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BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 9

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Come for the hot mathematical action, stay for the... corgis? Wait, what?

Lumberjack Sparty is the best Sparty.
Lumberjack Sparty is the best Sparty.
Leon Halip

Michigan State and Nebraska win easy, while Joey Bosa wills Ohio State to victory, and Minnesota... well, LOL. Oh, and let's not forget Maryland being embarrassed for the second time in their last three games. That was your week in the Big Ten.

To the power rankings!

For a refresher of how these ratings work, see here. For a reminder of the win projections after week 9, see here.

Post-Week 9 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. Schedule Win%
1 #15 Ohio State 149 118 112 133 0.769 9.23 36.33 18.38 102 158
2 #16 Michigan State 159 107 98 132 0.760 9.12 38.80 21.01 101 161
3 #19 Nebraska 138 123 130 131 0.752 9.03 33.60 17.21 101 161
4 #20 Wisconsin 137 127 93 130 0.750 9.00 33.48 16.50 97 132
5 #32 Maryland 113 115 147 115 0.636 7.63 27.41 19.00 109 115
6 #45 Iowa 89 130 74 108 0.576 6.91 21.43 15.74 101 132
7 #47 Minnesota 98 113 134 107 0.569 6.83 23.75 19.50 99 138
8 #61 Indiana 117 89 63 102 0.532 6.38 28.56 25.05 106 79
9 #64 Michigan 78 127 75 101 0.525 6.30 18.77 16.45 107 69
10 #66 Purdue 106 94 102 100 0.521 6.25 25.76 23.85 105 69
11 #68 Illinois 113 90 55 100 0.519 6.22 27.44 24.66 103 92
12 #69 Penn State 61 137 129 99 0.514 6.17 14.42 14.07 102 105
13 #72 Northwestern 69 130 103 99 0.512 6.14 16.54 15.71 106 79
14 #79 Rutgers 106 78 126 93 0.468 5.62 25.65 27.51 101 115

1. Ohio State #15, 133 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#12 134 112 108 101 149 36.33

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#41 147 109 148 130 118 18.38

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#46 74 3.64 150 3.42 112

After a very odd game in Happy Valley, Ohio State remains in the top spot this week. On Saturday night, the Buckeyes started the game on track to have an easy win against an overmatched Penn State team, just like we all expected. They went into halftime with a 17-0 lead and the game looked like it was going to be a total snoozer. Then, the second half happened, and Penn State's defense held Ohio State's explosive offense to 0 points in the third and fourth quarters, and even outscored them 7-0. It required the assistance of a defensive touchdown to do so, but Penn State was able to score 17 unanswered points and force overtime. Fortunately for Ohio State, whatever ailed their offense in the third and fourth quarters quickly dissipated, as they scored two quick and easy touchdowns in overtime and pulled off the 31-24 victory. The man of the match was probably Joey Bosa (2.5 sacks, 6 tackles), and I bring that up simply because I want to post this game-ending sack:

The running back never stood a chance.

Up Next: vs. #68 Illinois

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 85.8%

Projected Average Score: Ohio State 44, Illinois 19

2. Michigan State #16, 132 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#7 148 108 127 131 159 38.80

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#59 139 104 197 133 107 21.01

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#67 66 3.55 131 3.57 98

Mark Dantonio doesn't like Michigan, and it shows. This game was never in doubt, but Michigan's defense was able to slow the Michigan State offense down a bit for the first two quarters. The score at halftime was 14-3 in favor of the Spartans, but then the wheels came off for Michigan. Devin Gardner threw a pretty terrible usual interception that was returned for a touchdown and then Michigan State remembered they have this guy at wide receiver, Tony Lippett, and that Michigan is vulnerable in the secondary. Suddenly a game where the Wolverines may have had some (false) hope was quickly a 28-3 whooping, and ended with a final score of 35-11. Not everything was perfect for the Spartans on the day, however. Connor Cook had a somewhat rough day, outside of his 70 yard touchdown pass to Lippett, that is. Michigan made him very uncomfortable in the pocket, and it showed with a stat line in which he only completed 12 of his 22 pass attempts. On a brighter note, though, Jeremy Langford was the offensive workhorse for Sparty, racking up 177 yards and 3 touchdowns on 35 carries (5.1 YPC). Meanwhile, the defense didn't give up any real big plays in this one, which was a nice change of pace for a unit whose defensive style some Michigan State fans have dubbed "break, but don't bend." That can most likely be attributed to playing Michigan's anemic offense, of course, but no big plays allowed is a good thing, nonetheless. That will certainly be something to keep an eye on in two weeks against Ohio State's offense.

