Big Ten Football Power Ranking (Week Four): On Wisconsin!!

Its Monday morning, so I did my weekly Big Ten Football Power Rankings.  The rankings are based on a crude version of the Football Outsiders “DVOA” system, in which I compare the offensive and defensive performances of each Big Ten school against the average performance yielded or produced by their BCS opponents.

This week, with more opponent data to use, we see some normalization of the rankings.  The first column is the team’s comparative offense, the second column is the team’s comparative defense, and the third column is the sum total.  Here is the ranking (negative on defense is good):

Big Ten Power Rankings

Wisconsin 29.9 -24.3 54.2
Penn State 8.4 -33.3 41.7
Mich State -7.5 -45.2 37.7
Michigan 27.9 1.5 26.4
Nebraska 17.9 -3.1 20.9
Illinois -3.3 -16.4 13.1
Iowa 15.1 11.3 3.8
Ohio State -10.6 -14.2 3.6
Minnesota 1.9 9.7 -7.8
Indiana -9.3 11.8 -21.1
Purdue -24.1 -2.3 -21.8
Northwestern -11.8 13.6 -25.4

Reascension of Bucky Badger

With more data at my disposal, I reweighted each team’s opponents to give more weight to games played this season.  As a result, the Illinois Fighting Illini dropped like a hot potato, as did the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Both teams feature strong defenses, but sketchy offenses. 

Three teams that rose this week were the Wisconsin Badgers, the Michigan State Spartans, and the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Badgers look very strong on both sides of the football.  If ever the Badgers were to challenge for their first football National Championship, this would be the year.  Michigan State and Penn State each feature outstanding defenses and average offenses. 

Nebraska, the Badgers first Big Ten opponent, look strong on offense, but just above average on defense.  Again though, watching their game on Versus last Saturday, I was impressed with the Huskers running game, but their quarterback, Martinez, is completely scatter-armed.  He misses wide open, easy throws.  If the Badgers can shut down the Nebraska running game, they should not be challenged.  But that is a big “if”.

On the downside, the Big Ten suffered some embarrassing losses this weekend, as Minnesota somehow lost at home to Division I-AA North Dakota State, and Indiana lost to North Texas.  The Minnesota game did not count in my rankings because the opponent did not qualify.  Thus, Minnesota probably looks better than they are solely on the strength of their opening game performance against USC.

As for the others, Iowa is good on offense, but suspect on defense.  And the Northwestern Wildcats continue to get no love from my comparative analysis.  I still have them as the worst team in the Big Ten, which they probably are not, given Minnesota and Indiana.

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