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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 4 Recap

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The Badgers steamroll Michigan, Northwestern edges out Purdue and Nebraska earns their first win of the season.

Find Week 3’s rankings here.

1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (3-0), DNP, Next Week: vs. No. 9 Indiana

Ohio State was forced to cancel their game against Maryland this past weekend due to positive coronavirus cases in the Terrapins program. The Buckeyes host No. 9 Indiana on Saturday in a matchup of the two highest ranked teams in the Big Ten.

2. (2) Indiana (4-0), W - 24-0 at Michigan St., Next Week: at No. 3 Ohio St.

The Hoosiers avoided a slip up against Michigan State, shutting out the Spartans on their way to a 24-0 road win. Indiana’s high-powered offense outgained the Spartans by over 200 yards and the Hoosiers’ defense forced four turnovers (three INTs, one fumble) in the victory. Wide receiver Ty Fryfogle followed up his 142-yard receiving game last week, by catching 11 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns against the Spartans. The undefeated Hoosiers travel to Ohio State this Saturday for perhaps the most important game in Indiana program history.

3. (3) Wisconsin (2-0), W - 49-11 at Michigan, Next Week: at No. 19 Northwestern

After a two-week layoff due to coronavirus, the Badgers returned to action with a dominant blowout win over Michigan on Saturday night. Wisconsin ran all over the Wolverines (341 rushing yards), while holding Michigan’s rushing attack to only 47 yards and 2.5 yards per carry. Jim Leonhard’s defense overwhelmed Michigan quarterback Joe Milton and picked him off twice in the win. It was somewhat surprising to see Wisconsin completely outclass Michigan in every facet of the game, but it’s a sign of how great the Badgers program is right now. Paul Chryst and company will travel to play undefeated Northwestern in a game that could determine the Big Ten West champion.

4. (5) Northwestern (4-0), W - 27-20 at Purdue, Next Week: vs. No. 10 Wisconsin

The Wildcats stayed unbeaten on the season after a 27-20 road win at Purdue. Wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bown had a career day, finishing with 86 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the win. Through four weeks, Northwestern has been one of the most balanced teams in the Big Ten, ranking second in the conference in scoring defense and sixth in points scored per game. The Wildcats will get their biggest test of the season thus far, when No. 10 Wisconsin visits Evanston this upcoming Saturday.

5. (4) Purdue (2-1), L - 27-20 vs. Northwestern, Next Week: at Minnesota

Purdue suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday in a close contest against Northwestern. The Boilermakers struggled to get a pass rush and allowed three costly touchdown passes that were ultimately the difference in the game. It also didn’t help that running back Zander Horvath, who rushed for 100+ yards in Purdue’s first two games, could muster only 21 rushing yards in the loss. The Boilermakers consistently move the ball through the air and rank first in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, but the defense will need to improve going forward if Purdue wants to be taken seriously as a contender in the West.

6. (7) Iowa (2-2), W - 35-7 at Minnesota, Next Week: at Penn St.

After an 0-2 start to the season, Iowa has righted the ship and won their second straight game this past Friday night. The Hawkeyes cruised to a 35-7 win over Minnesota behind a 142-yard rushing performance by running back Tyler Goodson and a defense that notched four sacks and two interceptions. First-year quarterback Spencer Petras is still limited (nine completions, 111 passing yards), but the combination of Iowa’s rushing attack and a solid defensive unit will make them a tough out the rest of the season. The Hawkeyes will travel to State College this weekend to play a desperate Penn State team.

7. (6) Maryland (2-1), DNP, Next Week: vs. Michigan St.

The Terrapins did not play in Week 4, after their game against Ohio State was canceled due to positive coronavirus cases in Maryland’s program. As of Tuesday, the Terps’ game against Michigan State this upcoming weekend is still up in the air.

