Since PSU has the week off, and with Yours Truly needing several days to come down from cloud nine over last week’s victory, I took some time off as well.
However, I’m not about to take the week off when it comes to power rankings, not as this critical juncture in the season with the first Saturday in November swiftly approaching and conference/national title talk beginning to get louder for the teams that are still in it.
So, with that being said, away we go:
1. Penn State (1) – Put themselves clearly in the driver’s seat with last weekend’s knock-down, drag-out, old-fashioned, Big Ten-style victory over the Buckeyes. Now comes a well deserved bye week in which the players will have some free time on their hands to read the plethora of garbage being written on the internets about how a one-loss SEC or Big 12 team should overtake an undefeated PSU squad in the BCS rankings.
2. Ohio State (2) – “Tressel-ball” backfired on the Buckeyes last weekend after Terelle Pryor committed a critical turnover trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter. While their Big Ten title hopes may be all but shot, the Buckeyes still remain ranked the in the Top 12 of the BCS standings which would mean an automatic berth to a BCS bowl should they win their remaining games against Northwestern, Illinois, and Michigan, neither of whom look impressive.
3. Michigan State (4) – It wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the 1984 Macintosh Super Bowl Ad, but Michigan State finally found a way to dismantle “Big Brother” for the first time since 2001. Perhaps they aren’t the most talented of teams after PSU and OSU but they certainly have been the most consistent. A test looms their way though in Madison East Lansing this weekend, where they face a rejuvenated Wisconsin team fresh off a potentially season-changing win against Illinois.
4. Iowa (7) – Normally, teams in the HHV power rankings don’t move up following a bye week but after seeing Illinois play like garbage against Wisconsin and Northwestern lose to bottom-feeder Indiana, I took a very hard look at the Hawkeyes and bumped them up a few spots.
Sure, they’ve only beaten Wisconsin and Indiana thus far in Big Ten play, but the Hawkeyes have finally pulled an offense out of their asses to compensate their already solid defense. Tailback Shonn Greene leads the way for the Hawkeye attack, not only did he have his first 200+ yard game a couple weeks ago against the Badgers but he also has ran for at least 100+ yards in every single game he’s played in this year.
Additionally, a QB change with Ricky Stanzi (aka “The Stanz”) replacing the erratic Jake Christensen has worked wonders as Stanzi has shown far more consistency in the passing game, something that had been missing in Iowa City since probably the days of Brad Banks inspiring visiting Iowa fans to tear down the goalposts of the host team.
Because of these factors, I’ve decided to go ahead and place the Hawkeyes ahead of Illinois and a Minnesota team that while they are 7-1, haven’t exactly “wowed” me. Time will tell though, whether or not I will look like a fool.
5. Minnesota (5) – The Caddyshack Gophers are well on their way to a bowl bid (and perhaps a very respectable one) after beating Purdue last weekend and Tim Brewster, who was much maligned in these power rankings last year, should be the front-runner for numerous “Coach Of The Year” awards.
6. Illinois (3) – In a move that sparked plenty of controversy and a few angry comments from readers, I ranked the Illini #3 in last week’s power rankings. Here’s a couple excerpts on what people thought of it:
Illinois ABOVE Michigan State/Northwestern/Minnesota? Laughable. Very laughable. The Illini are #6…at best. Possibly below Iowa, even.
Are you drunk? Iowa is the 3rd best team in this conference. Illinois 3rd? They just lost to MN and WI. End of the year, you will see MY BOY!
Alright, point taken, I fucked up and severely overrated this Illini team. Perhaps I’m trying to cling to that sliver of hope that PSU actually beat a quality Big Ten team not named Ohio State.
Nonetheless, last week’s loss at Wisconsin showed just how erratic and inconsistent the Illini are, they certainly have the tools on offense but are susceptible defensively and have had some very questionable coaching decisions at times (see: Ron Zook not putting Arrelious Benn back to return a Wisconsin punt with time winding down in the first half).
If the Illini want to avoid being seen as a “One Hit Wonder” and stay home for the holidays after playing in last year’s Rose Bowl, they absolutely need to beat Iowa this weekend.
7. Wisconsin (9) – Finally, the Badgers showed signs of life after being written off last week as “dead and buried.” A win this weekend in East Lansing against Michigan State would do wonders for the team’s confidence and would likely lead to them finishing the season strong and landing a bowl bid.
8. Northwestern (6) – Losing Tyrell Sutton = Disastrous. How else do you explain losing to Indiana?
9. Michigan (8) – Losing to Toledo, losing to Michigan State by 2 TDs, guaranteed a non-winning record for the first time in four decades, recruits jumping ship…What more can go wrong for Dick Rod and the Wolverines this season?
10. Indiana (11) – Earned its first Big Ten win of the season against a faltering Northwestern team. It’ll probably be their last before they try to defend the Old Oaken Bucket against Purdue.
11. Purdue (10) – With Curtis Painter and backup QB Joey Elliott likely out with separated shoulders, it’ll be up to a boy named Justin Siller to try and lead the team out of the Big Ten cellar against Michigan. Good luck with that…