Power Rankings: Wolverines moving on up

How about them Wolverines? Michigan went into West Lafayette and dominated a pretty good Purdue team Saturday afternoon. The performance was exactly what Michigan needed in its first action since struggling at Notre Dame. But what did the 44-13 victory do for the Wolverines’ stock in my latest Power Rankings?

Find out in this post. Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below or tweet me (@BTNTomDienhart).

1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0). After muzzling Michigan State last week on the road with a great defensive effort and then clubbing red-shot Nebraska with an offensive explosion in a 63-38 victory, there is no doubt that the Buckeyes are the best in the Big Ten. Next!
Last week: 1
Up next: at Indiana

[RELATED: Dienhart: “I’m not sure if anyone can beat Ohio State”]

2. Michigan (3-2, 1-0). The 44-13 win at Purdue was the Wolverines way of announcing that they are alive and kicking in the Legends Division. In fact, this looked like the team many felt was the best in the Big Ten back in August. Now, that notion doesn’t seem so far off after a slow beginning.
Last week: 5
Up next: Illinois

[RELATED: Dienhart: This is the Michigan we expected]

3. Penn State (4-2, 2-0). Is there a hotter team in the Big Ten not named “Ohio State”? Of course not. The Nittany Lions—39-28 victors over 5-0 Northwestern–have won four in a row and are so close to being 6-0, if not for those narrow defeats to Ohio and Virginia to open the season. Kudos to defensive coordinator Ted Roof, whose unit is excelling
Last week: 6
Up next: Off (at Iowa, Oct. 20)

4. Northwestern (5-1, 1-1). The Wildcats’ Cinderella unbeaten ride is over, but Northwestern remains in the thick of the Legends Division hunt. On Saturday, NU just ran into a hotter team than it was lost, 39-28, getting outscored 22-0 in the fourth quarter after having a 28-17 lead.
Last week: 2
Up next: at Minnesota

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5. Michigan State (4-2, 1-1). The Spartans trailed 27-14 at halftime and 27-17 after three quarters. But Michigan State stay composed and pulled out a 31-27 win at Indiana. I’m gonna call this a “turning point” for the Spartans. Yes, that sounds about right.
Last week: 4
Up next: Iowa

6. Nebraska (4-2, 1-1). All of that momentum from a three-game winning streak has been effectively snuffed out in a 63-38 loss at Ohio State. And now, the Huskers have two weeks to think about the annihilation. Those questions about the defense after the UCLA debacle? Yes, they are back.
Last week: 3
Up next: Off (at Northwestern on Oct. 20)

[RELATED: How did we do? Week 6 picks revisited]

7. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1). The Badgers may be turning the corner after a 31-14 win over Illinois, Wisconsin’s third triumph in four games. Imagine if the Badgers hadn’t blown that 17-point lead at Nebraska or been clipped 10-7 at what we now know is a great Oregon State team. Win at Purdue this week, and the Badgers are Leaders front-runners.
Last week: 9
Up next: at Purdue

8. Minnesota (4-1, 0-1). The Golden Gophers will have had two weeks to think about that ugly loss at Iowa. How will Minnesota look this Saturday with a Northwestern team coming off its first defeat arriving to town? This much is certain: The quicker MarQuis Gray gets back, the better.
Last week: 8
Up next: Northwestern

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9. Iowa (3-2, 1-0). The Hawkeyes had to cool their jets a week after whipping Minnesota, 31-13. The Iowa offense seems to be taking a step forward and could get better when injured running backs Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon round back into form. This team could climb this chart quickly—or not.
Last week: 10
Up next: at Michigan State

10. Purdue (3-2, 0-1). The Michigan tilt was the Boilermakers’ big chance to impress … and they flopped. Badly. The good news: The Leaders Division race remains wide open with yet another big game next week as Wisconsin comes to West Lafayette. It’s this simple, really: Win that, and everyone will forget about the 44-13 loss to the Wolverines.
Last week: 7
Up next: Wisconsin

[RELATED: See who took home our Week 6 Game Balls]

11. Illinois (2-4, 0-2). The 31-14 loss at Wisconsin makes it three lopsided defeats in a row for the Fighting Illini. Illinois needs something good to happen—right now, as not much is going well in any phase of the game. Is it time to panic?
Last week: 11
Up next: at Michigan

12. Indiana (2-3, 0-2). If there ever was “victory in defeat,” the Hoosiers experienced it in that painful 31-27 home loss to Michigan State. Lots to build on for the Indiana coaches, who had a great game plan. Now, the Hoosiers need to learn to finish.
Last week: 12
Up next: Ohio State

