1. Ohio State (4-0) – 44 points (all first-place votes) (LW: 1)
Ricky: Yet again, the Buckeyes win a game without their star QB Braxton Miller. Miller was out for a second straight game with a knee injury. However, the Buckeyes were able to easily blowout Florida A&M as backup QB Kenny Guiton threw a school record six touchdown passes (all in first half). Miller has been cleared to play for the Buckeyes as they open up Big Ten play next week against the Wisconsin Badgers.
2. Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0) – 40 points (LW: 2)
Ryan (2nd): The Badgers had to be embarrassed with the way their contest with ASU ended 1 week ago, and it showed this past Saturday as they displayed complete focus and a high powered rushing attack while they systematically destroyed Purdue 41-10. In a bit of “anything you can do, I can do better,” Melvin Gordon and James White put on a show against the Boilers as each carried the ball 16 times. Gordon finished with 147 yards and 3 TD, and White finished with 145 yards and 1 TD. The Badgers are 3rd in the country in rushing at 349.8 yards per game. They’ll get to showcase their run game to the nation in prime time against a severe step up in competition this Saturday when they travel to Ohio Stadium to face the Buckeyes in what looks like a game that will decide who represents the Leaders division in the Big Ten Title game come December.
3. Northwestern (4-0) – 35 points (LW: T3)
Ricky (3rd): Northwestern might have defeated Maine on Saturday, but the game was closer than many expected. However, a win is a win and the Wildcats will be taking a 4-0 nonconference record into their bye week. Northwestern will need to work hard during their bye week because they will begin Big Ten play on October 5th as the Buckeyes come into town.
4. Michigan (4-0) – 31 points (LW: T3)
Ryan (4th): The Wolverines struggled for the second straight week, and once again eked out a close win over substandard competition (albeit on the road this time). The Wolverines go as Devin Gardner goes, and in this one he tossed 2 picks and no touchdowns, but he did manage to rush for 1 TD. Thankfully for Michigan, Fitzgerald Toussaint showed up Saturday night ready to carry the load, as he posted 120 yards rushing and 2 TD. If not for Toussaint, the Wolverines could have very easily lost to a UCONN squad that has yet to win a game this season.
5. Nebraska (3-1) – 28 points (LW: 5)
Ricky (6th): After their heartbreaking loss to UCLA and news about their head coach saying “eff you” to the fans in 2011, the Cornhuskers put that behind them and won their week four match-up against South Dakota State. However, they did so without their star QB Taylor Martinez. Tommy Armstrong Jr. got the start for the injured Martinez and showed Cornhusker nation some good things. Just like Northwestern, Nebraska heads into their bye week with Big Ten play on the other side. The question for the Huskers will be about who will be the starting quarterback when the team hosts Illinois on October 5th.
6. Michigan State (3-1) – 22 points (LW: 6)
Ricky (4th): The biggest question about the Spartans this season has been whether or not their offense can produce enough to take them from a team with a great defense to an elite level team. On Saturday, that answer was not so clear. The defense came out as expected and held a ranked ND team to only 17 points. However, the MSU offense could only muster up 13 points of their own. Yes, MSU own turned the ball over once, but they only scored one touchdown compared to two field goals. Touchdowns are what wins you games, not field goals.
T7. Penn State (3-1) – 18 points (LW: 8)
After their “shocking” loss to Central Florida last week, the Nittany Lions were able to do what many thought they would do and defeat Kent State on Saturday. Running back Zach Zwinak ran for three touchdowns as PSU was able to shutout the Golden Flashes. Just like many teams, Penn State has the week off before they begin conference play. They will play the Hooisers on the road on October 5th.
T7. Illinois (2-1) – 18 points (LW: 7)
Ryan (9th): The Illini had the week off, while their next opponent, Miami(OH) faced off with Cincinnati. The Bearcats scored 2 touchdowns in the final 4:55 to post a 14-0 win. Miami(OH) had 6 different drives that went for negative yardage, and finished the game with 87 total yards (80 passing, 7 rushing). There’s definitely a reason that Illinois checked in as a 24.5 point favorite in the initial Vegas odds released Sunday. Look for the Illini to roll this Saturday, finishing the non-conference portion of their schedule an unexpected, but highly welcomed, 3-1.
9. Minnesota (4-0) – 11 points (LW: 10)
Ryan (7th): The Golden Gophers shut up anyone, and everyone, that doubted them after a tighter than expected 17 point win over FCS Western Illinois by soundly defeating a San Jose State team led by potential NFL QB David Fales, 43-24 (despite surrendering 439 passing yards in the process). While Minnesota’s passing offense is anemic, ranking 118th in the country in the FBS at 105.3 yards per game, their rushing offense is anything but, ranking 13th in the country at 282.3 yards per game. This high powered rushing offense was on full display Saturday as the Gophers posted 6 rushing touchdowns and amassed 353 yards on 67 attempts.
10. Indiana (2-2) – 10 points (LW: 9)
Ryan (10th): The Hoosiers came into their prime time home showdown with MIZZOU seemingly settled at QB after naming Nate Sudfeld the starter following a 335 yard performance against Bowling Green. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, Sudfeld and the rest of the offense sputtered under the bright lights on the Big Ten Network and the nationally expected shootout never fully materialized. The Hoosier D had problems of their own, surrendering 623 total yards of offense and 5 touchdowns, as Missouri more than took care of their end of the expected point explosion. At this point, it’s safe to say the Hoosiers have some work to do during their bye week.
11. Iowa (3-1) – 7 points (LW: 11)
Since losing their season opener to NIU, the Hawkeyes are riding a three game winning streak. This week, the were able to blowout Western Michigan, 59-3. Kevonte Martin-Manley was able to return back-to-back punts for touchdowns in the game to help boost the Hawkeyes to victory. Iowa will begin conference play this week as they travel to Minnesota to play the Golden Gophers.
12. Purdue (1-3, 0-1) – 0 points (LW: 12)
Ryan (12th): The Boilermakers have shown life the past 2 weeks, but in the end they just aren’t very good. The Badgers were fresh off a boneheaded loss in the Arizona desert, and they felt the need to take out their frustration on the hapless Boilers. What’s next up for Purdue? A probable loss to a MAC favorite Northern Illinois Huskies squad that is coming off a shootout win over Eastern Illinois.
The Writing Illini Big Ten power rankings are a collection of votes from our staff. Commentary is provided by lead editor Ricky Widmer and staff writer Ryan Kraemer.
Topics: Football, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers