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YOUR 2015 LESS-EARLY BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 6

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This week in the power rankings: A huge slate of Big Ten games are happening this Saturday. Can Iowa overcome injuries and win at Northwestern? Can Michigan State and Penn State keep it competitive against Michigan and Ohio State? Has Minnesota fixed their offense? (Hint: No) And much more!

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The weekly power rankings post is usually one in which I try to analyze (as best I can), what has been going on with every Big Ten team over the last week. Of course, if it's a continuing trend, I will also discuss games further back than the past week. Additionally, I also try to discuss the future when possible. Overall, I think I focus more on the past, but I would say there is a bit of a balancing act to it.

I continue that trend today down below, but up here, in the introduction, I want to talk about the upcoming week 7 match ups. This Saturday is a pretty significant Big Ten slate of games for both divisions. First of all, the game nearest and dearest to our hearts here at BHGP is Iowa and Northwestern essentially playing for the Big Ten West title. Of course it's not the actual title game this early in the conference season, but if Iowa wins, Northwestern falls into that dangerous two-loss category, while Iowa has a leg up on everyone else in the West. If Northwestern wins, of course, they will jump into a tie for first place in the division, that could muddy things up even more if Wisconsin and Minnesota win this weekend.

Meanwhile, the East still has four unbeaten teams in conference play. That has to change this weekend, seeing how each unbeaten is facing off against another. Making it even better is the fact that Michigan and Michigan State are in-state rivals, and Ohio State and Penn State have a history of playing some great games. Michigan and Ohio State are clearly the favorites in both of these games, but Michigan State's offense is probably the best Michigan's faced all year and Penn State's defense may be able to keep it close against an inconsistent, turnover-prone Ohio State offense. On top of the race for the East, even the Indiana-Rutgers game could be fun, assuming Jordan Howard and Nate Sudfeld are able to play this weekend.

In all, this should be a huge, if not entertaining, Saturday of Big Ten football. Get excited, you guys.

Now, before we get into the rankings, I will remind you that the preseason projections for all teams are no longer included in the ratings. Rutgers was the last team to reach five games this season, so this will be the first week with totally 2015 season numbers for every team. And, if you would like a reminder on how THOR+ works, read the second paragraph in this post.

Now, to the power rankings!

Big Ten Power Rankings Post-Week 6

Rank Team Coach Offense+ Defense+ Special Teams+ THOR+ PPG vs. Avg. PPGA vs. Avg. W% vs. Avg. W vs. Avg.
5 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 104 175 155 139 32.8 11.7 0.819 9.8
21 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 110 150 81 128 34.2 18.5 0.729 8.8
27 Ohio State Urban Meyer 122 130 99 125 36.9 22.4 0.709 8.5
39 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 87 143 142 116 28.3 19.1 0.639 7.7
42 Nebraska Mike Riley 105 123 102 113 32.9 24.3 0.621 7.4
46 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 55 167 127 110 20.3 14.2 0.597 7.2
47 Penn State James Franklin 84 136 112 110 27.4 21.1 0.594 7.1
49 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 113 108 77 109 34.5 27.9 0.587 7.0
50 Illinois Bill Cubit 82 137 101 109 27.2 21.4 0.585 7.0
72 Minnesota Jerry Kill 58 142 98 99 20.5 20.0 0.510 6.1
86 Maryland Mike Locksley 98 79 143 91 31.3 33.9 0.450 5.4
87 Rutgers Kyle Flood 94 82 145 90 30.6 33.5 0.445 5.3
90 Purdue Darrell Hazell 90 92 51 89 28.2 31.6 0.438 5.3
92 Indiana Kevin Wilson 87 82 122 86 28.5 33.6 0.413 5.0

1. Michigan #5, 139 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
56 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 86 109 106 130 104 28.6
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
2 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 169 141 96 149 175 8.6
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
3 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 124 4.2 186 3.2 155

Like it or not, Michigan is the legitimate hot topic of discussion in college football right now. They are riding a streak of 3 straight shutouts over FBS teams -- granted, none of those teams are offensive juggernauts, but even the best of defenses allow field goals from time to time. Somehow, though, with Northwestern's defense falling from the top spot, Michigan remains #2, as Boston College has taken the crown for top-ranking defense in the country, according to THOR+. Michigan's is still scary good, though, and likely a unit that we should label "elite." THOR+ -- and just about every other rating system -- is high on the Wolverines right now, and Michigan State has taken a tumble in recent weeks. After being considered a double-digit underdog before the season started, the Wolverines opened up this week as a touchdown favorite over the Spartans. (THOR+ is clearly taking the over.) Michigan is also currently 10:1 to win the National Championship, for you gambling gurus out there.

