Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Big Ten Power Rankings (Midseason)

Don't get too excited, this is just the quickie edition, but with all the Big Ten teams having played at least six games I thought I'd throw out some quick PRs just to see what everybody thinks - if I have time later, a longer and more detailed version with bowl projections, season expectations, etcetera will follow. I swear.

Please do let me know if you agree/disagree. And sorry about the lack of pictures/video, I'll get in and edit this later tonight.

1. Michigan State Spartans (7-0, 3-0)
Rankings: No. 7 BCS, No. 8 Coaches/AP, leading Big Ten

Starting out your conference season by beating Wisconsin, then stomping rival Michigan on the road and easily handing an Illinois team that gave Ohio State fits is pretty damn convincing in my book.

Next up: @ Northwestern. I believe Admiral Ackbar may have something to say about this game for the Spartans...

2. Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1)
Rankings: No. 13 BCS, No. 10 Coaches, No. 11 AP, T-4th in Big Ten (with tiebreaker over OSU)

Huge win at home over an undeserving national number one in Ohio State last week. Wisconsin struggled early in the season, but their sole loss is on the road at Michigan State, and that's not going to hurt them much in the long run.

Next up: @ Iowa. If Wisconsin can survive, the rest of their schedule shakes out favorably.

3. Iowa (5-1, 2-0)
Rankings: No. 15 BCS, No. 12 Coaches, No. 13 AP, T-2nd in Big Ten (with Purdue)

The only time I've gotten to watch Iowa for an entire game this year was their loss at Arizona, but this seems like your classic Kirk Ferentz team with extra talent on the defensive line. Ricky Stanzi is the ultimate patriot - I'll have more on this later, courtesy of our correspondent, Capt. Alec Kinczewski, serving our nation abroad in the armed forces (that's right, Peter King! You see what I did there? You're not the only one who can name-drop Army guys!).

Next up: Wisconsin. 3:30, ABC. Should be a snoozefest, but a well-played one, and the winner has Capital One Bowl pole position.

4. Ohio State (6-1, 2-1)
Rankings: No. 10 BCS/AP, No. 11 Coaches, T-4th in Big Ten

The conference's bell cow, Ohio State did their part to allow Big Ten haters in the room (I'm looking at you, Schlereth) with the upset loss at Wisconsin. The Buckeyes looked great against Indiana the week before, but then who doesn't? The Sweater Men have three absolute must-wins coming up if they want to get back in the thick of the Big Ten race.

Next up: Purdue

5. Purdue (4-2, 2-0)
Rankings: T-2nd in Big Ten

Let's give them credit now. Beating Northwestern on the road erased a lot of the early season stench of losing to Toledo at home. They have an incredibly tough slate coming up in the second half, so I expect this is as high as the Boilers will get, despite quality play from QB Rob Henry.

Next up: @ Ohio State

T-6. Northwestern (5-1, 1-1), Michigan (5-2, 1-2)

Northwestern commits too many penalties, while Michigan plays no defense. These are talented football teams with painfully obvious flaws, which is why I have them tied. NU has an absolutely HUGE home game this week against MSU, while Shoelace and Co. have a bye. I see both as bowl-caliber teams that need to get it together a little bit.

8. Illinois (3-3, 1-2)

Hey, they're better than I expected. Great road win against a bad Penn State team, followed by an acceptable road beating at East Lansing.

Next up: Indiana. Winner gets to pretend they have a shot at a bowl!

9. Penn State (3-3, 0-2)

Everybody knew this team would have some issues, but Evan Royster stinking was not one of the expected problems, and neither was a defense that traditionally would NEVER give up 33 points to Illinois at home.

Next up: @Minnesota. They need this win to be playing for bowl eligibility against Indiana at FexEx field down the road. Otherwise that might just be a 3/4 empty venue, which would look awful for the conference. I think you know what Jim Delaney is telling the refs for this game.

10. Indiana (4-2, 0-2)

Best receivers in the conference, and one of the best quarterbacks too - I put Ben Chappell in the front rank with Robinson, Pryor, and Persa. But that Homecoming 'win' over Arkansas State (which by the way gives IU a 2-0 record in the Sun Belt) was not impressive. On paper, this looks like a team that could get bowl eligible. In reality, having watched them almost every week, I'm not so sure.

Next up: @Illinois. Should I go to this game? Debating.

11. Minnesota (1-6, 0-3)

Tim Brewster is finally gone, following Mike Locksley and Ed Orgeron (and Ron Zook?) as living proof that great recruiters aren't always great coaches. (*cough* MIKE DAVIS) They play three of the conference's top four in their second half slate. They lost to South Dakota State. BUT - maybe an interim coach and having absolutely nothing to lose will energize this team. I've seen crazier things happen, and Adam Weber is a proud veteran leader at QB.

Next up: Penn State. Win, and your season isn't a total loss.