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YOUR STILL-TOO-EARLY BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 5

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Conference play officially started this past weekend, and while Michigan State and Nebraska look very good, Michigan is still a raging dumpster fire that refuses to be put out.

Eric Francis

Now that five weeks are now in the proverbial book that is the college football season, teams who have played five games are completely free of the preseason projections that were influencing their ratings up to this point. All Big Ten teams that have only played four games thus far have scheduled games this week. That means that the preseason projections will no longer be apart of their THOR+ ratings starting next week.

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, 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 5 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 #13 Maryland 117 148 177 134 0.776 9.31 33.77 15.33
2 #19 Nebraska 137 123 144 131 0.754 9.04 37.81 20.70
3 #21 Michigan State 158 98 126 128 0.735 8.83 42.38 26.23
4 #22 Wisconsin 131 128 93 128 0.733 8.80 35.79 19.97
5 #27 Ohio State 137 112 119 125 0.705 8.46 37.09 23.09
6 #44 Iowa 74 155 48 111 0.603 7.23 21.43 14.49
7 #48 Minnesota 93 124 124 109 0.586 7.03 26.51 20.59
8 #49 Rutgers 111 106 112 108 0.582 6.99 30.78 24.83
9 #54 Northwestern 76 139 87 106 0.564 6.77 21.78 17.46
10 #59 Penn State 64 143 142 104 0.549 6.58 19.71 16.46
11 #66 Illinois 108 101 46 102 0.534 6.41 29.35 26.41
12 #67 Indiana 102 106 48 102 0.531 6.37 28.46 25.66
13 #75 Michigan 76 125 36 97 0.499 5.98 22.08 21.57
14 #93 Purdue 70 97 87 83 0.392 4.70 20.66 27.15

1. Maryland #13, 134 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#40 125 99 95 97 117 28.33

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#8 125 105 109 108 148 11.60

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#2 246 5.44 109 3.73 177

Like I said above, preseason projections have been completely stripped out of the numbers for teams that have played five games. Maryland is one of the teams that benefits from that, as what remained from the preseason projection that hated their offense is now gone, and THOR+ seems to have bought into it quite a bit. It doesn't think the Terps' offense is elite, by any means, but right now THOR+ thinks it is a fair bit better than the average offense. Meanwhile, after holding Indiana to 15 points and 3.95 yards per play in Bloomington, THOR+ really likes Maryland's defense. They've given up some yards to West Virginia and Syracuse this year, but they've largely done a nice job of keeping their opponents out of the end zone. And, last but not least, Maryland is currently sporting the #2 special teams unit in the nation, according to THOR+. Put all three of those together, and you have a team that is pretty dangerous. But while Maryland made a big jump after handling Indiana this past week, they get a much bigger challenge with Ohio State coming to town this weekend. THOR+ really likes Maryland in this one, but I'm still not sure how I feel about Maryland being up this high. I do think they can beat Ohio State, but if they were to win by the margin noted below, I think that would be quite the statement game for their first year in the Big Ten.

Up Next: vs. #27 Ohio State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 74.8%

Average Score: Maryland 34, Ohio State 18

2. Nebraska #19, 131 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#15 139 135 128 134 137 33.49

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#36 125 101 85 116 123 17.26

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#11 139 4.32 148 3.43 144

Illinois at full strength had no chance of going into Lincoln and coming away with a victory, so it's probably no surprise that an Illinois team without their starting quarterback left the state of Nebraska with a 31-point loss. Ameer Abdullah and the running game continued to hide the inconsistencies of Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s arm, while the defense had no trouble with an Illinois offense sans Wes Lunt. There is really nothing to talk about in regards to Nebraska after this game; Ameer Abdullah is insane, which we already knew. This was essentially a final practice game for the Cornhuskers, as they prepare for their biggest test of the season in Michigan State. I don't know about you, but I'm excited for this one.

