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YOUR LESS EARLY BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 7

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After a chaotic week 6, there were no real upsets for the Big Ten in week 7.

All Damond Powell does is catch bombs, yo.
All Damond Powell does is catch bombs, yo.
Matthew Holst

Week 7 wasn't quite as eventful as week 6 in college football, and there were no real upsets in the Big Ten, either. If there were any surprises, they came in the form of Iowa having an uncharacteristic offensive outburst and the fact that Purdue and Illinois stuck close with Michigan State and Wisconsin. For the most part, though, it was a bit of an anti-climactic week in the conference.

To the power rankings!

For a refresher of how these ratings work, see here.

Post-Week 7 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 #18 Michigan State 155 97 110 126 0.717 8.60 41.67 26.67
2 #19 Ohio State 144 107 126 126 0.716 8.59 38.95 24.19
3 #22 Maryland 116 130 166 125 0.708 8.49 33.38 19.32
4 #23 Nebraska 125 122 142 124 0.702 8.43 34.88 21.12
5 #31 Wisconsin 123 118 80 119 0.664 7.97 33.63 22.28
6 #41 Minnesota 94 130 139 113 0.614 7.37 27.08 19.32
7 #47 Iowa 85 138 67 109 0.589 7.07 24.24 18.10
8 #55 Indiana 116 101 44 106 0.566 6.79 31.58 26.44
9 #58 Penn State 61 147 130 104 0.550 6.60 19.02 15.66
10 #59 Northwestern 69 141 100 104 0.547 6.56 20.31 17.11
11 #60 Michigan 79 132 61 104 0.546 6.55 23.20 19.70
12 #67 Rutgers 104 99 114 102 0.535 6.41 29.18 26.33
13 #73 Illinois 113 86 49 98 0.503 6.04 30.56 29.53
14 #76 Purdue 94 95 106 95 0.484 5.81 26.83 27.27

THOR+ Projected Conference Win Totals

THOR+ B1G Rank Conference Wins 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 Michigan State 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 3.0% 12.5% 26.0% 34.0% 19.4% 5.0%
2 Ohio State 0.0% 0.0% 0.4% 3.8% 13.6% 29.4% 30.9% 18.7% 3.2%
3 Maryland 0.0% 0.3% 2.8% 13.7% 28.7% 32.5% 17.3% 4.7% 0.0%
4 Nebraska 0.0% 0.3% 2.4% 10.7% 27.7% 35.4% 19.3% 4.2% 0.0%
5 Wisconsin 0.0% 0.3% 5.7% 15.8% 29.3% 29.5% 16.1% 3.3% 0.0%
6 Minnesota 0.0% 0.0% 1.4% 8.6% 23.3% 34.8% 22.4% 8.6% 0.9%
7 Iowa 0.0% 0.0% 2.6% 13.5% 26.6% 32.0% 19.0% 5.1% 1.2%
8 Indiana 1.7% 10.2% 26.6% 33.5% 21.3% 6.3% 0.4% 0.0% 0.0%
9 Penn State 0.0% 4.5% 23.4% 33.7% 24.6% 12.3% 1.5% 0.0% 0.0%
10 Northwestern 0.0% 0.0% 2.6% 14.4% 30.4% 32.3% 17.6% 2.7% 0.0%
11 Michigan 0.0% 9.5% 29.9% 36.1% 18.8% 5.3% 0.4% 0.0% 0.0%
11 Rutgers 0.0% 8.0% 27.6% 35.5% 21.5% 6.3% 1.1% 0.0% 0.0%
13 Illinois 4.5% 20.1% 37.6% 27.5% 9.0% 1.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
14 Purdue 0.0% 10.0% 31.0% 37.0% 17.9% 3.5% 0.6% 0.0% 0.0%

New this week are the projected win totals. I did this once before the season started, but until now, I just hadn't found an easy way to run automatic simulations in Excel. Thanks to a little help from Bart Torvik (give him a follow on Twitter, won't you?) I was able to find an easy way to run automatic simulations. Expect to see these updated every week as the season goes on.

1. Michigan State #18, 126 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#7 143 106 133 130 155 37.88

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#73 126 110 204 128 97 23.11

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#47 88 3.78 131 3.56 110

Michigan State and Purdue played a weird game on Saturday. For good chunks of it, the Spartans looked to be in control, only to let the Boilermakers claw their way back to make things interesting. After jumping out to a quick lead, Michigan State was up only 7 points at halftime, and after going up 38-17 in the third quarter, Purdue shrunk that lead to 38-31 in the fourth quarter. I wouldn't say we almost had a "Sparty no!" moment in this game, but Michigan State is starting to show a pattern of not finishing out games this year. The offense continues to be highly-rated after putting up 45 points this past weekend, but the defense took a hit after allowing 4 touchdowns. They still stay in the top spot of the Power Rankings this week, but the defensive issues and Indiana's offense getting a boost from Tevin Coleman's performance at Iowa, now has THOR+ calling for a possibly interesting game this weekend in Bloomington. Of course, those numbers also include a lot of Nate Sudfeld, and he won't be playing on Saturday. So, unless Tevin Coleman goes full on Superman against the Spartans, this game probably shouldn't be that close.

