Did the Big Ten even play in week 5? A whopping six teams were idle and two of the four games were out-of-conference affairs. At least the two league games had plenty of intrigue. As a result of Wisconsin keeping it close on the road and Michigan/Northwestern with the bye, the top of the order stays the same this week. Minnesota’s let down against Iowa and Illinois’ blowout victory led to the chart movement in the lower half of the league.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time checking out our stock report power rankings, but if it is, the above chart is the power rankings of the league. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than the first place team. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Illinois – Even against Miami (OH), Nathan Scheelhaase’s five first-half touchdown passes is impressive. The defense continues to play at a high level, and with a trip to Nebraska next week, we will get to see if the Illini’s non-con success will continue in league play. Based on Nebraska’s defense, I think there is a great shot for Illinois to score a nice road win. Week five grade: A+
Michigan – Idle
Northwestern – Idle
Ohio State – Sure the defense choked a bit against the pass, but the Buckeyes found a way to win against a very strong Wisconsin club. I think an underrated story line is OSU being shut down in the second half – the Buckeyes scored just seven points after the break. After watching this past weekend’s game, Ohio State will be tested in Big Ten play – Northwestern in Evanston, an improved Iowa team, Penn State, at Illinois and at Michigan. Week five grade: B
Wisconsin – The Badgers outplayed OSU the majority of the game, but a few mistakes were the difference. The most egregious was giving up the score at the end of the first half. It’s always tough to call out hardworking kids, but Peniel Jean continues to get burned for the Wisconsin secondary. He either needs to step it up or the coaching staff needs to make a change. Week five grade: B-
Iowa – A week after bumping Minnesota to this position, I have basically flipped the teams thanks to Iowa’s dominate performance over the Gophers. The reason I won’t buy them yet is I predicted Minnesota to go winless in the league, so if I think that lowly of the Gophers, why would I suddenly think that highly of Iowa? Worse, Iowa’s schedule is about to get a whole lot harder. The defense has been solid, holding Minne to just 30 yards, and the offense has seen improvement, but let’s see good performances like this become a trend before reacting to one game. Week five grade: A
Nebraska – Idle
Penn State – Idle
Indiana – Idle
Michigan State – Idle
Minnesota – Phillip Nelson’s performance against Iowa proves the point that he shouldn’t be Minnesota’s starter. His stat line was very underwhelming: 12/24, 135 yards, 5.6 avg, 1 td, 2 int, 13.0 QBR. I didn’t think this team had the chops to compete in the Big Ten and after getting drubbed by Iowa (and the score should have been worse, the Hawks left points out there and the lone Minnesota score was set up by a special team’s gaffe) life only gets harder. The two best cracks at league wins were Iowa and at Indiana. They’ve already blown one of those opportunities. Week five grade: F
Purdue – The Boilermakers lost 55-24 to a MAC team. Granted, a very good MAC team in Northern Illinois, but if you have Big Ten talent (allegedly) you need to at least make a game of it. Week five grade: F
Buy That Kid Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it)
Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, Illinois) – 19/24, 278 yards, 11.6 avg, 5 TD, 1 INT, 93.7 QBR – not a bad half of work.
Iowa’s Front Seven – In addition to hassling Nelson into ugly throws all day, they made UM woefully one-dimensional with a putrid 1.1 yard per carry average. As great as the defensive line was, the veteran linebacker corps was brilliant combining for 23 tackles, 2.5 TFL, two sacks and a pick. Anthony Hitchens, Christian Kirksey and James Morris are their names, but they have played together for so long that they have just morphed into one super player. A 10-foot tall, 900 pound Visigoth of a super player.
Cameron Johnston (P, OSU) – Six punts, 239 yards, 39.8 avg, zero TB, six inside the 20 and a long of 55 yards. Pinning 100% of your kicks is basically a dream scenario for a punter and Johnston did just that as the Badgers faced long field after long field.
Dunce of the Week
The Wisconsin secondary’s first half gaffe. With 16 seconds left, OSU at their 40 and trailing 17-14, Wisconsin could not give up a touchdown. Instead they did just that by getting burned for what feels like the millionth time in the last four seasons. The pass was caught with very few seconds left so a push out of bounds or a tackle would have resulted in OSU kicking a field goal. A fifteen-yard penalty would have also been fine. The players have to know what is expected at certain times of the game and the coaches have to communicate that. When Devin Smith burned the Badger secondary, why not just tackle him? Even with a field goal, 14-20 is a million times better than 24-14. The last second score almost assured the Badgers of the loss with the way the game was going to that point. What a shame.