College football has been tremendously entertaining lately. There are Top 10 teams falling in bunches every week; the state of Mississippi is experiencing a renaissance of epic proportions; the race for the College Football Playoff is just as unpredictable as it was at the beginning of the season. And yet, I feel like I'm missing out.
I'm an unabashedly faithful B1G fan but the conference seems to be missing most of the national spotlight. Of all the coverage that the sport gets and creates, very little has featured a team from the Midwest/southwestern-Northeast. Holly Anderson, of Grantland.com, didn't even mention a B1G team during her weekly viewing guide.
I'm not blaming the media though, the B1G just wasn't enthralling this weekend. It was even difficult to pick which game was the most interesting. (Northwestern-Minnesota?) There are compelling stories pouring out of every SEC game, and even most Pac12 games, but the B1G? Uhh.. Melvin Gordon? The terribleness of Michigan? The conference might be at an all-time low in terms of a Q-rating.
It's all rather cyclical. If played long enough, college football could produce a conference champion from anywhere -- even Northwestern, but that's like, way, way in the future. Hopefully, the B1G finds that reviving (good) newsworthy story some time soon (like a really awesome coach comes to a certain orange-and-blue university), but until then, we'll just have to wait, cross our fingers, and hope that Michigan State or Ohio State might carry the rest of the conference with them into the CFP.
1. #8 Michigan State Spartans - @ Purdue, Win 45-31 - LW: 1
Before this weekend, I firmly believed that Michigan State was the top of the B1G by a good margin, but allowing the Boilermakers to keep the score even this close made that perception falter. The Spartans didn't lose so I'll keep them at the top, but now a little bit of doubt has slipped into their season.
2. #13 Ohio State Buckeyes - DNP - LW: 2
The Buckeyes prepare for the Ragin' Rutgers next week. It's only OSU and MSU sitting atop the Eastern Division right now. It's been quite a turnaround after the loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2. How high is their ceiling?
3. #19 Nebraska Cornhuskers - DNP - LW: 3
All you need to know for next week:
(Oh, and: Hahahahahahahahaaa!!)
4. Rutgers Scarlet Knights - DNP - LW: 4
Quick summary of Rutgers' season so far: Massive Success. Quick summary of Rutgers' season remaining: Murderer's Row.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes - vs. Indiana, Win 45-29 - LW: 6
Each week, Iowa plays solid football -- it isn't outstandingly good, nor is it terrible -- but this week, they produced an astounding 45 points and 426 yards while scoring on 4 consecutive plays. Actually, Iowa's weekly performance is getting stronger each week. What're the chances that this is the team those crazy Iowans were talking about in August?
6. Maryland Terrapins - DNP - LW: 5
The Terps took some time this week to get ready for Iowa. If you don't know, this isn't exactly a classic matchup, but that doesn't mean it's a bad game. Iowa has been steadily building into a strong contender and Maryland's offense can explode at any moment. Pick a side, we Illini fans have little else to do this weekend.
7. Wisconsin Badgers - vs. Illinois, Win 38-28 - LW: 7 (tied)
I didn't move the Badgers up, not because they beat Illinois and I'm bitter, but because they didn't do anything spectacular. They beat Illinois in about the most predictable way possible: a strong ground game combined with letting Illinois flounder in its own futility. Do something truly worthwhile and I'll consider moving you up (or, maybe, win against a non-orange team).
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers - vs. Northwestern, Win 24-17 - LW: 9
My rankings are horrible. How are the Gophers, the current leader of the Western Division, sitting at 8th? I'm going to plead that it's just too early to tell who will actually win the West. Minnesota did have a good game, winning with good defense, golden helmets, and a 100-yard kickoff return by Jalen Myrick. The Gophers will defend their place in the standings next week when they travel to Purdue.
9. Northwestern Wildcats - @ Minnesota, Loss 17-24 - LW: 7 (tied)
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald claimed that the Wildcats lost because of the "one plays": the ones where something big and terrible happens after the team's done so well before. Like having an entire drive stall because of one cornerback stripping the ball and returning it for a touchdown, or getting into the red zone and dropping a backwards pass, or... These sound familiar Illini fans? We have them all the time. But I don't think any of them have been as bad as this:
10. Michigan Wolverines - vs. Penn State, Win 18-13 - LW: 14
Michigan gets a much needed win to stop the bleeding. They've had it rough lately, but the defense was able to hold the Nittany Lions in a back-and-forth game until the time ran out. Next week is one of the biggest: Michigan State in East Lansing.
11. Purdue Boilermakers - vs. Michigan State, Loss 31-45 - LW: 12
The subtle surprise of the afternoon came when Purdue scored 31 points against the mighty Spartans. That's the most the Green and White have allowed since losing to Oregon. So maybe Purdue's better than we thought which mean's Illinois might not be as bad. College football is full of surprises -- this could be another one.
12. Indiana Hoosiers - @ Iowa, Loss 29-45 - LW: 10
The Hoosier defense was supremely suspect against Iowa, but that was expected. What's way worse is that quarterback Nate Sudfeld had to leave the game with a separated shoulder. Indiana's bowl hopes are disappearing, and that only makes a Hoosier postseason slightly more translucent.
13. Penn State Nittany Lions - @ Michigan, Loss 13-18 - LW: 11
Penn State fought hard, they just weren't able to get the job done. They look highly vulnerable without an O-line -- Hackenburg somehow escaped Ann Arbor with his head still attached. They have no way to fix the problem any time soon, therefore I predict they won't make it above 10th in the Power Rankings for the rest of the year.
14. Illinois Fighting Illini - @ Wisconsin, Loss 28-38 - LW: 13
The Fighting Illini put up a partially competitive attempt to make the Wisconsin game close, but it wasn't enough. What bothers me the most, though, is that if Illinois would've played as well as they did against Wisconsin in the Purdue game before it, they might've won. Instead we move one week closer to basketball, the Firing, and the new coach who will take us to the College Football Playoff.