By: Brian Chapman
It’s almost time for Week 5 of the college football season. So far we’ve only had one conference game this year and just feels so good and so right to have Penn State atop the conference standings looking down on every (and I mean every) other team in the B1G. The Nittany Lions and Nebraska Cornhuskers are the only two undefeated teams remaining in the B1G which speaks to their own mediocre opponents thus far as well as the poor play by the rest of the conference in non-conference play.READ MORE: Ford, DTE Energy Announce Plan To Increase Solar Power In Michigan
So should we all prepare ourselves for a Penn State vs. Nebraska B1G Championship Game? Probably not considering neither team cracks the top three of my B1G Power Rankings.
1. Michigan State (2-1, 0-0)… The Spartans ended up losing by nearly 20 points to Oregon and they are clearly on the outside looking in for a College Football Playoff spot, but in the Big Ten they are still the kings of the conference. After all, at one point it looked like the Spartans were going to pull away and embarrass the Ducks and they’ve taken care of business quite handily in their other two victories. It will probably take a conference loss or more dominant wins by the Badgers to knock them from the top spot.
2. Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0)… It sure would have been nice for the Badgers and the rest of the Big Ten if they could have taken out LSU in August and they had a double digit lead going into the 4th quarter, but it didn’t happen. The only question is whether they should be ahead of the Deep South Buckeyes. Both teams have a loss. Both have put up at least 60 points in a game this year. The difference for me is the quality of the opponent that doled out the loss. LSU lost a close home game to Mississippi State which doesn’t look good for the Badgers. However, Virginia Tech is 0-2 since their win in Columbus, losing at home to East Carolina and at home again to Georgia Tech. Edge Badgers.
3. Ohio State (2-1, 0-0)… The Deep South Buckeyes looked bad against Virginia Tech, looked much better in their 66-0 win against Kent State and looked bad once again during their bye week and it’s not because their facing another round of NCAA violations. (But we all know that could happen at any moment.) That loss to Virginia Tech looks terrible now that the Hokies are 2-2 after losing to Georgia Tech over the weekend. Hard to see them in the playoff, even if they run the table.
4. Nebraska (4-0, 0-0)… The ultimate Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde program rebounded nicely from its near loss to McNeese State (aka Joe Dumars State) with a blowout win at Fresno State and a 10 point win at home against “The U”. The Cornhuskers could crack into the top three if the Buckeyes show a few more kinks in the armor. It’s just hard for me to see them keeping this up when their history suggests they will lose three or four games they have no business losing and they may run RB Ameer Abdullah into the ground. I know he’s their best player, but 35 carries against Miami is way too many.
5. Penn State (4-0, 1-0)… We Are Penn State may be undefeated and atop the Big Ten standings, but they are no threat to win the Eastern division. QB Christian Hackenberg receives a lot of hype for his strong arm and fourth quarter brilliance, but he’s been inaccurate this year and has thrown more interceptions this year (five) than touchdowns (four.) The offensive line is one of the conference’s worst. Fortunately, the defense has been surprisingly good so far, but who knows if that will continue when they face stronger competition.
6. Maryland (3-1, 0-0)… As is the case with Rutgers, I am not happy in any way, shape or form that Maryland is in the B1G. They don’t belong here and the vast majority of true B1G fans never wanted them in the first place. At least they’re playing respectable football. Their only loss was at home to a decent West Virginia team and they’ve already won a pair of road games. Considering how poorly the rest of the B1G has fared so far (even at home) winning two road games in non-conference play is pretty impressive.READ MORE: Petition Calls On Automakers To Cease Business With Suppliers That Use Hexavalent Chromium
7. Indiana (2-1, 0-0)… I have a strong feeling that Indiana will drop from the top half of the power rankings pretty quickly considering they lost to Bowling Green, but I have an equally strong feeling that they won’t. Somehow they beat the defending SEC East champion Missouri Tigers on the road last week. That’s the most impressive win by a B1G team against a Power 5 conference this season. And let’s not forget how bad the rest of the conference has played so far. A bowl game is finally within reach for the Hoosiers.
8. Iowa (3-1, 0-0)… It’s clear Kirk Ferentz has lost his touch. Only a few years ago I predicted Adrian Clayborn would lead the Hawkeyes to the national championship game only to see them finish at 7-5. Since then, they’ve been an afterthought. This year they’ve lost at home to Iowa State and won three close games to teams that have not chance at getting ranked this year. Of course the Hawkeyes won’t have to worry about getting ranked either.
9. Michigan (2-2, 0-0)… Michigan is the best two-loss team in the conference, but when the only other two-loss teams are Purdue and Northwestern, that’s not saying much. The Wolverines program is clearly in a state of chaos and it’s hard to see them cracking into the top five at any point this season with their coverage issues in the secondary and lack of star power on offense, aside from Devin Funchess. Michigan’s only hope is to take advantage of how poor the conference is right now. Unfortunately for them, they are a big part of why the Big Ten is so weak.
10. Rutgers (3-1, 0-1)… Rutgers may have a winning record with its only loss coming to one of the two undefeated teams in the conference, but this is not a great football team. The Scarlet Knights turned it over five times against Penn State and the week before, they allowed an HBCU school to score 25 points on their turf. Losing leading rusher for the season with a torn ACL Paul James won’t help either.
11. Minnesota (3-1, 0-0)… I thought Minnesota would be a pretty good team this year considering they won eight games in 2013, but you can’t be a pretty good team if you can’t pass. Starting QB Mitch Leidner has completed less than half of his passes and the team is averaging fewer than 100 passing yards per game. I don’t care how impressive RBs David Cobb and Chris Streveler turn out to be because they’re not going to look like vintage Wisconsin RBs who can carry the load to the tune of 400 yards per game. Until they develop a passing game, I can’t see them winning games besides those against the other western division bottom feeders.
12. Illinois (3-1, 0-0)… Their record so far is nice and they only need to go 3-5 in conference play to get to a bowl game for the first time since Ron Zook was in charge, but their wins came at home against three of the most fattening, sugary cupcakes in college football: Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State. Their lone road game and loss was a 25pt thrashing by the Washington Huskies. Expect Fighting Illini to duke it out with the Boilermakers and Wildcats for worst team in the conference all season long.
13. Purdue (2-2, 0-0)… The Boilermakers were humiliated at home by Central Michigan in Week 2 showing that not much has changed in West Lafayette. Losing by only two possessions to the Fighting Irish and actually having two wins on their resume keeps them out of the basement.MORE NEWS: CBS Mornings' Gayle King Visits Detroit, Motown Museum
14. Northwestern (1-2, 0-0)… After starting off the season with a home loss to Cal, a home loss to a MAC school and a 17 point win to Western Illinois, coach Pat Fitzgerald has shown some anger in front of the media. With the way they played last year (1-7 in the B1G) and RB Venric Mark transferring before the season, it’s going to take a lot more than anger to get this team to play respectable football.