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YOUR STILL-WAY-TOO-EARLY BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 2

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Big Ten, Y U SO SUCK SO BAD?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After this past Saturday, can we even call these "Power Rankings?" This was a sad Saturday for the group of teams that make up the Big Ten. Michigan State and Minnesota probably came the closest to looking "powerful" this weekend, but even the Spartans blew a 9-point second half lead on the way to a 19-point loss, while the Gophers saw a 28-point halftime lead dissolve into an 11-point win. Basically, if you were in the Big Ten this past weekend, you most likely either: a) lost a big game; or b) struggled against a team that you shouldn't have.

Before I get started, I should note that there was a slight error in my spreadsheet last week that slightly altered how each team's THOR+ rating was calculated. Overall, it was a minor error that is fixed now and did not affect most teams very badly. The one team it did have a fairly major impact on, however, was Indiana. So, my apologies to Hoosier fans, as your team took a bit of a tumble in this week's rankings, despite not playing a game. But hey, if football teams can be a little rusty at the beginning of the year, so can I. I figure I'll hit my stride sometime around mid-October.

Anyway, the same caveats from last week apply. Sure, we have one more game to add to our sample to judge from. But two games is still a small sample size. Some teams get better as the year goes, some get worse, and some have yet to even play anybody with much talent. Because it's still early in the season, preseason projections are still heavily influencing each team's ratings. The preseason projections will slowly get stripped out, and will be fully out of each team's THOR+ rating after they have played five games.

For a refresher of how these ratings work, see here. Also, the numbers that are listed under categories ending in "vs. Avg." represent a team's projected winning percentage, number of wins out of a 12 game schedule, points per game, and points allowed per game if they were to play an average college football schedule. Finally, this week I've added more in depth offensive, defensive, and special teams' ratings for each teams. As usual, the categories with a "+" sign are adjusted for strength of opponent. Turnovers, you will notice are not. That's because turnovers can be highly influenced by luck. In the future, I will probably try to adjust these better for luck, but that takes some time that I don't have right now.

Post-Week 2 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 #12 Wisconsin 135 127 113 130 0.746 8.95 36.92 20.04
2 #22 Ohio State 135 122 83 125 0.712 8.55 36.47 21.21
3 #27 Michigan State 123 121 131 123 0.691 8.30 34.03 21.24
4 #28 Michigan 123 117 136 122 0.685 8.22 34.31 22.06
5 #34 Nebraska 111 128 114 118 0.658 7.90 30.69 19.72
6 #39 Maryland 92 138 133 115 0.634 7.61 26.45 17.35
7 #45 Penn State 88 142 91 111 0.603 7.24 25.12 17.06
8 #51 Iowa 86 140 75 108 0.581 6.98 24.53 17.61
9 #54 Minnesota 100 108 117 105 0.558 6.69 28.30 24.21
10 #56 Illinois 106 109 63 104 0.548 6.57 29.39 24.67
11 #59 Indiana 123 88 45 102 0.532 6.38 33.53 29.61
12 #69 Northwestern 83 115 75 96 0.489 5.86 23.45 22.99
13 #82 Rutgers 102 64 145 89 0.437 5.25 29.00 33.90
14 #123 Purdue 69 37 91 57 0.193 2.31 20.69 40.79

1. Wisconsin #12, 130 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#11 101 130 104 110 135 32.99
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#26 100 115 99 106 127 16.43
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#42 102 3.93 125 3.61 113

Wisconsin stays in first place this week, despite only playing one real good half of football for the second week in a row. The Badgers only led Western Illinois 9-3 going into halftime, and while the defense had done their job, the offense was struggling to accomplish much of anything in the first half. Then the second half happened, and Wisconsin put up 28 points and allowed 0 for the remaining 30 minutes of play. Throughout the game, Western Illinois geared up for the run and forced Tanner McEvoy to beat them through the air. This strategy worked in the first half, but didn't produce LSU-like results in the second half, as McEvoy threw 3 touchdowns and his backup, Bart Houston, also threw a touchdown in garbage time. The Leathernecks were successful in that they were able to shut Melvin Gordon down on Saturday. Besides a long run of 21 yards, he only had 17 yards on his other 16 carries. Corey Clement and McEvoy had better luck on the ground, but this is what folks in Madison can expect the rest of the year: Load the box, and make McEvoy air it out. It worked against Western Illinois, but can it work during conference play?

