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Big Ten Power Rankings: Contenders keep cruising as title race takes shape

On3 Staff Report10/03/22
Article written by:On3 imageOn3 Staff Report

The top handful of teams in the Big Ten remain on a collision course, with a fairly typical conference title race shaping up almost halfway through the season. The Big Ten Power Rankings certainly reflect that.

Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State all kept cruising this week. That’s the clear top tier in the league right now, with a few teams hovering just below that level.

So while top of this week’s list is fairly straightforward, the middle and bottom is tough to sort out. Let’s go ahead and dig into the weekend’s results.

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Today we update the Big Ten Power Rankings following Week 5 games.

2022 Big Ten Power Rankings – Week 5

  1. Ohio State

With rival Michigan looking a bit more vulnerable the last two weeks, the Buckeyes look like the clear cream of the crop in the Big Ten. But as we’ve seen throughout this college football season, things can change quickly. Still, a 49-10 blowout of Rutgers Saturday kept Ohio State right on track. A road trip to Michigan State is next up before a midway-point bye week.

  1. Michigan

Iowa is not an easy place to play, particularly as good as the Hawkeyes have been defensively. So credit Michigan for going out and securing a win. Still, it just hasn’t been quite as dominant the last two weeks. The Wolverines just need to hold serve next week at Indiana before hosting Penn State prior to a bye week. That will be the big one, potentially eliminating one of the Big Ten East contenders going into the second half of the season.

  1. Penn State

The phrase winning ugly is often overused, but in a sloppy, wet game, Penn State managed to secure the ugly win. Really ugly. The Nittany Lions turned it over five times, quarterback Sean Clifford was 10-of-20 passing for just 140 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and Penn State needed a fourth-and-goal stop from the 1-yard line to finally snuff out Northwestern’s momentum. The 17-7 win didn’t leave anyone feeling confident about Penn State, but the Nittany Lions do remain unbeaten.

  1. Maryland (+1)

One week after pushing Michigan in a competitive contest, Maryland got back on track with a 27-13 win over Michigan State. Better? Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was back and seemed fine after being shaken up against the Wolverines. He went 32-of-41 passing for 314 yards and a touchdown and the Terps pitched a second-half shutout on defense to move to 4-1 on the season.

  1. Illinois (+2)

The Fighting Illini did exactly what you’d expect a Bret Bielema team to do on Saturday: Play physical and limit mistakes. Illinois did that and ran away from Wisconsin in the second half, using a 17-0 third quarter to win 34-10. Illinois held Wisconsin to just 208 total yards (only 2 yards rushing), while quarterback Tommy DeVito ran in three short keepers for touchdowns.

  1. Minnesota (-2)

The Golden Gophers had begun to look like a team that could be a real contender in the Big Ten, but those aspirations took a hit Saturday. Purdue sprung an upset on the road, picking off Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan three times and winning the fourth quarter to break a 10-10 deadlock through the first 45 minutes in a 20-10 win. The good news for Minnesota? The Big Ten West is still wide open, with every single team in the division already having a conference loss.

  1. Purdue (+2)

Quarterback Aidan O’Connell returned after missing last week’s contest. He wasn’t particularly sharp, throwing two interceptions against Minnesota. But the Purdue defense locked things down and an 11-carry, 112-yard day from running back Devin Mockobee sealed the deal. Mockobee broke off a 66-yard run late in the fourth quarter then plunged in moments later for a 2-yard touchdown to seal the 20-10 win.

  1. Iowa (+2)

If Iowa moving up two spots after losing by 13 points seems weird, don’t worry… it is. We debated it quite a bit at On3 this week, but the reality is there are a slew of teams at 3-2 and 2-3 right now and, despite looking ugly, Iowa’s results compare more favorably than Wisconsin’s or Michigan State’s. A 27-14 loss against Michigan stings, but the Hawkeyes were at least competitive. This is less about Iowa moving up and more about Wisconsin and Michigan State moving down.

  1. Wisconsin (-3)

Wisconsin suffered its third loss of the season and while all three teams it has lost to were quality opponents the last two weren’t particularly close. Saturday the Badgers were blown out by the Illini and former coach Bret Bielema at home and the outcome led to the firing of Paul Chryst. If Wisconsin is going to get back on track, road trips at Northwestern and Michigan State the next two weeks need to produce results.

  1. Michigan State (-2)

Michigan State lost its third straight on Saturday, falling at Maryland 27-13. Like Wisconsin, all three opponents the Spartans have lost to have been good teams. Still, the Spartans were blanked in the second half. The road gets no easier, either. Home games against Ohio State and Wisconsin are next up, followed by road trips to Michigan and then Illinois.

  1. Indiana

The bottom of the Big Ten Power Rankings this week are tough to sort out as well. Indiana fell on the road at Nebraska 35-21, but the Hoosiers are 3-2 and have beaten Illinois. Both losses, to Cincinnati and Nebraska, were on the road. Spots 11-13 could probably be arranged in any order this week.

  1. Rutgers

Rutgers was blasted by Ohio State 49-10 on Saturday, one week after losing to Iowa. The Scarlett Knights are 3-2 but have two narrow, relatively unimpressive wins over Boston College and Temple. If both of those weren’t on the road, Rutgers would probably be behind Nebraska this week. Regardless, the Scarlett Knights are in the league’s basement. A home game against Nebraska this week should sort out exactly which part of the basement.

  1. Nebraska (+1)

Perhaps it’s a touch harsh to still have Nebraska at No. 13, particularly following a 35-21 win over Indiana. Still, the Huskers have losses to Georgia Southern and Northwestern and that Indiana win is the best one on the resume (and it ain’t much). Next week will give Nebraska a chance to jump a couple spots.

  1. Northwestern (-1)

The Wildcats might have put together the most surprising performance in the Big Ten, though it didn’t ultimately result in a win. Still, Northwestern was competitive with Penn State in a 17-7 loss. Unfortunately for Pat Fitzgerald‘s group, there really isn’t an easy game the rest of the way. A home game against Wisconsin is up next before four of the five after that are on the road.

Want to see how this week’s power rankings compare to our previous edition? Check out the 2022 Week 4 Big Ten Power Rankings here!