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YOUR LESS EARLY BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 6

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After week 6, we may be starting to figure some things out about the Big Ten.

CHAOS
CHAOS
Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

An absolute hurricane of chaos swept over the college football landscape in week 6. It didn't really affect the Big Ten all that much, though, as Wisconsin was the only high-profile conference team to go down in an upset. That being said, Tim Beckman and Illinois were a much lower-profile casualty to stop and take note of. I mean, Purdue won their first Big Ten game since 2012. That's fairly noteworthy!

Anyway, to the power rankings!

For a refresher of how these ratings work, see here.

Post-Week 6 Power Rankings

Rank Nat'l Rank Team Offense+ Defense+ Special Teams+ THOR+ Proj. W% vs Avg. Proj. W vs Avg. Proj. PPG+ vs Avg. Proj. PPGA+ vs Avg.
1 #18 Michigan State 155 103 110 129 0.736 8.84 41.69 25.44
2 #20 Maryland 118 131 168 126 0.716 8.59 33.80 19.17
3 #22 Ohio State 143 106 126 125 0.709 8.51 38.68 24.37
4 #23 Nebraska 126 122 143 125 0.709 8.50 35.16 20.99
5 #26 Wisconsin 120 134 69 124 0.705 8.46 32.80 18.89
6 #44 Iowa 75 155 49 112 0.608 7.29 21.67 14.41
7 #52 Minnesota 93 124 124 109 0.588 7.05 26.67 20.61
8 #54 Northwestern 73 144 118 108 0.580 6.96 21.31 16.05
9 #56 Indiana 109 109 36 106 0.567 6.80 30.04 24.87
10 #58 Penn State 65 144 144 105 0.559 6.71 20.13 16.22
11 #63 Rutgers 104 99 114 102 0.538 6.45 29.29 26.22
12 #64 Michigan 85 125 46 102 0.536 6.43 24.33 21.40
13 #79 Illinois 104 88 42 94 0.474 5.68 28.40 29.33
14 #85 Purdue 84 97 101 91 0.450 5.40 24.29 26.97

1. Michigan State #18, 129 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#8 146 98 129 117 155 37.91

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#66 123 115 217 92 103 21.89

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#50 88 3.78 132 3.55 110

Well, it took six weeks, but Michigan State has finally jumped to first in the power rankings. The green and white dominated for about 90% of the game this past Saturday night, and were able to hold off a "Sparty no!" moment and hold on to a 5-point win against a pretty good Nebraska team. For most of the season up to now, THOR+ has liked Michigan State, but questioned just how good their defense was. After holding Nebraska to 4 yards per play and Ameer Abdullah to 1.9 yards per carry, THOR+ has bumped the Spartan defense up 5 percentage points from last week, but still doesn't peg them to be on par with the past couple of years. That being said, their defensive performance against Nebraska was reminiscent of recent Pat Narduzzi-coached defenses; or in other words, they looked terrifying. But the defense was just about the only thing that was totally consistent on the night for the Spartans—outside of Tony Lippett—as Connor Cook made some brilliant throws at times, and then reverted to early 2013 Connor Cook at others. Meanwhile, Sparty seemed to do everything they could, short of literally just handing the ball to Nebraska, to keep the Cornhuskers in this game. The final score doesn't really do justice to how most of the game looked, but whatever. It was a weird game, overall, and sometimes you just have to survive those weird games.

Up Next: at #85 Purdue

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 65.8%

Projected Average Score: Michigan State 38, Purdue 27

2. Maryland #20, 126 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#37 108 99 68 97 118 28.61

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#23 114 103 92 100 131 15.48