Next Up: Bye Week

2. Ohio State #22, 125 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#12 116 117 85 80 135 32.92
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#33 123 115 113 147 122 17.42
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#88 66 3.55 101 3.79 83

Sure, the loss of Braxton Miller is a lot to overcome, but Ohio State should have enough talent to overcome a loss that big to some extent. That's the theory, at least. At this point, though, it looks like J.T. Barrett has his work cut out for him playing behind that offensive line. On Saturday night, the Buckeye offensive line struggled to keep their young quarterback upright and could not, for the life of them, get the ground game going.  Yes, the redshirt freshman quarterback has made his fair share of mistakes in two games, but that offensive line looks porous right now and I would be curious to see how Braxton Miller would perform behind it. Granted, let's give some of the credit for the disastrous performance this past weekend to Virginia Tech. Bud Foster always puts a good defense on the field and THOR+ has Virginia Tech as the 17th best defense in the nation after week 2. But be that as it may, the preseason projections are the only thing keeping Ohio State afloat within the top 25 right now. As it stands, it's hard to picture them as the #2 team in the conference.

Next Up: vs. #94 Kent State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 88.49%

Average Score: Ohio State 40, Kent State 12

3. Michigan State #27, 123 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#31 144 115 122 115 123 29.95
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#37 115 115 103 141 121 17.78
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#18 117 4.08 145 3.46 131

Michigan State may have pissed away an opportunity to redeem the Big Ten this past weekend, but they still had probably the most impressive performance of the conference on Saturday. Sure, they allowed Oregon to rattle off 28 unanswered points, but Oregon is capable of doing that to just about anybody. According to THOR+, the Ducks were the #1 team in the country after week 1, and they still are after week 2. In fact, their THOR+ rating of 157 is 13 percentage points ahead of the #2 team in the country. In other words, they are on another level right now, and Michigan State gave them a quite the fight. The only reason Dantonio's team is not at the top of this poll right now is because the preseason projections are pulling them down. The Spartans' offense has already increased from a preseason projection of about average to 23% above average, but the defense took a little tumble after this past game. Fortunately for Michigan State, though, they won't play another team as good as Oregon for the rest of the regular season. If Michigan State continues to play this way, they will be at the top of this poll in no time.

Next Up: Bye Week

4. Michigan #28, 122 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#29 102 128 65 81 123 30.05
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#41 107 123 69 117 117 18.56
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#13 134 4.26 139 3.50 136

Okay, Ohio State lost a potential Heisman candidate. What exactly is your excuse, Michigan? Clearly, the offensive line issues from last year haven't exactly been cleared up and neither has the offensive ineptitude, in general. Doug Nussmeier may not be the savior in Ann Arbor, after all. Or at least not this quickly. I know it's only one game in, but this seemed like a turning point for Michigan. Winning this game on the road might signal that they are back to being a top flight program again. Instead, their shutout probably ended up being the most embarrassing loss of the weekend for the conference. Now, of course, I need to preface this by saying it was only one game. Michigan could go on to rebound and salvage the season, but if this continues, at what point does it become a Brady Hoke issue and not an Al Borges issue? Anyway, pessimism aside, Michigan still has a chance for a good season. I'm curious if we look back on this game at the end of the year and think "Yeah, that makes sense." Or, rather, if we will look back on this 31-0 curb stomping and say "What the hell happened that week?"

Next Up: vs. #121 Miami (Ohio)

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 95.21%

Average Score: Michigan 50, Miami (Ohio) 10

5. Nebraska #34, 118 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#47 109 116 121 104 111 26.93
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#25 114 111 73 103 128 16.23
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#40 86 3.76 141 3.49 114

I am still not sure what to say about Nebraska. In two games, they've faced Florida Atlantic and McNeese State. They pummeled the former opponent and needed a last second play by Ameer Abdullah to squeak by the latter one. Now, as a fan of a team that barely pulled out a win over FCS Northern Iowa and needed last minute heroics to beat Ball State this past weekend, I should watch what I say here. Because of that, I'm going to defer judgment on this Nebraska team for a little while longer. I think they are good, but I'm not sold on how good they really are.

Next Up: at #83 Fresno State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 59.17%

Average Score: Nebraska 36, Fresno State 27

6. Maryland #39, 115 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#75 90 94 44 95 92 22.19
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#14 130 114 108 112 138 13.80
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#16 134 4.26 133 3.55 133

I always enjoy looking at Maryland's ratings each week because I'm waiting to see if that offense finally comes alive. I find myself so captivated with this because Randy Edsall has always been somewhat of a poor man's Kirk Ferentz. And I say that with no disrespect, it's just that he was at Connecticut for so long and Maryland hasn't exactly been a football powerhouse in recent times, so he's been doing what Kirk Ferentz has been doing at Iowa, only on a smaller level. Over his tenure at Iowa, Kirk's teams have an average Offense+ rating of 102 and an average Defense+ rating of 134. Edsall, meanwhile, at Connecticut and Maryland, averaged an Offense+ rating of 90 and a Defense+ rating of 109. It's relevant to this season because Edsall looks to have another team that is very dependent on the defense, and this is despite Terrapin fans hoping that the offense would be good this season with C.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, and Co. returning. It's only two games and things could get better, but right now, Maryland looks an awful lot like Iowa; only with better special teams.