Up Next: at #55 Indiana

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 52.3%

Projected Average Score: Michigan State 38, Indiana 36

2. Ohio State #19, 126 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#12 151 112 109 94 144 35.17

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#59 143 102 147 121 107 20.87

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#29 88 3.78 164 3.32 126

Ohio State had a chance to rest up after putting a whooping on Maryland, and comes back this week to play the other newest addition to the Big Ten, in Rutgers. There's not really much to say about this game, except that I would not be surprised to see the Buckeyes hang 40 or 50 points on the Scarlet Knights while J.T. Barrett throws for 5 or 6 touchdowns. Sure, Cincinnati showed that Ohio State can be thrown on, and Gary Nova looks improved from last year, but the Ohio State defense is hoping they can force him into some bad decisions. This game shouldn't be all that close.

Up Next: vs. #67 Rutgers

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 80.1%

Projected Average Score: Ohio State 43, Rutgers 23

3. Maryland #22, 125 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#38 107 97 70 97 116 28.24

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#22 112 102 92 112 130 15.63

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#5 217 5.14 114 3.69 166

After a bye, Maryland comes into week 8 rested and ready to host our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes. Because Maryland was on a bye week, not much has changed with their THOR+ rating. I say that because I think THOR+ is currently a little too optimistic with their Offense+ rating. As it stands, the Terps have weapons at receiver in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long that could give Iowa some troubles. However, the persons in charge of getting them the ball, aka the quarterbacks, have been pretty inconsistent this year. C.J. Brown is a mobile threat, who has been very iffy with his arm. Meanwhile, Caleb Rowe is the pocket passer who has moved the ball through the air well, but who has also shown a penchant for throwing the ball into coverage.  So who will quarterback against Iowa this week? Brown is the starter, but, if history is any indicator, Rowe could certainly see some snaps, too. If Brown is really struggling, then Rowe will probably get a lot of snaps. In my opinion, Brown is the one who is least likely to be capable of exploiting an Iowa secondary that still has breakdowns from time to time. The strength of Maryland's offense lies in the wide receivers, and with no Tevin Coleman-like back lining up on the other side, Iowa's secondary should not have to worry much about the play-action fake. Overall, I think Iowa's defense should do pretty well against this Maryland offense. Of course, with all of that being said, the Terps' defense still has the advantage over Iowa's offense, while Maryland has one of the best special teams' units in the nation. That, unfortunately, is why THOR+ likes Maryland this weekend.

Up Next: vs. #47 Iowa

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 75.5%

Projected Average Score: Maryland 27, Iowa 15

4. Nebraska #23, 124 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#30 117 126 104 121 125 30.44

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#40 120 105 101 114 122 17.58

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#15 150 4.43 134 3.54 142

A couple of weeks ago, this didn't seem like a game of interest. Now, though, this is one of the games I'm most excited to see this weekend. The Cornhuskers roll in to Evanston on Saturday to face a plucky Wildcat bunch, and, as you can see below, THOR+ essentially thinks this matchup is a coin flip. This game looks somewhat comparable to when Wisconsin was upset on Ryan Field during week 6, as Ameer Abdullah is another world class running back, of a similar nature to Melvin Gordon. The Badgers had no troubles running the ball with Gordon a few weeks ago, so it wouldn't be all that surprising to see Abdullah crack 100 yards on the day. However, the main question for Nebraska, is can Tommy Armstrong Jr. and an injured wide receiver corps do enough to keep the offense from breaking down too much? The defense should be fine against a Northwestern offense that strikes fear in to the heart of absolutely nobody, which means the game likely comes down to Tommy Armstrong's ability to not make any crucial mistakes; unlike Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy.

