Monday, September 22, 2008

Big Ten - Week Four Power Rankings


1. Wisconsin (1) 3-0
Last week:
A week off gives key players (Tight Ends Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham, Linebacker Jonathan Casillas) time to heal. Perhaps more time to prepare for trap game? The Badgers' camp is billing their Big Ten opener at Michigan as such. Do they mean a Badger offense heavily slanted towards inside and quick traps?

2. Penn State (2) 4-0
Last week:
W: 45-3 vs. Temple
Not your "Average Joe": After four games, Penn State has yielded the sixth most prolific offense in the FBS with an average of 538.5 yards/game and tied for first in offensive touchdowns (28). But, your "Typical Joe" (Coach Joe Paterno) is grinding opponents away with a seventh-ranked total defense. The competition has been inferior to date, but the Nittany Lions are well-lubricated going in to their conference opener against Illinois.

3. Ohio State (3) 3-1
Last week:
W: 28-10 vs. Troy
If you play two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks? Not quite. Terrelle Pryor was supposed to split time with Todd Boeckman, instead takes all but one snap and heaves four touchdowns. Unsettling that Troy was in this until the fourth quarter. A win is a win; although they still need to iron out the offense upon "Beanie" Wells return some time in the future.

4. Illinois (4) 2-1
Last week:
No game this past week for Illinois. Good. More time to think about walking in to the [Nittany] Lions' den this week. On the road. Oh, at night too.

5. Michigan State (5) 3-1
Last week:
W: 23-7 @ ND
The Spartans continue to thrive on the one-man show that is running back Javon Ringer. Notre Dame hung on as long as they could; but Michigan State pulled away behind Ringer (39-201 yards, two scores). Bad luck of the Irish: The Spartans have now won nine of their last 12 against Notre Dame.

6. Purdue (7) 2-1
Last week:
W: 32-25 vs. C. Michigan
I billed this match-up as a shoot-out and, of course, the game was predominantly controlled by defense. Eager to know what is carrying Purdue so far this season? How about a little balanced offensive thanks to the rushing of Kory Sheets, who is averaging 20 carries, 117 yards and two touchdowns per game.

7. Minnesota (9) 4-0
Last week:
W: 37-3 vs. Fla. Atl.
Sophomore quarterback Adam Weber continues to impress, putting up efficient numbers (19-24, 235 yards, one touchdown, one interception) and leading a balanced offense. Minnesota's defense crippled the FAU attack with four interceptions. Litmus test on the horizon as they open up conference play against Ohio State.

8. Northwestern (8) 4-0
Last week:
W: 16-8 vs. Ohio
Game balls to Northwestern's place kicker (three field goals) and red-shirt freshman Vince Brown (three sacks), who played like a grizzled vet. Big question mark on offense as senior quarterback C.J. Bacher seemed to have turned freshman on us with four interceptions. Still, best start for the Wildcats since Bob Dylan's debut album (1962).

9. Iowa (6) 3-1
Last week:
L: 21-20 @ Pittsburgh
So your horse (running back Shonn Greene) gallops for 147 yards and a touchdown, you hold Pittsburgh to a total of 259 yards with 25:12 of possession time…and lose? Carousels at the quarterback and place kicker positions don't help heading in to Big Ten play for a somewhat deflated team.

10. Indiana (10) 2-1
Last week:
L: 42-20 @ Ball St.
Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis brought only half of his dual-threat game, carrying the ball well (25-148 yards, one touchdown) but meek with his arm (159 yards and two interceptions). On the flip side, the Hoosiers' defense was out-classed by ground (224 yards, four touchdowns) and by air (Nate Davis: 16-25, 239 yards and a touchdown). Time to regroup on both sides of the ball?

11. Michigan (11) 1-2
Last week:
A much needed bye for Michigan last week, if anything to let the footballs dry off after their abysmal showing of turnovers against Notre Dame two weeks ago (six). Extra stick 'em on the gloves this week as they try to climb out of the power ranking cellar. Not an easy feat looking ahead to Wisconsin.