clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Ten Football Week 6 Power Rankings

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s clear as we head into week 6 of the college football season that the Big Ten has three to four college playoff contenders, followed by a very soft middle that just gets softer all the way to the back of the line. Ohio State is arguably the most talented program in the country and they haven’t missed a beat in replacing 15 starters from last season’s team. Michigan pulled out of their heavyweight fight against Wisconsin the victor and the prospect of Rutgers facing them next is an uncomfortable thought. And despite the loss, Wisconsin is really good and is still ranked #11 in this week’s polls. Aside from an undefeated Nebraska team that has a real chance to challenge the Badgers in the West, the rest of the conference is looking like anyone can win on any given Saturday, with parity everywhere.

The biggest news from conference play over the weekend was that both division champions from last season lost. Iowa and Michigan State, both ranked previously this season, have tumbled out of the polls and both have multiple losses. That certainly hurts the cache of the conference. Maryland has emerged as most improved so far, starting the season at 4-0. However, they are mostly unproven, with their best win coming against UCF (3-2). Here is how I see things within the Big Ten heading into week 6 of the season.

14. Purdue (2-2; 0-1)

Last Week: 13th; Lost to Maryland 50-7

This Week: At Illinois (1-3; 0-1)

Purdue is in serious trouble under 4th year head coach Darrell Hazell, as they appear no closer to improving their status in the conference than when he arrived. Maryland, who was 3-9 last season, reinforced the hopelessness and demolished the Boilermakers 50-7 last Saturday. Even still, they have a real chance for a precious conference win this weekend against Illinois. If they lose that game, it’s possible they don’t win again in 2016 and Hazell’s days are numbered.

13. Rutgers (2-3; 0-2)

Last Week: 10th; Lost to #2 Ohio State 58-0

This Week: Host #4 Michigan (5-0; 2-0)

There isn’t any positives to take away from the Ohio State game except that it’s now behind this team. This week is another gigantic challenge against Michigan and Jim Harbaugh will have no problem running up the score if possible. Rutgers needs to make some progress this week against an elite opponent and build some confidence for the next stretch of games, which starts the following week at home against Illinois. If they can stick together and stay healthy, winnable games follow soon after.

12. Illinois (1-3; 0-1)

Last Week: 14th; Lost to #15 Nebraska 31-16

This Week: Host Purdue (2-2; 0-1)

Give the Illini credit, as they lead Nebraska 16-10 in the 4th quarter on the road. They were unable to hold on though, giving up three touchdowns in the final 11 plus minutes of the game. They return home with a winnable game against Purdue. I put Illinois ahead of Rutgers because they looked improved against a ranked team. They can settle it on the field on October 15th.

11. Iowa (3-2; 1-1)

Last Week: 5th; Lost to Northwestern 38-31

Next Week: At Minnesota (3-1; 0-1)

Rutgers 14-7 loss to Iowa doesn’t look as strong after the Hawkeyes fell at home to Northwestern, a team that entered the game 1-3 and had lost to FCS school Illinois State. It’s just another example of the parity in the conference. The most surprising part was that Iowa surrendered 38 points to a Northwestern squad that averaged 16 points a game coming into yesterday. They need to regroup quickly, as they travel to face a solid Minnesota team looking to rebound after a tough overtime loss to Penn State.

10. Northwestern (2-3; 1-1)

Last Week: 14th; Beat Iowa 38-31

This Week: BYE

The Wildcats picked up a season saving victory by going into Iowa City and knocking off the Hawkeyes by scoring a season high 38 points. Their defense has been solid all season, so if their offense can continue to improve they have a realistic chance to become bowl eligible, despite the terrible start to the season. They are off this week and can begin to prepare for a big game at Michigan State on October 15th.

9. Michigan State (2-2; 0-2)

Last Week: 4th; Lost to Indiana 24-21 in OT

Next Week: Host BYU (2-3)

Michigan State lost a stunner at Indiana in overtime and is now 0-2 in conference play. If I had told you Rutgers would be tied in the Big Ten standings after two games with the Spartans, you probably wouldn’t have believed the circumstances in either scenario. Their offense under first year starter Tyler O’Connor has sputtered and they look to rebound in a non-conference game against a struggling BYU team. I still think the Spartans have a good chance to finish in third place in the East.

