We’re back for another B1G season! Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14. To see where your team was ranked last week, click here. As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.
Prepare to disagree…
- Michigan State. The Spartans did what the top team is supposed to do: win. I’m not real sure what to make of Purdue hanging 31 on Michigan State, but we’ll let that slide.
- Ohio State. It’s really too bad that Ohio State was off this week. If they would have traded bye weeks with Penn State, the weekend’s Big Ten schedule would have been composed only of “original” Big Ten teams as Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers were all off. But since the conference struggles with scheduling, I’m not that surprised.
- Minnesota. By knocking off the Wildcats, Minnesota has claimed the title of “Surprise team in the West”. I expect the Gophers to hold that title for the rest of the month (Purdue this week and at Illinois), before a grueling November schedule hits. Until then, let’s reward the Gophers with the #3 spot.
- Nebraska. This is a critical game in Nebraska’s season. Coming off of a loss and a bye week, Nebraska needs to beat Northwestern to stay in the hunt for the division title. But this series is known for close, competitive games (a cumulative difference of 1 point in the last three meetings). The edge might be if Nebraska has home field advantage in Evanston like they did in 2012.
- Wisconsin. The Badgers took care of Illinois and are rewarded with a week off before welcoming both of the new schools to the league. This is about the time where Wisconsin really starts to hit stride.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Northwestern. Admittedly, I am probably punishing Northwestern a little too much for a seven point loss to Minnesota, but I’m just not sure what to make of Northwestern. The “Battle for NU” should be a close, competitive game.
- Rutgers. Rutgers enters into the hazing portion of their Big Ten initiation tour with their next three games at Ohio State, at Nebraska, and against Wisconsin. This is where Rutgers can validate this relatively high ranking or watch it plummet.
- Iowa. I still maintain that Iowa v. Maryland sounds more like a December 30th bowl game than a Big Ten Conference clash. The Hawkeyes are in need of a good challenge, and I think the Terps could provide it.
- Maryland. Let’s see how Maryland reacts to their first conference smack down as they host Iowa. This is one of those games that helps provide clarity in the middle of the pack.
- Purdue. It may seem strange to promote the Boilermakers after giving up 45 in a loss, but in a head-to-head match up with any of the schools below, I’d probably pick Purdue.
- Penn State. A loss to Michigan really hurts. Yeah, Penn State probably got screwed by the refs on another call. (That sound you hear is Husker fans still bitter over 1982 muttering “karma”). Regardless, these are the games that Penn State needs to win.
- Indiana. Bad news: the Hoosiers get beat up by Iowa. Worse news: they play Michigan State this weekend. Worst news: on Monday, they lost their starting QB for the season. How long until basketball season?
- Michigan. A much-needed win should calm the fires over the bye week (until Sparty drops gasoline over everything). Although I’m not a fan of the show, I appreciated Michigan’s QB corps showing their excitement for the return of “The Walking Dead”, by limping around for three hours Saturday night.
- Illinois. Simply put, the Illini are the worst team in this league. For my money, it’s not even close.