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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 4

Ranking the Big Ten is like rating houses that are already on fire.

Michael Hickey

It was a rough 3-6 non-conference week for the Big Ten and it already looks like filling the nine bowl tie-ins could be difficult. Purdue and Northwestern each already have two losses. Indiana likely needed at least three non-conference wins to reach a bowl game and they look unlikely to get there. Illinois can go 3-1 at best in the non-conference, but asking them to win three league games is a stretch.

It could be a very long season for the league, and the postseason could be a disaster if some bad teams like Iowa squeeze into bowls in bad matchups. On the plus side for Purdue, at least some games look winnable.

1. Michigan State - Last Week: 1 - A week of for Sparty and a virtual bye this week against a very weak Eastern Michigan team still has them at No. 1. Just because they lost a hard fought game at one of the best teams in the nation doesn't mean they're bad. They could probably roll through the Big Ten at this point.

2. Penn State - Last Week: 2 - Officially, Penn State is in first place in the Big Ten with the only league win. They have at least looked better than Ohio State and Michigan in the East with two wins over real teams in Central Florida and Rutgers.

3. Wisconsin - Last Week: 4 - If Wisconsin hadn't fallen apart against LSU the whole league would look a lot better. Even after last week, with a week off, they're likely the class of the West along with Nebraska.

4. Ohio State - Last Week: 6 - You probably cannot prove much with a win over an overmatched Kent State team. It will be interesting to see what they do against Cincinnati, which might be their most serious challenge to their undefeated streak vs. in-state teams at Ohio Stadium.

5. Nebraska - Last Week: 5 - At least the Huskers looked like Nebraska again last week in dispatching Fresno State with ease. A game this week against Miami, who isn't as bad as people make them out to be, should be very interesting.

6. Rutgers - Last Week: 8 - Does anyone else deserve to be this high? At least Rutgers nearly found a way to win ugly over Penn State. The 5-interception performance by Gary Nova is about as ugly as you can get.

7. Maryland - Last week: 7 - I guess there is no shame in a last second loss to a bitter rival, but Maryland played one of the most entertaining games of the week. They still should win enough games to make a bowl.

8. Michigan - Last Week: 10 - This is another team that actually won, but hardly instilled confidence. Being tied with a team on a now 19-game losing streak will do that. If the Wolverines drop a home game to Utah it could mean a bowl-less season.

9. Minnesota - Last Week: 3 - So I was wrong about Minnesota being really good. It would have been nice had they decided to take an offense with them in the visit to TCU.

10. Indiana - Last Week: 9 - Tevin Coleman is awesome and the team still lakes any semblance of a defense. That means another winter in Bloomington where the attention is solely on Tom Crean. After IU loses at Missouri do you really think they can win four conference games?

11. Iowa - Last Week: 11 - How this team has not started 0-3 is a mystery to me. They have looked awful, and Ball State losing at home to Indiana State makes their struggles with the Cards look even worse.

12. Illinois - Last Week: 12 - Tim Beckman said that if you only look at the second half against Washington his team won. Well isn't that super?

13. Purdue - Last Week: 14 - An improved performance against Notre Dame edges us slightly ahead of Northwestern, who was on a bye.

14. Northwestern - Last Week: 13 - If Purdue or Northwestern loses to a Directional FCS Illinois this week they are permanently in last place.