Next Up: vs. #46 West Virginia

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 66.85%

Average Score: Maryland 25, West Virginia 16

7. Penn State #45, 111 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#79 117 88 56 100 88 21.12

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#11 113 130 80 128 142 13.07

Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#80 108 4.00 74 3.99 91

In a Saturday showdown in which it was both closer than the final score made it sound and never in doubt, Penn State's defense shut down the Akron Zips, while the offense wandered around aimlessly for a good chunk of the game only to turn it on toward the end of the game. Christian Hackenberg, yet again, threw for over 300 yards and showed glimpses of just how terrifying he can be to opposing defenses. The key word in that last sentence, however, is "glimpses" in that he is still a young quarterback, working with a new coaching staff that is trying to implement a new scheme. So, while Hackenberg may look like a future NFL first round draft pick at times, he also has a tendency to force some things, hence the four interceptions he's thrown in two games this season and the 44% below average turnover rating the Nittany Lions are sporting after week 2. The offensive line is still having trouble opening run lanes, which is a product of having young linemen and also the product of the aforementioned scheme change. The defense looks good early on, but the offense is clearly still a work in progress.

Next Up: at #82 Rutgers

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 57.57%

Average Score: Penn State 29, Rutgers 22

8. Iowa #51, 108 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#81 104 93 104 112 86 20.76
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#13 104 121 100 124 140 13.55
Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#101 86 3.76 64 4.07 75

Oh, Iowa. The defense played great against Ball State, which was nice to see after some leaky coverage against UNI in week 1. It should be said, of course, that the Cardinals from Muncie, Indiana are not exactly an offensive juggernaut. Their strength lies in the running game, and stopping that type of offense is right up Iowa's alley. With a redshirt freshman quarterback making the first big game start of his career, the passing game wasn't exactly threatening. So while I'm always excited to see a defensive performance like that, I still want to see how Iowa's pass defense looks when someone more explosive comes to town.

As for the offense, I'm going to try and not lament on what others have already covered after Saturday. Right now, this offense has a lower Offense+ rating than last season, and it only gets worse if you take out the preseason projections. I know we are only two games into the 2014 season, but the 2013 offense finished the season with an Offense+ rating of 88. After UNI and Ball State, Iowa has an Offense+ rating of 86 and if we take out the preseason projections, it falls to 73. Every week they don't make improvement on this side of the ball, that Offense+ rating is going to keep going down as the preseason projections get pulled out. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Iowa returns basically everyone on that side of the ball and even with the recent injury to Brandon Scherff, there is no reason this offense should not be better than last year's iteration. This unit has moved the ball fairly well, but they are again having issues converting when they get into their opponent's territory. The passing game needs to be as good as it was in the fourth quarter of Ball State for the entire game, and they need to figure out why they can't run behind what should be a pretty good offensive line with four pretty decent running backs. This year's version of the Hawkeyes needs the offense to be good even more than last year's did, considering this year's seems to have no kicking game to speak of. This offense has talent, and there is no good reason that they should be this bad.

Next Up: vs. #63 Iowa State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 69.16%

Average Score: Iowa 30, Iowa State 17

9. Minnesota #54, 105 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#63 86 98 108 95 100 24.34

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#53 105 98 116 95 108 20.64

Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#36 105 3.96 130 3.57 117

Minnesota looked very impressive in the first half of their game against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, as they took a 28-0 lead into halftime. But there are two halves to college football, and the second half saw the Gophers outscored 24-7. Of course, this game was never really in question, but the second half seemed to be more evidence that Minnesota isn't quite ready to take a huge leap forward this season. But it's only two games, so I can't say anything with certainty. What I can say with certainty, though, is that Jerry Kill does not like to pass the ball; at least it doesn't seem like he wants that to be his strategy this year. And with what we've seen from Mitch Leidner, we can't exactly blame him. Instead, he's got David Cobb - who took 29 carries and produced 220 yards and 2 touchdowns on Saturday - who probably needs to see as many touches as possible for the Gophers to be successful. And while I like David Cobb and think he's a fine running back, it will be interesting to see how Kill's ground and pound strategy works in the Big Ten this season with no real passing threat. If teams can slow down Cobb and the ground game, it's going to be on Leidner's arm. And like we saw last year, that doesn't seem to be a winning formula.

