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YOUR STILL-WAY-TOO-EARLY BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 3

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This week's power rankings discuss: Ohio State quarterback problems; whether Michigan State is "elite" or simply "very good"; and just how good anyone in the Big Ten West is.

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

We are now three games into the 2015 season, and while we are starting to see some trends that look real with each team, it is still to early to make very many definitive claims. We can say with a fair amount of confidence that the Big Ten East is probably a two team race, but we have absolutely no idea how good the teams in the Big Ten West actually are. Things change from week-to-week within the power rankings, so what we see now likely isn't what we will see at the end of November.

That's your weekly reminder that it's still very early in the season. And, before I start, I will give you your other weekly reminder that these numbers are still influenced by the preseason projections. The difference this week is that the actual season numbers are weighted 60% and the projections only hold 40% sway over what you see. That's still quite a bit of control over the numbers, but this is the first week in which the actual on-the-field numbers are weighted heavier than the projections.

I'm not going to rehash here how the ratings work. If you would like a refresher, I will direct you to the first few paragraphs here.

To the power rankings!

Big Ten Power Rankings Post-Week 3

Rank Team Coach Offense+ Defense+ Special Teams+ THOR+ PPG vs. Avg. PPGA vs. Avg. W% vs. Avg. W vs. Avg.
8 Ohio State Urban Meyer 125 144 103 135 37.9 19.3 0.782 9.4
9 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 131 138 119 133 39.5 20.5 0.768 9.2
24 Nebraska Mike Riley 131 115 77 124 39.6 26.3 0.701 8.4
25 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 133 123 55 123 39.8 24.9 0.695 8.3
28 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 100 146 107 121 31.4 18.8 0.681 8.2
41 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 61 161 149 112 22.1 15.4 0.612 7.3
47 Penn State James Franklin 79 142 98 110 25.8 19.7 0.592 7.1
48 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 98 118 100 109 31.1 25.5 0.587 7.0
51 Illinois Bill Cubit 100 118 92 108 31.7 25.6 0.580 7.0
62 Minnesota Jerry Kill 66 136 106 101 22.8 21.3 0.526 6.3
73 Maryland Randy Edsall 104 79 153 95 33.3 34.1 0.477 5.7
75 Purdue Darrell Hazell 86 97 77 92 27.8 30.4 0.462 5.5
94 Rutgers Kyle Flood 86 71 149 82 28.7 36.1 0.384 4.6
105 Indiana Kevin Wilson 91 57 105 76 29.6 39.6 0.336 4.0

1. Ohio State #8, 135 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
23 Ohio State Urban Meyer 107 123 59 131 125 34.2
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
11 Ohio State Urban Meyer 161 123 139 120 144 15.6
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
62 Ohio State Urban Meyer 82 3.7 124 3.6 103

Ohio State is 3-0, but recent offensive challenges may have put the sky-high preseason expectations on pause for just a moment. The main ills troubling the Buckeyes right now are on offense, where inconsistent quarterback play over the last two games and a big turnover problem have led to a somewhat unimpressive 38-0 win (if there is such a thing) and a game that was closer than it should have been against a directional school. Urban Meyer has hinted that it may be time to pick a quarterback, but still doesn't have his mind made up one way or the other. But even when/if he does, will that be enough to get them back to clicking at high-octane levels? Or is the loss of offensive coordinator Tom Herman more difficult to overcome than expected? This could not only have National Championship implications, but it could have Big Ten implications, as it leaves the Big Ten East door open for Michigan State.

Up Next: vs. #89 Western Michigan

Game Watch Rating: 60

Win Probability: 88%

Projected Score: Ohio State 51, Western Michigan 19

2. Wisconsin, #9, 133 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
17 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 115 102 133 115 131 35.7
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
18 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 133 113 100 132 138 17.0
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
24 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 90 3.8 147 3.4 119

The Badgers are still a really tough team to get a handle on, as we've only seen them play Alabama and a bunch of cupcakes. They struggled against the former, but they've done what they were supposed to against the latter. I'm still thinking THOR+ has them too high here due to preseason projections still influencing things, but I'm open to being wrong when we see them start playing Big Ten competition.