8. (10) Nebraska (1-2), W - 30-23 vs. Penn St., Next Week: vs. Illinois

In his first career start, quarterback Luke McCaffrey threw for 152 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while adding 67 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Most importantly, McCaffrey led the Cornhuskers to their first win of the season on Saturday. Scott Frost’s team still has a long ways to go on the defensive end (501 total yards allowed vs. Penn St.), but a new quarterback under center has Cornhusker fans rightfully excited. Nebraska will be favored this upcoming weekend in a home matchup against Illinois.

9. (8) Michigan (1-3), L - 49-11 vs. Wisconsin, Next Week: at Rutgers

The Wolverines were severely outplayed in their blowout loss to Wisconsin this past weekend. It was an embarrassing performance from Michigan and the game was effectively over after the Badgers took a 28-0 halftime lead. Quarterback Joe Milton was benched after a rocky game that included two first-half interceptions, and was replaced by Cade McNamara. Overall, it has been a disastrous season for Jim Harbaugh’s team and it has a chance to get even worse if the Wolverines lose to Rutgers this weekend.

10. (9) Minnesota (1-3), L - 35-7 vs. Iowa, Next Week: vs. Purdue

Minnesota had no answer for Iowa’s run game on Friday night, allowing 235 rushing yards and 6.7 yards per carry in their loss to the Hawkeyes. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was uninspiring in the loss, throwing for just 167 yards and two interceptions. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim continues to put up eye-opening rushing stats and finished with 144 yards on the ground in Week 4. The Golden Gophers will host Purdue on Saturday in a what should be a competitive Big Ten West matchup.

11. (11) Michigan State (1-3), L - 24-0 vs. Indiana, Next Week: at Maryland

The Spartans were a complete mess on offense in Week 4, turning the ball over four times and converting just nine first downs in their loss to Indiana. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi threw two interceptions on his first seven pass attempts before being benched for backup Payton Thorne. Thorne wasn’t much better and completed just 50% of his passes and threw an interception of his own. The Spartans are in full rebuild mode in head coach Mel Tucker’s first season at the helm and were just completely overmatched on both sides of the ball against the Hoosiers this past weekend.

12. (14) Illinois (1-3), W - 23-20 at Rutgers, Next Week: at Nebraska

The Illini notched their first win of the season by hitting a game-winning field goal with just three seconds left. Quarterback Brandon Peters was forced to miss his third straight game as he continues to recover from a positive coronavirus test, but redshirt freshman Isaiah Williams was impressive under center in his place and rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown in the win. Illinois’ defense came up with three second half interceptions, the final one putting the Illini in a position to kick the go-ahead field goal. This was a game Lovie Smith and company needed to win, as they will be underdogs in their final four contests of the season (at Nebraska, vs. Ohio St., vs. Iowa, at Northwestern).

13. (13) Rutgers (1-3), L - 23-20 vs. Illinois, Next Week: vs. Michigan

Rutgers was once again competitive, but fell short in their 23-20 loss to Illinois on Saturday. Quarterback Noah Vedral threw three second half interceptions, including one that set Illinois up for the game-winning field goal. Rutgers also had no answer for Illinois’ rushing attack and allowed 338 yards on the ground. This was a game the Scarlet Knights could have and probably should have won, but Vedral’s three interceptions were what ultimately doomed Greg Schiano’s team. Rutgers has a suddenly winnable home game versus Michigan this upcoming Saturday.

14. (12) Penn State (0-4), L - 30-23 at Nebraska, Next Week: vs. Iowa

The Nittany Lions have officially hit rock bottom. After a close loss at Nebraska, James Franklin’s team is the last Big Ten team without a win this season. Quarterback Sean Clifford was benched in the first half after throwing an interception and fumbling on two of his first three drives. Backup Will Levis performed admirably in the loss, leading Penn State back from a 27-6 halftime deficit to having a chance to tie the game with a touchdown in the final minute. I’d expect Levis to be the starter going forward. Obviously there is talent across the board at Penn State, but this season is quickly shaping up to be one of the worst in program history.