Big Ten Power Rankings Week 14: Winner Gets the Rose Bowl or CFB Playoff

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 14

Can anyone find the Michigan defense? The Wolverines defensive unit has not been seen in a few weeks because whoever showed up in Columbus were not part of the number one defense in the country. Going into “The Game,” the most amount of points in a game that Michigan allowed was 24 to Notre Dame. Ohio State nearly tripled that amount as they scored 62 points on their way to a 23 point victory. As Michigan’s Playoff hopes died, Ohio State’s dreams were reborn, but before we talk about the postseason, do no forget about Northwestern in the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 14.

Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.

14. Rutgers (1-11)

Lost to Michigan State, 14-10

I know I’ve been bashing Rutgers the past couple of weeks, but I will give credit where credit is due. They played hard against Michigan State and deserved to win. That being said, there are no moral victories in the Big Ten. Chris Ash was on the hot seat going into this season and despite a 1-11 year, Ash will return for another season. This move is head scratching, but ask yourself this: Can anyone save Rutgers?

13. Illinois (4-8)

Lost to Northwestern, 24-16

Illinois hung around the entire game against Northwestern before losing by 8 points. However, the biggest story for the Illini was the decision to extend Lovie Smith’s contract an additional two years. The Illini made some strides this year, but Smith has won only 9 games in three years. Does that merit an extension? All eyes will be on the quarterback position in 2019 as they welcome five-star recruit Isaiah Williams to the program.

12. Indiana (5-7)

Lost to Purdue, 28-21

After a 4-1 start, the Hoosiers went 1-6 in their final 7 games to end the season and ruin their chances of making a bowl game. On the bright side, Stevie Scott is an excellent running back and finished off his strong freshman season with 104 rushing yards and 1 TD.

11. Maryland (5-7)

Lost to Penn State, 38-3

For Maryland, it was a season of some highs, but many lows. A win over Texas was the highlight of a season clouded in controversy. Now that the DJ Durkin debacle is past the Terps, they can move on to finding a new coach to turn this program around. Many believe their first call will be to current Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who had two stints on the Maryland coaching staff.

10. Nebraska (4-8)

Lost to Iowa, 31-28

It may have taken 6 games to reaffirm their coaching decision but Nebraska hired the right guy to turn this program around in Scott Frost. The Cornhuskers went 4-2 over their last 6 games and only lost by a combined 8 points in two games. Quarterback Adrian Martinez is going to be a Heisman favorite going into next season. Watch out for Nebraska.

9. Michigan State (7-5)

Beat Rutgers, 14-10

I’m only putting Michigan State ahead of Nebraska because of their bowl eligibility status. Other than that, Michigan State had a disastrous season and it would’ve hit rock bottom had it not been for a touchdown by Cody White on an end-around to take the lead against Rutgers late in the fourth quarter. Michigan State will play in a bowl game to cap off their disappointing season.

8. Wisconsin (7-5)

Lost to Minnesota, 37-15

What a disappointing season for the Badgers, who had Playoff hopes coming into the year. No one expected this Wisconsin team to be this bad. In fact, Lee Corso picked Wisconsin to win the National Championship this past August!

I understand Alex Hornibrook was hurt throughout the year, but he is not the answer at quarterback (4 turnovers against Minnesota in the loss). The good news is that star running back Jonathan Taylor will be back for at least one more season. Plus, the Badgers will play in a bowl game to end the season.

7. Purdue (6-6)

Beat Indiana, 28-21

After starting the season 0-3, Purdue rallied to go 6-3 and become bowl eligible for the second straight year. As I stated last week, the only storyline at Purdue is the status of coach Jeff Brohm. Will he go to Louisville or will he stay at Purdue? His impending decision will have a huge impact on the direction of this program. If I’m a Boilermaker fan, I’d start saying my prayers to keep Brohm.

6. Minnesota (6-6)

Beat Wisconsin, 37-15

Row. The. Boat. It’s a huge jump in the rankings for Minnesota (10 to 6), but they deserve it after throttling their rival, Wisconsin, to take back Paul Bunyan’s ax and become bowl eligible. This was Minnesota’s first win over Wisconsin since 2003. P.J. Fleck is one hell of a coach, and it’s clear that he is building something special at Minnesota. I’m a believer.

