Big Ten Power Rankings: Plenty of movement across league after Week 5 action

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We learned a lot this week when it comes to who’s for real and who’s not in the Big Ten.

There were numerous big-time matchups across the Big Ten this weekend, and in those, we were able to determine which teams we can truly buy into — such as Michigan, Iowa and maybe even Nebraska — and who appear to be frauds — looking at you Maryland, Rutgers and Wisconsin. With that being said, it’s safe to say there was a ton of movement in this week’s updated power rankings.

Check out where I rank each of the Big Ten teams following this past weekend’s action:

No. 14: Northwestern

Jon Durr/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 14 (down two spots)

Record: 2-3 (0-2 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Loss at Nebraska, 56-7

Earlier in the year, I wasn’t ready to write off the Wildcats but I had my doubts from what we had seen on the field. However, after Saturday’s beatdown loss at Nebraska, we can officially state Northwestern is a bad football team. The Big Ten West isn’t particularly tough so they may win a few more games but reaching a bowl seems very unlikely for the Wildcats at this point.

No. 13: Purdue

Nikos Frazier/Journal & Courier

Previous power ranking: No. 11 (down two spots)

Record: 3-2 (1-1 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Loss vs. Minnesota, 20-13

I haven’t been high on Purdue all season long and Saturday’s defeat to Minnesota supported my thoughts on the Boilermakers. The Golden Gophers were coming off a loss to Bowling Green and still were able to come in knock-off Purdue. That’s a bad look for the Boilermakers.

No. 12: Illinois

Ron Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 14 (up two spots)

Record: 2-4 (1-2 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win vs. Charlotte, 24-14

Illinois is out of the basement of the Big Ten! The Fighting Illini snapped a four-game losing streak this week and move up by default thanks to poor performances from Northwestern and Purdue. That win over Nebraska earlier in the year is also looking a lot better week-by-week.

No. 11: Rutgers

Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch

Previous power ranking: No. 8 (down three spots)

Record: 3-2 (0-2 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Loss vs. Ohio State, 52-13

I wanted to believe this Rutgers team was going to be different and could cause some issues in the league — but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Not yet, at least. Rutgers had their doors blown off this week by the Buckeyes in a game that quite frankly wasn’t as close as the final score shows. The Scarlett Knights will get a chance to redeem themselves against the Spartans this upcoming week but I’m not feeling as good about Rutgers as I did this time last week.

No. 10: Maryland

Scott Taetsch/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 6 (down four spots)

Record: 4-1 (1-1 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Loss vs. Iowa, 51-14

Maybe I’m being a little too harsh in dropping the Terps this far but I’m going with history on this one. Since Maryland has joined the Big Ten, it will appear they are onto something after a fast start to the season only to fall flat on their faces in a true big-time matchup. That’s exactly what happened this week and I’m expecting a similar beatdown next week against the Buckeyes.

No. 9: Indiana

Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 10 (up one spot)

Record: 2-3 (0-2 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Loss at Penn State, 24-0

Indiana is simply not a good team and that was confirmed this week in their shutout loss at Penn State. The Hoosiers moved up one spot in these rankings despite the loss, but that has more to do with others taking a significant drop in my power rankings.

No. 8: Wisconsin

Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK

Previous power ranking: No. 7 (down one spot)

Record: 1-3 (0-2 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Loss vs. Michigan, 38-17

I wish I could drop the Badgers more in my rankings but the rest of the Big Ten teams at the bottom still seems worse than Wisconsin. The Badgers offense is going to cost Wisconsin numerous games this year and I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Wisconsin needing a win in the season-finale to just become bowl eligible.

No. 7: Minnesota

Nikos Frazier/Journal & Courier

Previous power ranking: No. 13 (up six spots)

Record: 3-2 (1-1 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win at Purdue, 20-13

Minnesota bounced back from a terrible loss to Bowling Green last week with a gutsy road win over Purdue. That win wouldn’t normally move a team up six spots in my rankings like this, however, who else belongs here based on what we saw this week?

No. 6: Nebraska

Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 9 (up three spots)

Record: 3-3 (1-2 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win vs. Northwestern, 56-7

Nebraska is the best .500 team in the country, and very well could be 5-1 or 6-0 right now. The Cornhuskers have their limitations and need to still clean up some things, but that defense is pretty darn good and should keep them in nearly every game the rest of the year. Scott Frost’s seat is starting to cool off in Lincoln…

No. 5: Michigan State

Nick King/Lansing State Journal

Previous power ranking: No. 4 (down one spot)

Record: 5-0 (2-0 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win vs. Western Kentucky, 48-31

The Spartans offense bounced back in a big way to top Western Kentucky this weekend in their final “tune-up” game of the year. Michigan State drops one spot due to the Wolverines’ huge win over Wisconsin (more on that later) and because I still worry about that secondary. Regardless, you can’t complain as a Spartans fan to still be undefeated in early October.

No. 4: Michigan

Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 5 (up one spot)

Record: 5-0 (2-0 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win at Wisconsin, 38-17

Michigan got its first real test of the season and they passed in flying colors. Yes, Wisconsin isn’t the same Wisconsin we have gotten used to but that’s still a hell of a win for the Wolverines. I was inclined to move Michigan even higher in these rankings but want to see another dominant performance against a quality team first — which could come this week in a night-game road matchup against Nebraska.

No. 3: Iowa

Scott Taetsch/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 3 (same)

Record: 5-0 (2-0 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win at Maryland, 51-14

Iowa has a case to be No. 1 in these rankings but I’m still not completely sold on the Hawkeyes’ offense. Their defense is forcing an abundance of turnovers right now, and that simply can’t keep up all year long. So what happens when they slow down in forcing turnovers? I’m still a bit hesitant about the long-term success of Iowa but this week’s massive battle with Penn State could change my opinion.

No. 2: Penn State

Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports

Previous power ranking: No. 1 (down one spot)

Record: 5-0 (2-0 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win vs. Indiana, 24-0

Penn State got a shutout victory but still dropped in the power rankings — what gives? The Nittany Lions are right there with Ohio State and Iowa, and it’s truly a toss-up to me at this point in who’s the best team. But the Buckeyes finally flexed their muscles this weekend and I’m going to assume that’s just the beginning of more to come from them. So Penn State will drop for now, but if they can win at Kinnick Stadium this upcoming week then they certainly will have a case to be back at the top.

No. 1: Ohio State

Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch

Previous power ranking: No. 2 (up one spot)

Record: 4-1 (2-0 in Big Ten)

This week’s result: Win at Rutgers, 51-13

Ohio State finally looked like Ohio State this weekend — which means they are my new top team in the league. I understand they may not deserve to be ranked as No.1 based on resume, but the eye test (and history) suggests this is the best team in the league. That could change by next week but I’m always going to lean towards the Buckeyes in any toss-up discussion and feel confident in saying they are the best team in the Big Ten.

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