1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) – 44 points (all first-place votes) (LW: 1)
Ricky: Nobody said it was going to be easy for the Buckeyes this season. With that being said, OSU needed a game like this early on in the season. Many people are expecting Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten championship without a problem and maybe even get to the BCS title game. The rest of the regular season looks manageable for Ohio State until their rivalry match-up with the Wolverines. However, this is college football and anything can happen.
2. Northwestern (4-1, 0-1) – 37 points (LW: 2)
Ryan (2nd): There is little doubt the Wildcats are legit. They didn’t seem fazed by the bright lights of prime time against the Buckeyes, and nearly stopped Ohio State’s nation leading 17 game winning streak. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and the Buckeyes extended that streak to 18. The Wildcats can hold their heads high, and their performance certainly merits keeping them above every team not named Ohio State for yet another week.
3. Michigan (5-0, 1-0) – 34 points (LW: 4)
Ryan (4th): The Wolverines flat out blasted Minnesota this past weekend, albeit in a dominating 2nd half performance. Michigan hung 28 points on the Gophers in the 2nd half, and their defense (27th ranked nationally at 19.4 points against) limited Minnesota to 6. The Wolverines also converted 10 out of 13 3rd down chances, and did not turn the ball over at all. All of these things add up to Michigan finally showcasing a dominating win after lackluster wins against Akron and UCONN the past 2 weeks. This performance also leaves little doubt that they have cemented their place in the upper echelon of the Big Ten if anyone had doubts after those previous 2 performances.
4. Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1) – 33 points (LW: 3)
Ryan (3rd): The Badgers had the week off, but will return to action this weekend in a home tilt with a Northwestern team that just took the Buckeyes to the limit. The game against NU will most likely be the game of the weekend in the Big Ten. If the Badgers knock off the Wildcats at home behind their #6 nationally ranked rush offense (300.6 ypg), they will definitely be worthy of moving up a spot in next week’s power rankings.
5. Nebraska (4-1, 1-0) – 30 points (LW: 5)
Ryan (5th): With Taylor Martinez ailing, Tommy Armstrong, Jr. led the Huskers to a complete thrashing of an over-matched Illinois team that came in with hopes of possibly being able to outscore the Huskers and steal away a win in Lincoln. Bo Pelini seems pretty adamant that Taylor Martinez will be the starter once he is healthy, but I’m guessing he is one shaky performance away from most of Big Red Nation calling for Armstrong, Jr. to replace him based off what we witnessed this past weekend.
6. Michigan State (4-1, 1-0) – 25 points (LW: 6)
Ricky (6th): After losing to Notre Dame a week ago, the Spartans started off Big Ten play exactly how they wanted to (with a win). They beat Iowa this weekend in a match-up that featured two pretty good conference teams. It looks as if MSU has found a quality starter in sophomore quarterback Connor Cook. He threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns against the Hawkeyes. Besides Cook’s TDs, the Spartans kick a lot of field goal on Saturday. With a hot Indiana team coming to Lansing next weekend, the Spartans are going to need to get into the end zone more often if they want their second conference victory.
7. Iowa (4-2, 1-1) – 19 points (LW: 9)
Ricky (9th): Since their season opening loss the NIU, the Hawkeyes have looked very solid and looked to start off conference play on the right foot. However, after a loss to MSU, Iowa is 0-1 in the Big Ten and have a meeting with Ohio State in Columbus on ABC. There is a good chance that Iowa will be 0-2 this time next week, but anything can happen.
8. Indiana (3-2, 1-0) – 17 points (LW: 10)
Ricky (7th): Indiana surprised some people (including me) with their home victory against the Nittany Lions on Saturday. The Hoosiers showed the entire conference that they are not the same team that lost big to the Missouri Tigers last week. This week’s victory was also a big win for them because of their history with PSU. Before Saturday, the Hoosiers were 0-16 against the Nittany Lions and this is their first win against Penn State ever.
9. Penn State (3-2, 0-1) – 9 points (LW: 8)
Ricky (10th): Penn State did not need a loss to the Indiana Hoosiers this week, but that’s what they got. With a Freshman quarterback and two upcoming games against ranked Michigan and Ohio State squads, PSU is in a tough spot heading into next week. Michigan has shown that they aren’t the toughest team in the Big Ten, but right now they look like the favorite to knock PSU to 0-2 in the conference.
10. Illinois (3-2, 0-1) – 7 points (LW: 7)
Ricky (8th): After a surprising 3-1 non-conference schedule, Illinois completely let down Illini nation with an embarrassing loss to Nebraska on Saturday. Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young had nice games with 175 combined rushing yards and two combined rushing touchdowns. However, Nathan Scheelhaase was not the Nathan Scheelhaase we’ve seen this season. He had no touchdowns and threw one interception. Also, it didn’t help that Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah completely torched the Illini defense.
11. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2) – 5 points (LW: 11)
Ryan (10th): The Golden Gophers are a sinking ship. They had to play their entire game against Michigan without their Head Coach as Jerry Kill once again had a seizure. Winning games against top level Big Ten teams is difficult, but it’s even more challenging without having your leader. Until Kill gets his health issues under control, the Gophers are most likely going to continue to flounder. Minnesota has a bye this week, but then when they return to action they’ll be facing a Northwestern team that is every bit as tough as the Michigan team that just hung 42 points on them.
12. Purdue (1-4, 0-1) – 0 points (LW: 12)
Ricky (12th): Yes, the Boilermakers had a bye this week, but no other Big Ten team did bad enough to take the last place spot away for Purdue. Purdue looks to be the worst team in the conference as they have been “killed” in their past three games and have a tough conference opponent on the slate for this week. They will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday and could be 0-2 in the conference come this time next week.
The Writing Illini Big Ten power rankings are a collection of votes from our staff. Commentary is provided by Lead Editor Ricky Widmer and Co-Editor Ryan Kraemer.
Topics: Big Ten, 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