Up Next: at #59 Northwestern

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 52.8%

Projected Average Score: Nebraska 19.4, Northwestern 19.2

5. Wisconsin #31, 119 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#32 65 141 82 107 123 30.05

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#46 111 106 95 122 118 18.42

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#90 69 3.58 91 3.86 80

The bye week probably comes at a good time for the Badgers right now, as they allowed an Illinois team that is not particularly good at football to hang around for a lot longer than they should have. Yet again, Wisconsin started slow, and allowed their opponent to get out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter before they decided to fully wake up. Don't get me wrong, this game was never in doubt, but the Badger defense let the Illini back in the game once Aaron Bailey came in at quarterback and began scrambling around the field in the fourth quarter. On offense, Joel Stave played more than Tanner McEvoy did on the day. Neither quarterback was exactly amazing, but neither made any critical errors like they did at Northwestern. Instead, like it so often usually is, it was the Melvin Gordon show that went for 175 yards and 4 touchdowns on 27 carries. Backup running back, Corey Clement, wasn't chopped liver either, as he had 164 yards on 13 carries and 1 touchdown. Of course, relying that much on the run can lead you to victory when you're facing the team with the worst Defense+ rating in the Big Ten, but can it lead you to victory in two weeks when a better Maryland defense comes to town? We will find out.

Up Next: Bye Week

6. Minnesota #41, 113 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#76 68 98 82 100 94 22.65

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#24 132 113 149 97 130 15.74

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#18 150 4.43 129 3.58 139

Minnesota won a close game at home against Northwestern, just like THOR+ projected last week. The offense wasn't spectacular, but nobody expected it to be against Northwestern's stingy defense. While David Cobb had to work for his 97 rushing yards, Mitch Leidner was actually pretty good through the air and put the ball in the end zone twice via the ground. Leidner was able to limit mistakes too, seeing how he only through the ball to other team once the entire game. And when you have a strong defense like Minnesota seems to have, and you have a special teams whose ranking seems to be going up every week (thanks, Jalen Myrick!), you simply need your offense to just not be stupid, and you have a good chance of winning the game.

Up Next: vs. #76 Purdue

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 74.5%

Projected Average Score: Minnesota 32, Purdue 17

7. Iowa #47, 109 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#89 99 81 130 111 85 20.60

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#13 127 101 110 99 138 14.00

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#104 75 3.65 60 4.10 67

Iowa drops a bit this week, thanks largely to their defense taking a hit at the expense of Tevin Coleman. Let's be honest, though, because as excited as we all have been about this defense this year, I don't think any of us thought it was an elite unit. Rather, they are still very good, but are still very young in places, and are prone to mistakes. The offense, however, took a pretty significant step forward in THOR+'s eyes this weekend. And while I'm all for 45 points, I am not yet ready to proclaim this offense has found its footing. Keep in mind, that this was Indiana, after all. The Hawkeyes' offensive performance exceeded my expectations this past weekend, but it's still important to remember who they played. That perspective is important because THOR+ thinks Indiana's defense (#67) is the worst defense that Iowa will play the rest of the year, outside of Illinios (#91). Next week Iowa faces the 22nd best defense in the nation in Maryland, and then, in three of their final four games, this Hawkeye offense will see the #9 ranked Northwestern defense, the #46 ranked Wisconsin defense, and the #40 ranked Nebraska defense. For the 2014 Iowa Hawkeyes, the difference between a great season, a good season, or a merely meh season, comes down to the performance of this offense down the stretch.

Up Next: at #22 Maryland

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 24.5%

Projected Average Score: Iowa 15, Maryland 27

8. Indiana #55, 106 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#39 89 137 124 118 116 28.21

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#67 97 107 45 106 101 22.19

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#124 48 3.37 40 4.24 44

The Hoosiers put up a valiant effort in Iowa City this past weekend. They found themselves down 21-0, then 28-7, but found a way to make it 28-21 for a brief moment in the second quarter. Indiana never really looked like they were going to take the lead from Iowa, but a big part of that was the fact that they lost Nate Sudfeld to injury in the second half, which made them severely one-dimensional for the rest of the game. Back up true freshman quarterback, Chris Covington, tried his damnedest, but, as you would expect from a true freshman quarterback, he looked lost running the offense. Instead, the only thing keeping Indiana alive was Tevin Coleman breaking Iowa's will on touchdown runs of 83, 69, and 45 yards. How he only got 15 carries in this game is beyond me. His 219 yards on the ground was 51% of Indiana's offensive yardage on the day, and that came in only 25% of their plays. But still, even with Coleman's insane production, the loss of Sudfeld is pretty crippling to this Indiana offense, seeing how Tre Roberson is no longer wandering the sidelines of Bloomington. So, while the question of the game may have been "Why didn't Tevin Coleman carry the ball more?" The question for the rest of the season is "Where does Indiana go from here at quarterback?"*

*As I was writing this, it turns out that Zander Diamont is where they go from here. Indiana fans, rejoice!

