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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 5 Recap

Ohio St. and Penn St. flex their muscles, Minnesota stays unbeaten and Rutgers fires their head coach.

1. (Last Week: 2) Ohio State (5-0), W - 48-7 at Nebraska, Next Week: vs. No. 25 Michigan St.

Quarterback Justin Fields accounted for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and the defense allowed just 47 passing yards in the Buckeyes’ dominating 48-7 win at Nebraska. Fields now has 16 passing touchdowns, seven rushing touchdowns, and has not thrown an interception through five games. The Buckeyes ran all over the Cornhuskers for 368 rushing yards, with running back J.K. Dobbins accounting for 177. Ohio State is the clear favorite in the conference and will play No. 25 Michigan State at home this weekend.

2. (1) Wisconsin (4-0), W - 24-15 vs. Northwestern, Next Week: vs. Kent St.

After a dominating win over Michigan last week, the Badgers took a small step back but gutted out a 24-15 win over Northwestern. The Wildcats give Wisconsin fits year in and year out, so just pulling out a win must have been a sigh of relief for Paul Chryst and company. The Badgers played very conservatively on offense, but the defense was superb and finished with two defensive touchdowns, three turnovers and five sacks. Through five weeks, the Badgers are first in the Big Ten in scoring defense and third in points scored per game.

3. (3) Penn State (4-0), W - 59-0 at Maryland, Next Week: vs. Purdue

The Nittany Lions destroyed Maryland 59-0 to stay undefeated on the season. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns, while Penn State’s defense held the Terrapins to just 128 total yards and ten first downs. James Franklin’s team has been sensational on both sides of the ball through five weeks, ranking fifth in scoring offense and second in scoring defense among all FBS teams. The Nittany Lions return home to play struggling Purdue on Saturday.

4. (4) Iowa (4-0), W - 48-3 vs. Middle Tennessee St., Next Week: at No. 19 Michigan

Iowa blew out Middle Tennessee State 48-3 at Kinnick Stadium over the weekend. The Hawkeyes exploded for 644 total yards, including 351 yards on the ground. Quarterback Nate Stanley has yet to throw a pick this season, in fact Iowa hasn’t committed a turnover in three straight games. The Hawkeyes will be tested this weekend when they travel to Ann Arbor to play No. 19 Michigan.

5. (5) Michigan State (4-1), W - 40-31 vs. Indiana, Next Week: at No. 4 Ohio St.

A win is a win. The Spartans struggled at home against Indiana, but pulled out a 40-31 win after a 21-yard field goal gave them the lead with 5 seconds left in the game. With Michigan State’s defense struggling to slow down the Hoosiers, quarterback Brian Lewerke and the offense kept the Spartans afloat in the game. Lewerke threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, and added 78 yards on the ground in his best performance of the early season. The Spartans get their biggest challenge of the season when they play at No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday night.

6. (7) Michigan (3-1), W - 52-0 vs. Rutgers, Next Week: vs. No. 14 Iowa

After a disappointing loss to Wisconsin last week, the Wolverines were gifted a home matchup with Rutgers in Week 5. Michigan thoroughly dominated the Scarlet Knights on their way to a 52-0 victory at the Big House. Quarterback Shea Patterson threw for 276 yards and found the end zone four times (one passing, three rushing) in a confidence boosting game for the senior signal caller. Michigan will look to keep the momentum going on offense against a strong Iowa team this weekend.

7. (8) Minnesota (4-0), W - 38-31 at Purdue, Next Week: vs. Illinois

It might be time to start taking Minnesota seriously. The Golden Gophers held off Purdue to secure a 38-31 road win and stay undefeated on the season. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was nearly perfect on the day, completing 21 of 22 passes for 396 yards, four touchdowns, and no picks. The Gophers have looked shaky at times this year but 4-0 is 4-0, and this team clearly knows how to pull out close wins. P.J. Fleck’s team will look to remain unbeaten when they host Illinois this weekend.

8. (11) Northwestern (1-3), L - 24-15 at No. 8 Wisconsin, Next Week: at Nebraska

The Wildcats put forth an admirable effort in Madison against the Badgers, but couldn’t recover from two defensive touchdowns and fell 24-15. Northwestern had a great defensive game plan to slow down running back Jonathan Taylor, but the Wildcats’ offense and quarterback play doomed them once again. Starter Hunter Johnson was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter and replaced by Aidan Smith; both quarterbacks were pressured heavily and largely ineffective throughout the game. The Wildcats have an important road game at Big Ten West rival Nebraska this weekend.

9. (6) Nebraska (3-2), L - 48-7 vs. No. 5 Ohio St., Next Week: vs. Northwestern

With College GameDay in town, the Cornhuskers were demolished by Ohio State in prime time. It was a disappointing night for Nebraska and quarterback Adrian Martinez, who threw for only 47 yards and had three interceptions. The Cornhuskers were overwhelmed on the defensive end as well, allowing 580 total yards to Justin Fields and company. Through five weeks it’s clear that Scott Frost’s team is at least a year or two away from being a real player in the Big Ten race.

10. (12) Indiana (3-2), L - 40-31 at No. 25 Michigan St., Next Week: BYE

The Hoosiers fought hard and nearly won at Michigan State, but ultimately fell to the Spartans 40-31. Despite the loss, Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looks for real. The redshirt freshman returned from an injury that kept him sidelined the last two weeks, and threw for 286 yards and scored four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Despite Indiana’s success on offense, head coach Tom Allen’s defense had no answers for Michigan State, as they surrendered 300 passing yards. The Hoosiers have a bye this week, followed by three winnable games (vs. Rutgers, at Maryland, at Nebraska).

11. (10) Purdue (1-3), L - 38-31 vs. Minnesota, Next Week: at No. 12 Penn St.

It’s been a rough season thus far for head coach Jeff Brohm. In Week 5, the Boilermakers lost at home to Minnesota to fall to 1-3 on the year. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar and wide receiver Rondale Moore both left the game with injuries in the first quarter and Purdue never recovered. The defense was torched through the air, allowing 396 passing yards and four touchdowns. Things don’t get any easier for the Boilermakers, as they travel to Happy Valley to play No. 12 Penn State on Saturday afternoon.

12. (9) Maryland (2-2), L - 59-0 vs. No. 12 Penn St., Next Week: at Rutgers

Maryland falls three spots this week, after a humiliating 59-0 home loss to No. 12 Penn State. What a difference a couple of weeks makes. After a strong start to the season, the Terrapins have now lost two games in a row and have been dreadful on the offensive side of the ball. They could muster only 128 total yards against the Nittany Lions and turned the ball over three times (two interceptions, one fumble). The good news is Maryland travels to Rutgers this weekend for a winnable game.

13. (13) Illinois (2-2), BYE, Next Week: at Minnesota

The Illini had a bye in Week 5. They will look to get their first Big Ten win of the season when they travel to play Minnesota on Saturday.

14. (14) Rutgers (1-3), L - 52-0 at No. 20 Michigan, Next Week: vs. Maryland

The Scarlet Knights were completely over matched on both sides of the ball in a 52-0 blowout loss to Michigan. It was the last straw for head coach Chris Ash, who was fired on Sunday after winning just eight games in three-plus years. Rutgers’ offense was mostly ineffective, as quarterback Artur Sitkowski threw for just 106 yards, while their defense let up over 300 yards passing to the Wolverines. A change at head coach was probably the right decision, but whoever they end up hiring to replace Ash will have quite the uphill battle to make this program relevant again.