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YOUR STILL-WAY-TOO-EARLY BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 4

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This week in the power rankings: Is Iowa's offense finally above average? Just how good is Michigan? Just how bad is Maryland? And more hatin' on the 4-0 Hoosiers.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

No flashy introduction this week, as I am in the process of moving. Instead, I will just give you your weekly reminders that preseason projections still contribute 20% to the ratings below. Preseason projections will be gone from next week's ratings for every team but Rutgers, as they are the only team with a bye week in the first 5 weeks of the season.

If you would like a reminder of how these ratings work, I will direct you to the first few paragraphs here.

To the power rankings!

Rank Team Coach Offense+ Defense+ Special Teams+ THOR+ PPG vs. Avg. PPGA vs. Avg. W% vs. Avg. W vs. Avg.
11 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 106 159 124 131 33.0 15.7 0.756 9.1
14 Ohio State Urban Meyer 114 146 106 129 34.9 18.7 0.743 8.9
20 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 112 144 115 126 34.3 19.1 0.719 8.6
26 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 117 131 71 122 35.7 22.8 0.688 8.3
30 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 126 124 44 121 38.0 24.6 0.680 8.2
43 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 58 164 134 111 21.1 14.9 0.601 7.2
48 Nebraska Mike Riley 113 102 92 108 35.0 29.3 0.580 7.0
51 Penn State James Franklin 79 136 92 107 26.0 21.3 0.569 6.8
58 Illinois Bill Cubit 87 120 108 103 28.4 25.1 0.542 6.5
71 Minnesota Jerry Kill 61 133 106 97 21.6 21.9 0.497 6.0
86 Purdue Darrell Hazell 88 91 67 89 28.0 31.9 0.438 5.3
88 Maryland Randy Edsall 94 74 155 87 30.6 35.1 0.423 5.1
98 Rutgers Kyle Flood 83 73 145 81 27.8 35.6 0.376 4.5
99 Indiana Kevin Wilson 89 70 108 81 29.0 36.5 0.376 4.5


1. Michigan #11, 131 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
54 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 79 112 101 139 106 29.2
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
2 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 141 135 73 145 159 12.3
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
21 Michigan Jim Harbaugh 91 3.8 158 3.4 124

The Wolverines move up in the power rankings this week thanks to a 31-0 whacking of BYU and because their strength of schedule got a little boost from Utah committing unspeakable acts on Oregon. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Michigan is still the same team they were the weeks before. And despite moving up to number one this week (mainly because Ohio State fell out of the top 10), I'm still not sold that they are a complete team. Their defense does look as if it could be an elite unit, and it should keep them in every game. But the offense is going to need to show that they can run the ball against Big Ten defenses (sorry, Maryland, but you don't count) and that Jake Rudock won't be a liability.

Up Next: at #88 Maryland

Game Watch Rating: 76

Win Probability: 75%

Projected Score: Michigan 36, Maryland 17

2. Ohio State #14, 129 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
31 Ohio State Urban Meyer 93 119 49 128 114 31.3
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
9 Ohio State Urban Meyer 158 118 130 105 146 15.2
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
55 Ohio State Urban Meyer 75 3.7 136 3.5 106

Thus far, Ohio State's offense hasn't quite lived up to the preseason hype. They are an above average unit, but at only 14 percentage points above that mark, this is not exactly the Urban Meyer offensive juggernaut we've come to expect. Still, the offense has a ridiculous amount of talent on it and the defense is playing lights out right now. The Buckeyes got clicking on all cylinders at the right time last season, so they are still my pick for best team in the conference. But they should probably get that offensive issue fixed by mid-November at the latest.

Up Next: at #99 Indiana

Game Watch Rating: 67

Win Probability: 78%

Projected Score: Ohio State 39, Indiana 19

3. Wisconsin #20, 126 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
37 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 103 97 154 110 112 30.7
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
13 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 132 105 87 116 144 15.8
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
40 Wisconsin Paul Chryst 69 3.6 161 3.3 115

The Badgers are probably the biggest unknown in the conference at this point. But even with all the question marks, it seems pretty safe to say that the offense isn't nearly as explosive as it has been in past years. Joel Stave is looking like the classic game-manager Badger quarterback, but the running game is missing their best back in Corey Clement. They have options in the running game, of course, but none of them are particularly proven against legitimate competition. The defense, on the other hand, looks to be strength of this team. In other words, we may have a defensive slugfest on our hands in Madison this weekend.

Up Next: vs. #26 Iowa

Game Watch Rating: 147

Win Probability: 62%

Projected Score: Wisconsin 28, Iowa 20

4. Iowa #26, 122 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
28 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 124 98 111 104 117 32.0
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
31 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 125 115 94 111 131 18.7
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
112 Iowa Kirk Ferentz 83 3.7 59 4.1 71

The Hawkeyes have moved up to #26 in the nation this week, according to THOR+. That is thanks to a huge offensive boost after they lit up a not-so-good North Texas team. At this point, I really do think Iowa has at least an average, and probably even an above average offense (yay!). However, I'm not totally sold that they are 17 percentage points above average. I will continue to take a cautious approach, though, until I see them go against some better competition. Luckily, we should see the offense face a real defense this Saturday in Wisconsin. If Iowa is able to win this game, the win projections will likely be off the charts next week.

