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Big Ten Football Power Rankings Week 5: Wisconsin, Michigan State struggle; Illinois continues to rise

Here is how the conference has played out after five weeks.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Big Ten schedule is officially underway and teams are beginning to show their true colors.

Ohio State and Michigan continue to roll while the rest of the spots in the rankings remain up in the air. To this point, here is how the power rankings look after five weeks of action.

14. Northwestern (1-4, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 13

Week 5: L, 17-7 at Penn State

Northwestern forced five turnovers on Saturday and scored just seven points. That could be because it had three turnovers of its own. The Wildcats won the battle on the ground 220-31. The scoreboard still read a double-digit deficit. This game said a lot about both sides but Northwestern has problems and does not look close to fixing them.

Week 6: 10/8 vs. Wisconsin

13. Indiana (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 12

Week 5: L, 35-21 at Nebraska

Indiana is back to form after a 3-0 start, which was a bit of a fluke. The Hoosiers struggle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Connor Bazelak is performing well but Indiana is not built to win in the Big Ten with a poor rushing attack. Michigan is next on the schedule and there might not be many more wins for Indiana.

Week 6: 10/8 vs. No. 4 Michigan

12. Rutgers (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 9

Week 5: L, 49-10 at Ohio State

Similar to Indiana, Rutgers is back to form. The Scarlet Knights totaled just 187 yards against Ohio State, which was another lopsided affair. Rutgers has to find three more wins on the schedule. The quarterback situation is messy and the offensive line continues to find a way to gel. With Nebraska and Indiana coming up, this is the biggest stretch of the season for Rutgers.

Week 6: 10/7 vs. Nebraska

11. Nebraska (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 14

Week 5: W, 35-21 vs. Indiana

Nebraska moves up a couple spots after securing a victory — which have been hard to come by. Casey Thompson tossed a couple touchdown passes in the victory over Indiana but remains a question mark. The coaching spot is unstable with an interim running the show. The Cornhuskers find themselves in the midst of the wort among the conference.

Week 6: 10/8 at Rutgers

10. Wisconsin (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 7

Week 5: L, 34-10 vs. Illinois

So a blowout loss to Ohio State can be explained. A lopsided loss at the hands of Illinois is apparently something that can get a coach fired. Despite many years of nine plus victories, Paul Chryst was fired and Wisconsin will go in a new direction. The Badgers have been mediocre in Big Ten play for three years now and this could have led to the decision. Luckily, Wisconsin might be able to win a game against Northwestern.

Week 6: 10/8 at Northwestern

9. Michigan State (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 11

Week 5: L, 27-13 vs. Maryland

Michigan State has quickly fallen from grace after a Top 15 ranking to begin the year, which was a bit of an overreaction. The loss of Kenneth Walker III is proving pivotal but at least Mel Tucker has his contract. The Spartans have lost three in a row and find themselves in the lower tier of the Big Ten. It’s time to officially say that the 2021 season was a fluke.

Week 6: 10/8 vs. No. 3 Ohio State

8. Iowa (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 6

Week 5: L, 27-14 vs. Michigan

Spencer Petras is good and the run game struggles. If Iowa can un the ball, Petras struggles. Don’t the two usually go hand-in-hand within an offense? Iowa totaled just 35 yards on the ground against Michigan but Petras got comfortable with two touchdowns. Iowa was pinned right away this season and will likely remain unchanged. The offense is just not good enough to get it done.

Week 6: 10/8 at Illinois

7. Minnesota (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 3

Week 5: L, 20-10 vs. Purdue

How quickly things can change in conference play. Minnesota looked as good as ever with Tanner Morgan and Mohamed Ibrahim leading the way. Against Purdue, the Gophers rushed for 41 yards and Morgan threw three interceptions. This led to 10 points against a Purdue team that they should have cruised to victory against.

Week 6: BYE

6. Illinois (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 8

Week 5: W, 34-10 at Wisconsin

Illinois continues to rack up statement victories. It began with Penn State and Minnesota in 2021 and just tore apart Wisconsin. The Illini are now first in the conference in scoring defense and rush defense. Tommy DeVito is not lighting the world on fire but he is managing games well while Chase Brown continues to run the ball effectively. Illinois has not defeated Iowa since 2008. This streak has a chance to end on Saturday.

Week 6: 10/8 vs. Iowa

5. Purdue (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 10

Week 5: W, 20-10 at Minnesota

Purdue is in the top five this week because of other outcomes in the Big Ten — along with a victory against Minnesota. Aidan O’Connell looked pedestrian in his return from injury but the defense stepped up. It’s crazy to say but Purdue might be the only team in the Big Ten who we still don't know what they are.

Week 6: 10/8 at Maryland

4. Maryland (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 5

Week 5: W, 27-13 vs. Michigan State

Maryland took advantage of a struggle Spartan team and did it convincingly. The Terps continue to be impressive and have another winnable game coming up against Purdue. Taulia Tagovailoa continues to put up big numbers, throwing for 314 yards against Michigan State, and Maryland shows off its play making ability on both sides of the ball.

Week 6: 10/8 vs. Purdue

3. Penn State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten)

Previously: 4

Week 5: W, 17-7 vs. Northwestern

The third spot here is interchangeable but Penn State remains unbeaten so will be here by default. This is in spite of five turnovers against Northwestern. Approaching a bye week, the Nittany Lions will likely remain in the top three unless one of the teams close behind makes a huge jump.

Week 6: BYE

2. No. 4 Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten)

Previously: 2

Week 5: W, 27-14 at Iowa

Michigan went on the road for the first time this season and was never really tested. A 13-point victory felt like much more given the state of Iowa’s offense. With that being said, can Michigan put together enough to keep up with Ohio State? We have some time before we find that out but it is the main question over the course of the season for the Wolverines.

Week 6: 10/8 at Indiana

1. No. 3 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten)

Previously: 1

Week 5: W, 49-10 vs. Rutgers

Once again, Ohio State proves that it can win games in many ways. CJ Stroud threw for just 154 yards against Rutgers but Miyan Williams stepped up with five touchdowns. When the Buckeyes have its full group of skill position players back, there might not be a better unit in the nation.

Week 6: 10/8 at Michigan State