Up Next: at #21 Michigan State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 35.6%

Average Score: Nebraska 34, Michigan State 38

3. Michigan State #21, 128 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#6 146 105 147 117 158 38.67

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#74 116 105 198 126 98 22.96

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#30 81 3.71 170 3.27 126

Week 5 was just another week in which Michigan State obliterated another cupcake opponent. Through four games this season, the Spartans have played an FCS team, the 2nd, 126th, and 103rd ranked teams in the nation, according to THOR+. They have demolished the bad teams, and they played Oregon extremely close for about 75% of the game. We know they are a very good team, with what looks like a very good offense this year. However, THOR+ still questions the defense, because it doesn't seem to be quite as elite as it has been in past years. I do, however, think they are better than the #74 ranking they have right now -- that ranking is largely thanks to the Oregon game. Anyway, this weekend they get their first real opponent since that game and it should be a good test of how good this defense actually is. Obviously, Nebraska isn't in the same league as Oregon offensively, but I am nonetheless curious to see how Dantonio's crew goes about trying to stop Ameer Abdullah.

Up Next: vs. #19 Nebraska

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 64.4%

Average Score: Michigan State 38, Nebraska 34

4. Wisconsin #22, 128 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#22 90 133 94 108 131 31.94

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#28 105 114 127 115 128 16.13

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#71 94 3.84 93 3.85 93

After a slow first half that found the Badgers tied 3-3 with South Florida this past weekend, Wisconsin's offense takes a tumble and so does their overall rating. The high-octane running game for Wisconsin was virtually non-existent in the first half when Melvin Gordon only amassed 50 yards through 30 minutes. The second half was more what we expect to see when Wisconsin plays a lesser opponent, though. Gordon broke out for 131 yards in the final 30 minutes of the game, and finished with 182 yards and 2 touchdowns on 32 carries. Tanner McEvoy didn't make any huge mistakes with his arm, the defense kept a terrible offense in check, and Wisconsin came away with a meh type of 27-10 victory. What did I take away from this game? Nothing really. All teams have their off games or off halves, and I certainly have no room to talk, seeing how Iowa didn't even get off the bus in West Lafayette until after the first quarter. That being said, Wisconsin has been a little slow out of the gates against lesser opponents in Eastern Illinois and South Florida this year. Some in Badgerland are starting to worry about that being trend. As a result, I'm looking forward to their match up with Northwestern this weekend when Wisconsin's rushing attack goes head-to-head with what THOR+ considers to be a very stingy Northwestern rushing defense. If Bucky can't get Gordon going on the ground, the score of this game could be closer than we think.*

*Of course, as I write that I fully know that I have just jinxed myself and Wisconsin will win in full on Bielema-style blowout fashion.

Up Next: at #54 Northwestern

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 54.4%

Average Score: Wisconsin 20, Northwestern 19

5. Ohio State #27, 125 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#16 138 109 90 98 137 33.33

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#49 124 102 116 121 112 19.68

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#35 86 3.76 153 3.40 119

It feels like a cop out to continuously say something to the effect of "I still don't know what to make of this team" in reference to just about every team right now, but that's really how I feel about Ohio State. I mean, I don't doubt that that they are a good team, but just how good are they? I think I'm fairly confident in what the offense is. J.T. Barrett is young, but talented; the offensive line has been better recently (against mediocre competition, though); Ohio State has a lot of offensive weapons; and Urban Meyer is an offensive-minded coach. Outside of the youth and inexperience of J.T. Barrett, it's the defense that has to prove its worth, and they really struggled to do so against Gunner Kiel and Cincinnati. To be fair, THOR+ ranks the Bearcat offense 10th in the nation, and has their passing game 41% above average this year. On the other hand, this isn't the only time the Buckeyes have struggled to stop the pass under Urban Meyer. And if Maryland is smart this week, they will test this Ohio State secondary with Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, and Marcus Leak down the field. Like I said above, I'm a little weary of how much THOR+ likes Maryland to beat Ohio State this weekend, but at the same time, this also reminds me a little bit of the Virginia Tech game.