Also, I should give a note on the special teams, since it continues to drop every week. Marshall Koehn is doing great, but this is a points per play model and Iowa has only kicked 4 field goals this year (not necessarily a bad thing, of course). But a combination of not many field goal attempts and thus not many points from field goals puts more emphasis on the fact that Iowa has no kickoff or punt return touchdowns, and that is dragging the offensive special teams rating down a bit. Really, though, the punt block for a touchdown given up to Pitt actually hurts the most, since you know, this is a points per play system and giving up a touchdown on special teams is never a good thing. So, don't worry, Marshall Koehn's field goal rating is 36 percentage points above average. He's still pretty dreamy, you guys.

Up Next: at #20 Wisconsin

Game Watch Rating: 147

Win Probability: 38%

Projected Score: Iowa 20, Wisconsin 28

5. Michigan State #30, 121 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
21 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 135 87 154 118 126 34.4
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
34 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 105 111 120 124 124 20.2
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
125 Michigan State Mark Dantonio 68 3.6 21 4.4 44

Michigan State's win over Central Michigan was probably better than the final score and traditional stats suggest, but I'm still wondering whether they are elite, or just very good? I'm leaning toward the latter this week, but it's still early and that could still be good enough to win the entire Big Ten this year. You don't have to always win pretty, you just have to win.

Up Next: vs. #86 Purdue

Game Watch Rating: 78

Win Probability: 79%

Projected Score: Michigan State 42, Purdue 21

6. Northwestern #43, 111 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
122 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 76 93 111 105 58 16.5
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
1 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 142 107 126 96 164 11.2
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
10 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 160 4.5 109 3.7 134

The game against Ball State showed why THOR+ is having trouble ranking Northwestern higher than in the 40s: their offense is bad. I mean, if you can't score more than 24 points against Ball State, what can you do against Big Ten defenses? I say this from experience because Iowa struggled against Ball State last season and their offense finished the season below average. In all fairness, Clayton Thorson did settle down as the game went on, but he's still young and prone to doing the bad things that young quarterbacks do. And Justin Jackson can only do so much when the defense isn't afraid of your passing game. To be fair to the offense, though, the defense also had their issues against a less-than-stellar Ball State offense. Injuries to the safety position probably had something to do with Jordan Williams catching 7 passes for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was still their worst graded performance of the season. And they still only surrendered 19 points! Anyway, the season probably comes down to skill/luck in close games, so Wildcat fans better hope Pat Fitzgerald has his close game mojo back.

Up Next: vs. #71 Minnesota

Game Watch Rating: 114

Win Probability: 67%

Projected Score: Northwestern 17, Minnesota 9

7. Nebraska #48, 108 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
35 Nebraska Mike Riley 116 113 82 108 113 30.9
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
64 Nebraska Mike Riley 71 117 89 105 102 25.2
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
81 Nebraska Mike Riley 124 4.2 60 4.1 92

The lone Big Ten upset of the week that THOR+ is calling for is Nebraska to lose a close one in Champaign. And, who knows, maybe that isn't actually an upset? But, regardless, Husker fans have seen better days than what has happened over the past four games (LOL), so it's not all that surprising that an 8-point win over Southern Mississippi feels like a loss. And considering the defense continues to hold a GPA around 2.0 against bad teams and an ever lower one against better teams, it's probably a little reassuring that they get to play an Illinois offense that THOR+ thinks isn't very good. On the other hand, THOR+ likes Illinois' defense, so this should be a match-up of each teams' strengths. The key to this game may be whether or not Tommy Armstrong Jr. can limit the turnovers. In other words, buckle up. It could be a bumpy ride.

Up Next: at #58 Illinois

Game Watch Rating: 157

Win Probability: 47%

Projected Score: Illinois 29, Nebraska 27

8. Penn State #51, 107 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
99 Penn State James Franklin 76 104 134 69 79 22.2
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
21 Penn State James Franklin 137 113 119 145 136 17.5
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
79 Penn State James Franklin 92 3.8 92 3.9 92

There's really not much to say about Penn State after beating San Diego State, except that they had a lot of players get hurt. Injuries seem to be taking a toll on a number of Big Ten teams after week 4, and Penn State is no exception. Luckily for them, Army comes to town this week, so they should be able to give key guys a rest without having it hurt them in the win column.

Up Next: vs. #97 Army

Game Watch Rating: 91

Win Probability: 74%

Projected Score: Penn State 36, Army 21

9. Illinois #58, 103 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
85 Illinois Bill Cubit 85 82 112 109 87 24.1
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
39 Illinois Bill Cubit 123 117 113 113 120 21.2
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
51 Illinois Bill Cubit 138 4.3 78 4.0 108

Illinois struggled against a Middle Tennessee team that THOR+ thinks is actually pretty decent this season (#57 in the country). That would be bad if you were an Illinois fan who thought they were a top 25 team after they started off 2-0, but it may actually soften the blow of a close win if you think Illinois is a more mediocre team this season. (Hooray for perspective!)  I think the game against Nebraska this weekend will tell us quite a bit about how good both teams really are. I'm actually kind of excited for this one.