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#4 222 5.19 114 3.69 168

Last week I was uncomfortable with Maryland's ranking, and after getting decimated by Ohio State at home, I still am. Don't get me wrong, I think Maryland is a good team this year, but their offense just isn't consistent enough for me to trust it. To be fair, the defense on Saturday didn't help matters by giving up 533 yards on just 77 plays (6.9 average). But while you would like a much better performance from a defense that is supposed to be quite a bit above average, Ohio State's offense looks absolutely scary right now. The problem with Maryland came at quarterback this weekend, as C.J. Brown spent the first half doing... well, I'm not sure what he was doing. But he wasn't playing quarterback. To give Ohio State credit, their defensive line took the rushing attack away, and put the game on Brown's arm. And when Brown wasn't running for his life, he missed some open receivers down the field and was unable to help the Maryland offense move the ball much. After halftime, Randy Edsall brought in Caleb Rowe at quarterback, and the offense moved the ball through the air much better, as a result. Rowe was not a cure-all, seeing how he threw 3 interceptions, but I would have been curious to see how Maryland's offense would have looked in the first half had Rowe been the one trying to throw the ball. I don't think they would have won the game, but I think they could have put up 30-40 points if they had someone capable of throwing the ball to those wide receivers in the first half. Either way, this game established that, despite hanging on at #2 this week, Maryland still is not an elite Big Ten team. However, I wouldn't just write them off yet, either. I think they are capable of beating just about any team in the conference on the right day.

Up Next: Bye Week

3. Ohio State #22, 125 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#12 150 112 108 93 143 34.90

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#57 142 102 147 125 106 21.05

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#31 88 3.78 163 3.32 126

Holy crap, does this offense look explosive. J.T. Barrett continues to grow in front of our eyes every week, and it looks like it could have serious repercussions for the Big Ten title race. If we thought Michigan State was just going to run away with the conference, this Urban Meyer offense may now give us pause. That Buckeye offensive line may have looked like a turnstile against Virginia Tech, but that isn't stopping this offense from making big plays through the air and on the ground right now. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, they don't look too shabby right now, either. The defensive line dominated Maryland up front, thanks to a 2.5 tackle for loss and 1 sack day for Joey Bosa, and the secondary looked better than it did against Cincinnati—whether that was due to C.J. Brown's inability to exploit what has been an issue in the past for Ohio State or not, I am not totally sure. What I am sure about, though, is that if Ohio State can continue to put up points, and their defense can continue to create turnovers, their season may not have been flushed down the toilet when Braxton Miller was injured.

Up Next: Bye Week

4. Nebraska #23, 125 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#28 118 128 103 122 126 30.70

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#37 121 107 101 83 122 17.45

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#16 153 4.46 134 3.54 143

Despite almost making a comeback, Nebraska really didn't have much fun on Saturday. Ameer Abdullah couldn't get going, mostly due to the fact that the offensive line gave a performance worthy of an "F" grade. With one of the best running backs in the nation bottled up, Nebraska had to rely on the inconsistent and maddening arm of Tommy Armstrong Jr., who continues to frustrate Nebraska fans to no end. Sure, he has a big arm, but his accuracy is erratic and he continues to lack the capacity to properly go through his progressions and not stare down receivers on a consistent basis. If opposing teams can contain Abdullah, there is a good chance Nebraska's offense is going to sputter, outside of the 1-2 deep passes that Armstrong can connect on throughout the game. On defense, there wasn't a whole lot to really be upset about for the Huskers. Big plays killed them in this game, but they were otherwise able to hold a very good Michigan State offense to 28 points.

Up Next: Bye Week

5. Wisconsin #26, 124 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#36 63 139 59 107 120 29.20

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#22 104 114 100 97 134 14.86

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#100 70 3.60 69 4.03 69

While THOR+ missed horribly on Maryland vs. Ohio State, it did warn us that Wisconsin at Northwestern might be a little closer than we all expected. But, in hindsight, maybe we should have seen it coming, seeing as the main problems for Wisconsin were things that have plagued the Badgers all year: 1) Starting slow (outside of the LSU game); and, yet again 2) The bleak quarterback situation—and "bleak" is probably putting it mildly, at this point. Melvin Gordon continued to be amazing (and continued to make me depressed when I remember that he de-committed from Iowa to sign with Wisconsin) as he carried the ball 27 times for 259 yards (9.6 yards per carry!), but only found the end zone one time. Ultimately, that was the downfall for Wisconsin: Melvin Gordon could only find the end zone once. Not that it was his fault, of course, because when Gordon wasn't busy being awesome, Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave were busy being terrible. While McEvoy was especially horrible in the passing game, Stave wouldn't easily be outdone, and found a way to throw the ball to Northwestern three times. One of those three instances also just happened to come when Wisconsin was on the Northwestern 3 yard line, which, as you can imagine in a 6-point loss, is kind of important. All of this is causing Wisconsin fans to wonder whether or not Andy Ludwig is the right person for the offensive coordinator job. All of this is also causing me to find quite a bit of joy when I look at how red their Passing+ rating is and how green their Rushing+ rating is. Essentially, if you can keep the Wisconsin offense off-schedule and in third and long situations, they are helpless.