Up Next: vs. #82 Hawaii

Game Watch Rating: 69

Win Probability: 86%

Projected Score: Wisconsin 42, Hawaii 15

3. Nebraska #24, 124 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
16 Nebraska Mike Riley 124 114 87 114 131 35.8
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
47 Nebraska Mike Riley 75 113 93 114 115 22.3
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
107 Nebraska Mike Riley 90 3.8 64 4.1 77

Nebraska went from likely dropping in the power rankings after looking like they were going to get blown out by Miami this Saturday, to actually rising after they made a dramatic comeback, only to lose by 3 points. What I think has become clear over the first three weeks of Nebraska actually playing good competition in two of those weeks, is that Nebraska's offense can put up points, even with one of their best receivers in De'Mornay Pierson-El being injured. What also looks to be apparent is that their defense is bad. They weren't very good against BYU, and they graded out horrible again this past weekend. THOR+ still likes them early on, but I wouldn't be surprised to see their Defense+ rating drop as the season goes along. They are still contenders in the Big Ten West because of their offense, but Mike Riley is going to have to figure something out on the other side of the ball. Also, they are still 1-2.*

*LOL

Up Next: vs. #102 Southern Mississippi

Game Watch Rating: 67

Win Probability: 85%

Projected Score: Nebraska 52, Southern Mississippi 24

4. Michigan State #25, 123 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
14 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 145 90 138 116 133 36.2
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
34 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 108 118 129 127 123 20.6
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
122 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 74 3.6 36 4.3 55

If Wisconsin is potentially overrated by THOR+ right now, Michigan State is potentially underrated. I say "potentially" because there are arguments to be made that they are an "elite-level" team, but there are also arguments to be made that they are simply "very good." THOR+ likes their offense, but thinks their defense is very good right now and not elite. On top of that, special teams' issues -- they are 2-4 on field goals and have allowed both a kickoff and punt return for touchdown -- are also pulling their overall rating down. As with every other team, only time will tell. But I think it's pretty clear that the Spartans are at the very least a very good football team right now, but the verdict is still out on whether they are elite.

Up Next: vs. #99 Central Michigan

Game Watch Rating: 66

Win Probability: 85%

Projected Score: Michigan State 46, Central Michigan 18

5. Michigan #28, 121 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
57 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 66 106 79 134 100 27.7
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
8 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 133 132 85 132 146 15.2
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
49 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 85 3.7 130 3.6 107

After a rough opening week loss to Utah, Michigan has since taken care of business against a bad Oregon State team and an extremely bad UNLV one. The defense continues to carry this team and it seems clear that the Wolverines are good enough to beat lesser-ranked teams pretty easily. What seems less clear is whether or not the offense can be something other than a huge liability against better teams. The preseason projections are helping their Offense+ rating tread water at average, but if we were just looking at their numbers from their first three games their Offense+ rating would be 7 percentage points under that. The main problem with the offense is at quarterback, where Michigan fans have gone from hoping they could forget about Jake Rudock's performance at Iowa, to hoping that they can still recover that game-manager who rarely turned the ball over in 2014. If Rudock can regain his old non-turnover ways and Michigan can prove they can run the ball against non-terrible teams, they could have a pretty solid season if their defense continues to play at a high level.

Up Next: vs. #40 BYU

Game Watch Rating: 140

Win Probability: 64%

Projected Score: Michigan 30, BYU 20

6. Northwestern #41, 112 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
120 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 61 97 122 107 61 17.4
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
1 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 146 116 134 116 161 11.7
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
4 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 176 4.7 122 3.6 149

Northwestern has to be the biggest surprise of the Big Ten season so far, right? For the second week in a row the Wildcats possess the top-ranked defense in the nation, according to THOR+. For the second time in three weeks, Northwestern has also won a game in which their opponent was favored. That leaves Pat Fitzgerald's team 3-0, with only a home game against Ball State standing in their way of a perfect non-conference slate. To put that into perspective a little bit, before the season started, THOR+ gave the Wildcats approximately an 8% chance of starting the season 4-0. Now they have an 87% chance going into this Saturday. But, yeah, that defense looks good so far. I'm not totally sure they are the best in the nation, seeing how THOR+ thinks Duke's offense sucks and another third of their data is from playing an FCS team. However, after Stanford's offensive outburst against USC last weekend, it's hard to make the argument that Stanford just isn't very good. As for the Northwestern offense, it's pretty clear that it's going to struggle this year. But if they can run the ball with Justin Jackson and avoid costly turnovers via an inexperienced quarterback, they should be on the way to a very good season. THOR+ sees 8 wins being the most likely outcome at this point, and that's a big change from wondering whether they would make a bowl game before the season started.

