Folks, don’t look now, but we’ve had a change at No. 1 in the Big Ten Power Rankings. Thanks to an impressive, exciting win for one team over their rival and an uninspiring victory for another team over a rival, we’ve got a flip-flop at the top.
We’ve also changed the focus of the College Football Playoff since the official rankings start on Saturday and there’s a new name or two in the Heisman finalist predictions.
As always, keep in mind that these are just my lists, and they are simply looking at where things sit as of this very moment. Things will be fluid, rankings will change, but that’s what’s fun about this crazy ass sport, isn’t it?
I am sure that more astute and discerning college football watchers might have different opinions, so if that’s you, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
My Current Big Ten Power Rankings
1.) Michigan State (8-0, 5-0) | 37-33 Win Over Michigan | Previously No. 3
If Mel Tucker is not the national Coach of the Year at this point, I don’t know who is. Sparty is so far ahead of schedule that it makes you wonder how good they could have been had Mark Dantonio not given up on doing his job the last few years of his tenure and focused more on hand-waving away concerns that his program was replete with sexual assaults allegations. The MSU offense is still likely too run-heavy to beat the best defenses in the county, but Kenneth Walker III is a legit Heisman contender.
Given how shaky Ohio State looked against Penn State, it just feels right to move the Spartans into the Big Ten lead.
2.) Ohio State (7-1, 5-0) | 33-24 Win Over Penn State | Previously No. 1
Ok, exhale. That was another ugly game for the Buckeyes, but they found a way to win, and that’s the most important thing. C.J. Stroud did not look as confident or accurate as he had recently, the offensive line struggled for for a good portion of the game, the defense could not get off the field getting obliterated on third down, and Sean Clifford and the PSU offense picked the Buckeye zone defense apart.
But, Stroud threw for 305 yards and TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 152 yards. On the defensive side, the Buckeyes had two takeaways — including Jerron Cage’s epic scoop and score — and had four sacks and eight tackles for loss.
So, there are certainly positives to be taken from the win, but plenty of things to be worked on, both in terms of execution and play-calling.
3.) Michigan (7-1, 4-1) | 37-33 Loss to Michigan State | Previously No. 2
Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Up 29-14 in the third quarter and yet you still let your big brother come back and beat you?
In all fairness, this game was entertaining as hell, but Harbizzle’s continued inability to properly manage his quarterbacking situation will never not be hilarious.
4.) Minnesota (6-2, 4-1) | 41-14 Win Over Northwestern | Previously No. 6
After a few rocky weeks in the first month of the season, the Gophers have been rowing that boat and running that ball all the way to the top of the Big Ten West. P.J. Fleck’s team still needs to play Iowa and Wisconsin this season, but don’t be surprised if the B1G East champion ends up facing the Gophers in Indianapolis.
5.) Penn State (5-3, 2-3) | 33-24 Loss to Ohio State | Previously No. 5
Look, the Penn State that we saw on Saturday night was not the same Penn State that we saw against Illinois last week. It is fairly reasonable to assume that had Sean Clifford not gotten hurt against Iowa (and then was still ailing against the Illini), the Nits likely would have been undefeated.
Now, they still have to be penalized for their nine overtime loss, but with a healthy quarterback, they are dangerous and should have some respekt put on their name.
6.) Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2) | 27-7 Win Over Iowa | Previously No. 8
Folks, where was this Badger team in the first half of the season? I’ve mentioned that they had an unusually challenging schedule to open 2021, and I honestly expected Saturday’s game against the Hawkeyes to be just another entry in that line of defeats to better teams. Oops. If the Wiscy defense can play like this the rest of the way, they very well could find a way to end the season where we thought they would two months ago.
7.) Purdue (5-3, 3-2) | 28-23 Win Over Nebraska | Previously No. 9
The Boilermakers won the battle of Ohio State’s next two opponents and are putting together a sneaky solid season. They have Michigan State and Ohio State over the next two weeks, but even if they drop both of those, they have Northwestern and Indiana to end the season, which I would expect to get them to seven wins on the season.
8.) Iowa (6-2, 3-2) | 27-7 Loss to Wisconsin | Previously No. 4
Well, how the mighty have fallen. The Badgers absolutely beat the pants off of the Hawkeyes who didn’t even look like they belonged in the same game as Wisconsin. I would not have been surprised if Iowa lost to the UW on Saturday, but I was surprised by how they lost.
9.) Maryland (5-3, 2-3) | 38-35 Win Over Indiana | Previously No. 10
The Terps are a fine football team. Not all that good, but not horrendous either. By holding on to this win over IU, they are likely setting themselves up for a season finale matchup against Rutgers that will decide whether or not they end up being bowl eligible. With games against Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan in the next three weeks, it will likely be tough sledding for Mike Locksley’s crew until Thanksgiving weekend.
10.) Nebraska (3-6, 1-5) | 28-23 Loss to Purdue | Previously No. 7
Oh, Scott. Enjoy the rest of this season, because it might be the last one at your alma mater, friend. For most of the season, I’ve thought the Huskers were better than their record indicated. However, at some point, you’ve just got to be okay with admitting that they are who their record says they are.
11.) Rutgers (4-4, 1-4) | 20-14 Win Over Illinois | Previously No. 14
Rutgers got the “s” back on the end of their name with the win this rock fight.
12.) Illinois (3-6, 2-4) | 20-14 Loss to Rutgers | Previously No. 11
I think that Bert is a good coach, but he’s gonna need some time to turn things around in Champaign.
13.) Northwestern (3-5, 1-4) | 41-14 Loss to Minnesota | Previously No. 12
Man, how does a Pat Fitzgerald defense give up that many points and 308 yards on the ground? That seems unbelievable to me.
14.) Indiana (2-6, 0-6) | 38-35 Loss to Maryland | Previously No. 13
Is it going too far to say that Tom Allen jinxed his program’s momentum when he complained about Ohio State getting the berth to the 2020 Big Ten Title game over his Hoosiers, even though OSU beat IU? I don’t believe in jinxes or karma, but it does feel like these things might be related.
My Current College Football Playoff
Since the College Football Playoff Committee will finally be releasing their first official rankings of the season on Tuesday night, this section of the weekly rankings is going to morph from who I think should be the four teams in the CFP to who I think will be in each week’s rankings.
So, this is essentially my guesses as to what the committee will unveil on ESPN on Tuesday.
1.) Georgia (8-0) | 34-7 Win Over Florida
2.) Cincinnati (8-0) | 31-12 Win Over Tulane
3.) Alabama (7-1) | Open Week
4.) Michigan State (8-0) | 37-33 Win over Michigan
5.) Oklahoma (8-0) | 52-21 Win Over Texas Tech
6.) Ohio State (7-1) | 33-24 Win Over Penn State
Heisman Trophy Finalist Predictions
Keep in mind that these players are listed in alphabetical order, and this is just who I think is putting together a resume to be invited to the Heisman Ceremony in New York. I will eventually pick a winner, but that will be a while.