Power Rankings: OSU bolsters case for top spot

Six weeks are in the books, and Ohio State still sits atop my Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. But pecking order behind the Buckeyes remains in flux as schools continue to jockey to ride shotgun with Ohio State. The big winners this week: Michigan State and Indiana, who happen to also play this Saturday. Here are my power rankings.

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1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0). That’s two terrific wins in a row over arguably the second- and third-best teams in the Big Ten in Wisconsin and Northwestern. The Buckeyes are talented and playing with lots of mojo. Will they lose between now and the Michigan game? Hmmm.
Last week: 1
Up next: Off; vs. Iowa

2. Northwestern (4-1, 0-1). Another big game, another loss for Northwestern, which squandered another second-half lead after doing so in three games last season. The Wildcats have to hope to get another shot at Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
Last week: 2
Up next: at Wisconsin

3. Michigan (5-0, 1-0). The offense looked better after those spotty performances vs. Akron and UConn. No doubt, this effort in the Little Brown Jug will do wonders for the Wolverines’ confidence. The best is yet to come for this developing team.
Last week: 4
Up next: at Penn State

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4. Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1). The Badgers may be the best two-loss team in the nation. Oh, who am I kidding: Wisconsin is the best two-loss team in the nation. And the Badgers—who were off on Saturday–can augment that resume by beating Northwestern next week.
Last week: 3
Up next: vs. Northwestern

5. Nebraska (4-1, 1-0). For two weeks, the Cornhuskers had to hear about how their defense couldn’t stop a paper cut. And, frankly, it couldn’t. Well, the unit looked pretty salty in sitting on what had been a high-flying Illinois offense. This team may be just fine. And how about that unreal Kenny Bell catch?
Last week: 5
Up next: at Purdue

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6. Michigan State (4-1, 1-0). Attention, America: The Spartans may have found a quarterback. His name is Connor Cook. And he’s pretty good. The Spartan offense now has life – it even rattled off its first 40-yard play of the season! Couple a decent offense with an excellent defense, and this MSU team could be scary.
Last week: 8
Up next: vs. Indiana

7. Iowa (4-2, 1-1). The feel-good vibe of that three-game winning skein evaporated in as flash with the home loss to Michigan State. The offense was going to struggle vs. this Spartan defense, but Iowa’s inability to stop a struggling MSU offense was disconcerting. What’s next?
Last week: 6
Up next: off, at Ohio State Oct. 19

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8. Indiana (3-2, 1-0). The Hoosiers showed great resolve by rebounding from tough home losses to Navy and Missouri to not just beat Penn State—but to thump Penn State. This team now has a great shot to go bowling for just the second time since 1993.
Last week: 11
Up next: at Michigan State

9. Penn State (3-2, 0-1). If the home loss earlier this year to UCF caused concern for fans, this blowout loss at Indiana should put the Nittany Lion faithful into full-blown panic mode. The defense has issues. And the kicking game … what’s going on out there?!
Last week: 7
Up next: vs. Michigan

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10. Illinois (3-2, 0-1). The Fighting Illini took a step back with this loss at Nebraska. We knew the defense would struggle, but to see the offense floundered vs. a Nebraska defense that had had issues was surprising.
Last week: 9
Up next: Off; vs. Wisconsin

11. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2). A 4-0 start has melted into a 4-2 reality. The offense continues to struggle for big plays and balance. And the Jerry Kill seizure issue certainly doesn’t help matters.
Last week: 10
Up next: Off; at Northwestern

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12. Purdue (1-4, 0-1). The Boilermakers were off on Saturday. And they needed the down time to continue to develop new quarterback Danny Etling, as well as tweak the offense.
Last week: 12
Up next: vs. Nebraska

About Tom Dienhart 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 (13 Comments)
wolf on 10/6/2013 @ 1:50pm EDT Said:

The only reason why Ohio state is 6-0 Is cause they Do Not Play anyone except for Northwestern an Michigan. Ya. could be 6-0 too if i played a weak schedule.