Up Next: vs. #121 Ball State

Game Watch Rating: 56

Win Probability: 87%

Projected Score: Northwestern 34, Ball State 12

7. Penn State #47, 110 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
96 Penn State James Franklin 59 116 126 77 79 22.1
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
12 Penn State James Franklin 134 122 98 147 142 16.0
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
72 Penn State James Franklin 80 3.7 115 3.7 98

The Nittany Lions get a huge bump after pummeling Rutgers this weekend. That comes for two reasons, as the offense actually put together a decent performance (terrible opponent aside) and the defense did its thing (opposing team missing their star wide receiver, also aside). The defense should be good enough to keep them in games this season, so the main question left to answer is whether or not the offense can be serviceable against actual Big Ten competition (sorry, Rutgers). Game-manager Christian Hackenberg and a running game led by true freshman Saquon Barkley and the veteran Akeel Lynch have looked good against terrible teams thus far. Will the offensive line keep the former upright and open up holes for the latter against the Ohio States, Michigan States, Michigans, and Northwesterns of the Big Ten?

Up Next: vs. #107 San Diego State

Game Watch Rating: 77

Win Probability: 81%

Projected Score: Penn State 30, San Diego State 12

8. Iowa #48, 109 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
62 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 117 99 118 109 98 27.1
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
41 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 107 125 76 125 118 21.6
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
66 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 112 4.0 88 3.9 100

If you hadn't noticed last week, Iowa's offense was actually average after the Iowa State game. It has since dropped back down to 2 percentage points below average (although, I still consider that pretty much average), but, as sad as it sounds, this season so far is actually progress for an Iowa team that hasn't sniffed average on offense since Greg Davis became the offensive coordinator in 2012. Meanwhile, on defense, THOR+ likes the Hawkeye defense, but isn't sure it is quite at the elite level we were so used to during the halcyon days of Norm Parker. So, while I don't like to dampen your enthusiasm of Iowa football, I do think we should hold off for a while before we proclaim this season to be 2009 reincarnated. That shouldn't matter for North Texas this weekend, though. They are BAD. There is absolutely no excuse for Iowa not to be 4-0 after Saturday.

Up Next: vs. #118 North Texas

Game Watch Rating: 64

Win Probability: 85%

Projected Score: Iowa 41, North Texas 16

9. Illinois #51, 108 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
58 Illinois Bill Cubit 97 86 89 110 100 27.6
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
42 Illinois Bill Cubit 132 107 121 111 118 21.6
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
88 Illinois Bill Cubit 112 4.0 72 4.0 92

Illinois was blown out by North Carolina this past weekend, which finally tells us what we were already thinking: they aren't very good. Now, are they an average to a little bit above average team, or are they worse? These are things we should find out soon enough.

Up Next: vs. #83 Middle Tennessee

Game Watch Rating: 112

Win Probability: 71%

Projected Score: Illinois 39, Middle Tennessee 24

10. Minnesota #62, 101 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
112 Minnesota Jerry Kill 91 84 74 113 66 18.8
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
19 Minnesota Jerry Kill 130 107 107 92 136 17.5
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
53 Minnesota Jerry Kill 109 4.0 103 3.8 106

While Penn State was a riser this week, Minnesota is their free-falling opposite. And this has everything to do with their offense challenging Northwestern for the title of "Worst Offense in the Big Ten." Unfortunately for the Gophers, for as good as their defense is, THOR+ does not think it is quite as good as the one the Wildcats are bludgeoning opponents to death with right now. But let's go back to the offense because there is an interesting hashtag going around the Gopher blogosphere/Twittersphere that may shine light on the offensive woes of our rodent enemies to the North. The hashtag is #RUTM, which stands for "Run up the Middle." This has become a hashtag because Jerry Kill and Matt Limegrover are continually pounding their running back up the middle, stacked-box be damned. Their offensive game plan was insanely predictable against Kent State, which makes you wonder whether Minnesota just has absolutely no clue what to do without David Cobb and Maxx Williams, or if Kill and Limegrover are perfectly happy draining clock with the run game, pinning other teams with their excellent punter, and then forcing their opponent to do something against their defense. It's probably a combination of both, but playing close against Kent State is one thing. Playing close against the rest of the Big Ten is another. Just ask Kirk Ferentz.