Up Next: vs. #48 Nebraska

Game Watch Rating: 157

Win Probability: 53%

Projected Score: Illinois 29, Nebraska 27

10. Minnesota #71, 97 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
120 Minnesota Jerry Kill 91 82 80 115 61 17.5
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
29 Minnesota Jerry Kill 124 108 91 91 133 18.1
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
53 Minnesota Jerry Kill 116 4.1 97 3.8 106

The good: The Gopher offense wasn't as predictable/crappy against Ohio on Saturday. The bad: Minnesota needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat Ohio by 4 points at home. (Although, THOR+ has Ohio at #59 in the country right now, so maybe it's not that bad.) The ugly: Injuries have decimated Minnesota's secondary. The dreadful: the 17-9 projected score for the game this coming weekend.

Up Next: at #43 Northwestern

Game Watch Rating: 114

Win Probability: 33%

Projected Score: Minnesota 9, Northwestern 17

11. Purdue #86, 89 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
83 Purdue Darrell Hazell 72 89 61 116 88 24.5
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
83 Purdue Darrell Hazell 101 93 112 110 91 27.9
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
116 Purdue Darrell Hazell 64 3.5 70 4.0 67

Every week Purdue loses, and every week I wonder whether or not they will fall to last place in these power rankings. Then I remember that two of their losses came in the final minutes of the game, so maybe they aren't quite as bad as their record indicates. They are still bad, of course, but they could very easily be 2-2 or even 3-1 right now if a couple more plays had gone their way. They are going to need a lot of plays to break right for them this Saturday, though, if they want any chance at beating Michigan State. But, hey, at least David Blough looks like he may actually have a promising future.

Up Next: at #30 Michigan State

Game Watch Rating: 78

Win Probability: 21%

Projected Score: Purdue 21, Michigan State 42

12. Maryland #88, 87 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
70 Maryland Randy Edsall 48 111 0 101 94 26.1
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
97 Maryland Randy Edsall 98 89 68 98 74 31.7
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
2 Maryland Randy Edsall 160 4.5 149 3.4 155

THOR+ expected a 40-19 whooping of Maryland by West Virginia and the reality managed to be worse: 45-6. Now, West Virginia's defense looks legit, and THOR+ has them as the 6th best in the nation right now. But Maryland is also just really bad. They have no quarterback, Mike Locksley is a recruiter masquerading as an offensive coordinator, and that defense is absolutely porous. It's no wonder the head coach is unaware of player-only meetings and fans are wondering how much it will cost to fire him. Feel free to enter the meme of the dog in the room of fire here.

Up Next: vs. #11 Michigan

Game Watch Rating: 76

Win Probability: 25%

Projected Score: Maryland 17, Michigan 36

13. Rutgers #98, 81 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
95 Rutgers Kyle Flood 83 90 48 94 83 23.1
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
98 Rutgers Kyle Flood 96 75 55 94 73 31.9
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
4 Rutgers Kyle Flood 170 4.6 119 3.7 145

Rutgers beat Kansas pretty easily, so bully for them for showing the Big Ten doesn't have the worst Power 5 team residing in their conference. Unfortunately, that was one of the remaining winnable games on their schedule. But I'll be nice this week since it's a bye. Enjoy, Rutgers fans.

Up Next: Bye Week

14. Indiana #99, 81 THOR+

Rank Offense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
81 Indiana Kevin Wilson 126 88 157 120 89 24.8
Rank Defense Coach Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
103 Indiana Kevin Wilson 73 94 101 69 70 32.6
Rank Special Teams Coach Off. Special Teams+ PPG vs. Avg. Def. Special Teams+ PPGA vs. Avg. Special Teams+
52 Indiana Kevin Wilson 132 4.2 83 3.9 108

Ah, yes, on to the 4-0 Hoosiers that THOR+ has ranked last in the conference (not by much, mind you). We can pretty much confirm that their defense is, in fact, bad. What I think we don't know yet is just how good their offense is. Their intangibles look good in the areas of passing, turnovers and blocking. And running would also look just fine if they would stop giving Devine Redding 37% of the running back carries. However, the concerning part of the offense is that they still have yet to click on all cylinders, which is what is showing up in their below average Offense+ rating. It is taking them a lot of plays to put up the amount of points they are scoring. So, what I'm imagining is one of two situations here. Either Indiana's offense has been unlucky, and the scoring is going to catch up to the fact that their offense is moving the ball down the field at high levels (Devine Redding, aside). Or the offense has been taking advantage of easy opponents and the intangibles are going to drop down and say "Hello" to the scoring in the near future. I'm leaning towards the latter; especially, with Big Ten defenses of Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan remaining on the schedule.

Up Next: vs. #14 Ohio State

Game Watch Rating: 67

Win Probability: 22%

Projected Score: Indiana 19, Ohio State 39