Big Ten power rankings, Oct. 11

    1. Ohio State

    The Buckeyes just keep on rolling after a dominant 38-10 win over Indiana. Coach Jim Tressel won his 100th career game and Ohio State is the new top-ranked team in the country after Alabama’s loss to South Carolina. QB Terrelle Pryor, who is known more for his legs than his arm, threw for a career high 334 yards and 3 touchdowns in the blowout victory.

    Bottom Line: Ohio State is now 6-0 and looks unstoppable. The ‘Cats should be very happy that they don’t have to play the Buckeyes until 2013.

    2. Michigan State

    Michigan State remains one of the most underrated teams in an awfully good Big Ten. All the attention in the Great Lakes State had been on the Wolverines, but the Spartans contained Denard Robinson en route to a dominating 34-17 win in Ann Arbor. It was Michigan State’s third straight win against their cross-state rivals. Edwin Baker ran for 147 yards and a touchdown, continuing what has been a great season for the sophomore. He’s averaging 7 yards per carry in six games, all of which Michigan State has won.

    Bottom Line: In two weeks, Sparty comes to Evanston to face the Wildcats in our homecoming game. Wildcat fans should be awfully scared about this one. It might not be worth it to wake up for an 11 a.m. game only to see the ‘Cats get pounded. Let’s hope the bye week does the ‘Cats some good.

    3. Iowa

    Iowa got a bye this weekend as they prepare to take on Michigan in Ann Arbor. Iowa is 4-1 on the year with their only blemish coming against a ranked Arizona team. Since that game, the Hawkeyes have given up just three combined points to Ball State and Penn State. They look like they’re back on track, and it’d be very surprising if they don’t leave the Big House with their fifth victory of the season.

    Bottom Line: The Hawkeyes are still smarting from a defeat in Iowa City where the ‘Cats knocked out quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Iowa was ranked fourth at the time and looking to go to a BCS bowl game. Those dreams were dashed, and they’re not going to want a repeat. Their visit to Ryan Field on Nov. 13 has the potential to be very interesting.

    4. Wisconsin

    The Badgers won Paul Bunyan’s Axe by defeating Minnesota for the seventh straight time. Wisconsin wanted to rebound from a loss to Michigan State last week, and that’s exactly what they did. There was some controversy as Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema decided to go for a two-point conversion with his team winning 41-16 in the fourth quarter, but it proved the Badgers aren’t going to take their foot off the gas pedal even if they have a big lead.

    Bottom Line: You can bet that’s the type of attitude they’ll have when the Wildcats come into Camp Randall for the last game of the season. NU pulled off an improbable 33-31 win against Wisconsin at Ryan Field last year, and the Badgers will remember that when the two play in the final game of the season.

    5. Michigan

    Denard Robinson is indeed human. A crowd of more than 100,000 at the Big House watched Michigan State double up on the Wolverines in a disappointing performance by the maize and blue. Robinson rushed for a season-low 86 yards on the ground and threw three interceptions. If you can force Robinson to pass the ball 29 times, then you’re probably going to win. Head coach Rich Rodriguez has done a nice job with the Wolverines this year, but their top 20 ranking is not yet warranted.

    Bottom Line: The Wolverines are one of two teams (the other being Ohio State) in the Big Ten that NU doesn’t have to play this year. Despite the loss on Saturday, this is very good news for the ‘Cats. After watching Rob Henry run all over Northwestern’s defense, shudder and think what Denard Robinson could do.

    6. Northwestern

    Northwestern lost to a team that was missing starters at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Basically, that’s every noteworthy offensive position. Stefan Demos missed a pair of field goals that could have sent the game into overtime or sealed the win, but it wasn’t all on him. NU gave up 232 rushing yards, which raises a lot of questions about a defense that many were already worried about.

    Bottom Line: Northwestern has a lot to work on before they host an undefeated Michigan State team in two weeks.

    7. Purdue

    Nobody expected Purdue to come into Ryan Field and beat NU, but they did. Redshirt freshman Rob Henry made his first career start at QB and led the Boilermakers to victory. He only threw for 47 yards, but he carved up NU’s defense for 132 yards on the ground including a TD run.

    Bottom Line: It’s a big win for a program that wasn’t supposed to be all that successful coming into the season.

    8. Indiana

    The Hoosiers are an interesting team. They are 0-2 in the Big Ten, but nobody can fault them for losing to national championship contender Ohio State. The Hoosiers came into the game with an offense that was averaging more than 40 points and 455 yards a game. Against the Buckeyes, QB Ben Chappell mustered just 106 yards and was picked off twice.

    Bottom Line: The Wildcats go to Bloomington in two weeks, and that game will be much more of a challenge. The ‘Cats defense has been mediocre at best and the Hoosiers will be looking to pick up some wins in the Big Ten.

    9. Illinois

    Illinois looks pretty good after a 33-13 pounding of Penn State. The win was their first in their last seven games in Happy Valley. Mikel Leshoure ran for 119 yards for the Illini, who are now 1-1 in the Big Ten. Their running game was dominant, allowing them to hold onto the ball for 38 minutes. They also came up big on defense by only allowing the Nittany Lions to go 2-for-14 on third down in the game.

    Bottom Line: After watching Purdue run all over Northwestern, the matchup against the Illini at Wrigley Field could be a lot tougher than expected.

    10. Penn State

    Another loss for the Nittany Lions shows that their preseason ranking was completely unwarranted. Joe Paterno’s team couldn’t convert on two dropped kicks by Illinois, getting only field goals. They had a season-low 235 yards as they fell to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. True freshman Robert Bolden had a bad game, going 8-for-21 for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

    Bottom Line: The ‘Cats head to Penn State on Nov. 6 and this game looks a lot more winnable now than it did at the beginning of the season. Winning in Happy Valley is never easy, but NU is going to need some big wins to make up for the egg they just laid against Purdue.

    11. Minnesota

    There’s a reason that Minnesota really wanted to beat NU last week: because they’re not going to have very many winnable games this year. Tim Brewster’s team is 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten after a drubbing at the hands of Wisconsin on Saturday. Their defense could not stop the Badgers, giving up 250 rushing yards to a relentless Badger attack.

    Bottom Line: The Gophers got a solid game from senior leader Adam Weber, who threw for three touchdowns despite completing only 11 of 25 pass attempts. Who knows what the Gophers are going to do without him next year.


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