Up Next: vs. #67 Ohio

Game Watch Rating: 145

Win Probability: 59%

Projected Score: Minnesota 23, Ohio 19

11. Maryland #73, 95 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
50 Maryland Randy Edsall 68 100 42 106 104 28.7
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
94 Maryland Randy Edsall 109 92 65 91 79 30.7
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
2 Maryland Randy Edsall 162 4.6 144 3.5 153

Maryland had a better performance against South Florida this past weekend than they had the week before against Bowling Green. But there are still issues. It would seem that the Terps have found their quarterback in Caleb Rowe, and while I've always thought he was their best pure passer, he did show turnover issues last season and continued to do so against South Florida (3 interceptions). But, offense aside, the defense is still probably their bigger issue. They were OK against the raging Bulls on Saturday, but South Florida's offense isn't exactly great. And when you adjust for the 6 sacks that Maryland had, South Florida tallied 267 rushing yards on 44 carries, which was good for 6.1 yards per carry. That will be an issue going forward.

Up Next: at #19 West Virginia

Game Watch Rating: 90

Win Probability: 20%

Projected Score: Maryland 19, West Virginia 40

12. Purdue #75, 92 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
83 Purdue Darrell Hazell 66 97 52 125 86 24.0
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
68 Purdue Darrell Hazell 100 95 110 124 97 26.4
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
108 Purdue Darrell Hazell 83 3.7 70 4.0 77

If we ignore the second half of football, Purdue had a pretty good week 3. If we include it... well, you know. The Boilermakers aren't very good once again this year and the schedule does not get any easier going forward. What else can you say?

Up Next: vs. #74 Bowling Green

Game Watch Rating: 157

Win Probability: 57%

Projected Score: Purdue 37, Bowling Green 34

13. Rutgers #94, 82 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
86 Rutgers Kyle Flood 84 92 59 85 86 23.9
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
104 Rutgers Kyle Flood 89 73 57 96 71 32.5
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
5 Rutgers Kyle Flood 184 4.8 113 3.7 149

Up Next: vs. #122 Kansas

Game Watch Rating: 90

Win Probability: 78%

Projected Score: Rutgers 41, Kansas 24

14. Indiana #105, 76 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
78 Indiana Kevin Wilson 121 89 137 113 91 25.3
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
117 Indiana Kevin Wilson 62 89 105 64 57 35.6
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
58 Indiana Kevin Wilson 134 4.3 76 4.0 105

Indiana sits at the bottom of the power rankings again this week, despite being 3-0. Why? Well, their first issue is the competition they've faced thus far has been bad. They struggled to beat FCS Southern Illinois and needed second half comebacks to beat Florida International and Western Kentucky. None of those teams are particularly good. Western Kentucky looks like they have a pretty good offense and Florida International may have a pretty decent defense, but all together, none of those teams are really that great.

Now, if Indiana fans want a hint of positivity, there is a chance that Indiana's offense has been a little unlucky so far. As you can see with their offensive intangibles (passing, rushing, etc.) almost all of those are getting great ratings (ball carriers not named "Jordan Howard" are pulling their rushing rating down), but their Offense+ rating is 9 percentage points below average. That's essentially due to the fact that Indiana had slow starts in their last couple of games and didn't really start putting up points until the second half. Offense+ is measuring their points per play, so wasted drives in the first half will pull that number down. In the end, there is likely no saving this defense, but the offense is probably better than THOR+ is giving them credit for right now. Of course, that's with the caveat that we still haven't seen them play anybody worth a damn. That will change in two weeks when Ohio State comes to town.

Up Next: at #78 Wake Forest

Game Watch Rating: 116

Win Probability: 32%

Projected Score: Indiana 22, Wake Forest 30