Up Next: vs. #49 Michigan State

Game Watch Rating: 78

Win Probability: 83%

Projected Score: Michigan 32, Michigan State 12

2. Iowa #21, 128 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
42 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 120 109 125 109 110 30.2
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
10 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 119 127 127 113 150 14.3
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
98 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 109 4.0 54 4.1 81

It's pretty hard to over exaggerate how big the game this weekend is. The Hawkeyes are 6-0 and have one of the easiest schedules they've ever been given in front them. Northwestern is 5-1 and also playing the best football they've played in years, thanks largely to a stifling defense. The game is in Evanston and the Hawkeyes are beat up in a lot of key positions that really worry me. Besides the huge losses of Drew Ott to Iowa's defense and Tevaun Smith to Iowa's passing game, I'm also concerned about the current health of the offensive line. C.J. Beathard has not had a lot of time to throw the ball in three out of the last four weeks, and he likely will be on the move, outside the pocket this weekend if he wants to throw anything resembling a deep ball. But if Iowa can regularly hit on their quick passes in the face of pressure and they can keep Beathard mostly upright and intact, I think they are the more complete team and should win this game. But, as we all know, Pat Fitzgerald has worked some crazy black magic in past years and I really hope that another quest for a perfect season isn't stopped at the hands of the Wildcats.

Up Next: at #46 Northwestern

Game Watch Rating: 144

Win Probability: 57%

Projected Score: Iowa 14.3, Northwestern 13.7

3. Ohio State #27, 125 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
27 Ohio State Urban Meyer 100 116 60 113 122 33.3
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
32 Ohio State Urban Meyer 155 108 107 104 130 18.8
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
74 Ohio State Urban Meyer 64 3.5 133 3.5 99

The Buckeyes are a hard team to figure out. Their turnover and efficiency problems on offense have been well-documented, but lately their defense has been a bit questionable. It started by struggling with a Jordan Howard/Nate Sudfeld-less Indiana offense that Penn State just held to 7 points for four quarters, and continued in week 6 by allowing Maryland quarterback Perry Hills (Perry freaking Hills!) to hit on a 52-yard touchdown pass and run for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns on 25 carries. Of course, the Buckeyes beat the Terps by 21, but after watching Zander Diamont scamper for 98 yards and a touchdown the week prior, Ohio State fans are wondering if the Buckeye defense has an issue with running quarterbacks? Luckily for them, outside of Minnesota's Mitch Leidner, there aren't a whole lot of mobile quarterbacks left on their schedule; especially this week's quarterback, Christian Hackenberg. It could be something to keep in mind come bowl season, though.

Up Next: vs. #47 Penn State

Game Watch Rating: 123

Win Probability: 70%

Projected Score: Ohio State 28, Penn State 18

4. Wisconsin #39, 116 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
86 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 100 95 138 120 87 24.2
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
15 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 129 106 92 113 143 15.8
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
10 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 111 4.0 173 3.3 142

Wisconsin was in real jeopardy of losing in Lincoln this past weekend, but a strong second half performance by Joel Stave against Nebraska's terrible pass defense and a redeeming second field goal try for Raphael Gaglianone were enough to deliver another schadenfreude-esque (?) loss for Nebraska. Wisconsin games aren't pretty to watch this year, but with a strong defense and a cushy schedule all that matters is the Badgers continue to win. That also shouldn't be an issue this week.

Up Next: vs. #90 Purdue

Game Watch Rating: 86

Win Probability: 75%

Projected Score: Wisconsin 31, Purdue 16

5. Nebraska #42, 113 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
51 Nebraska Mike Riley 106 124 87 119 105 28.8
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
37 Nebraska Mike Riley 65 119 58 106 123 20.4
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
69 Nebraska Mike Riley 120 4.1 84 3.9 102

Nebraska is 2-4 and Husker fans are spontaneously combusting (comments section) from sheer outrage. As you all know, Nebraska is a perennial powerhouse and winning results are expected. Unfortunately, winning results do not usually happen when your secondary can't stop a Joel Stave-led passing attack and your coach willingly runs the ball up the gut three straight times to give the Badgers -- against your terrible secondary, no less -- another shot at moving into field goal range. But, hey, at least Wisconsin didn't have any timeouts left. That's something.

