Northwestern

Hoge: Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 11

Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Jonathan Daniel)

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By Adam Hoge -

What a weird weekend in college football. I still don’t know what to say about the Illinois-Michigan game. There are a lot of high scoring football games where you just give credit to the offenses for making plays, but this wasn’t one of those. There were two many receivers wide open, too many missed tackles and too much bad football. Here we are in Week 11 and I still don’t know what to make of either team.

Then there was the Northwestern-Penn State game, which I thought the Nittany Lions would win, but I certainly didn’t think NU would get out to a 21-0 lead and lose 35-21. Pat Fitzgerald’s teams continue to get out to great starts before blowing leads. The Wildcats are going to continue to wander in obscurity if they can’t figure out how to protect leads.

Week 11 Power Rankings (BCS rankings are used)

1. No. 7 Wisconsin (8-1 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) – Kind of a weird week for the Badgers who came out very flat after two huge wins and a bye week. They corrected things at halftime and played like a first place team in the second half to beat Purdue 34-13 and somehow cover the 20-point spread. Running back John Clay is questionable against Indiana this Saturday after suffering a sprained MCL. Last week: 1

2. No. 9 Ohio State (8-1, 4-1) – The Bucks got a week off after receiving almost no love for blowing out Purdue and Indiana. They get an upstart Penn State team in Columbus this weekend and it could be a trap game if OSU gets caught looking ahead to their trip to Iowa the following week. Last week: 2

3. No. 11 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) – A blowout of Minnesota got the Spartans back on the right track and now they have a week off to rest. Their regular season finale at Penn State is starting to look tougher and tougher.  Last week: 4

4. No. 13 Iowa (7-2, 4-1) – Not a great showing by the Hawkeyes in Indiana Saturday. They escaped disaster when Demarlo Belcher dropped a sure-fire game winning touchdown on 4th down in the final seconds. They have a very tricky game at Northwestern Saturday against the team they always have problems with. Last week: 3

5. Penn State (6-3, 3-2) – No Big Ten team has made greater strides in the last two weeks than the Nittany Lions who got head coach Joe Paterno his 400th win Saturday. They take a three-game winning streak to Columbus where they will either upset Ohio State or get a dose of reality. Last week: 7

6. Illinois (5-4, 3-3) – I’m probably going to take some criticism for ranking Illinois over Michigan, but reason with me here. I know Illinois’ defense looked awful Saturday, but their previous eight efforts show that the unit isn’t all that bad. Meanwhile, the offense is looking better and better each week. Illinois should be bowl eligible after hosting Minnesota Saturday. Last week: 5

7. Michigan (6-3, 2-3) – The Wolverines might have the best offensive weapons in the conference, but have you seen this defense? Unlike the Illinois defense, Michigan’s has been horrible all season long, which is why I still think Illinois is a better team overall. Michigan now has an interesting game at Purdue Saturday. Last week: 8

8. Northwestern (6-3, 2-3) – Just when you think the Cats have everything figured out, they give up 35 unanswered points. I think it’s time we start admitting that this team might not actually be that good. With that said, Northwestern has Iowa’s number so a win Saturday is very possible. Last week: 6

9. Purdue (4-5, 2-3) – Have to give the Boilermakers credit for an inspired effort against Wisconsin Saturday. The score looked worse than it actually was as it was a one-possession game with less than nine minutes left. If they want to go to a bowl game, they have to beat Michigan at home Saturday. Last week: 9

10. Indiana (4-5, 0-5) – What a sick loss by Indiana Saturday. The Hoosiers had the upset all wrapped up when Belcher found himself wide open in the end zone with the ball in his hands. Then he dropped it. With Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue looming, IU might not win a conference game. Last week: 10

11. Minnesota (1-9, 0-6) – Speaking of not winning a conference game, Minnesota is well on its way to an 0-8 Big Ten record with a road game at Illinois and a home game against Iowa remaining. Last week: 11

Five random nuggets

  • With all the attention on Joe Paterno earning his 400th win, no one noticed Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz earned his 100th win Saturday.
  • Wisconsin and Auburn are the only two teams in the country with two wins over teams currently ranked in the Top 15 of the BCS standings.
  • Northwestern’s loss at Penn State snapped a six-game road winning streak for the Wildcats.
  • You probably heard by now that Illinois and Michigan set the all-time record for points in a Big Ten game Saturday, but did you know they shattered the record by 17 points? The previous all-time high was 115 points in Minnesota’s 59-56 win over Purdue in 1993.
  • Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber ranks fourth all-time on the Big Ten’s career passing yards list with 10,528 yards. Drew Brees is No. 1 with 11,792 career yards.

Get more college football coverage from Adam Hoge by following him on Twitter @AdamHoge670.