Up Next: Bye Week

3. Nebraska #19, 131 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#19 122 126 110 128 138 33.60

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#35 127 107 93 113 123 17.21

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#20 127 4.19 134 3.54 130

There's not much to recap this week for Nebraska. They were supposed to roll the Scarlet Knights and they did, thanks to Ameer Abdullah going for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns on 19 carries (11.8 YPC). But even with an 18 point victory and a 200 yard rushing day from their star running back, there are still some things that need to be cleaned up moving forward. That being said, Purdue comes to town next week, so a pretty similar performance should lead to a pretty similar outcome in week 10.

Up Next: vs. #66 Purdue

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 84.2%

Projected Average Score: Nebraska 40, Purdue 17

4. Wisconsin #20, 130 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#20 82 147 99 114 137 33.48

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#30 115 115 93 125 127 16.50

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#81 71 3.60 114 3.69 93

Well, hello there, Wisconsin. After a 52-7 romping of the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday, Wisconsin not only jumped to the #4 spot in the power rankings, but they also jumped to #20 in the nation, according to THOR+, and have made things quite interesting in the Big Ten West. As you saw in the win projections post, Wisconsin has a pretty favorable schedule over the last five games, and THOR+ currently has them favored in all of them. It's a weird situation because THOR+'s simulations still had Nebraska winning the west slightly more often due to them already having reached 8 wins, despite the fact that Wisconsin is currently favored in that game at Camp Randall. Needless to say, Wisconsin should be able to get their eighth win this weekend, when they travel to Piscataway to take on the other Big Ten newcomer, Rutgers. If Ameer Abdullah had himself a big day against this Rutgers defense, you better believe that Melvin Gordon will be feasting this weekend too.

Up Next: at #79 Rutgers

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 65.6%

Projected Average Score: Wisconsin 37, Rutgers 22

5. Maryland #32, 115 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#42 93 89 77 101 113 27.41

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#48 113 101 91 110 115 19.00

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#6 171 4.65 124 3.62 147

I've been waiting for Maryland to drop for a while now, but I guess it just took them getting beat by 45 points to do the trick. Everything went right for the Badgers in this game, and absolutely nothing went right for the Terps. Stefon Diggs was limited to 1 catch for 21 yards, while C.J. Brown could neither get the passing game or the running game going all day long. Hell, the offense didn't even score their lone touchdown until there was only 0:57 seconds left in the game. As for the defense, well, 52 points allowed pretty much tells you all you need to know. But it should also be noted that Maryland's defense allowed a Wisconsin receiver to go for more than 100 yards through the air and allowed Joel Stave to throw a 47 yard touchdown pass. For Wisconsin's pass offense this year, those two events happening separately, let alone in the same game, are the equivalent of seeing big foot at the convenience store down the street. You know it was a horrible day when you let the opposing team pull off a rare feat like that. Luckily for the Terps this week, Penn State doesn't have nearly the potent offensive attack that Wisconsin has. They do, however, have a defense that should give C.J. Brown plenty of fits this Saturday. That should be an interesting game.

Up Next: at #69 Penn State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 49.3%

Projected Average Score: Maryland 14.50, Penn State 14.54

6. Iowa #45, 108 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#84 95 84 116 113 89 21.43

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#22 130 102 111 98 130 15.74

