98). Michigan State’s stingy defense got the job done by forcing three takeaways.

The No. 8 Spartans take on a much tougher opponent, as they host No. 11 Wisconsin in a battle of undefeated teams to launch their conference slate into action.


3. Michigan (2)

Despite all the convincing outcomes for the Wolverines, the Spartans jumped them because Michigan has yet to prove that they can take down a worthy opponent. After trailing 21-7 at the end of the first quarter, No. 4 Michigan finished Colorado off with a monstrous 38-7 scoring run and a 45-28 win.

Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight tossed for 229 yards and a score, while Jabrill Peppers sparked the return game with a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

No. 4 Michigan seeks to clean up their defensive hiccups, as they welcome a high-scoring Penn State club to the Big House.


4. Wisconsin (3)

The then-No. 8 Badgers received a huge scare from FCS lightweight Georgia State, as UW escaped with a 23-17 narrow win.

It had to be frightening for the red and white faithful to see freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook come in to relieve the streaky Bart Houston. Hornibrook wrapped the day with 122 passing yards and tossed the go-ahead touchdown to take a 20-17 lead with seven minutes left in regulation.

The Badgers could only muster 3.8 yards per carry as they racked up 187 rushing yards, which is well below their season average.

No. 11 Wisconsin’s running backs Corey Clement and Taiwan Deal are banged up and may be unable to play this weekend. It would serve as a huge blow as they travel to No. 8 Michigan State.


5. Nebraska (6)

The unranked Cornhuskers used a late surge to down then-No. 22 Oregon 35-32.

With two and a half minutes remaining in the game, quarterback Tommy Armstrong busted through the Oregon defense and ran into the end zone on a 34-yard scramble.

Despite the Cornhuskers defense yielding over 300 rushing yards, they finished the game with an exclamation point by stopping the Ducks on fourth-and-long to seal the deal.

No. 20 Nebraska is now 4-0 and will kick off Big Ten play as they face a struggling Northwestern squad.


6. Iowa (4)

Eastern Washington. Illinois State. And now North Dakota State. The Bison drilled the game-winning field goal as time expired in a 23-21 stunner over then-No. 13 Iowa.

The NDSU Bison is much better than people give them credit for. They have captured five consecutive FCS championships and now have stretched their FBS win streak to six.

Iowa’s ground game was stagnated with only 34 yards off of 25 carries. Their poor play resulted in only 231 total yards, 12 first downs, and only held the ball for 23 minutes.

Now unranked, the Hawkeyes will try to bounce back by taking on Rutgers in New Jersey.


7. Penn State (7)

The Nittany Lions had a nice rebound game by beating in-state foe Temple 34-27.

It was a nice rebound game after Penn State lost a 42-39 shootout to Pittsburgh. Quarterback Tracey McSorley soared to the occasion by throwing for 287 yards and a touchdown with one interception. The offense, however, surrendered three turnovers that kept Temple in the game.

PSU better improve on their ball security if they want to have a shot to down No. 4 Michigan.


8. Minnesota (8)

The 2-0 Gophers are quietly taking care of business, most recently in a 58-28 beatdown over Indiana State.

Senior quarterback Mitch Leidner had a nice outing with nearly 300 passing yards along with four touchdown strikes. Newcomer Kobe McCrary at tailback is the engine of the ground attack with 176 yards and two scores

Minnesota looks to take advantage of last weekend’s bye week by squaring off against Colorado State in the Twin Cities.


9. Indiana (10)

The Hoosiers are also coming off of a bye week. They got the job done over Ball State in a 30-20 showing in Week 2.  

The offense is still the strong suit of Indiana with 453 total yards. The main contributors were Devine Redding racking up 110 rushing yards and wide receiver Nick Westbrook recording 133 yards along with two touchdowns.

Indiana will play ACC member Wake Forest this weekend.


10. Maryland (9)

BYE


11. Rutgers (13)

The Scarlet Knights have responded effectively after getting blown out of the water by Washington. They have won two in a row, prevailing over Howard 52-14 and New Mexico last Saturday 37-28.

The Lobos scored the game’s first 21 points, but Rutgers rallied by conducting a 37-7 scoring run to conclude the match. The versatile receiver Janarion Grant housed a punt for a touchdown, marking his second special teams touchdown this year. He also threw for a touchdown off of a trick play.

Rutgers will be up for the challenge to take on an angry yet talented Iowa team.


12. Purdue (12)

 

The Boilermakers had the opportunity to notch a big game, but came up short against Cincinnati, 38-20.

Purdue surrendered five turnovers, while the Bearcats converted on third down after third down.

The Boilers take on an underrated Nevada squad.


13. Northwestern (14)

The Wildcats finally earned their first win of the year, defeating Duke handily 24-13.

Northwestern surprisingly only produced 86 rushing yards but the aerial attack came through for the Cats thanks to quarterback Clayton Thorson’s 320 passing yards.

Let’s see if Northwestern at 1-2 can carry their momentum into the showdown against No. 20 Nebraska.


14. Illinois (11)

BYE