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Week 4: Big Ten Power Rankings and College Football Playoff Projections

No changes at the top of the list, but everything else is fluid.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

College football can be a really fun sport when your team doesn’t look like absolute ass. Though the Buckeyes beat one of the worst teams in the country, the relative lack of stress in the game made it a lot easier to enjoy the rest of the Big Ten and national college football slate on Saturday.

The tops of both of my Big Ten Power Rankings and my College Football Playoff Projections remained the same, but the further you go down, there were absolutely some noticeable and interesting changes. For example, the Buckeyes made a move, and I hated to do it, but I moved Luke Fickell’s team out of my CFP picks. Sorry, Luke.

Keep in mind that these are just my rankings and projections, and they are just looking at where things sit as of this very moment. Things will be fluid, but that’s what’s fun about this crazy ass sport.

I am sure that more astute and discerning college football watchers might have different opinions, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


My Current Big Ten Power Rankings

1) Penn State (4-0) | 38-17 Win Over Villanova | Previously No. 1

Villanova made this game a lot more respectable in the fourth quarter than it actually was, so I’m not going to hold that against the Nits. I expect PSU will continue to take care of business against the Hoosiers next weekend, potentially setting up a really compelling matchup against the Hawkeyes on Oct. 9.

That game should not only be for the top spot in this very set of power rankings, but also for definitive control of their own playoff destiny.

2) Iowa (4-0) | 24-14 Win Over Colorado State | Previously No. 2

Woof, if I had literally anybody else to move up into this spot, I would have gladly dropped the Hawks out of the second slot. Steve Addazio’s team is really bad — like lost to Vanderbilt bad — yet they were leading 14-7 in Iowa City at halftime. Kirk Ferentz’s team figured it out (kind of) in the second half, but it wasn’t pretty.

However, if they don’t bring their A-game against Maryland next week, the Terps are very capable of ruining that Oct. 9 matchup between Iowa and PSU for B1G supremacy.

3) Michigan (4-0) | 20-13 Win Over Rutgers | Previously No. 3

I think today’s game between the Weasels and Knights shows two things: 1) Michigan is not as good as people were hyping them up to be. 2) Rutgers is probably better than people have given them credit for thus far.

We’ll talk about the Badgers in a bit, but I would not want to be the Skunk Bears heading to Madison to play a very angry — if not out-dated — Wiscy team.

4) Ohio State (3-1) | 59-7 Win Over Akron | Previously No. 5

I know the game was against Akron — literally one of the worst teams in all of FBS — but Ohio State did what they were supposed to do against one of the worst teams in all of FBS. There was an aggression and creativity on both sides of the ball that we haven’t seen through the first three weeks of the season.

I’m hoping that the youth movement that we saw on Saturday and the more appropriate game plan somehow ends the paralysis by analysis that the Buckeyes seem to have been suffering through in the first three weeks.

5) Michigan State (4-0) | 23-20 Win Over Nebraska | Previously No. 4

Now as good as OSU looked at times, the real reason that they moved up to No. 4 is because Sparty was not impressive against the Huskers. While a win is always a good thing, putting up only 254 yards in doing it is not inspiring. And, the fact that their bell cow thus far in the season, Kenneth Walker III, only rushed for 61 yards on 19 carries (3.2 avg.), that is very concerning as MSU starts to gear up for better defenses in conference.

6) Maryland (4-0) | 37-16 Win Over Kent State | Previously No. 7

Taulia Tagovailoa is having himself a little bit of a season, and I’m really excited to see how he and the Terps look against Iowa’s defense next week.

7) Rutgers (3-1) | 20-13 Loss to Michigan | Previously No. 9

That was a tough loss for Greg Schiano’s team, because in the second half, they completely shut down Jimmy’s group of Mitten Men. Rutgers is ahead of schedule, as far as I am concerned, and with how well Schiano is recruiting, they could be an interesting team to watch over the next few years. But, I think that they will pull at least one major upset this season; I just hope it isn’t next week.

8) Purdue (3-1) | 13-9 Win Over Illinois | Previously No. 8

I don’t know what to make of this Purdue team. Nearly beat Notre Dame last week, nearly lose to Illinois this week. I think they have some things going in the right direction in West Lafayette, so whenever they settle into some consistency, we’ll know more.

9) Nebraska (2-3) | 23-20 OT Loss to Michigan State | Previously No. 11

Man, this one’s rough. Two weeks in a row, the Huskers could have knocked off top-20 teams, and fell just short. Other than the Illinois game (and part of the subsequent Fordham game), Scott Frost’s team has been playing really good football. They will get their wins, and will pull an upset or two in the B1G West.

10) Wisconsin (1-2) | 41-13 Loss to Notre Dame | Previously No. 6

This doesn’t look like a Wisconsin team. They just can’t play the same style of smash-mouth football in today’s version of the sport; there is just too much speed along the defensive line and at the linebacking position. The Badgers will rebound and be fine this season, but stylistically, Paul Chryst is going to need to make some changes moving forward, imo.

11) Indiana (2-2) | 33-31 Win Over Western Kentucky | Previously No. 12

What the hell happened to our beloved Nine-Windiana from last year? I miss them; I want them back. They were fun. This is not.

12) Minnesota (2-2) | 14-10 Loss to Bowling Green | Previously No. 10

Here’s the thing, Minnesota is going to continue to struggle all season, because the best player on their team is gone. When Mohamed Ibrahim got hurt against the Buckeyes, their entire season changed in an instant. I joked on Twitter that OSU’s win over the Gophers won’t be a quality win any more, but that doesn’t really matter.

Could it come down to something as minute as that, should the Buckeyes get back in the College Football Playoff race? Perhaps, but it’s Week 4, Minnesota is going to lose more, and OSU has a long way to go to reenter that discussion.

Besides, I don’t have the energy, nor the inclination to worry about that now.

13) Northwestern (2-2) | 35-6 Win Over Ohio | Previously No. 13

The Bobcats are really, really bad, but the world is still better when Pat Fitzgerald’s team is winning.

14) Illinois (1-4) | 13-9 Loss to Purdue


My Current College Football Playoff Projections

1) Alabama (4-0) | 63-14 Win Over Southern Miss | Previously No. 1

Yawn.

2) Georgia (4-0) | 62-0 Win Over Vanderbilt | Previously No. 2

Yawn in the SEC.

3) Penn State (4-0) | 38-17 Win Over Villanova | Previously No. 3

They are here by default, because no one else is any good.

4) Arkansas (4-0) | 20-10 Win Over Texas A&M | Previously No. NR

It hurts me to move Cincinnati off of this line, but with the Bearcats being off this week following their come-from-behind win over Indiana, and then the new info we got about just how bot-good the Hoosiers are, it just didn’t feel right to keep them in the top-four. Fortunately for UC, if they can beat Notre Dame next weekend, they more than likely would reclaim a spot.

That is because there is likely to be some movement in my CFP projections next week as the new No. 4 Hogs will go between the hedges to take on UGA. That will be an absolute can’t miss matchup (I hope), and — as the grandson of two Arkansas alums — all I can say is WOO PIG SOOIE!