This has absolutely nothing to do with the Power Rankings this week, but it dawned on my yesterday that Saturday was the last Saturday in October. Which means that the next Saturday will be in November, and that means no more night games for the Big Ten.
And I love that rule.
Not for the reasons the Big Ten implements it -- the reason the Big Ten doesn't play night games in November is the same reason it doesn't play conference games in September, because it never has and CHANGE IS SCARY GET AWAY CHANGE -- but because at work, while I'm not assigned to cover the Big Ten, I'm generally the one that's covering the Big Ten games. But if there aren't any Big Ten games going on in primetime that frees me up to watch the good games instead.
So I love you, November Big Ten, you're the best.
TEAM RECORD (LAST WEEK) -- POINTS
1. Ohio State 8-0 (1) - 163 -- Obviously Ohio State is going to stay in first place after destroying Penn State on Saturday night, and that was exactly what Ohio State needs to start doing more of, but as far as these Power Rankings are concerned, the seven point jump is impressive as well. Ohio State now has 163 points in these rankings, and the highest total any team can get -- the perfect score, if you will -- is 180. So that's pretty good. This Week: at Purdue
2. Wisconsin 5-2 (2) - 148 -- Wisconsin took the week off and gained nine points because of it thanks to other teams having bad weeks and bumping the Badgers up a few spots in key areas. What's strange, though, is that Ohio State gains points this week but not as many as Wisconsin did, so the Badgers are actually closer to first after taking a week off. This Week: at Iowa
3. Michigan State 7-1 (5) - 132 -- Not exactly a surprise, but Michigan State jumps up to third this week. Now, if you don't remember last week's rankings, I wrote this about the Spartans.
If Michigan State's offense was just an average Big Ten offense it would be in third place right now. However, it's ranked in the bottom third of the conference in points per game, yards per play, red zone touchdown percentage and explosion plays. And those missing points are why it's here. Maybe the Illinois defense can fix that for Sparty.
You're welcome, Michigan State. You're welcome. This Week: vs. Michigan
4. Michigan 6-1 (4) - 129 -- This week is a huge week for the Wolverines. They're a 6-1 team that has the respect of nobody, but a good way to go out and earn some respect would be to not only play well, but beat Michigan State. Of course, now that I think about it, if Michigan does beat Michigan State then people will just say that Michigan State sucked anyway. Because that's just the way sports work. This Week: at Michigan State
5. Nebraska 5-2 (3) - 112 -- I thought Nebraska might fall a bit further than this because of the loss to Minnesota, but the overall performance on the season outweighed Saturday's loss. Of the 13 statistical categories I use in these rankings the Cornhuskers only rank in the bottom half of the Big Ten in two of them: yards per play against and big plays against. This Week: vs. Northwestern
6. Iowa 5-3 (6) - 104 -- Iowa got the win this week, but only winning 17-10 in an overtime game against a Northwestern team that just looks like crap lately didn't do much to move the needle. This team is weird, because it laid an egg against Michigan State, looked good against Ohio State, and then had this mediocre performance against Northwestern. I'm not sure which team we should expect to show up this week, but for Iowa's sake, it better be the good one. This Week: vs. Wisconsin
7. Minnesota 5-2 (8) - 92 -- When I was writing my season previews, both here and at CBSSports.com, I said that Minnesota might be one of the most improved teams in the Big Ten this season, but nobody will notice because it's schedule is so tough that its record would be worse. Well I was half right! Seriously, we're looking at a Minnesota team that could potentially finish 4-4 in the Big Ten and 8-4 overall. It must be nice. This Week: at Indiana
8. Indiana 3-4 (9) - 83 -- It's pretty simple for Indiana right now. The Hoosiers are probably going to beat Illinois and Purdue and they'll likely lose on the road to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Which means that if this team wants to get to six wins and a bowl game it has to beat Minnesota this week. This Week: vs. Minnesota
9. Penn State 4-3 (7) - 77 -- Dave Revsine tweeted this stat on Saturday, but after giving up 63 points to Ohio State the Nittany Lions have now allowed 40 points or more in three straight games. The last time they did that was 1899. And while I'd like to convince myself that Penn State's troubles and Christian Hackenberg's sore shoulder give the Illini a real chance to win Saturday, we all remember what Penn State did to us last season, and Bill O'Brien will remind his team yet again about Illinois coaches TRYING TO STEAL HIS PLAYERS AND BREAK UP THIS TEAM AND BLAH BLAH BLAH. So we're going to be dealing with an angry bunch. This Week: vs. Illinois
10. Northwestern 4-4 (10) - 70 -- Through its first five games Northwestern was averaging 39 points per game and was 4-1. In its last three games Northwestern is averaging 11 points per game and is 0-3. I think I figured out the problem, you guys! This Week: at Nebraska
11. Illinois 3-4 (11) - 55 -- There are still five games left in the season. If you don't include Ohio State -- which we know is an automatic loss, let's not pretend otherwise -- the combined Big Ten record of our other four opponents is 2-11. I know the loss on Saturday sucked, but if you don't see the irony in yelling about how the team quit at halftime and then you doing the same damn thing.... This Week: at Penn State
12. Purdue 1-6 (12) - 32 -- I live in fear of the Illini losing to Purdue. I do. It's horrible. This Week: vs. Ohio State
Last week's rankings can be found here.