Up Next: at #72 Minnesota

Game Watch Rating: 141

Win Probability: 54%

Projected Score: Nebraska 20, Minnesota 18

6. Northwestern #46, 110 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
124 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 79 96 132 107 55 15.8
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
5 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 142 117 110 114 167 10.4
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
22 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 155 4.5 99 3.8 127

Fresh off a 38-0 complete thumping at the hands of Michigan, Northwestern has to bounce right back this weekend if they want to stay in the chase for the Big Ten West. Of course, I would be totally cool with them not bouncing back, but I imagine Pat Fitzgerald will have his team ready for Iowa.

The defense is the biggest strength for this Wildcat team, of course, and they really haven't shown many weaknesses this season. Even in their loss to Michigan, two of the touchdowns given up were not allowed by the defense. Iowa's offense is much improved this season, but injuries have really crippled them (literally) recently and that favors the Wildcats. Of course, Iowa's defense isn't exactly chopped liver (even without Drew Ott) and Northwestern's offense is... well, chopped liver might be an apt comparison here. Running back Justin Jackson is talented, but it's hard for him to do much when the passing game can't keep the opposing defense from crowding the line of scrimmage before every snap. As long as Iowa can take care of the ball, they should be able to pull out a relatively low-scoring affair. At least, that's what I'm hoping, anyway. This game scares the hell out of me.

Up Next: vs. #21 Iowa

Game Watch Rating: 144

Win Probability: 43%

Projected Score: Northwestern 13.7, Iowa 14.3

7. Penn State #47, 110 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
91 Penn State James Franklin 86 102 152 69 84 23.5
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
24 Penn State James Franklin 146 100 131 140 136 17.4
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
43 Penn State James Franklin 99 3.9 124 3.6 112

Penn State played their most complete game of the season against a depleted Indiana squad this past Saturday. As a result, they jump this week after beating the Hoosiers 29-7. That's the second time this year they've jumped inside the top 50 after beating a bad team (Rutgers was the first occurrence). Like last time, I don't expect that to last very long (although, I could very easily be wrong) after they play Ohio State this weekend. Penn State's defense may be good enough to hold Ohio State to something like the 28 points that THOR+ is calling for, but I seriously question whether Penn State's offense can muster 18 points against the Buckeye defense. The Nittany Lions could only muster 10 points against the only actual defense with a pulse they've played this season (Temple), and haven't exactly set the world ablaze against the other terrible defenses on their schedule. Maybe they can if Saquon Barkley can get healthy for this game, but I'm still skeptical.

Up Next: at #27 Ohio State

Game Watch Rating: 123

Win Probability: 30%

Projected Score: Penn State 18, Ohio State 28

8. Michigan State #49, 109 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
39 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 132 85 167 112 113 30.9
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
54 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 106 92 117 116 108 24.0
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
101 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 76 3.7 78 4.0 77

The Spartans continue to win, but continue to do so by slim margins against bad teams. Injuries continue to be the main culprit for these close games, but there are some big issues aside from injuries. First of all, the secondary continues to show that it is a liability when the other team has a star receiver, like Leonte Caroo. Secondly, Dantonio's special teams units continue to make multiple mistakes per game. Special teams mistakes can be overcome against bad teams, but they can be the difference between winning and losing games against talented foes, like Michigan and Ohio State. Speaking of which, the Spartans travel to Ann Arbor this week. In 6 games this year, Michigan State has yet to face a legitimate defense. This will be a huge test for Connor Cook and the rest of the Michigan State offense.

Up Next: at #5 Michigan

Game Watch Rating: 78

Win Probability: 17%

Projected Score: Michigan State 12, Michigan 32

9. Illinois #50, 109 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
95 Illinois Bill Cubit 91 86 125 115 82 23.0
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
23 Illinois Bill Cubit 124 111 101 117 137 17.4
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
70 Illinois Bill Cubit 132 4.2 70 4.0 101

Illinois has a bye in week 7. Therefore, I will also take a bye in discussing them.

