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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 5 Recap

Northwestern upsets UW, Penn State remains winless and Michigan outlasts Rutgers in triple OT.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Find Week 3’s rankings here.

1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (4-0), W - 42-35 vs. Indiana, Next Week: at Illinois

The Buckeyes held off a second-half surge from Indiana and stayed undefeated on the season with a 42-35 win in Columbus. Quarterback Justin Fields threw three interceptions, but made up for it with a 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground. In fact, the Buckeyes out-rushed the Hoosiers 307 to -1 in the win. The defense still has a ways to go however, as they allowed 491 yards through the air and had only two sacks and no quarterback hurries on 51 Indiana pass attempts. Through four games, Ohio State has looked great but not quite their usual dominant selves. Ryan Day and company have a great opportunity to tune some things up, especially on the defensive end, in a winnable game at Illinois this upcoming weekend.

2. (4) Northwestern (5-0), W - 17-7 vs. Wisconsin, Next Week: at Michigan St.

Northwestern is a much-deserving choice to rank second this week, after an impressive win over Wisconsin on Saturday. The Wildcats’ defense spearheaded the win, forcing five turnovers (three INTs, two fumbles) and holding the Badgers to a modest 136 rushing yards. With a reliable, experienced quarterback under center in Peyton Ramsey to complement a dominant defense, Northwestern are the clear cut favorites to win the West division. The Wildcats need just one win in their final three games to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship game, due to Wisconsin being ineligible after their game against Minnesota this weekend was cancelled.

3. (2) Indiana (4-1), L - 42-35 at Ohio St., Next Week: vs. Maryland

You got to give the Hoosiers credit for never giving up in their game against Ohio State this past weekend. IU was down by as many as 28 points in the second-half but battled back to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter and actually had the ball late with a chance to tie the game. Despite the loss, Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. had a ridiculous stat line, throwing for 491 yards and five touchdowns. Indiana played the Buckeyes about as well as they could have and it’ll likely be Ohio State’s most competitive game of the regular season.

4. (3) Wisconsin (2-1), L - 17-7 at Northwestern, Next Week: vs. Minnesota

Ryan Field continues to be a house of horrors for the Badgers. Quarterback Graham Mertz reminded us all that he’s still just a freshman and committed four turnovers (three INTs, one fumble) in defeat. The loss wasn’t all on Mertz though, as Wisconsin’s wide receivers struggled to get open with starters Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis III both out with injuries. On the bright side, the Badgers may have found their next great running back in true freshman Jalen Berger, who ran for 93 yards on just 15 carries in the loss. The Badgers are off this upcoming weekend after their game against Minnesota was cancelled due to positive coronavirus cases in the Gophers’ program.

5. (6) Iowa (3-2), W - 41-21 at Penn St., Next Week: vs. Nebraska

After dropping their first two games of the season, the Hawkeyes have now won three straight including Saturday’s 41-21 road win at Penn State. Iowa’s defense flexed their muscles in the win, forcing four turnovers (two INTs, two fumbles) and notching five sacks. Running back Mekhi Sargent was the main contributor on offense, rushing for 101 yards and two touchdowns. In typical Iowa fashion, the Hawkeyes have relied on a strong run game and a stout defense to get back above .500 on the season.

6. (5) Purdue (2-2), L - 34-31 at Minnesota, Next Week: vs. Rutgers

Purdue drops just one spot this week, after an abysmal offensive pass interference call wiped away a go-ahead touchdown with just 52 seconds left in their loss against Minnesota. Quite frankly, the Boilermakers deserved that win and the officials apparently gave head coach Jeff Brohm no explanation on the call. Purdue fell behind 21-10 at halftime and two second-half missed field goals ultimately doomed the Boilermakers. Quarterback Jack Plummer filled in admirably for starter Aidan O’Connell (who missed Saturday’s game for an unknown reason), throwing for 376 yards and three touchdowns in his first start of the season. Wide receiver Rondale Moore returned to the field for the first time this season and reminded everyone just how great he is, finishing with 15 catches, 136 total yards, and a rushing touchdown in the loss.

