What exactly is going on with the Big Ten schedule this year? As far as I can remember, the Big Ten has always followed a basic formula. The first four games of the season are non-conference, and then everybody in the Big Ten starts playing conference games at the same time.
But then last week happened.
Last week Big Ten play officially began, but only Wisconsin and Purdue were playing each other. Everyone else played a non-conference game. This week we have two Big Ten games as Wisconsin takes on Ohio State in the headliner, and Iowa travels to Minnesota. There are only two other Big Ten games this week, and they involve the Illini and Purdue, but both are playing MAC schools.
What the fuck, Big Ten? I've come to expect a certain level of boring predictability from you. Now you're just confusing me.
Anyway, let's get to this week's Power Rankings so some of you can get angry at me.
TEAM (RECORD, LAST WEEK) -- POINTS
1. Ohio State (4-0, 1) - 155 -- Ohio State beat the hell out of Florida A&M so badly that columnists were angry about it. Seriously, what in the hell are you angry about? Shared blame? Why does anybody need to be blamed to begin with? It's a BCS team filling a date on its schedule by paying an FCS team a ton of money to take a beating. There is nothing new here. Don't write columns about how this is all A TRAVESTY or whatever just because you had to watch a blowout for a few hours on Saturday morning. Because that's all this was. Dan Wetzel was bored for three hours and got angry about it. This Week: vs. Wisconsin
2. Wisconsin (3-1, 2) - 148 -- Seriously, the Badgers are playing really well on both sides of the ball. So well that even though they have a loss they're in second place in these power rankings. And record is weighed more heavily than the other statistics I use. They've just been that good, and they do have a legitimate shot of knocking off Ohio State this weekend. Hell, based on what we've seen in the first month, the Badgers may have the best chance of anybody to knock off Ohio State this season. This Week: at Ohio State
3. Northwestern (4-0, 6) - 123 -- Damn it. I know, I'm not happy about this either. The Wildcats have not played all that well the last two weeks, but when compared statistically to all the other 4-0 teams in the Big Ten right now, they have a slight edge. This Week: Bye
4. Michigan (4-0, 3) - 118 -- The reason that Northwestern passed Michigan in these rankings? Well, it's not just that Michigan has looked like ass the last two weeks. It's more the fact that Northwestern has the best turnover margin in the Big Ten while Michigan has the worst. That alone more than covers the five-point lead Northwestern has on Michigan here. This Week: Bye
4. Minnesota (4-0, 7) - 118 -- We have a tie! Minnesota hasn't looked all that impressive so far this year, but it must have been nice to find out that you have a back up quarterback in Mitch Leidner who can get the job done. Between Leidner and Philip Nelson the Gophers have two good, young quarterbacks on the roster to build around the next few years. This Week: vs. Iowa
6. Iowa (3-1, 8) - 114 -- Yes, that's right. Iowa scored damn near 60 points in a single game. Last year in eight Big Ten games the Hawkeyes managed to score 150 points and had 232 points in the entire season. So the Hawkeyes literally managed to score more than a quarter of their 2012 total in one game last weekend. And they did it by scoring multiple touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. I don't think there's another method for scoring. This Week: at Minnesota
6. Penn State (3-1, 9) - 114 -- Another tie! Things are just that close once you get past the top couple of teams in this conference right now. Once Big Ten play actually begins they should start separating themselves. As for Penn State, it had a chance to get its stats healthy against a bad Kent State team, and it did just that. The Golden Flashes never had a chance. This Week: Bye
8. Michigan State (3-1, 3) - 107 -- How does Michigan State fall all the way from third to eighth after losing a close game to Notre Dame? Well, remember that while the Spartans were in third place last week, there was only five points separating them from seventh place. Now, without an undefeated mark to help prop them up, Sparty's terrible performance on offense helps it plummet down the rankings. This Week: Bye
9. Nebraska (3-1, 11) - 106 -- Wow, things looked pretty scary there for a while, didn't they? When you think about how life was for Bo Pelini last week you have to figure he was looking for the nearest fire exits while the Huskers were losing 17-14 to South Dakota State after the first quarter. Luckily for Pelini and everyone else in Nebraska, things started to make a lot more sense after that, though nobody should get too comfortable. South Dakota State did still rack up 465 yards of offense in this game. This Week: Bye
10. Indiana (2-2, 5) - 98 -- Last week Indiana was ranked fifth which got the most reaction from any of you. No, I don't think Indiana is a very good team. No, I'm not surprised it lost to Missouri. However, it's offensive performance so far this season when compared to the rest of the conference is racking up a lot of points. If Indiana keeps playing like it did against Missouri, that will change. This Week: Bye
11. Illinois (2-1, 10) - 80 -- The Illini actually suffered by not playing this week because their 2-1 record fell behind all the other teams that improved to 3-1, which cost them some points. My formula isn't perfect, but these are power rankings. Power rankings aren't exactly sacrosanct. In other news, the Illini are 24.5-point favorites this week! Let that sink in! This Week: vs. Miami (Ohio)
12. Purdue (1-3, 12) - 26 -- It's going to be a long year, Purdue. A long, long year. There are currently 54 points between you and eleventh place here. There are only 75 points between first and eleventh. This Week: vs. Northern Illinois
Last week's rankings can be found here.