Big Ten season is finally upon us and this weekend will tell us if this Purdue team is a contender or a pretender for the conference title. It was a fun weekend of football with great games like the Purdue vs. Marshall shootout (which shouldn't have been one but hey, what can you do?), Ohio State taking on Michigan State, Northwestern beating up on IU, and then the thriller between Nebraska and Wisconsin, who should always wear those uniforms.
There isn't a whole lot of moving around this week, and not a lot is really separating the middle of the pack teams. With that being said, let's do it to it.
1. Ohio State (5-0 Big Ten 1-0. Week 4 ranking:1)
Ohio State remains at the top of the Big Ten after going into MSU and holding the Spartans to only 16 points. After the team turned the ball over three times, Braxton Miller came to life in the second half, put the team on his back, and carried them to a victory in this slug-fest of a game. It wasn't the prettiest game offensively for Urban Meyer's squad, but a win is a win. The Buckeyes have no postseason hopes, but they do have a legitimate chance of going 12-0 as they are clearly the most dominate team in the conference. I expect another victory this weekend with a home game against Nebraska.
2. Northwestern (5-0 Big Ten 1-0. Week 4 ranking: 2)
The Wildcats remain in the two spot after a dominate game against the Hoosiers last Saturday. I was a little disappointed that they didn't score more, but as long as IU loses I'm OK with whatever the score is. Northwestern has one of the best running games in the nation will need to continue to do so if they want to keep winning. And if they keep winning, when do we start the chatter about them winning the Legends Division? The 24th ranked Wildcats head to Penn State this weekend for what should be another victory. But the stingy Penn State defense isn't going to give them an easy win.
3. Nebraska (4-1 Big Ten 1-0. Week 4 ranking: 3)
Quarterback Taylor Martinez led the Cornhuskers to one of the greatest comebacks we'll probably see all season. This was easily one of the best CFB games I've watched all year. Nebraska looked bad in the first half of this game, but sparked to life in the third quarter to tie a school record for the second-largest comeback in team history. Martinez looked great this game and is making a strong candidacy for the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and Quarterback of the Year. Offense should never be a problem for this team with Martinez, runningbacks Ameer Abdullah and Rex Burkhead, and wide receiver Kenny Bell. Nebraska heads to OSU this weekend for what should be a thrilling game.
4. Purdue (3-1 Big Ten 0-0. Week 4 ranking: 4)
I'm leaving Purdue in the 4 spot for now even though I don't think we played to our full potential against Marshall. Here is why: Michigan State lost to Ohio State and had trouble offensively, so they will be down this week. Michigan didn't have a game this past week and still has that narsty loss to Notre Dame lingering over them and I am not Denard Robinson believer, so they will be down a bit. I also don't think that Penn State and Minnesota are as good as Purdue at this point either. Biased? A little, yes. But honestly no one in the Big Ten is that great and there is little separating each team in the middle. Purdue's offense cruised over this weak Marshall defense with great games from TerBush, Antavian Eddison, Gary Bush, and Akeem Shavers. The two pick 6's by Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson helped a lot too. Outside of that I wasn't very pleased with Purdue's defense letting Marshall get back in it, but then again they do have one of the best passing offenses in the nation. Regardless, it highlighted our struggle against the pass and that is something that will be a concern going forward. Purdue is allowing 248 passing yards per game which is good for 3rd to last in the Big Ten. We'll need to tighten things up in the secondary when Michigan comes to town, because Robinson is a do it all quarterback. This game is huge defining point for the season. I'm excited to see what Purdue will look like against a good team.
5. Michigan State (3-2 Big Ten 0-1. Week 4 ranking: 5)
Sparty had a grit, spit, and hard work game against Ohio State on Saturday, but they came out on bottom of the fight. The tough OSU defense held Le'Veon Bell to only 45 yards on 17 carries, and the Spartans were only able to find the endzone once. The good news: they didn't turn the ball over this game, they forced OSU to make three turnovers, and their defense is still one of the best in the conference. I think Michigan State is still a very good team. They have a couple easy games this week against Indiana and Iowa. Look for Michigan to bounce back and find their bearings offensively.