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (23 Comments)
aroznowski on 10/7/2012 @ 2:32pm EDT Said:

1. Ohio State (6-0)
2. Nebraska (4-2)
3. Northwestern (5-1)
4. Michigan (4-2)
5. Penn State (4-2)
6. Purdue (3-2)
7. Minnesota (4-1)
8. Michigan State (4-2)
9. Wisconsin (4-2)
10. Iowa (3-2)
11. Indiana (2-3)
12. Illinois (2-4)

Doug on 10/7/2012 @ 4:06pm EDT Said:

not bad aroz, not sure if purdue and minny are better than msu, but still a pretty accurate list

K. John on 10/7/2012 @ 7:40pm EDT Said:

1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
3. Michigan State
Yes the difference between 2 and 3 is that big.
14. Nebraska
15. Northwestern
16. Michigan
17. Purdue
18. Wisconsin
19. Iowa
20. Minnesota
21. Indiana
22. Illinois

To Doug on 10/7/2012 @ 7:42pm EDT Said:

How is a good list when NW is ahead of PSU?

randy perry on 10/7/2012 @ 9:33pm EDT Said:

no way nebraska and northwestern are better than michigan

Matt on 10/8/2012 @ 3:33am EDT Said:

aroznowski Move Michigan to No. 2 and you’ve got yourself a deal.

Nick on 10/8/2012 @ 12:23pm EDT Said:

How can Iowa be ranked behind Minnesota when they completely dominated them a week ago…this makes no sense?

KB on 10/8/2012 @ 12:54pm EDT Said:

Iowa 31 – Minnesota 13 = Minnesota @ 8, Iowa @ 9. That’s some fuzzy BTN math.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 10/8/2012 @ 1:00pm EDT Said:

    Not to speak for Tom, but it’s about body of work. Did Minnesota lose to Central Michigan at home? The Gophers are 4-1 with one bad game, one that came on the road in the Big Ten. If you operate under your example, then if Illinois beats Michigan, is Illinois better? No.

Bob Jordan on 10/8/2012 @ 1:58pm EDT Said:

silly…keep this list and publish it at the end of November…..I don’t think OSU will change but the other 11 will…

mg6311 on 10/8/2012 @ 2:01pm EDT Said:

Brett, you don’t get it. Illinois will never beat Michigan. You are a closet Minnesota fan. Iowa should be 5-0, refs and dropped TD passes prevented this.

Matt M on 10/8/2012 @ 2:21pm EDT Said:

Brent…Iowa lost to Central Michigan because shady refs. two attempts at onsides, and personal foul call to give them 15 yds and field goal position not to mention 10 penalties on Iowa. So does 50 bad seconds make MN better than Iowa? Not to mention Iowa’s other loss (9-6) to Iowa State doesnt look so bad when they are 4-1 and just beat #15 TCU. Yeah, I think Iowa is better than MN!

Doug on 10/8/2012 @ 4:08pm EDT Said:

As an MSU fan, I think NEB is better than MSU even though MSU played OSU a hell of a lot better than NEB. You guys have to look at the whole body of work, PSU beat NW, but NW didn’t lose at home to Ohio or at a crappy Virginia team like PSU did. Use the whole season not just one game people.

Jeff on 10/8/2012 @ 5:47pm EDT Said:

Sorry Brent but its head to head play that counts. Iowa owned Minnesota, it wasn’t a squeaker. This is the B10 power rankings and right now Iowa is 1-0, Minn 0-1.

aroznowski on 10/8/2012 @ 6:54pm EDT Said:

This much is clear. Ohio State is the best team in the conference. Illinois and Indiana are the two worst teams in the conference. A fair case could be made for each and every one of the other nine teams to be ranked #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, or #10. Just as I predicted at the beginning of the season, it’s all about parity.

jimbo on 10/8/2012 @ 10:13pm EDT Said:

I’m still too upset about NU running out of gas at P.S. to comment. Maybe some coaching mistakes there at the end also.