Up Next: at #13 Maryland

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 25.2%

Average Score: Ohio State 18, Maryland 34

6. Iowa #44, 111 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#101 95 77 114 113 74 17.76

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#5 116 122 91 100 155 10.08

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#120 78 3.68 18 4.41 48

The offense continues to be maddening and the defense continues to keep opponents out of the end zone. So it's a pretty classic Kirk Ferentz team, right? C.J. Beathard and the offense started slow against Purdue, but picked it up once the second quarter started, and seemed to really hit their stride after halftime. The offensive struggles stemmed mainly from the CJB's lack of experience, wide receiver drops, and some bad offensive scheming. Beathard had a bad interception that was returned for a touchdown and made things difficult on his receivers a couple of times by firing bullets at them from short range. The wide receivers were also at fault, however, as they forgot how to do their jobs for quite a while, and one drop went so far as to take a sure touchdown off the board. And, finally, as was pointed out by Scott Dochterman on this week's On Iowa podcast, Iowa pretty much tipped their hat when they were going to run the ball. Essentially, whenever they went two runnings backs and two tight ends, Purdue had their safeties playing playing up toward the line of scrimmage.They can get away with that (kind of) against Purdue, but try that against better teams.

Of course, offensive predictability has been an issue forever for Iowa under Kirk Ferentz, so I'm not exactly optimistic that this will change. That's another reason I'm a proponent of Beathard being the starting quarterback. As it stands right now, Iowa's offense is basically an underdog against every defense it goes up against this year. With Rudock at the helm, I don't see this offense doing much to overcome the structural straightjacket that this coaching staff places them in. With Beathard, I feel like the offense has the ability to occasionally get an arm out of the straightjacket and land a counterpunch on the opposing defense. And with more experience, I am pretty confident that Beathard can break the offense out of that restraint more often. I mean, let's be honest here. No matter who Kirk picks to eventually be the starter, there's a pretty high chance that whoever loses the battle won't be here come next year. Rudock is a redshirt junior, and after starting as much as he has, I highly doubt he wants to spend the rest of his collegiate career on the bench. Beathard is only a redshirt sophomore and has shown that he's got what it takes to be a starting quarterback at an FBS-level school. This is how collegiate athletics works nowadays, and I wouldn't fault either of them for looking for a better opportunity to start should they lose the quarterback competition. Since I don't see a significant drop off when Beathard is in the game, I think his upside and ability for two more years after this is more valuable to this team than Jake's in only one more year after this season.

Up Next: Bye Week

7. Minnesota #48, 109 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#77 61 102 73 102 93 22.40

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#35 133 111 172 101 124 17.01

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#31 119 4.11 130 3.57 124

I have no idea what I witnessed on Saturday afternoon when Minnesota took on Michigan. The first quarter and change looked like stereotypical B1G football, meaning neither team looked like they had ever played offense before in their lives. The second quarter saw a little more action, and then Minnesota went on to outscore the Wolverines 20-7 in the second half on the way to a 30-14 romp. Mitch Leidner returned from injury and surprisingly threw the ball a lot more than he ran it. It wasn't an awe-inspiring performance per say, but 14-22 for 167 yards and a touchdown for a team that had just a week ago completed only one pass is pretty amazing. In addition, David Cobb, yet again, proved that he was probably the most underrated running back in the Big Ten. People know about him, but overlook him because of the team he's on. And his 183 yards and 5.7 yards per carry came against a Michigan defense that actually has been pretty stout against the run this year. Anyway, it was a nice win for Minnesota, but Michigan is dumpster fire coached by a dead man walking. I think this Gopher defense is pretty good, but I'm not buying their offense yet.

Up Next: Bye Week

8. Rutgers #49, 108 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#47 130 86 74 94 111 26.89

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#60 88 79 73 120 106 21.23

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#44 98 3.89 127 3.60 112

No Paul James, no problem against Tulane. At this point, it's hard to tell if it will be a problem against Michigan, either. THOR+ doesn't think so, and I have no reason to doubt it after watching Michigan in recent weeks.