6. Penn State (3-2 Big Ten 1-0. Week 4 ranking: 9)
This team is starting to find an identity for itself and is beginning to look good. Bill O'Brien has got this team cruising right now as the Nittany Lions went into Champaign and ran a clinic on the Fighting Illini. Matt McGloin continues to have a great season as he threw for 211 yards and a touchdown while sophomore runningback Zach Zwinak rushed for 100 yards and a two touchdowns. The defense is still playing at a high level as well; forcing Illinois to make three turnovers while holding them to 366 total yards of offense. Penn State's defense will have their hands full this weekend as they take on a relentless Northwestern ground game.
7. Michigan (2-2 Big Ten 0-0. Week 4 ranking: 7)
The Wolverines remain in the seven spot after having an off week and other teams falling and rising around them. In the game against Notre Dame Michigan was running around like a chicken with its head cutoff as they struggled on both sides of the ball; although the defense looked much better than the offense did. Michigan enters this week to a Purdue team that has a lot of momentum behind them. We'll see what kind of game Denard Robinson has against another tough defense. If Purdue can stop Robinson, we stop Michigan.
8. Wisconsin (3-2 Big Ten 0-1. Week 4 ranking: 8)
In the first half of their game against Nebraska, Wisconsin looked like the team that many thought they would be at the beginning of the year. They were firing on all cylinders offensively, Montee Ball was finding the endzone with relative ease, and the defense was looking strong. Unfortunately for the Badgers it was short lived as Nebraska made an amazing comeback to win the game. Even though they lost, Wisconsin should be happy with the way they played a good Nebraska team and keep their heads up going forward. This team has the talent to be good, they just keep shooting themselves in the foot. They should get an easy win as Illinois comes to town this weekend.
9. Iowa (3-2 Big Ten 1-0. Week 4 ranking: 11)
After a dominating performance against an unbeaten Minnesota team the Hawkeyes move up a couple spots in this week's power rankings. The offense is finding life again under James Vandenberg and running back Mark Weisman, who continues to thrive. Their defense looked great too as they had 4 takeaways from the Gophers. Iowa is still not that great of a team though, but at home they are incredibly tough to beat. They have a tough opponent this week with Michigan State. We'll see how this game treats the Hawkeyes.
10. Minnesota (4-1 Big Ten 0-1. Week 4 rankings: 6)
The Golden Gophers take a hard fall after getting whopped up on by a not very good Iowa team, losing the Floyd of Rosedale for the first time since 2009. Quarterback Max Shortell threw three interceptions and no one on the offensive side really made any plays or contested the Iowa defense. Minnesota is going to be hurting without quarterback MarQueis Gray during Big Ten play. The Gophers hope to have Gray back by their October 13th game against Northwestern. The defense was pretty terrible too; allowing a bad Iowa offense to put up 31 points on them. Minnesota has a bye this week and should look to get things together before playing Northwestern.
11. Indiana (2-2 Big Ten 0-1. Week 4 ranking: 10)
Little is to be said about this Indiana team. They just are not very good whatsoever. However, I will give them some credit because I did not think they would score 29 points against Northwestern. The Hoosiers clawed their way back in this game during the second half but couldn't capitalize against a good Northwestern team. The Hoosiers are still struggling to find consistent quarterback play. They will need that if they want to stand a chance against Michigan State this weekend.
12. Illinois (2-3 Big Ten 0-1. Week 4 ranking: 12)
Oh man, this team is really bad. The Illini's next two games are at Wisconsin and at Michigan. There is an incredibly good chance that this team will be sitting at 2-5 here soon. The team is struggling all over the place: offensively, defensively, special teams, the works. The future does not look good for Illinios. Fans may start wanting to prep themselves for basketball season.