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#105 71 3.61 76 3.97 74

I know everybody around here has been making jokes about Iowa losing, tying, or just barely sneaking out a win against the bye week, but with the news of Reggie Spearman's OWI and Derrick Willies leaving the program, it actually does feel as if Iowa just lost on their week off. But, off the field issues aside for now, Iowa is preparing to take part in possibly one of the ugliest football games we've ever witnessed. In a similar manner to what I talked about on the eve of the Michigan vs. Penn State match up in week 7, this game has the potential to be one of the #B1Ggest games of the season. Iowa's hopeless offense faces off against a strong Northwestern defense on one side of the ball. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, we get to witness Northwestern's inept offensive attack goes up against Iowa's tough defensive eleven. Essentially, with a projected score of 18-10, THOR+ is envisioning two offenses just running into brick walls all day. However, if there is one thing for us to potentially worry about in this game, it would be Justin Jackson against Iowa's run defense. First, it was Tevin Coleman, and then it was the piecemeal run game that Maryland threw out on the field, but both rushing attacks got the job done against the Iowa front seven in October. Hopefully next month will be different for this defense because Justin Jackson is only the beginning of a dangerous slate of opposing running backs to come. Bring on November.

Up Next: vs. #72 Northwestern

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 68.8%

Projected Average Score: Iowa 18, Northwestern 10

7. Minnesota #47, 107 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#66 86 100 79 98 98 23.75

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#50 129 102 141 101 113 19.50

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#19 131 4.24 138 3.51 134

With a pretty brutal November schedule coming up, the Gophers really needed a win against Illinois to help continue their improbable shot at a Big Ten West title and more. Unfortunately for them, they didn't get that win in Champaign this weekend. Instead, they came away with a 24-28 loss, thanks to a scoop and score fumble forced by the Illini that ended up being the game-winning touchdown. I'm not sure exactly how Minnesota lost this game (I was doing more exciting things like yard work instead of watching), but if we are to believe our friends from The Daily Gopher, then this game was lost due to Mitch Leidner's inconsistency, a missed Ryan Santoso field goal, dropped passes, something called "popcorn defense" and poor protection by the offensive line. And even though I didn't watch the game, I might throw turnovers into the mix, as well. Thanks to the loss, Minnesota is now out of the running for the college football playoff, but they still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. They definitely have the cards stacked against them, but at least they have corgis! Who doesn't love corgis?

Up Next: Bye Week

8. Indiana #61, 102 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#37 78 135 122 112 117 28.56

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#85 93 102 47 101 89 25.05

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#113 52 3.41 74 3.99 63

I'm not really sure how I feel about Indiana now that Nate Sudfeld is done for the season. Don't get me wrong, I still love Tevin Coleman, but one player does not a team make. Shane Wynn can be fun to watch too, but how will Indiana get the ball to him on a consistent basis? That end-a-round play will only work so often.  And, as we saw against Michigan State, Zander Diamont is far from a finished product with his arm. What the true freshman can do, though, is run the ball a bit. So, for the sake of Indiana fans, hopefully Kevin Wilson has spent the bye week fine-tuning a zone read attack with Coleman and Diamont. He may not be able to do much via the air, but he may be able to do enough on the ground to keep Michigan from bearing down on Coleman all day. If Diamont can manage the offense admirably, and the defense can keep from getting embarrassed by a dreadful Michigan offense, the Hoosiers have a chance to come away with a victory on Saturday.

Up Next: at #64 Michigan

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 37.9%

Projected Average Score: Indiana 18, Michigan 24

9. Michigan #64, 101 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#96 54 101 26 87 78 18.77

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#29 99 126 41 127 127 16.45

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#104 115 4.07 36 4.28 75

There just aren't a whole lot of nice things I can think of to say about Michigan football right now. Like, if I was out in public and saw Michigan football, I feel like the conversation would be extremely awkward. "Oh, hey there, Michigan, how's it... uh... going? Sorry that your offense is so awful, but at least your state produces some good beer." On a brighter note, I guess I can say that THOR+ has Michigan favored this week at home against Indiana. What better cure for an ailment of offensive incompetence than facing an Indiana defense, right? Just ask Iowa. And now that I bring it up, according to THOR+, Iowa looks an awful lot like Michigan this year. The only saving grace for the Hawkeyes is that their Offense+ rating is a robust 89, while the Wolverines own an Offense+ rating of 78. In other words, don't worry, Michigan fans, basketball season is almost here.