7. (7) Maryland (2-1), DNP, Next Week: at No. 12 Indiana

The Terrapins did not play for the second straight week, after their game against Michigan State was canceled due to positive coronavirus cases in Maryland’s program. As of Tuesday, the Terps’ game against Indiana this upcoming weekend is still up in the air, but it is trending in the right direction.

8. (9) Michigan (2-3), W - 48-42 3OT at Rutgers, Next Week: vs. Penn St.

Michigan overcame a slow start and a mid-game quarterback change to outlast Rutgers in triple overtime and snap the Wolverines’ three-game losing streak. Jim Harbaugh may have found his next quarterback in Cade McNamara. The redshirt freshman replaced starter Joe Milton in the second quarter and finished with 260 passing yards, four touchdowns and no picks in the win. This has been a tumultuous season for the Wolverines, but all is not lost if Harbaugh has really found their quarterback of the future.

10. (10) Minnesota (2-3), W - 34-31 vs. Purdue, Next Week: at No. 18 Wisconsin

The Golden Gophers got a much needed win on Friday night, thanks to a controversial pass interference call that negated a Purdue go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Star running back Mohamed Ibrahim led the way with 102 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and has now rushed for 100+ yards in every game this season. Minnesota’s game against Wisconsin is cancelled this Saturday because of positive coronavirus cases within the Gophers’ program.

10. (12) Illinois (2-3), W - 41-23 at Nebraska, Next Week: vs. No. 3 Ohio St.

The Illini forced five turnovers on their way to a rare road win over Nebraska on Saturday. Illinois’ defense picked off Luke McCaffrey three times and held the Cornhuskers to just 177 passing yards on 30 pass attempts. Quarterback Brandon Peters was back under center after missing the last three weeks due to a positive coronavirus test, and had 205 passing yards and two total touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in the win. The Illini also had a pair of 100+ yard rushers in the game, with Mike Epstein and Chase Brown rushing for 113 and 110 yards respectively.

11. (11) Michigan State (1-3), DNP, Next Week: vs. No. 8 Northwestern

Michigan State was forced to cancel their game against Maryland this past weekend due to positive coronavirus cases in the Terrapins’ program. The Spartans will be back in action this Saturday, where they will look to upset unbeaten Northwestern in East Lansing.

12. (8) Nebraska (1-3), L - 41-23 vs. Illinois, Next Week: at Iowa

The Cornhukers fall four spots in the rankings after allowing 41 points at home to an unassuming, below-average Illinois offense. Nebraska committed five turnovers (three INTs, two fumbles) and allowed 285 yards on the ground to the Illini. Quarterback Luke McCaffrey took a step back after a good performance last week, throwing three interceptions and fumbling once, before being replaced on the final possession of the game by former starter Adrian Martinez. Martinez led the Huskers to a touchdown on his only drive of the game. The Cornhuskers will travel to Iowa City to play Iowa on Black Friday, in a game Scott Frost’s team desperately needs to win if they want to salvage this shortened season.

13. (13) Rutgers (1-4), L - 48-42 3OT vs. Michigan, Next Week: at Purdue

After jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first half, the Scarlet Knights allowed 28 second-half points to Michigan before falling in triple overtime. Quarterback Noah Vedral led the way for Rutgers, throwing for a season-high 381 yards and three touchdowns. However, the Scarlet Knights committed twelve penalties and their defense struggled to get timely stops in the fourth quarter. Even in defeat, Rutgers has to feel good knowing they played evenly with a team that is as talented on paper as Michigan is. Things are looking up in New Brunswick heading into Week 6.

14. (14) Penn State (0-5), L - 41-21 vs. Iowa, Next Week: at Michigan

Another week, another loss for the Nittany lions. James Franklin’s team fell to 0-5 on the season after a suffering a 20-point home defeat to Iowa this past weekend. Both Sean Clifford and Will Levis took snaps under center and neither was particularly effective. Clifford threw two interceptions and Levis, a dual-threat quarterback, rushed for just 2.3 yards per carry on 15 rushing attempts and fumbled twice. As if this season couldn’t get any worse for the Nittany Lions, star tight end Pat Freiermuth will undergo season-ending surgery due to an injury suffered in Week 2. Penn State will travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan this Saturday, in a game between two traditional powerhouse programs who have both had incredibly disappointing seasons.