College Football Power Rankings: Big Ten
Michigan is 6-0 and poised for a big contest with Michigan State.
By: Braden Gall | 10/11/11, 7:50 AM EDT
By Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on Twitter)
Post-Week 6 Big Ten Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Wisconsin (5-0, 1-0) – The Badgers were on bye in Week Six and might as well be on bye again this weekend. The Badgers, whose smallest margin of victory this year was a 31-point win over Nebraska, will host Indiana at Camp Randall this weekend. The No. 1 offensive attack in the Big Ten will face the league's worst rush defense and the conference's 11th-ranked scoring defense. Wisconsin has beaten the Hoosiers in six straight and 12 of the last 14, including an 83-point drubbing last season. In fact, UW has scored at least 50 points against IU in three of the last five meetings. The Badgers are the No. 4 team in the nation according to the Athlon Sports College Football 120.
2. Nebraska (5-1, 1-1) – Taylor Martinez giveth and Taylor Martinez taketh away. The much-maligned Huskers quarterback has had a rough week answering questions about his play in Madison. And after falling behind 27-6 early in the third quarter on Saturday to the Ohio State Buckeyes, the boos were raining down upon his shoulders once again. But less than 30 minutes later, Big Red Nation showered Martinez with wild adulation after he led the biggest comeback (21 points) in Nebraska history. Martinez scored on an 18-yard dash, threw a 36-yard touchdown pass and tossed another 30-yard touchdown to Rex Burkhead (two of those coming off OSU turnovers) en route to 28 unanswered points in the second half. Nebraska won 34-27 and Martinez finished with 102 yards rushing, 191 yards passing (16-of-22) and three total touchdowns. The Huskers get a break before visiting Minnesota on October 22.
3. Illinois (6-0, 2-0) – After three straight three-point wins, Illinois scored 27 of the game's final 34 points to pull away from Indiana 41-20. The Nathan Scheelhaase to AJ Jenkins connection was once again unstoppable as the duo hooked up six times for 182 yards and two very long (77 and 67 yards) touchdowns. Scheelhaase finished with 210 yards and three touchdowns passing while adding 88 yards on 18 carries and another score on the ground. Ron Zook's squad rolled up 308 yards rushing in the first road game of the season and is poised to challenge Wisconsin in the Leaders Division — especially with Ohio State coming to town next weekend, where the Illini will have a chance at their first 7-0 start since 1951. The last time the Illini beat Ohio State in Champaign was a 7-0 win in 1991.
4. Michigan (6-0, 2-0) – After one week of flawless Denard Robinson, Michigan fans saw their star quarterback revert to shaky passer. Robinson threw three ugly first half interceptions to put the Wolverines in a 24-14 halftime hole. But Shoelace showed Maize and Blue nation why he is squarely in the Heisman Trophy hunt as he led Michigan on three consecutive scoring drives to start the second half. The quarterback, who left the game briefly with a minor injury, finished with 450 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. The Wolverines were a fantastic 14-of-17 on third down conversions. Michigan now faces its toughest test of the season with a road trip to East Lansing to battle the Spartans.
5. Michigan State (4-1, 1-0) – The Spartans got to sit at home and rest this weekend after their brutal 10-7 win in the Horseshoe two weeks ago. It could be a huge advantage with the in-state undefeated arch-rival from Ann Arbor set to visit East Lansing this weekend. The Spartans boast the nation's No. 1 overall defense (173.4 ypg allowed) and will have their hands full with Denard Robinson. From 2002 to 2007, Michigan owned this game (6-0), but the tables have turned over the last three seasons with the Spartans owning a current three-game winning streak. Sparty has averaged nearly 32 points per game in its three straight wins over Michigan.
6. Penn State (5-1, 2-0) – The Nittany Lions needed a big confidence booster, and this weekend, got a massive shot in the arm by beating Iowa 13-3. The Hawkeye offense had been rolling (No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing) and was rested after a bye week, but could not move the football against a staunch PSU defense. Iowa mustered only 253 yards of offense, while Penn State turned back the clock (and controlled it) by pounding the football on the ground to the tune of 231 yards. Tailback Silas Redd led the way with 28 carries for 142 yards. Penn State's offense has been anemic all season, but at 2-0 is still very much alive in the Leaders Division race. With Purdue this weekend and Northwestern following that, PSU could be 7-1 before it gets Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
7. Ohio State (3-3, 0-2) – Just when you thought it couldn't get any more painful for Buckeyes fans, Taylor Martinez happened. The Nebraska quarterback led the biggest comeback in Husker history to beat Ohio State 34-27. Ohio State was up 27-6 when freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was stripped of the football, and shortly thereafter, suffered an ankle injury. Miller had rolled up 95 yards through the air and 91 yards on the ground before leaving the game, and the Buckeyes couldn't recover with Joe Bauserman at the helm. Reports indicate that Miller might be able to return this weekend against Illinois in Champaign with heavy Leaders Division implications on the line.
8. Iowa (3-2, 0-1) – Quarterback James Vandenberg had been leading the Big Ten's top passing offense until he walked into Beaver Stadium. The Hawkeye passer completed only 17-of-34 passes for 169 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Vandenberg had one total interception prior to the 13-3 loss at the hands of the Nittany Lions. The offensive line didn't help much either by allowing five sacks and paving the way for 84 total yards rushing on 30 carries (2.8 ypc). Iowa will welcome Northwestern to Iowa City this weekend.
9. Northwestern (2-3, 0-2) – Stop me if you have heard this before, Wildcats' fans. Dan Persa plays excellently efficient football in leading his team to a big first-half lead only to watch the defense cough up a chance at an upset win. After blowing a 28-10 lead over Illinois two weeks ago, Northwestern blew a 24-14 lead over Michigan to lose 42-24 this weekend. Persa, in only his second start of the season, completeed 32-of-44 passes for 331 yards (11 to Jeremy Ebert), but couldn't make things happen with his legs and couldn't get his team into the end zone in the second half. The heartbroken Wildcats visit Iowa this weekend in what could have major bowl eligibility implications.
10. Purdue (3-2, 1-0) – For this week, Boilermaker fans have plenty to blow their horns about. Purdue used ten different players to run for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries in the 45-17 win over Minnesota. Caleb TerBush got the majority of the snaps, passing for 140 yards on 21 attempts, while Robert Marve also saw time with six of his own attempts. Each quarterback threw a touchdown. Purdue now plays at Penn State at the start of a terribly brutal stretch of schedule. The Boilers' next six: at Penn State, Illinois, at Michigan, at Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa. Yuck.
11. Indiana (1-5, 0-2) – The Gunner Kiel era cannot begin soon enough for Indiana. Edward Wright-Baker missed his second straight game with an ankle issue. Dusty Kiel started but hurt his own ankle in the second half. So true freshman Tre Roberson took over and completed 11-of-17 passes for 148 yards and one interception in the 41-20 loss to Illinois. One has to think that Kevin Wilson — whose team scored one offensive touchdown late in the fourth — is already designing plays for Gunner. The Hoosiers travel to Wisconsin this weekend to play a team that scored 83 points on them last fall.
12. Minnesota (1-5, 0-2) – The Gophers turned the ball over three times, converted only 4-of-12 third downs, posted 11 total first downs and 213 yards of total offense in the 45-17 loss to Purdue. The Boilermakers raced to a 31-0 lead and never looked back, giving Minnesota its 14th loss in 17 games (how they beat Illinois and Iowa to end 2010 still astounds me).
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