Up Next: vs. #75 Michigan

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 70.5%

Average Score: Rutgers 29, Michigan 18

9. Northwestern #54, 106 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#98 78 80 109 104 76 18.22

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#17 113 119 106 97 139 13.72

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#86 66 3.56 107 3.74 87

Northwestern had to be the biggest surprise of the weekend for the Big Ten. After showing no sign of offensive ability all season, they suddenly decided to find some offensive competence against a Penn State team that had been damn good on defense up until last week. The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, and with Penn State's offense battling against an very good Northwestern defense, that seemed liked an insurmountable lead. Penn State's defense slowed Northwestern down in the middle portion of the game, but Northwestern's offense tacked on 15 in the fourth quarter to put a cap on a 29-6 pounding of the Nittany Lions.

To give you an idea of just how bad of a pounding this was, I give you visual evidence:

Yeah, it was a very unpleasant homecoming weekend for Penn State.

Moving forward to Wisconsin, though, is a different story. While the Northwestern offense showed signs of improvement in week 5, it was still inconsistent. I have little faith in this Northwestern team on that side of the ball, but I do think their defense is talented. And if they want any chance at upsetting Wisconsin this weekend, they will need that defense to find a way to contain Melvin Gordon and Co.

Up Next: vs. #22 Wisconsin

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 45.6%

Average Score: Northwestern 19, Wisconsin 20

10. Penn State #59, 104 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#109 91 76 89 86 64 15.16

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#14 120 141 105 115 143 12.85

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#12 160 4.54 124 3.61 142

If that gif above perfectly symbolizes the pounding that Penn State took at the hands of Northwestern on Saturday, then this picture perfectly captures how prepared Penn State was to play football that day:

Yeah, that game was rough. Sometimes you just play like crap, I guess.

Up Next: Bye Week

11. Illinois #66, 102 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#52 109 97 49 94 108 26.17

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#68 85 102 69 107 101 22.31

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#122 31 3.18 60 4.09 46

Illinois had no chance against Nebraska, with or without Wes Lunt in at quarterback. Fortunately, Lunt is expected to be back under center this week against Purdue, and that's good news for a team that relies so heavily on his arm for offensive success. That should also help open some running lanes for two good running backs in Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young. Because when the offensive line is able to open holes for them, good things happen, even against good defenses. I imagine there will be more of that against Purdue this weekend. And after watching Danny Etling this past Saturday, I also imagine that the Illini's weak defensive secondary will be just fine against Purdue's passing attack.

Up Next: vs. #93 Purdue

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 75.4%

Average Score: Illinois 34, Purdue 18

12. Indiana #67, 102 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#64 95 123 138 117 102 24.71

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#59 94 109 50 111 106 21.19

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#121 85 3.75 10 4.47 48

That's right, THOR+ actually has Indiana's defense rated higher than their offense through four games. I don't think that will last particularly long, but Nate Sudfeld's struggles against Indiana State and Maryland are the primary cause for the Offense+ rating that sits at just 2% above average right now. We all know it sure as hell isn't because of Tevin Coleman; that guy is a damn beast. But no matter how much the Hoosiers struggled at home against Maryland, I'm still scared of what Coleman could do to Iowa's linebackers in space. /shudders

Up Next: vs. #76 North Texas

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 65.8%

Average Score: Indiana 33, North Texas 23

13. Michigan #75, 97 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#97 52 114 0 78 76 18.23

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#33 103 122 27 113 125 16.87

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#125 94 3.85 -21 4.71 36

Charlie Weis was fired this weekend, and Brady Hoke is still employed. Wrap your minds around that one.

Up Next: at #49 Rutgers

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 29.5%

Average Score: Michigan 18, Rutgers 29

14. Purdue #93, 83 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#104 51 90 86 95 70 16.72

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#77 103 97 68 92 97 23.14

Special Teams Rank Special Teams Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. Special Teams Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#87 103 3.94 71 4.01 87

You know things are bad for OMHR when fans are talking about possibly leaving the Big Ten due to being unable to compete.

Up Next: at #66 Illinois

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 24.6%

Average Score: Purdue 18, Illinois 34