Is Rutgers the talk of the Big Ten right now? Maybe it’s the poor start for Graham Mertz and Wisconsin or Minnesota losing as a massive favorite.
There is little change at the top of the power rankings after four weeks. The top teams have continued to flex their muscles and this should have fans excited for what the conference schedule is going to bring. That will heat up beginning this weekend with Penn State taking on Indiana and a matchup between Michigan-Wisconsin — and of course, the Buckeyes travel to Piscataway.
There are plenty of ways these rankings can go but it has already begun playing itself out. That will only continue as the schedule rolls on. After four weeks, here is how the Big Ten power rankings have played out.
(Editor’s Note: AP Poll rankings included after power rankings listing for each team it’s applicable for.)
1. No. 4 Penn State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 38-17 vs. Villanova
Next: 10/2 vs. Indiana
Penn State coasted to a victory over Villanova, as was expected. They are preparing to play their first Big Ten game since Week 1 and will do so as a top-four team in the nation. The big-play capabilities of the Nittany Lions were on full display this past weekend and that makes them a dangerous team. Once again, Sean Clifford is rock solid and Penn State seems to be clicking on all cylinders.
2. No. 5 Iowa (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 24-14 vs. Colorado State
Next: 10/1 at Maryland
Iowa struggled against Colorado State in Week 4 but was able to get the job done. The Hawkeyes rushed for just 54 yards and put 24 points on the board. Iowa remains No. 5 in the nation, which might be a bit high, but at 4-0 it is hard to argue against their resume. It will be interesting to see if Iowa can remain consistent once Big Ten play kicks into high gear.
3. No. 14 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 20-13 vs. Rutgers
Next: 10/2 at Wisconsin
Michigan might have been exposed a bit in the second half against Rutgers over the weekend. The Wolverines struggled to run the ball and could not put a drive together. This is a conference that is going to be tough once again this year and will begin to take shape. After a dominant three weeks, we are going to begin to see what Michigan is truly made of against stiffer competition.
4. No. 11 Ohio State (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 59-7 vs. Akron
Next: 10/2 at Rutgers
Akron took a 7-0 lead on Saturday night. It was a nice few minutes for anti-Buckeyes but the class of the Big Ten answered with 59 straight points. Kyle McCord started last week but head coach Ryan Day had said if C.J. Stroud is healthy enough after missing last week, he will start Saturday against Rutgers. With Big Ten play coming hot and heavy, this is where Ohio State can begin to climb even higher up the power rankings. Some team has to beat Ohio State before anyone believes they will not win the conference.
5. No. 17 Michigan State (4-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 23-20 OT vs. Nebraska
Next: 10/2 vs. Western Kentucky
Michigan State is 4-0 and finding ways to win games. That was the big question mark but we are seeing the Spartans win close games and big games. This is a good sign heading into the meat of the schedule. Mel Tucker deserves a lot of credit for this team quickly turning into a disciplined bunch that is winning games.
6. Maryland (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 37-16 vs. Kent State
Next: 10/1 vs. No. 5 Iowa
Maryland is surviving by winning games. This is a power rankings and the Terps have not been beaten. Are they the sixth best team in the conference? Probably not but that will work itself out once Big Ten play intensifies. Maryland has a tough matchup with Iowa this weekend but they might be able to put up some points. Taulia Tagovailoa is airing it out this season and the offense is clicking. It will be interesting to see how they perform against an elite defense.
7. Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 20-13 at No. 14 Michigan
Next: 10/2 vs. No. 11 Ohio State
There are no moral victories in the Big Ten. Rutgers has proven they can compete and now we will find out if this is a team that can win close games in the Big Ten. Noah Vedral continues to be rock-solid while Isaih Pacheco totaled 107 yards in a breakout performance against Michigan. With that being said, Rutgers looks to be in the top half of the Big Ten to this point — especially with Wisconsin taking a nosedive. Rutgers will be tested heavily once again this weekend with Ohio State coming to town.
8. Wisconsin (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 41-13 vs. Notre Dame
Next: 10/2 vs. Michigan
There is nothing to like about this Wisconsin team right now. Maybe the defense? Graham Mertz has not been playing good football and looks like he is in way over his head early on. Wisconsin held a lead late in this game until Notre Dame rattled off 31 points in the fourth quarter. Mertz threw two pick-sixes in the final period and the score ended lopsided. The Badgers have no identity at the moment and it will be hard to find one with Mertz under center.
9. Purdue (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 13-9 vs. Illinois
Next: 10/2 vs. Minnesota
Purdue was less than impressive this past weekend against the worst team in the Big Ten. The only reason they were able to move up in the rankings was because of a terrible performance form Minnesota. Either way, a win is a win and Purdue has another winnable game this weekend against those very same Golden Gophers.
10. Indiana (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 33-31 at Western Kentucky
Next: 10/2 at No. 4 Penn State
Indiana needed a victory and it was not an easy one. Western Kentucky gave the Hoosiers all they could handle. Michael Penix Jr. played a solid game and remains the x-factor for this team moving forward. It is clear that Indiana is not the top-15 team that they were viewed as coming in but have a chance to pick up that much-needed signature win against Penn State this weekend.
11. Nebraska (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 23-20 OT at Michigan State
Next: 10/2 vs. Northwestern
Is Nebraska a good team? Probably not but they are hard to read. Over the last two weeks, the Cornhuskers look miles ahead where they were to begin the season — and its only been five games. Scott Frost seems to be turning his team around a bit but they have not been able to land that big win. Nebraska nearly pulled out upsets over Oklahoma and Michigan State in back-to-back weeks but they ended 0-2. The Huskers needed to take down Northwestern this week or the narrative will flip once again.
12. Minnesota (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 14-10 vs. Bowling Green
Next: 10/2 at Purdue
The bottom third of the Big Ten is very close after four weeks and it could have gone many ways. There is no excuse for this loss for Minnesota. the Week 1 performance against Ohio State is irrelevant now. As a three-touchdown favorite, Minnesota scored 10 points and lost the game outright to Bowling Green. Not much else has to be said about this one.
13. Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 35-6 vs. Ohio
Next: 10/2 at Nebraska
Northwestern handled Ohio on Saturday but this is still a team trying to find an identity. The defense remains stout and that will be the case as long as Pat Fitzgerald is the head coach. With that being said, this is not a team that is a Big Ten championship threat. We will find out where the Wildcats truly stand in the conference as their next two games are against Nebraska and Rutgers.
14. Illinois (1-4, 1-2 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 13-9 at Purdue
Next: 10/2 vs. Charlotte
The defense showed up a bit for Illinois but the offense did not. The Illini had a chance heading into the fourth quarter tied at six but could not finish the deal. Illinois has now lost four in a row after giving fans some hope after a Week Zero victory over Nebraska. They will take on Charlotte on Saturday so this losing steak might come to an end but it does not seem like a win that will get Illinois out of the basement of the rankings.