Big Ten football power rankings after Week 4 A familiar No. 1 returns

The month of September closed out with a good slate of Big Ten conference games to give us our first real opportunity to see how the teams around the conference stack up against each other.

And if Week 4 was any indication, there are some obvious contenders and some pretenders in the mix.

Ohio State and Minnesota turned in monster blowouts to make their own respective statements, while Michigan and Penn State had various degrees of adversity at home to adjust to. Meanwhile,

it was a rough day for the West division with Wisconsin getting clobbered, Iowa scoring more on defense than on offense,

and Northwestern dropped its third game since starting the year with a win over Nebraska in Ireland.

After observing all of the results from Big Ten teams in Week 4, and taking into consideration the season as a whole up to this point, here are my updated power rankings for the Big Ten.

14. Nebraska (1-3) Last game: Lost to Oklahoma, 49-14 Last Week: 14 Next game: vs. Indiana (Week 5)

14. Nebraska (1-3) Nebraska had a week off to try and regroup as a program. The Huskers getting blasted by Oklahoma in the same week it made a coaching change was a tough spot to be in. We’ll see if things improve for Nebraska after getting this past week off.

13. Northwestern (1-3) Last game: Lost to Miami Ohio, 17-14 Last Week: 13 Next game: at Penn State

13. Northwestern (1-3) The only thing preventing Northwestern from the bottom spot here is a head-to-head win over Nebraska, but the Wildcats are without a win this season on American soil. I said this same thing last week, and it remains true after a third straight loss.

12. Purdue (2-2) Last game: Beat FAU, 28-26 Last Week: 11 Next game: at Minnesota

12. Purdue (2-2) The Boilermakers had to scratch together a win without Aidan O’Connell against a potentially dangerous FAU squad. They did, barely, to even their record at 2-2- after their road loss at Syracuse the previous week. We’ll see what the situation with O’Connell is, but Purdue will need him to make some noise in the West division.

11. Wisconsin (2-2) Last game: Lost at Ohio State, 52-21 Last Week: 7 Next game: vs. Illinois

11. Wisconsin (2-2) One thing Wisconsin could not do at Ohio State was fall behind early, but the Badgers dug a quick 14-0 hole before they could get anything moving, and the Buckeyes dismantled the Badgers in primetime. It was the second loss for Wisconsin despite a big night on the ground from Braelon Allen.

10. Iowa (3-1) Last game: Beat Rutgers, 27-10 Last Week: 12 Next game: vs. Michigan

10. Iowa (3-1) Iowa may have found a way to score 27 points on the road at Rutgers, but they did so with less than half of those points coming from the offense. Iowa’s defense makes up for the offense enough to get to a 3-1 record but the offense is going to have to figure something out if the Hawkeyes are going to make any real run in the west.

9. Illinois (3-1) Last game: Won vs Chattanooga, 31-0 Last Week: 10 Next game: at Wisconsin

9. Illinois (3-1) Illinois has taken complete advantage of its home schedule early on this season in non-conference play. Whether that can set the tone and carry over against better competition in Big Ten play is the question Bret Bielema’s program needs to answer.

8. Michigan State (2-2) Last game: Lost to Minnesota, 34-7 Last Week: 6 Next game: at Maryland

8. Michigan State (2-2) There may be no other way to say it, but Michigan State got absolutely punked at home in East Lansing. A week after losing at Washington, the Spartans were run over by the Gophers and outgained 508-240. This was total domination from the jump and the Spartans had no answers all game long.

7. Rutgers (3-1) Last game: Lost to Iowa, 27-10 Last Week: 9 Next game: at Ohio State

7. Rutgers (3-1) Rutgers took its first hit of the season, but the game against Iowa was closer than the final score would suggest. A pair of defensive touchdowns by Iowa made this look more demoralizing than it should for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights clearly have a lot of work to still do though to make a push for a bowl berth this season.

6. Indiana (3-1) Last game: Lost at Cincinnati, 45-24 Last Week: 8 Next game: at Nebraska

6. Indiana (3-1) Indiana had a couple of bad breaks just before halftime in a road game at Cincinnati, and the Hoosiers just could not dig out of the hole. Things snowballed in a hurry for the Hoosiers, so they will have to work to keep things from getting out of hand in the future.

5. Maryland (3-1) Last game: Lost at Michigan, 34-27 Last Week: 5 Next game: vs. Michigan State

5. Maryland (3-1) I have been saying all along going into this season that Maryland is a team that has the potential to give a real scare or even pull an upset against anyone in the Big Ten. Michigan found that out in Week 4, but the Terrapins botching the opening kickoff may have been the difference in this one. Watch out for Maryland though, because they can be dangerous.

4. Minnesota (4-0) Last game: Won at Michigan State, 34-7 Last Week: 4 Minnesota has now outscored its first four opponents 183-24. Next game: vs. Purdue

4. Minnesota (4-0) Sometimes you never really know how good a team is based on a weak nonconference schedule. So consider this a bit of a statement by Minnesota. It’s one thing to win at Michigan State, but the Gophers flexed on the Spartans all game long and racked up over 500 yards of offense while pounding Michigan State on defense with three turnovers forced.

3. Penn State (4-0) Last game: Won at Auburn, 41-12 Last Week: 3 Next game: vs. Northwestern

3. Penn State (4-0) Penn State ran into a bit of a stale second quarter at home against Central Michigan after the well-publicized road win at Auburn the week before, but the Nittany Lions got the job done. The Penn State defense forced four turnovers but the offense only scored seven points off those opportunities.

2. Michigan (4-0) Last game: Won vs Maryland, 34-27 Last Week: 1 Next game: at Iowa

2. Michigan (4-0) After obliterating the opposition in the first three game of the season, Michigan finally was met with a challenge. And although Maryland gave Michigan a freebie at the start of the game, the Wolverines needed a monster day from running back Blake Corum to hold off the Terrapins. Next week should be a good road test for Michigan.

1. Ohio State (4-0) Last game: Won vs Wisconsin, 52-21 Last Week: 2 Next game: vs. Rutgers

1. Ohio State (4-0) Following a smashing performance against Wisconsin, and with Michigan’s closer call against Maryland, Ohio State moves back to the top of this week’s power rankings. C.J. Stroud added five more touchdown passes to his stat line this season and the Ohio State offense just continues to put up big plays and big points. Expect more of the same next week with a favorable matchup coming up.

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