Up Next: Bye Week

10. Minnesota #72, 99 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
120 Minnesota Jerry Kill 78 93 86 114 58 16.6
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
19 Minnesota Jerry Kill 134 119 99 95 142 16.2
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
75 Minnesota Jerry Kill 100 3.9 96 3.8 98

Hey, so Minnesota's offense finally found the "explosive plays" section of the playbook this past Saturday against Purdue. Of course, 41 points against lowly Purdue does not mean Minnesota's offense is suddenly fixed. The Gophers still have no passing game to speak of, which places a crap-ton of pressure on a running game that hasn't done a whole lot this year. Shannon Brooks was the star against the Boilermakers, but he's a true freshman and he hasn't done anything against actual competition yet. Minnesota's final 6 games come against Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Currently, THOR+ has the worst defense of those teams being Nebraska, who THOR+ has at #37 in the country. I personally think Nebraska's defense is a little worse than that, but I do think they are bad match up for Minnesota this weekend. The Huskers have actually been strong against the run this year, while their weakness has come via the pass. Again, Mitch Leidner doesn't scare anyone with his arm. My point with this diatribe? Minnesota's offense may work against Purdue, but it will likely struggle for air against the remainder of their schedule.

Up Next: vs. #42 Nebraska

Game Watch Rating: 141

Win Probability: 46%

Projected Score: Minnesota 18, Nebraska 20

11. Maryland #86, 91 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
67 Maryland Mike Locksley 32 130 0 102 98 27.0
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
99 Maryland Mike Locksley 71 104 71 112 79 30.5
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
9 Maryland Mike Locksley 132 4.2 154 3.4 143

Randy Edsall is gone, and now all Maryland fans really care about is who the new coach will be and when basketball season starts. Rightfully so.

Up Next: Bye Week

12. Rutgers #87, 90 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
73 Rutgers Kyle Flood 102 99 70 95 94 26.0
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
94 Rutgers Kyle Flood 85 93 51 94 82 29.9
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
7 Rutgers Kyle Flood 171 4.7 119 3.7 145

Rutgers almost upset Michigan State in Piscataway in week 6, thanks to Leonte Caroo being reinstated from suspension. Caroo being able to play single-handedly makes it so the Scarlet Knights are probably not the worst team in the conference. That being said, he can't keep this defense from surrendering all of the points and he can't keep the offense from spiking the ball on 4th and 21 at the end of the game. This past weekend's game really was the most Rutgers game ever.

Up Next: at #92 Indiana

Game Watch Rating: 153

Win Probability: 46%

Projected Score: Rutgers 32, Indiana 34

13. Purdue #90, 89 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
79 Purdue Darrell Hazell 63 96 35 114 90 24.9
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
81 Purdue Darrell Hazell 97 87 95 103 92 27.5
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
119 Purdue Darrell Hazell 36 3.2 65 4.1 51

Things are so bad with Purdue football that blog friends enemies (they are still OMHR, don't you forget) Hammer and Rails is only continuing to write about the sport because they are contractually obligated. And, honestly, with basketball right around the corner and a good women's volleyball team, who can blame them? At this point, no matter how much THOR+ seems to hate Indiana, I'm pretty sure Purdue is the worst team in the conference. Yes, they have some close losses and there is an argument to be made that they are very unlucky; and maybe they are. But, whatever is going on, Darrell Hazell is on the hot seat. Whether his job is in jeopardy this year or next, he is now firmly affixed atop the hot seat.

Up Next: at #39 Wisconsin

Game Watch Rating: 86

Win Probability: 25%

Projected Score: Purdue 16, Wisconsin 31

14. Indiana #92, 86 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
87 Indiana Kevin Wilson 126 90 173 123 87 24.2
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
95 Indiana Kevin Wilson 62 89 115 86 82 29.9
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
26 Indiana Kevin Wilson 137 4.3 107 3.7 122

So long as Indiana is without Jordan Howard and Nate Sudfeld, they actually may belong in the Big Ten basement at #14. It's not clear when those two are returning to action yet, but when/if they do, Indiana is probably better than Purdue, Rutgers, and Maryland, no matter what THOR+ says. Hopefully they will be back this weekend. The game against Rutgers would be a lot more exciting to watch if they actually played.

Up Next: vs. #87 Rutgers

Game Watch Rating: 153

Win Probability: 54%

Projected Score: Indiana 34, Rutgers 32