Up Next: vs. #79 Illinois

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 82.8%

Projected Average Score: Wisconsin 41, Illinois 17

6. Iowa #44, 112 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#99 95 76 115 113 75 18.01

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#4 116 122 91 94 155 10.03

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#117 77 3.67 21 4.39 49

The Hawkeyes come off a bye week and are slated to play the Indiana Tevin Colemans [pretty sure it's Tevins Coleman, like attorneys general. --AJ] this weekend at Kinnick Stadium. THOR+ likes Iowa, and theoretically, I do too. However, I can't help but worry about what type of offensive performance will be on display this Saturday from the black and gold. If Iowa's offense struggles to sustain drives, I do worry about the possibility of the defense starting to wear down against this Hoosier offense toward the end of the game. If we witness yet another incompetent offensive performance, coupled with Iowa's linebackers chasing Coleman from behind in pass coverage, it could be a disappointing day. Iowa should win this weekend, but nothing would necessarily surprise me.

Up Next: vs. #56 Indiana

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 67.0%

Projected Average Score: Iowa 24, Indiana 14

7. Minnesota #52, 109 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#78 60 101 75 101 93 22.58

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#34 133 111 172 84 124 17.04

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#34 117 4.09 131 3.57 124

Minnesota also comes off a bye week this weekend, and is now all of the sudden preparing to play an opponent that seems a lot less inconsequential than they did a couple of weeks ago. If I'm a Minnesota fan, I am absolutely petrified thinking about this game after watching a one-dimensional Wisconsin go down at the hands of Northwestern in week 6. That brings me to the question, if you had no other options, and you had to choose one, who would you rather have quarterbacking your team? Tanner McEvoy, Joel Stave, Mitch Leidner, or Chris Streveler?

Up Next: vs. #54 Northwestern

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 63.8%

Projected Average Score: Minnesota 19, Northwestern 14

8. Northwestern #54, 108 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#101 83 83 129 113 73 17.42

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#11 132 111 131 96 144 12.54

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#39 98 3.89 138 3.51 118

The Wildcats bagged another scalp in week 6, and this time it was a little bigger deal than Penn State was. Despite getting shredded on the ground by Melvin Gordon—I mean, who doesn't nowadays?—Northwestern's defense picked off McEvoy and Stave four times, including a super important interception that came in their own end zone. But we already knew the defense was the strength of this team, so what about the offense? Where have the 49 total points come from in the past couple of weeks? To be sure, Northwestern's offense still isn't what one could call "potent," but it's doing enough to get the job done. A week after scoring 29 points on what has been a very good Penn State defense this year, they did just enough to get the job done against what THOR+ thinks is a pretty good Wisconsin defense. Trevor Siemian was neither really good nor really bad against the Badgers, but Northwestern may have actually found a running back in true freshman Justin Jackson. The offense doesn't have to be great, but if they can do just enough, Northwestern could be following a classic Iowa blueprint to a bowl game this year.

Up Next: at #52 Minnesota

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 36.2%

Projected Average Score: Northwestern 14, Minnesota 19

9. Indiana #56, 106 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#44 100 128 145 118 109 26.57

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#52 98 108 54 87 109 20.43

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#125 58 3.47 14 4.44 36

Coming off a disappointing beating at the hands of Maryland, Indiana bounced back by defeating a lesser opponent pretty handily. The final score was Indiana 49, North Texas 24, but the game wasn't even that close, as Indiana had some defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter. Tevin Coleman had an easy 150 yard day without really needing to break much of a sweat, Shane Wynn had 127 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5 catches, and Nate Sudfeld looked a lot more comfortable than he did the week prior. All of that should not really be surprising, however, seeing as they were playing North Texas; a team which THOR+ ranks as the 99th best defense in the country, and projects that even an average offense could hang 4 touchdowns on. Needless to say, Iowa's defense is just a smidge better than North Texas', so hopefully a nice defensive performance will be enough for Iowa to get the win, even if the offense stinks up the joint.