5. Iowa (8-4)

Beat Nebraska, 31-28

Iowa finished its season off on a high note with a game-winning field goal as time expired to defeat Nebraska, 31-28. At one point, Iowa controlled it’s own destiny to make the Big Ten Conference Championship game, but losing three straight games in the middle of conference play derailed their chances. Iowa will most likely play in the Outback Bowl or Holiday Bowl.

4. Penn State (9-3)

Beat Maryland 38-3

In their last dress rehearsal before a bowl game, Penn State put the beatdown on Maryland, which is something they needed to do in order to impress the committee. Going into Saturday, Penn State was a long shot to make a New Year’s Six Game. Now, I believe it can happen because of brand recognition (popularity) and their position in the rankings. Penn State will finish in the Top 12, but that does not guarantee entrance to a New Year’s Six game. Penn State will need both LSU and Washington State to drop below them in the rankings (which should happen this week) and pray Oklahoma beats Texas in the Big 12 Championship. If all three of those things happen, Penn State will play in the New Year’s Six.

3. Northwestern (8-4)

Beat Illinois, 24-16

Northwestern has managed to escape these past few weeks with close wins against inferior opponents, but I’m not putting that much stock into those games. It’s hard to focus on the task at hand when their ticket to the Big Ten Conference Championship game was punched weeks ago. Make no mistake about; this is a good Wildcats team. Can they beat Ohio State? Sure, anyone can beat anyone on any given day. Is it likely to happen? No, but crazier things have happened. No matter what, Northwestern had a special season that their team and fans should be proud of.

2. Michigan (10-2)

Lost to Ohio State, 62-39

To paraphrase the great Pedro Martinez, “Michigan (and Jim Harbaugh) just needs to tip their hat and call Ohio State their daddy.” A lot of fans call it big brother vs. little brother, but in all actuality, it’s father vs. son. Since 2001, Michigan has beaten Ohio State twice in 18 attempts (counting the vacated win by OSU in 2010). Michigan’s defense was exposed all day as the speed and offensive creativity of the Buckeyes outmatched the Wolverines. Now, Michigan will be the biggest Ohio State fan on Saturday. Assuming Oklahoma is ahead of OSU in the Playoff rankings, Michigan may need OSU to win and both Georgia and Oklahoma to lose for the Wolverines to go to the Rose Bowl.

1. Ohio State (11-1)

Beat Michigan, 62-39

At the end of the day, Ohio State is still the big brother. The loss to Purdue was a head scratcher, but after Saturday, it was probably a fluke. Ohio State established their recent dominance once again over Michigan, dropping 62 points on the best defense in the country. Dwayne Haskins made the Michigan defense look like Rutgers as he threw for 396 yards and 6 TDs. Now, the Buckeyes wait and see where they fall in the College Football Playoff rankings. My guess is that they will be at #6, right behind Oklahoma. If that’s the case, Ohio State will have to beat Northwestern and hope both Georgia and Oklahoma lose in their respective conference championship games. Then, Ohio State would be in the Playoff with a win over Northwestern. A lot has to happen, but it’s not impossible. For the second straight year, an embarrassing loss might keep the Buckeyes (and the Big Ten) out of the Playoff.

Only one game remains in the Big Ten season, and that’s Northwestern vs. Ohio State on Saturday night.

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 9: Perfection is Over But Playoffs Still in Sight

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 9

Did that really just happen? The Big Ten Power Rankings Week 9 got flipped upside down.

Yup, that actually happened. For the second straight year, Ohio State was blown out by an unranked opponent on the road. This doesn’t derail their chances for a Big Ten Title, but it may throw a wrench in their plans to make the College Football Playoff. The blowout loss to Iowa from a season ago played a major factor in Ohio State’s absence from the playoff. Will this loss to Purdue have the same impact? Only time will tell.

Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.

14. Rutgers (1-7)

Lost to Northwestern, 18-15

Rutgers almost won a Big Ten game. They should have won the game against Northwestern. Rutgers had the lead entering the fourth quarter before surrendering the game-winning touchdown with 8 minutes to go. If there are moral victories, at least Rutgers did not lose by double digits. Rutgers has a bye week.