Up Next: vs. #18 Michigan State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 47.7%

Projected Average Score: Indiana 36, Michigan State 38

9. Penn State #58, 104 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#114 86 75 98 78 61 14.46

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#5 121 143 101 117 147 11.86

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#27 162 4.56 98 3.81 130

Last week I said that Penn State at Michigan had all the makings of a stereotypical #B1G game, and, oh boy, did it deliver on those expectations. This game saw 470 combined total yards of offense and 31 combined total points. Each team looked severely offensively-challenged, as one quarterback was legitimately injured, and one probably should have been, with as many times as he was hit. (I mean, 6 sacks? How is Christian Hackenberg still walking?) And still, despite the worst offensive line in the Big Ten and a litany of coaching miscues, Penn State still had a chance to win this game. I highly doubt that this Penn State offense, with this current offensive line, could have put together a game-winning drive in the final minutes, but they should have at least had the chance. As witnesses to the 2006 Outback Bowl*, I think we can all agree that this was not offsides. Also, there is no good reason why that play should not be reviewable.

*I refuse to link to that game out of respect for my own well-being.

Up Next: Bye Week

10. Northwestern #59, 104 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#106 81 83 133 117 69 16.44

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#9 130 115 125 102 141 13.35

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#64 96 3.87 104 3.77 100

After pulling off the upset against Wisconsin at home a week ago, the Wildcats weren't able to keep their three-game winning streak going in Minneapolis in week 7. The Wildcats didn't play all that bad, but their ultimate demise came on a kickoff return touchdown with 7 minutes left in the game. That brings me to my main point: even though Northwestern lost this past weekend, I look at them as a team that nobody wants to play. Sure, on paper they don't look all that scary. I mean, the offense is pretty lousy, but that defense keeps them in every game. Win or lose, they always seem to be within striking distance. And that's why THOR+ thinks this weekend will be no different. Nebraska is the better team, but playing on the road, against a very good defense, could make for a dramatic ending.

Up Next: vs. #23 Nebraska

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 47.2%

Projected Average Score: Northwestern 19.2, Nebraska 19.4

11. Michigan #60, 104 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#96 63 111 35 86 79 19.12

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#17 102 128 28 130 132 15.20

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#113 116 4.08 6 4.50 61

The Wolverines still aren't a very good football team, but they at least stopped the bleeding a little bit this past weekend. Devin Gardner played through injury and did just enough to help this offense muster points against a tough Penn State defense. On the flip side of the ball, the Wolverine defense held Penn State scoreless over the final 42 minutes of game time. I don't care who you are playing, that is pretty impressive. As a whole, it wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. And with Michigan's top two quarterbacks battling injuries, this bye week comes at an impeccable time for the maize and blue.

Up Next: Bye Week

12. Rutgers #67, 102 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#55 135 81 98 87 104 25.22

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#69 89 77 74 115 99 22.70

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#43 105 3.96 123 3.63 114

Thanks to Jim Delaney and his scheduling, the Scarlet Knights are about to enter the Big Ten gauntlet starting this weekend. In Rutgers' final six games, they travel to Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State, and Maryland while getting home matchups against Indiana and Wisconsin. None of those are particularly easy games, and THOR+ currently has them favored in only one of them (Indiana). In addition, as you saw above, THOR+ sees them winning one or two more games for the rest of the season, with an outside shot at three. So, yes, Rutgers may be 5-1 right now, but if they finish the season 6-6 or 7-5, don't be too surprised.

Up Next: at #19 Ohio State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 19.9%

Projected Average Score: Rutgers 23, Ohio State 43

13. Illinois #73, 98 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#42 108 100 68 82 113 27.47

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#91 83 86 53 101 86 25.55

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#121 22 3.09 76 3.97 49

You have to give Tim Beckman's bunch credit, they were awfully scrappy against Wisconsin. Of course, almost and scrappy don't count when you're in year three, like Tim Beckman is. The loss of Wes Lunt certainly hurts them offensively right now. And that's an especially big blow, considering the offense is just about the only positive on this team. But, seriously, what is the excuse for the defense being so bad? Maybe they can use their week off to get better at stopping the run.

Up Next: Bye Week

14. Purdue #76, 95 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#74 67 111 99 105 94 22.85

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg.
#78 99 99 72 93 95 23.51

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#51 107 3.98 105 3.76 106

Another week of college football saw another week of Purdue continuing to look better than they did to start the year. Over the past couple of weeks, this team has slowly snuck their way up the national rankings in THOR+'s eyes. Even while the defense is still suspicious, the Boilermakers seem to have found a running game on offense. Oh, and Austin Appleby looks a lot better than Danny Etling. None of that was good enough to get the win against Michigan State, but for a team coming off a 1-11 season in 2013, this past Saturday's game against Michigan State may have been a moral victory.

Up Next: at #41 Minnesota

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 25.5%

Projected Average Score: Purdue 17, Minnesota 32