Up Next: at #44 Iowa

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 33.0%

Projected Average Score: Indiana 14, Iowa 24

10. Penn State #58, 105 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#107 93 76 90 87 65 15.58

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#12 122 142 105 124 144 12.62

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#15 161 4.55 127 3.60 144

After a bye week, Penn State hopes to avenge their disappointing homecoming weekend loss to Northwestern by being the next in line to beat Michigan. This game has all the fixings to be the most stereotypical #B1G game of the season. I'm talking, first half of Minnesota vs. Michigan #B1G, but for four quarters. This game pits the THOR+ ranked #107 Penn State offense against the #31 Michigan defense and the THOR+ ranked #88 Michigan offense against the #12 Penn State defense. This could be very ugly or very pretty. It all kind of depends on your style of football preference.
Up Next: at #64 Michigan

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 39.4%

Projected Average Score: Penn State 14, Michigan 18

11. Rutgers #63, 102 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#51 135 82 97 87 104 25.32

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#70 90 78 74 98 99 22.60

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#45 106 3.98 122 3.63 114

Rutgers is 5-1 and THOR+ still only likes them as the 63rd best team in the nation. Sorry, Rutgers fans, but I agree with THOR+ on this one. The win against Washington State looks fairly impressive, depending on which week you are watching the Cougars play, and I'm still a little surprised that they were able to go on the road and beat Navy. That being said, beating Howard, Tulane, and, at this point, Michigan, is not all that impressive. On a more positive note, Gary Nova threw for 404 yards (10.4 yards per attempt!), 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions (!) and won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. That was pretty cool.

Up Next: Bye Week

12. Michigan #64, 102 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#88 58 118 20 83 85 20.46

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#31 90 127 22 120 125 16.83

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#119 96 3.87 -4 4.57 46

If the loss to Rutgers wasn't enough of a blow, one of the very few bright spots in Michigan's offense is now done for the season with the news that starting running back Derrick Green broke his clavicle against the Scarlet Knights on Saturday. I wasn't sure how this offense could get potentially worse, but there you have it. I'm also still not sure how Amara Darboh's catch wasn't ruled a catch...

Up Next: vs. #58 Penn State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 60.6%

Projected Average Score: Michigan 18, Penn State 14

13. Illinois #79, 94 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#53 109 91 57 88 104 25.29

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#91 74 90 60 94 88 25.23

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#122 25 3.12 60 4.10 42

Illinois' defense, man... what happened? Purdue, I repeat, Purdue had runs of 62, 54, 53, and 44 yards against the Illini defense on Saturday. Throw in a pass play that went for 80 yards and 38 total points allowed, and this was rock bottom. Big plays killed Illinois' defense, as 342 of their 551 yards allowed came on just 7 Purdue plays. If there were any bright spots in this game, they were on offense, as Wes Lunt and Mike Dudek put on quite a show through the air. Of course, Wes Lunt got tossed around like a rag doll and is now out 4-6 weeks, leaving the incredible possibility that someone other than Purdue could inhabit the bottom spot in the power rankings by the end of the year. As it turns out, Brady Hoke may not be the only dead man walking in the Big Ten in 2014.

Up Next: at #26 Wisconsin

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 17.2%

Projected Average Score: Illinois 17, Wisconsin 41

14. Purdue #85, 91 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#89 64 104 105 102 84 20.33

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#75 97 102 75 90 97 23.15

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#59 105 3.96 97 3.82 101

A week removed from throwing out the idea of leaving the Big Ten, Purdue fans can rejoice, as their team may not be the lone embarrassing dumpster fire of the conference anymore. It should be noted, that the Boilermakers have been sneaking their way up rankings in THOR+'s eyes recently. Whether this is real, sustainable improvement, I'm not sure. However, I do think that the projected score below is giving Purdue way too much credit. 38 points for Michigan State's offense seems potentially low to me, while Purdue scoring 27 points seems high to me. Enjoy the Illinois win while you can, Boilers, it could get ugly this weekend.

Up Next: vs. #18 Michigan State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 34.2%

Projected Average Score: Purdue 27, Michigan State 38