13. Nebraska (1-6)

Beat Minnesota, 53-28

Scott Frost, congratulations on your first win at Nebraska. It should be the first of many to come in the future. Nebraska’s offense is one of the best in the Big Ten, and they proved that in their 53-28 win over Minnesota. Nebraska’s offense totaled 659 yards for the game, led by their sensational freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, who threw for 276 yards and 3 TDs and rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown. Now that the monkey is off their back, can Nebraska make it two straight? The Cornhuskers play Bethune-Cookman at home on Saturday.

12. Illinois (3-4)

Lost to Wisconsin, 49-20

Illinois losing by 29 points to Wisconsin came as a surprise to no one. Wisconsin laid an egg the game before so many expected the frustrated Badgers to take out their aggression on the Illini. That’s exactly what happened. Here’s the good news. Four of the next five games come against unranked opponents. Can the Illini make it to a bowl game? The journey starts on Saturday when the Illini go on the road to face Maryland.

11. Minnesota (3-4)

Lost to Nebraska, 53-28

There has been no rowing of the boat as of late. PJ Fleck’s squad started the season with three straight wins, but after Saturday’s loss against Nebraska, Minnesota has lost 4 straight games. There was one lone bright spot for the Golden Gophers. Backup quarterback Tanner Morgan replaced Zack Annexstad at halftime and led Minnesota on two straight scoring drives. The defense allowed a mind-blowing 659 yards of offense to a Nebraska team that was 0-6 coming into the game. Minnesota plays Indiana at home in their version of “Friday Night Lights.”

10. Indiana (4-4)

Lost to Penn State, 33-28

Indiana missed an opportunity to register a quality win against a Big Ten opponent. I seem to be writing that same phrase every week because once again, Indiana lost a close game in the Big Ten. This time, it was Penn State who pulled out a 5 point victory of the Hoosiers. With a 1-4 record in the Big Ten, Indiana still has not figured out how to win the close game against a tough opponent, and it continues to cost them week after week. To make matters worse, freshman quarterback Michael Penix is out for the season with an ACL tear. Indiana travels to TCF Bank Stadium to take on Minnesota under the lights on Friday night.

9. Maryland (4-3)

Lost to Iowa, 23-0

With a chance to shock the Big Ten, Maryland was nowhere to be found on Saturday as Iowa controlled the game from start to finish. Maryland’s rushing game, which is one of the best in the nation, struggled mightily, accumulating 68 yards. The Terps had only 115 yards of total offense and had the ball for less than 20 minutes. That’s a recipe for disaster. Maryland plays Illinois in College Park on Saturday.

8. Michigan State (4-3)

Lost to Michigan, 21-7

Michigan State is one of the weirdest teams in college football. Two weeks ago, they pulled off the last second upset victory over Penn State. This past weekend, the Spartans accumulated less than 100 yards of total offense on their way to a defeat at the hands of Michigan Wolverines. For a team that had so much potential coming into the year, this season has been nothing short of a disappointment. Michigan State plays Purdue in East Lansing on Saturday.

7. Northwestern (4-3)

Beat Rutgers, 18-15

Northwestern is not flashy by any stretch of the imagination. They love to flirt with disaster this season. On Saturday, the Wildcats were losing to Rutgers (yes, Rutgers) 15-10 heading into the 4th quarter. However, the Wildcats once again found a way to win as running back Isaiah Bowser scored a 5-yard touchdown in the middle of the 4th quarter to take the lead, 18-15, which ended up being the difference. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Northwestern is now tied for 1st in the Big Ten West. The Wildcats welcome Wisconsin to Ryan Field in an extremely important matchup this weekend.

6. Purdue (4-3)

Beat Ohio State, 49-20

Purdue just changed the entire landscape of the college football season with a blowout win over Ohio State. Purdue’s offense not only scored at will, but they out-dueled the prolific Ohio State offense. The defense is still spotty at times, but it is hard to outscore a Boilermaker team that averages 36.0 points per game. After starting the season 0-3, Purdue has now won 4 straight games and is back in the hunt for a Big Ten title. Purdue travels to play Michigan State on Saturday.

5. Wisconsin (5-2)

Beat Illinois, 49-20

Wisconsin returned to their winning ways after the embarrassing loss to Michigan. Alex Hornibrook was much better against Illinois, throwing for 3 TDs on the day. The Badgers still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. Win out, and they will play in the Big Ten title game. Wisconsin travels to Northwestern on Saturday in a game with huge conference implications in the Big Ten West.

