Using a crude version of the DVOA system featured on FootballOutsiders.com, I have power ranked football teams in the Big Ten Conference through Week Three.
Last week’s top team, the Illinois Fighting Illini, remain on top. Illinois pulled off a big win at home over the ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. Illinois’ defense looks rock solid.
Coming in second are the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines faced weak competition this past weekend, but dispatched of that competition with ease. Plus their win over Notre Dame looks better after Notre Dame crushed Michigan State.
The Wisconsin Badgers move up to number three with an incredibly impressive win over a decent Northern Illinois team. The Wisconsin offense looked like an absolutely unstoppable machine, and the Big Red defense turned in their best performance of the season so far. If the Badger defense remains stout, I do not see anyone on Wisconsin’s schedule who should give Bucky any problem at all, save for Illinois and possibly Nebraska, though Nebraska’s defense looks like a total sieve (more below).
The Illinois-Wisconsin game looks like it will be huge, and will probably decide the Leaders Division of the Big Ten. The game will be played in Champagne, Illinois, a place where the Badgers have had trouble in the past.
Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan State (the “State” schools) all have issues on the offensive side of the ball, particularly the first two. Ohio State has no quarterback to speak of. None. Their starter, whatever his name is, could not hit a stationary target from five yards. It was pitiful to watch. (And, apparently, the guy is a highly regarded minor league pitching prospect. Go figure.)
I have not seen Penn State play, but they have done nothing on offense either. Michigan State has a quarterback who is afraid to throw downfield.
Nebraska can run the ball for sure, but they cannot throw it at all. I would stack eleven men in the box and dare the Cornhusker starting QB Martinez to complete simple passes. He cannot. That’s what Oklahoma did to him in the Big 12 Championship Game last year and he looked awful. The vaunted Nebraska “Black Shirt” defense looks anything but vaunted.
Iowa looks mediocre. They almost suffered an embarrasing loss to Pittsburgh. That said, their quarterback looked decent leading the comeback victory.
My power rankings correctly called “bullshit” on Northwestern’s 2-0 start. The Wildcats somehow lost to Army this weekend, and their defense continued to suck.
Minnesota is not embarrasing themselves or the conference.
Indiana and Purdue are complete afterthoughts.