Big Ten Country

Big Ten Week 5 Power Rankings: Michigan, Penn State dominate


LINCOLN, NEBRASKA – SEPTEMBER 30: Kenneth Grant #78 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates an interception with Kris Jenkins #94 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 30, 2023 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Several Big Ten teams had off-days this week as conference play gets underway in earnest, but a few others made some big-time statements.

That group includes Purdue, who blew out Illinois in a game that saw Ryan Walters go up against the team he helped build into a defensive powerhouse last season.

Michigan and Penn State also cemented their status among the conference’s elite, with blowout victories over Nebraska and Northwestern, respectively.

Rutgers also kept up their winning ways with a massive victory over Wagner, as did Maryland with an easy win over Indiana.

Here is this week’s Power Rankings:

14 Indiana (Last Week: 14)

Tayven Jackson averaged just 3.9 yards per completion, and Indiana’s offense was held to 321 yards in a 27-point loss to the Terrapins. Jaylin Lucas had a few flash plays, including a 56-yard kick return, but outside of that fleeting moment, it was a forgettable day at the office for the Hoosiers.

13 Nebraska (Last Week: 10)

Nebraska gave up 14 points in both the first and second quarters of Saturday’s loss to Michigan, and never even looked to have an opportunity to make it a game in Lincoln. Heinrich Haarberg threw for 199 yards and an interception, and the Huskers only managed 32 yards on the ground outside of a garbage-time 74-yard touchdown run by Joshua Fleeks.

The Huskers had shown some flashes in previous games, but Michigan immediately put them back in their place as they look to rebuild their program under Matt Rhule.

12 Michigan State (Last Week: 13)

The Spartans had a nicely-balanced attack against the Hawkeyes on Saturday, but they gave up 13 points in the fourth quarter to fall 26-16 in Iowa City. Noah Kim threw three interceptions as he keeps his tenuous hold on the starting job, but Nathan Carter did rack up 108 rushing yards against a tough Iowa defense.

11 Northwestern (Last Week: 12)

It’s not common for a team to move up a spot in the rankings after a 28-point loss, but the Wildcats’ first half against Penn State was worthy of a salute. They did hold Drew Allar to 189 yards through the air, but Penn State got the key stops when they needed them, holding Northwestern to just 175 yards of total offense.

Also worth noting: Ben Bryant left the game after a sack late in the game, and it’s unclear what his status will be moving forward.

10 Illinois (Last Week: 9)

The Illini struggled badly on the defensive side of things Saturday, giving up 406 yards of offense to a Purdue squad that had been going through its own difficulties in moving the football.

There was some good news on the Illinois side as Kaden Feagin rushed for 85 yards on just 11 carries, and Isaiah Williams had another huge game with 113 receiving yards, but they’re having difficulty turning those yards into points, and it’s cost them as they continue to go down early in games this season.

9 Purdue (Last Week: 11)

Purdue needed to make a statement if they were to be taken seriously in the Big Ten West chase, and they did just that at home against Illinois, with Tyrone Tracy and Devin Mockobee combining for 179 yards rushing and two touchdowns in an emphatic victory.

Hudson Card also took better care of the football, throwing two touchdowns and not turning it over a single time in the game. That is a huge development for the Boilermakers, who have been bitten badly by the turnover bug all season long.  

8 Minnesota (Last Week: 8)

Homecoming in the Twin Cities was slow to get rolling, as the Gophers trailed at halftime against Louisiana, but in the second half they were finally able to get some momentum going, scoring 21 points to earn a 35-24 victory.

The Gophers went really heavy on the run again this week, with 51 total carries for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and Zach Evans was a driving force as he rushed for 85 yards and a score on 15 total carries.

7 Rutgers (Last Week: 7)

If you’re starting to notice a pattern here of teams sticking to their spots, you’ll be forgiven, but Rutgers did exactly what it needed to do against Wagner, posting a 52-3 victory.

Gavin Wimsatt threw for 146 yards and rushed for 15 more, racking up three total touchdowns on the day. Kyle Monangai kept up his stellar season with 87 more rushing yards, and the Scarlet Knights’ defense registered three sacks while holding the Seahawks to just 106 yards of total offense in the victory.

6 Iowa (Last Week: 6)

The Hawkeyes’ win was on the bittersweet side, as their offense only managed 222 yards while also losing starting quarterback Cade McNamara to a leg injury that required him to be carted off the field.

Deacon Hill threw for 115 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the victory, but with their rushing attack managing just 61 yards on 27 attempts, he’ll have to really step up his passing game if McNamara misses time due to the injury.

5 Wisconsin (Last Week: 5)

The Badgers had their bye week after an emphatic 38-17 win over Purdue in Week 4, and their next game should provide an intriguing test as Rutgers travels to Camp Randall for Week 6.

The Badgers will have to play that game without Chez Mellusi, who is out for the rest of the season with a leg injury, but Tanner Mordecai showed off tremendous two-way play in their last game against Purdue, and may be leaned upon to keep that up moving forward.

4 Maryland (Last Week: 4)

It would have been easy for Maryland to overlook Indiana as they turn their eyes toward an Oct. 7 showdown with Ohio State, but Taulia Tagovailoa was in fine form, with five touchdown passes and 352 yards through the air.

Tai Felton hauled in three of those touchdown passes, and Jeshaun Jones racked up six catches for 121 yards to help pace a Maryland offense that has helped the Terps to their first 5-0 record since 2001.

3 Ohio State (Last Week: 3)

The Buckeyes got a week off after defeating Notre Dame in South Bend in Week 4, and their schedule isn’t going to get any easier, as they’ll face Maryland in Columbus in Week 6.

After a road game against Purdue the following Saturday, Ohio State will face a home test against Penn State on Oct. 21, followed by a road game against Wisconsin on Oct. 28.

2 Penn State (Last Week: 2)

The Nittany Lions’ defense has been having a superb season, and they were in fine form on Saturday, holding Northwestern to just three second-half points, racking up seven sacks and 12 total tackles for loss, and holding the Wildcats to just 175 yards of offense.

Sure, we’d love to see Drew Allar take over a game eventually, but when your team has the defense Penn State does, just managing the offense and churning out yardage is enough to win, and that’s all Allar had to do on Saturday.

1 Michigan (Last Week: 1)

JJ McCarthy only threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns, but don’t let the stat line fool you. He was in complete control of his game, and the speed and accuracy with which he throws the ball was on full display.

Add to that another strong 74-yard effort from Blake Corum, part of a Wolverine rushing attack that chewed up 249 yards on 51 carries, and Michigan did exactly what it needed to do in its first road outing.

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