4. Penn State (5-2)

Beat Indiana. 33-28

This was a lot closer than expected. Penn State overcame a second-half deficit to defeat Indiana in Bloomington. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Nittany Lions. It will be hard for Penn State to play in the Big Ten championship, but they can play spoiler to a lot of teams in these upcoming weeks. It all starts with the game against Iowa on Saturday at Happy Valley.

3. Iowa (6-1)

Beat Maryland, 23-0

Run the ball and play good defense. That’s the Big Ten way. The Iowa rushing attack ran for 224 yards, and the defense pitched a shutout as the Hawkeyes defeated the visiting Maryland Terrapins. Iowa still needs another Wisconsin loss to overtake the Badgers in the Big Ten West, but Northwestern and Purdue both have one conference loss as well. As things begin to play themselves out, will Iowa be the last Big Ten West team standing? Iowa travels to Happy Valley for a monster game with Penn State on Saturday afternoon.

2. Ohio State (7-1)

Lost to Purdue, 49-20

Wow. I’m still speechless after Saturday night. For the second straight year, Ohio State is in danger of missing the College Football Playoff thanks to a blowout loss. Last year, Iowa scored 55 on the Buckeyes. This past week, Purdue put up 49 points in a dominant 49-20 win over the Buckeyes. Last year proved that one loss could change everything. Ohio State will now have to not only win out, but win in convincing fashion to compete with the likes of Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame. Ohio State has a bye week.

1. Michigan (7-1)

Beat Michigan State, 21-7

I said last week that Michigan was the second team in the Big Ten. Now, they are the best team in the Big Ten. It’s amazing how things change so quickly in college football. Michigan won an ugly game against in-state rival Michigan State the other day, which was Harbaugh’s second win over the Spartans in his tenure at Ann Arbor. This game was personal as Harbaugh, and Mark Dantonio pretty much hate each other at this point. The Wolverines are in the driver’s seat to the Big Ten Championship. Michigan has a well-deserved bye week.

Will the Big Ten miss the College Football Playoff for the second straight year? If Michigan and Ohio State both pick up a second loss, no Big Ten team will make the playoff. If you want to root for the success of the conference, you better pray Michigan and Ohio State to win out the rest of the year until their matchup in late November.

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 6: Buckeye Magic in the Air

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 6

Billed as the Game of the Year in the Big Ten, after the dust settled, Ohio State scored 2 TDs in the final seven minutes to knock off Penn State, 27-26. The Buckeyes are the undisputed kings of the Big Ten. Can anyone defeat Ohio State before the year is over? Both Michigan and Michigan State might have something to say about that. The cream is rising to the top in the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 6.

Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.

14. Rutgers (1-4)

Lost to Indiana, 24-17

On the bright side, at least Rutgers didn’t lose by 40 points. Things were not looking good for the Scarlett Knights when they entered the 4th quarter down 24-7. However, Rutgers showed some heart the other day and outscored Indiana 10-0 in the fourth quarter to only lose by a touchdown. This was a huge moral victory for Rutgers. Can they keep the momentum going? Rutgers plays Illinois at home on Saturday.

13. Nebraska (0-4)

Lost to Purdue, 42-28

Things have gone from bad to worse for Scott Frost as the Cornhuskers fell to 0-4 despite 582 yards of offense. The offense has been humming, but the defense can’t stop a nosebleed. Bright spots have been quarterback Adrian Martinez, who had 414 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs and running back Devine Ozigbo, who rushed for 160 yards and 2 TDs. It will be a few years before Nebraska starts competing for Big Ten titles, and Frost will turn it around, but for now, wins will be a few and far between. Nebraska plays Wisconsin on the road on Saturday night.

12. Illinois (2-2)

Bye

After the bye week, Illinois sits at 2-2. So far, Lovie Smith’s team has shown promise. The Illini are still a season or two away from taking the next step, but if this team can make a bowl game this year, that would be a huge success. Illinois travels to New Jersey to take on Rutgers in a very winnable game.

11. Northwestern (1-3)

Lost to Michigan, 20-17

Northwestern offense gets off to fast start. Northwestern takes the lead early. The offense stalls and struggles for the rest of the game. The defense can’t make key stops late. Northwestern loses. Rinse and repeat. That exact formula has happened in all three of the Wildcats’ losses with the one to Michigan being the toughest pill to swallow. Northwestern jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the 2nd quarter before the Michigan defense shut down the Wildcats as the Wolverine came from behind to win 20-17. That could have been a win that changes the season for the Cats, but instead, it’s another heartbreaking loss. Things don’t get any easier for the Wildcats as they travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State.

