With its impressive win at Michigan State, surprising Wisconsin emerged as the frontrunner in the Western Division. But the peril continues for the Badgers, who play Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa in October.
Wisconsin’s trip to Michigan is the headliner as Big Ten play moves into high gear, with a full slate of seven conference games on Saturday.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS,
THE JUGGERNAUTS. . .
1, Ohio State (3-0, 0-0): Tracking for national championship showdown vs. Alabama. Oct. 15 trip to Wisconsin looking more interesting. (No. 1 last week)
2, Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0): Up to No. 8 in nation. Badgers can’t add a third top-10 win at No. 4 Michigan on Saturday, can they? (5)
3, Michigan (4-0, 1-0): First big test for Wolverines vs. Badgers at Big House this week. (3)
STILL TOO MURKY TO TELL. . .
4, Michigan State (2-1, 0-1): Shocking 30-6 home loss to Wisconsin, coupled with Notre Dame wipe-out, leaves a lot of Sparty questions. (2)
5, Nebraska (4-0, 1-0): No. 15 in nation? Tommy Armstrong Jr. is a stud, but manageable schedule means jury will be out on Cornhuskers until they go to Wisconsin on Oct. 29. (4)
6, Iowa (3-1, 1-0): Shaky win at Rutger, coming off of shocking loss to North Dakota State, raises question of how high Hawkeyes can fly.(6)
GOOD STARTS, BUT MORE DATA REQUIRED. . .
7, Maryland (3-0, 0-0): Great start for new coach D.J. Durkin. Former Michigan defensive coordinator has Terps looking sharp. With Purdue, Penn State and Minnesota next, a 6-0 start possible. (7)
8, Minnesota (3-0, 0-0): Gophers won’t excite outsiders, but favorable schedule gives them an opportunity for big year if they build on nonconference start. (8)
BUMPETY BUMP. . .
9, Indiana (2-1, 0-0): If IU thought it had a wake-up call vs. Wake Forest, imagine next two weeks vs. Michigan State and Ohio State. (9)
10, Penn State (2-2, 0-1): After rout at Michigan, James Franklin’s seat is getting awfully hot. Nittany Lions need to dig in at home vs. Minnesota and Maryland the next two weeks—and that won’t be easy. (10)
11, Northwestern (1-3, 0-1): Pat Fitzgerald is mad as hell and will try to light a fire under sluggish Wildcats at Iowa this week. Handling wobbly Hawkeyes still a tall order for NU, which has dug itself a big hole. (11)
12, Purdue (2-1, 0-0): Nevada win a good step for Darrell Hazell, whose job status is the most precarious in the Big Ten. Boilers need to stay stoked for Big Ten play.(12)
13, Rutgers (2-2, 0-1): A for effort in 14-7 loss to Iowa. But fallout is still, ``What’s wrong with Iowa? rather than thoughts that Rutgers could be more competitive than anticipated. (13)
14, Illinois (1-2, 0-0): Illnii just need to weather this week’s trip to Nebraska. The next two, vs Purdue and at Rutgers, will be keys to Lovie Smith’s honeymoon period. (14)[/membership]