Up Next: vs. #61 Indiana

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 62.1%

Projected Average Score: Michigan 24, Indiana 18

10. Purdue #66, 100 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#50 67 116 93 112 106 25.76
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#77 97 100 72 90 94 23.85
Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#61 103 3.94 101 3.79 102

It's been a fun to see Purdue show some marked improvement over the past couple of weeks, but Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon in back-to-back weeks? Welp. At least there were a couple of feel good weeks in the middle of the season for OMHR.

Up Next: at #19 Nebraska

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 15.8%

Projected Average Score: Purdue 17, Nebraska 40

11. Illinois #68, 100 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#41 104 93 74 76 113 27.44

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#83 87 89 68 107 90 24.66

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#118 20 3.06 89 3.88 55

Needless to say, Illinois fans were both elated and confused by their week 9 victory over Minnesota. The most surprising thing about the win was probably that it was delivered by the much-maligned defense. Don't get me wrong, they weren't spectacular on the day. They still allowed David Cobb to rip off a 66 yard run and gave up big pass plays of 52453935, and 23 yards. However, the Illini limited the damage off of those big plays the best they could (thanks, turnovers and missed field goal!), and held Cobb to 2.42 yards per carry on his other 21 carries, while holding Leidner to 1.84 yards per attempt on his other 25 pass attempts. It was that inconsistency out of the Gophers' offense that drove their fans crazy on Saturday. Those six big plays on offense would have normally been enough to win against an opponent like Illinois. However, on Saturday, Illinois coming away +2 in the turnover margin ended up being the key to the game.

Also, this doesn't fit anywhere in the paragraph above, but I still wanted to find room for it. Reilly O'Toole ran for probably the slowest zone read touchdown I have ever witnessed in my life. Good job, Gopher defense. That was truly amazing.

Up Next: at #15 Ohio State

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 14.2%

Projected Average Score: Illinois 19, Ohio State 44

12. Penn State #69, 99 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#112 77 70 96 74 61 14.42

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#9 131 136 104 116 137 14.07

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#23 151 4.44 107 3.75 129

I didn't mention this above in the Ohio State section, but the game in Happy Valley on Saturday night was horribly officiated. The two most egregious calls or non-calls were the reviewed interception that wasn't actually reviewed, apparently (nor was it intercepted), and the 49 yard field goal Ohio State made that should have actually been called back for a delay of game. Those plays led to 10 points for the Buckeyes, and when you have the worst offense in the conference like Penn State does, every point is precious. Despite being fed a crap sandwich from the officials, Penn State found a way to claw their way back in this game and force double overtime. It took a defensive touchdown (because of course it did), but the offense played better in the second half and Christian Hackenberg even made a beauty of a touchdown throw. But, in the end, they lost. Whatever. Sorry, Penn State bros.

Up Next: vs. #32 Maryland

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 50.7%

Projected Average Score: Penn State 14.54, Maryland 14.50

13. Northwestern #72, 99 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#105 71 82 133 115 69 16.54

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#20 123 114 109 99 130 15.71

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#60 93 3.84 112 3.70 103

There's not much I can say about Northwestern that I didn't already say in the Iowa section. Justin Jackson and the Wildcat defense are good, but the rest of the team is not. Trevor Siemian is battling the injury bug, so who knows what to expect out of him? All I know is that Northwestern really needs this game or the Michigan game if they want a chance at bowling this year, so expect anything and everything. Because who knows if Pat Fitzgerald has another magical root vegetable just lying around at his disposal?

Up Next: at #45 Iowa

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 31.2%

Projected Average Score: Northwestern 10, Iowa 18

14. Rutgers #79, 93 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#51 126 89 89 91 106 25.65

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#98 90 76 80 108 78 27.51

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#24 105 3.96 147 3.45 126

If the daunting upcoming schedule wasn't bad enough for fans of the Rutgers football team, the football gods decided to deliver a giant low blow this past weekend in the form of an injury to Gary Nova. He's currently questionable to make the next start against Wisconsin, which means the team will be relying on backup Chris Laviano to help put up points against a Wisconsin rush offense that should absolutely shred their defense on the ground. The Scarlet Knights took advantage of a weak early season schedule, but now it looks like things could get real ugly, real fast.

Up Next: vs. #20 Wisconsin

THOR+ Projected Chance of Winning: 34.4%

Projected Average Score: Rutgers 22, Wisconsin 37