10. Purdue (2-3)

Beat Nebraska, 42-28

The Boilermakers are on a roll as they dropped 42 points in their win against Nebraska. Quarterback David Blough continues to accumulate a high number passing yards (328 against Nebraska), but the running game was the story as the Boilermakers rushed for 188 yards and 4 TDs. After a disastrous start, Purdue heads into their bye week with two straight wins and serious momentum.

9. Minnesota (3-1)

Bye

After a bye week, it’s time for the young Golden Gophers to grow up. If Minnesota surrenders over 400 yards of offense like they did in their last game, it will be a long season for PJ Fleck. Minnesota travels to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday to play Iowa.

8. Maryland (3-1)

Bye

It’s no secret that Maryland lives and dies by the run. The Terps average 258.5 yards on the ground, which is 10th overall in the nation. However, Kasim Hill will have to get better as a passer for the Terps to win important games. Speaking of important games, Maryland has a gigantic chance to send shockwaves throughout the conference when they take on Michigan at the Big House this Saturday.

7. Indiana (4-1)

Beat Rutgers, 24-17

The score indicates a close game, but Indiana was winning 24-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Credit to Rutgers for making this a touchdown game late in the fourth quarter, who was coming off two embracing blowout losses. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey was 27 of 40 for 288 yards with 1 TD as well as rushing TD. This will go down as a conference win, but Indiana will have to learn to finish games to make some noise in the Big Ten. Indiana has a huge test on Saturday as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State.

6. Iowa (3-1)

Bye

Just like Penn State, Iowa does not control its own destiny. The Hawkeyes have to win out and pray Wisconsin loses two conference games in order to win the Big Ten West. Iowa travels to Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.

5. Michigan State (3-1)

Beat Central Michigan, 31-20

Similar to their in-state rival, Michigan State’s defense is elite. However, the offense is still a work in progress. Michigan State jumped out to a 31-3 lead, but the offense stalled in the fourth quarter and the defense experienced a few hiccups as Central Michigan scored 17 unanswered points. However, a win is a win. With a dominant run defense (ranked first in the country against the run 40.3 yards per game), the Spartans can hang with any team in the Big Ten. Michigan State plays Northwestern at home on Saturday.

4. Wisconsin (3-1)

Bye

Wisconsin still controls their own destiny in the Big Ten West. Win out, and they will play for another Big Ten Championship. If quarterback Alex Hornibrook can play like he did at Iowa, the Badgers can compete with any team in the conference. Wisconsin plays Nebraska at home on Saturday night.

3. Michigan (4-1)

Beat Northwestern, 20-17

Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. After allowing Northwestern to jump out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, the Michigan defense pitched a shut out the rest of the game, allowing less than 100 yards of total offense for the final three quarters as the Wolverines scored 20 unanswered points to survive on the road. The offense struggled mightily, but this was a game that Michigan needed to win. Shea Patterson and Karan Higdon did just enough for the Wolverines to squeak out a W. Survive and advance. Michigan plays Maryland at home on Saturday.

2. Penn State (4-1)

Lost to Ohio State, 27-26

Finish. It’s a word that Penn State can’t seem to comprehend as they suffered a heartbreaking defeat to their rivals Penn State. Despite losing the game, Trace McSorley was the best player on the field Saturday night in front of a record-breaking crowd in Happy Valley. The senior quarterback set a school record with 461 yards of offense including 175 on the ground. However, between questionable play-calling and the inability to tackle late, the Nittany Lions will now have to win out and pray Ohio State loses two conference games to play in the Big Ten Championship. Penn State has a bye this week.

1. Ohio State (5-0)

Beat Penn State, 27-26

For the second year in a row, Ohio State used Buckeye magic to erase a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to defeat conference rival, Penn State. Ohio State was dead in the water in the first half as the Nittany Lions pushed the Buckeyes around on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw 2 TDs in the final seven minutes to complete the comeback and stamp Ohio State as the best team in the Big 10. This game not only meant that Ohio State is in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten, but this win puts the Buckeyes in the driver’s seat for the College Football Playoff. Ohio State takes on Indiana in Columbus on Saturday afternoon.