14. Rutgers (1-3)
Last Week: 52-0 LOSS at Michigan
This Week: vs. Maryland, Noon on BTN
When you lose to a team so badly that your coach gets fired, usually things aren’t going well. The Rutgers football program is riding the struggle bus right now. Actually no, the Knights are driving the struggle bus. The bus actually has a giant scarlet-colored letter ‘R’ on the side with a poster that reads “Three wins or bust!” on the back. Bottom line: This team is bad, and the rest of the season is going to be pretty embarrassing. See you next year.
13. Illinois (2-2)
Last Week: BYE
This Week: at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. on BTN
Last time out, Illinois competed against what was believed to be a solid Nebraska team. After the Nebraska-Ohio State game, Illinois still isn’t looking great. This week should be extremely telling as both Minnesota and Illinois have massive amounts of potential with little to show for it. A win on the road against the Gophers may move Illinois up in the rankings.
12. Purdue (1-3)
Last Week: 38-31 LOSS vs. Minnesota
This Week: at Penn State, Noon on ESPN
Listen, I know Purdue fans are playing the “I’m not worried” card because this is the second straight year with a 1-3 start for the Boilers and last year and they made it to a bowl. However, this year is different. You still have to play Penn State, Iowa, and Wisconsin on the road. None of those look winnable. Then Purdue has the other five remaining games against all up-and-coming teams that won’t come easy. They need all five of those to be bowl-eligible. Long story short: last year, Purdue’s schedule benefitted the team. This year it does not.
11. Maryland (2-2)
Last Week: 59-0 LOSS vs. Penn State
This Week: at Rutgers, Noon on BTN
Are we all off the Maryland hype train now? Obviously the Terrapins started the season off in fantastic fashion. However, all the fire from the hot start has turned to ice and the Terrapins look terrible because of it. A 59-0 loss to Penn State moved them far down the rankings and now the rest of this season is a question mark in terms of how this team will compete in the Big Ten. We will see, but for now, Maryland is at 11.
10. Minnesota (4-0)
Last Week: 38-31 WIN at Purdue
This Week: vs. Illinois, 3:30 p.m. on BTN
Minnesota had to make a statement with a win over Purdue and it did. It is never easy to beat someone on the road, and Minnesota owned that game the entire time. Now the Gophers find themselves as one of the last teams in the nation to remain undefeated as they welcome Illinois to Minneapolis.
9. Northwestern (1-3)
Last Week: 24-15 LOSS at Wisconsin
This Week: at Nebraska, 4 p.m. on FOX
Northwestern fell this past week, but the Wildcats definitely put up a fight. After Michigan fell by a large margin two weeks ago, many figured Northwestern had no chance against the Badgers. However, the Wildcats held their own. I still think Northwestern has some fight left, so I am not going to write the Wildcats off quite just yet.
8. Indiana (3-2)
Last Week: 40-31 LOSS at Michigan State
This Week: BYE
The scoreboard doesn’t tell the full story of this one. There was a last-second fumble returned for a touchdown which resulted in an additional six points for the Spartans, but in reality, this was a 3-point loss for the Hoosiers. Indiana played competitively every single minute of this game and at the end of the day, the better team won. So why did Indiana move into the top 10? Because the Hoosiers are closer than ever to that “Breakthrough” win. So be on the lookout for the Hoosiers, they may be turning a corner sooner rather than later.
7. Nebraska (3-2)
Last Week: 48-7 LOSS vs. Ohio State
This Week: vs. Northwestern, 4 p.m. on FOX
Yikes. I mean Nebraska barely showed up against Ohio State. Now, don’t discredit Ohio State, which is very good. But you need to show some fight in that game and Nebraska really didn’t. The Huskers desperately need a bounce-back win against Northwestern on Saturday.
6. Michigan State (4-1)
Last Week: 40-31 WIN vs. Indiana
This Week: at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. on ABC
Michigan State’s high-powered defense didn’t look too high-powered against Indiana this past week. Sparty will desperately need a defensive boost when they head to Columbus this weekend. Ohio State is one of the best teams in the nation and if the Spartans want to hang with the Buckeyes, they must pressure Justin Fields and make big-time plays.
5. Michigan (2-1)
Last Week: 52-0 WIN vs. Rutgers
This Week: vs. Iowa, Noon on FOX
Michigan has a chance to prove all the doubters wrong this weekend. We all know Jim Harbaugh’s inability to beat up on ranked opponents but this weekend he has an opportunity to change the script and bring Michigan back in a competitive top-25 spot. A win over Iowa would almost ensure a return to the top 15 for Michigan and a big enough win may even have some hope for a return to playoff contention.
4. Penn State (4-0)
Last Week: 59-0 WIN at Maryland
This Week: vs. Purdue, Noon on ESPN
Penn State blew up a solid Maryland squad and is on pace to do so again against Purdue this Saturday. Whatever James Franklin is doing right now in Happy Valley, it is working and working extremely well. Dare I say this is the year of the Nittany Lion in the Big Ten? We should find out sooner rather than later.
3. Iowa (4-0)
Last Week: 48-3 WIN vs. Middle Tennessee
This Week: at Michigan, Noon on FOX
For the past few years, Iowa has been relevant but not dominant. The Hawkeyes have a chance to change that this week against Michigan. A win in the Big House would show the Iowa Hawkeyes are legit and here to stay. If the Hawkeyes can get the win, I fully expect them to move into the top 10 nationally and even higher in the Big Ten power rankings.
2. Wisconsin (4-0)
Last Week: 24-15 WIN vs. Northwestern
This Week: vs. Kent State, Noon on ESPNU
This week serves as the last non-conference game before Wisconsin begins the grind that is the Big Ten conference. With upcoming games against Michigan State and Ohio State, Kent State may be a good opportunity to throw some backups in and give the starters some rest. We should know a ton more about this team in the coming weeks.
1. Ohio State (5-0)
Last Week: 48-7 WIN at Nebraska
This Week: vs. Michigan State, 7:30 p.m. on ABC
I am going to say something bold here. This is the Best Ohio State team we have seen in the past five years. To be honest, it really isn’t that close either. The Buckeyes are wiping the floor with their opponents. The play their games with such a dominance that is almost too hard for any opponent to challenge. Ohio State may be the best team in the country right now and the only place I see this stopping is either against Wisconsin or in a College Football Playoff game.