8. Minnesota (3-1; 1-1)

Last Week: 7th; Lost to Penn State 29-26 in OT

This Week: Host Iowa (3-2; 1-1)

Minnesota was 3-0 and led 2-2 Penn State at the half 13-3 on the road. They’re pass defense fell apart in the second half and the Golden Gophers blew a golden opportunity to get a solid win, instead losing 29-26 in overtime. Still, this team is a tough out for any opponent and they have a great opportunity to get back on track against a struggling Iowa squad this weekend.

7. Penn State (3-2; 1-1)

Last Week: 9th; Beat Minnesota 29-26 in OT

This Week: Host Maryland (4-0, 1-0)

Give the Nittany Lions credit, as they showed some guts coming back by multiple scores against a tough Minnesota team. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley struggled at times and was just 19 of 41 in pass attempts. However, he threw for 335 yards and a touchdown, as well as he ran for 73 yards and a touchdown. He had zero turnovers as well. They face a confident and upstart Maryland squad this weekend at home in a game that will help define the middle of the East division.

6. Indiana (3-1; 1-0)

Last Week: 11th; Beat #17 Michigan State 24-21 in OT

This Week: At #2 Ohio State (4-0; 1-0)

After losing at home to a mediocre Wake Forest, the Hoosiers stunned defending East champ Michigan State at home in overtime. Their defense gave up 438 yards of total offense, but held the Spartans to just 4-15 on third down conversions. They now have the difficult task of going on the road to face #2 Ohio State this week and hosting #12 Nebraska the following week, part of a three game stretch against ranked opponents.

5. Maryland (4-0; 1-0)

Last Week: 8th; Beat Purdue 50-7

This Week: At Penn State (3-2)

There is no doubt that head coach D.J. Durkin at Maryland is off to a fantastic start and their resounding win yesterday put an exclamation point on their 4-0 start. However, their competition has been as accommodating as possible. They have now beaten a FCS bottom feeder Howard by a similar score that Rutgers did, a 1-4 FIU team, survived a decent 3-2 UCF squad in overtime, and now a Purdue team that has won 2 conference wins the past 3+ seasons under Hazell. The Terps have taken care of business and their utter domination of a conference rival, even if it was Purdue, was impressive. However, with two-thirds of their season remaining, we still don’t know if Maryland is legitimate or not. We will find out in the next three weeks, as they travel to Happy Valley to play Penn State next Saturday, before hosting Minnesota and Michigan State at home. Win two of three and I’ll start to believe they are for real.

4. Nebraska (5-0; 2-0) #12 AP

Last Week: 4th; Beat Illinois 31-16

Next Week: BYE

Head coach Mike Riley is off to a great start in year two and the Cornhuskers get a week off to prepare for the rest of the season. They play at Indiana and host Purdue in their next two games, before a pivotal West showdown at Wisconsin the last Saturday in October. Both teams could be ranked in the top 10 in the country in a game that will likely determine the division champion.

3. Wisconsin (4-1; 1-1) #11 AP

Last Week: 2nd; Lost to Michigan 14-7

Next Week: BYE

Wisconsin showed they are a very good team, giving Michigan a hard fought game that was decided by one play. After going 2-1 against top 10 teams already this season, they get a much needed week off before traveling to #2 Ohio State. If the Badgers could pull the upset, they will be right back in consideration for the college football playoffs. Even still, if they can beat Nebraska they will be on the fast track to winning the West and probably a rematch against Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship.

2. Michigan (5-0; 2-0) #4 AP

Last Week: 3rd; Beat #8 Wisconsin 14-7

Next Week: At Rutgers (2-3)

Michigan got their first big win of the season over Wisconsin and now prepare for an equally difficult task this weekend against Rutgers. Okay that was a joke, I was just checking to make sure you were still paying attention. It will be the first road game of the season for the Wolverines, but it is surprising they are only favored by less than four touchdowns heading into the Stripeout versus Rutgers. Let’s hope for the best and prepare for the worst in this game.

1. Ohio State (4-0; 1-0) #2 AP

Last Week: 1st; Beat Rutgers 58-0

Next Week: Host Indiana (3-1)

There isn’t much to say other than Ohio State is loaded and with J.T. Barrett leading the way, the Buckeyes have a very real shot at winning the national championship. Best of luck to them, as we try and forget about the bloodbath that was this past Saturday.

Previous Rankings: Week 5