Doug on 10/9/2012 @ 4:17pm EDT Said:

Aroz, if MSU beat OSU instead of losing by 1 stinking point, I’m sure they would be higher than 8th in your rankings, I still think you have them too low, although I know they were far from impressive in the IU game.

aroznowski on 10/9/2012 @ 9:38pm EDT Said:

My power rankings consider a variety of factors. Among those are win-loss record, who did a team beat, who did that team lose to, how did that team play in its wins, how did that team play in its losses, head-to-head competition when applicable, how did that team fare over the last week or two, how productive and balanced that team’s offense and defense is, etc. The fact of the matter is that Michigan State is 4-2. Most of the teams in the conference currently have two losses. The success of the offense is way too reliant on Le’Veon Bell. I expected that to be the case in the first few weeks but the passing game is still struggling, having made only some small positive strides. Michigan State looked quite unimpressive in its loss at home against Notre Dame. Michigan State struggled with two teams (Eastern Michigan and Indiana) that were clearly overmatched. My first power rankings after Week 4 had the Spartans at #6. After the loss to Ohio State, they dropped a spot to #7. If the Spartans had beaten the Buckeyes, they probably would have moved up one or two spots into the top five. After a poor performance against Indiana, especially by the defense, they dropped one more spot to #8 despite pulling out a win. I have nothing against Michigan State. I really would like to see the Spartans turn it around very quickly and make the race for the Legends Division championship more interesting. However, I’m just not sold. When a team loses players as talented, experienced, and valuable as Kirk Cousins, Edwin Baker, B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Keith Nichol, Jerel Worthy, and Trenton Robinson, early-season struggles should probably be expected and typically happen. I expected that. However, not even I expected it to take more than six weeks for the passing game to get up to speed especially since the first-year starting quarterback had been around and been in the system for a few years and had even seen some limited game action. If the Spartans can beat undermatched teams somewhat convincingly and win a couple of games against the likes of Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin, then the Spartans will be able to climb a few spots in my power rankings.

aroznowski on 10/9/2012 @ 9:51pm EDT Said:

Brent is right. From what I can tell, Tom factored in the Minnesota-Iowa game. Prior to that game, he had Minnesota at #3 and Iowa at #10. That’s a difference of seven spots. After that game, his rankings showed only a difference of two spots. Even with both teams idle, that difference shrunk again to one spot. The fact of the matter is that Minnesota is perfect at home whereas Iowa is only .500 at home. Iowa lost to a MAC team and had some struggles with another MAC team and an FCS team. Minnesota can’t say that. One game simply doesn’t make the four previous games irrelevant. Head-to-head competition is essentially a tiebreaker for when two teams are even. Minnesota and Iowa are not yet even. The Gophers have one more win and one fewer loss than the Hawkeyes and have been more impressive over the course of the first five games than the Hawkeyes. Who cares about the referees and the officiating? Every team typically has at least one questionable call that doesn’t go its way every game. It’s not the officials’ fault that Iowa didn’t put the Central Michigan Chippewas away. Central Michigan’s win over Iowa is legit and is as legit as any other result just as the Seattle Seahawks’ win over the Green Bay Packers a couple of weeks ago is legit. You know your team isn’t as good as you are making them out to be when you have to bring the referees and officiating into the discussion.

Doug on 10/10/2012 @ 11:30am EDT Said:

Aroz, not all the QB’s fault when the wide receivers have dropped around 20 passes…..
they only dropped 1 last saturday, so hopefully the improvement continues in that area.

Be more objective on 10/10/2012 @ 11:48am EDT Said:

Well, isn’t Power Rankings all about how the team actually looks and how they are actually playing??? That’s why OSU is the clear cut #1, because they are improving every week and they look like a top 10 team in the country and not a de facto top 10 team. PSU had TWO ugly losses at the beginning of the season, but they are improving every week and are actually starting to look like a pretty good team… that’s why they are top 3 in the conference. Yes, the Hawkeyes had a bad loss against CMU, but their lost to ISU doesn’t look too bad anymore and they are improving every week… also, with the rise of Weisman, they are looking like a very competent and challenging football team and are looking to get pretty hot right now. All of these people(Brent and Aroz) that talk about “body of work,” well based on your premise PSU had two TERRIBLE losses so they shouldn’t be anywhere near top 5 in the conference. But, this is power rankings and how the team looks now and their outlook in the future weeks is what counts.

aroznowski on 10/10/2012 @ 2:00pm EDT Said:

I’m not pinning all of the blame on Andrew Maxwell. When referring to the passing game, that includes the quarterback, wide receivers, and tight ends. Andrew Maxwell has not been very impressive, but Keith Mumphery (with the exception of the game against Ohio State), Bennie Fowler, and Tony Lippett haven’t been very impressive as well. Michigan State’s best weapon in the passing game right now is Dion Sims, the tight end, and it really isn’t even that close. I’m just waiting for that offense to evolve from a Le’Veon Bell and Dion Sims attack into a balanced, distributed attack. If that happens, Michigan State could be charging up my rankings in a hurry.

aroznowski on 10/10/2012 @ 2:01pm EDT Said:

Power rankings aren’t about the present and the future. They are about the past and the present since the future is unknown and often unpredictable.