Next Up: at #16 TCU

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 19.67%

Average Score: Minnesota 14, TCU 33

10. Illinois #56, 104 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#55 105 85 83 102 106 25.73

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#52 94 104 87 98 109 20.50

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#115 76 3.66 50 4.17 63

Through two games, Illinois has played Youngstown State, who is an FCS team and Western Kentucky, who THOR+ currently has as the #78 team in the nation. Like most teams, because of their early schedule, it's hard to know exactly how good they are. Right now, THOR+ thinks they are 4% above the average FBS team. Thanks to Wes Lunt, the offense can throw the ball, but they are struggling mightily to run the ball early on and they seem to have been bitten by the turnover bug. The defense, meanwhile, has been fairly solid at keeping touchdowns off the board, but they've allowed other teams to move the ball on them via the pass.  And if you look at the special teams rating from above, you can see their might be an issue there, especially with the field goal kicking game. All of that might make for a decent season for the Illini this year, but it probably won't lead to much more than an average football team.

Next Up: at #41 Washington

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 30.11%

Average Score: Illinois 25, Washington 37

11. Indiana #59, 102 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#30 95 114 104 105 123 29.99
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#82 95 102 76 108 88 25.25
Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#125 65 3.54 25 4.36 45

Indiana is the one Big Ten team that was off this past weekend, which only gives us one game's worth of data from which to judge them. Their passing game looked surprisingly off against Indiana State, but the running game looked to be running on all cylinders. As for the defense, well, who knows at this point? Holding Indiana State to 10 points is better than allowing 30, so they've got that going for them.

Next Up: at #68 Bowling Green

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 41.29%

Average Score: Indiana 34, Bowling Green 36

12. Northwestern #69, 96 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#86 85 96 106 101 83 20.01
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#46 102 112 85 97 115 19.15
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#102 55 3.44 94 3.84 75

There's not really a whole lot to say about this Northwestern team. Their season got off to a bad start before it really even got started, and now they've opened up the season with losses to Cal and Northern Illinois. The offense is terrible, and by terrible, I mean that their performance this season, stripping out the projections, has been 31% worse than the average FBS offense. That's what I mean by terrible. If there is a strong point on this team, it is the defense. Although, that still looks like it may have some vulnerabilities in every aspect but against the run. And even the run defense looked a bit vulnerable at times against Northern Illinois. Basically this Wildcat team looks lost right now, and it looks like it could be a long season in Evanston.

Next Up: Bye Week

13. Rutgers #82, 89 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#60 116 97 102 99 102 24.75
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#107 76 78 108 98 64 30.53
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#7 133 4.26 157 3.37 145

So maybe that win against Washington State isn't quite as impressive as we all thought. Rutgers' offense has looked fairly decent through two weeks, and while Paul James didn't rush for over 100 yards this past weekend against Howard, he did have 100 yards receiving on 2 catches and 3 total touchdowns. Gary Nova also put up a line that you would expect him to against Howard: 15-19 for 282 yards and 4 TDs. That's looks good, right? Sure that looks good. It's the defense that doesn't look to be good right now. The first game of the season saw their secondary get shredded, while the second game of the season saw the Howard Bison come away with 269 rushing yards on 42 carries. That's 6.41 yards per carry. To an FCS team at home. On the season, they have allowed 8.24 yards per pass attempt and 4.91 yards per carry. To give that unit some credit, they have caused some turnovers to help ease some of the pain, but the pass defense and the run defense just doesn't look good right now. The rushing defense might be helped with Penn State coming to town, but Christian Hackenberg has the chance for another 300+ yard night.

Next Up: vs. #45 Penn State

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 42.43%

Average Score: Rutgers 22, Penn State 29

14. Purdue #123, 57 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#106 78 86 97 85 69 16.63
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#125 82 72 82 76 37 36.74
Special Teams Rank Special  Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
#81 115 4.06 67 4.05 91

Purdue is a mess. And after losing to Central Michigan, their next best chance at beating an FBS opponent comes in November, when THOR+ gives them a 33.02% chance to beat Northwestern at home. This week they get a Notre Dame team that just whooped Michigan 31-0. Fun times lie ahead in West Lafayette.

Next Up: vs. #11 Notre Dame

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 7.14%

Average Score: Purdue 13, Notre Dame 53