Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 22, 2013

It?s time to get powered up with my Sunday Big Ten rankings. This Saturday didn?t provide any dramatic victories or stunning losses, so my ranking didn?t shift dramatically. But, Wisconsin did make a move, as did Minnesota, Penn State and Iowa, while Michigan State sinks the most.


1. Ohio State, 4-0: Ohio State could have played with 10 guys and picked plays out of a hat and still squashed Florida A&M. Now, the real season starts for a team with a national-best 16-game winning skein. Will Braxton Miller be ready?
This week: Beat Florida A&M, 76-0
Last week: 1
Next: Wisconsin

2. Northwestern, 4-0: Mission accomplished for the Wildcats-they finished the non-conference unbeaten. But, the defense is a bit worrisome, especially vs. the pass. Northwestern has a week off to work things out and get totally jacked for Ohio State?s visit on Oct. 5.
This week: Beat Maine, 35-21
Last week: 2
Next: off; Ohio State, Oct. 5

3. Wisconsin, 3-1, 1-0: So much for any hangover from the Arizona State game, aka the ?Debacle in the Desert.? The Badgers looked like a buzz saw in chopping down Purdue en route to running for 388 yards (8.1 ypc).
This week: Beat Purdue, 41-10
Last week: 4
Next: at Ohio State

4. Michigan, 4-0: One near loss to a bad team (Akron) is understandable. But another near loss to a bad team (UConn)? That?s a disturbing trend for a Michigan team that is a mess on offense. Let?s dial back the hype on this club, OK? The Wolverines have a week off to think about all of this. And I don?t think that?s a good thing.
This week: Beat UConn, 24-21
Last week: 3
Next: off; Minnesota, Oct. 5

[MORE : Look back at our weekly Power Rankings archive. ]

5. Nebraska, 3-1: Yes, the Huskers trailed at one time, 17-14, to South Dakota State. Then, Nebraska ripped off 38 unanswered points to roll in a much-needed blowout triumph that was cathartic. Nice way to go into a bye week. Still, this defense must prove it can excel vs. a quality team.
This week: Beat South Dakota State, 59-20.
Last week: 5
Next: off; Illinois

Big Ten Standings
Conference Overall
Wisconsin 1-0 3-1
Ohio State 0-0 4-0
Penn State 0-0 3-1
Illinois 0-0 2-1
Indiana 0-0 2-2
Purdue 0-1 1-3
Conference Overall
Minnesota 0-0 4-0
Northwestern 0-0 4-0
Michigan 0-0 4-0
Nebraska 0-0 3-1
Iowa 0-0 3-1
Michigan State 0-0 3-1

6. Minnesota, 4-0: The Golden Gophers used a punch-in-the-nose offense to knock out San Jose State. It was physical, it was impressive. But this offense needs to pass better. And that pass defense ? woof. Big week coming up with Iowa traveling to Dinkytown. Win Floyd of Rosedale, and the possibilities blossom.
This week: Beat San Jose State, 43-24
Last week: 7
Next: Iowa

7. Penn State, 3-1: Nice rebound win over Kent State after last week?s home loss to Central Florida. But Christian Hackenberg?s numbers were down. Regardless, the Nittany Lions are on track entering a bye week. This team could spoil someone?s season.
This week: Beat Kent State, 34-0
Last week: 8
Next: off; at Indiana

8. Michigan State, 3-1: That 55-point outburst vs. FCS Youngstown State the week before? It was an illusion. The same old dysfunctional Spartan offense showed up in an ugly loss at Notre Dame. MSU appears to be back to Square One at quarterback. And now, penalties look to be an issue. Not a good way to enter a bye week.
This week: Lost at Notre Dame, 17-13
Last week: 6
Next: off, at Iowa

9. Iowa, 3-1: Everything was hitting vs. Western Michigan for Iowa, which scored on two interception returns and two punt returns. Quarterback Jake Rudock has been one of the Big Ten?s surprise players for a suddenly hot Hawkeyes club.
This week: Beat Western Michigan, 59-3
Last week: 10
Next: at Minnesota

10. Illinois, 2-1: The Fighting Illini were the lone Big Ten that was off on Saturday, prepping for a visit from Miami (Ohio). Let?s hope the Illinois defense got in some extra work after it got ripped for 615 yards in a 34-24 loss to Washington the last time out.
This week: Off
Last week: 9
Next: Miami (Ohio)

11. Indiana, 2-2: The loss to Mizzou means the Hoosiers? prospects for getting bowl eligible are appreciably more difficult, requiring a 4-4 Big Ten record. A week after allowing only three points in a promising effort in a win over Bowling Green, the IU defense was shredded for 45 points and 623 yards.
This week: Lost to Missouri, 45-28
Last week: 11
Next: off, Penn State

12. Purdue, 1-3, 0-1: The Boilermakers have lost two in a row-and it could get even worse with games coming up vs. Northern Illinois, Nebraska, Michigan State and Ohio State. Offense, defense ? you name it, it?s an issue for the Boilermakers.
This week: Lost at Wisconsin, 41-10
Last week: 12
Next: Northern Illinois


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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