Greg Lowery on 10/6/2013 @ 2:42pm EDT Said:

Did u forget about Wisconsin? And what Big10 team has that difficult of a schedule???

Manuel on 10/6/2013 @ 2:51pm EDT Said:

Hey man, I want Ohio State to lose every game too; but dude, you can’t control recruiting and development for every team in the conference–and non-conference games are just as bad in every other conference–look at the SEC, that’s a joke. Gotta respect undefeated teams regardless of schedule–its a grind every week (injuries, adversity, state of focus, etc..)..I respect the Buckeyes–the team refuses to lose.

JoeW on 10/6/2013 @ 5:49pm EDT Said:

Surprised by Michigan jumping Wisconsin this week. Beating Minnesota at home generates a lot of equity? If Wisconsin beats NW this week will they jump Michigan even if Michigan wins in Happy Valley?

Gregg on 10/6/2013 @ 8:11pm EDT Said:

Wolf you ARE CRAZY. Ohio State plays all the top ranked teams in the Big Ten. Pay attention and get the facts before typing.

Number two is tough pick but I think I lean toward Northwestern and not because of the game they played against Ohio State. Ohio State played very poorly on Saturday. If they were on their game the score may have been very different. My next choice would be Wisconsin. U of M is overrated this year. I have not been impressed with their play at all.

In the Big 10 it is important to remember to never underestimate any of the teams. They are all good and they all can give any other team a good game at any given time. All the Big 10 teams are going to be shooting for Ohio State because they all want to be the team that knocks them down. Because of Ohio States Ranking Every game will be a tough game for them.

scott s on 10/7/2013 @ 8:23am EDT Said:

iam a huge mich. fan. but right now there are not impressing me at all. this weekend will tell us a little more about mich. there defense is so so. there offense is so so. they dont have a real running game and our defense cant put pressure on anybody.and we dont have a running game. sorry mich. fans. correct me if im wrong? i just dont have a lot of confedense in them right now… i hope they prove me wrong.

Mike Lee on 10/7/2013 @ 11:41am EDT Said:

In E.L. Were laughing at these predictions… Or “Power Ranking’s” Its OSU vs MSU in Indy… See you there.

Kenneth Miller on 10/7/2013 @ 12:53pm EDT Said:

Wolf, you’re just jealous of Ohio State. 18 game winning isn’t too shabby!!

DSparks on 10/7/2013 @ 1:00pm EDT Said:

The Buckeyes are looking forward to seeing the Wildcats in Indy, where they don’t have to worry about a sloppy field of 3″ thick grass. The slow track made the difference. When Urban channeled his inner Tressel, it changed the game. Go Bucks!

Matt J on 10/7/2013 @ 3:28pm EDT Said:

Keep laughing in EL Mike. MSU will finish no better than 3rd in the division.

Frank on 10/7/2013 @ 7:09pm EDT Said:

MSU’s comfortable schedule over next 3 weeks makes Nov run possible.

Todd S on 10/8/2013 @ 1:25am EDT Said:

Frank…comfortable schedule for MSU? What about playing Indiana this week? Ummm, never mind. I will be happy if IU scores a touchdown.

Deano on 10/8/2013 @ 12:46pm EDT Said:

I know everyone gets sick of OSU just like i get sick of hearing about how good the SEC is. But face the facts here people! No one is or has been doing what OSU has been doing the past 20yrs in and outta conference. I’m tired of hearing about ostate being overrated and non deserving of its mantle. What has your team done? if we are overrated what’s the rest of the big ten? Terrible? NO! Relax, i love the big ten and yeah has it been down the past couple years? Yes. I’m a huge Buckeye fan and not being biased at all we have been the shining light on the conference now for 20 years and have won some massive games in and outta conference so chill out on all the buckeye hate.