1. Purdue (last week: #1) OK, so Kyle Orton is human. He threw his first interception of the year on Saturday at Happy Valley, then threw his second. I think he is still the Heisman frontrunner right now, but true freshman Adrian Petersen of Oklahoma is in the rear view mirror. I said last week that I didn't expect a change in our rankings this week, unless Purdue came out flat. They didn't set the world on fire, but until someone beats them, they are #1.
2. Wisconsin (last week: #2) They did it again last week, beating Ohio State at the Shoe. Their defense did not allow a touchdown, as all of Ohio State's 13 points came on special teams. If it sounds a lot like last year's Iowa-OSU game, you would be right. Except that this year's OSU defense is nowhere near the 2003 version. With RB Anthony Davis now back in the saddle, the Badgers look fantastic. Set your Tivo this week, folks, as Wisconsin travels to Purdue in what is the biggest game of the year in the Big Ten to date. I like Purdue in this one, as I don't know if there is a defense out there that can shut down the Boilers, and Wisconsin has not gone up against any high-powered offenses to date.
3. Michigan (last week: #4) QB Chad Henne grew up on Michigan's last drive of the game, leading the Wolverines to an impressive come from behind win. Though this is not a scary Michigan team, and they will lose at least once or twice this year in Big Ten play, they have a leader on offense in form of the true frosh Henne.
4. Minnesota (last week: #3) Questionable play calling seemed to be the difference in the Michigan-Minnesota game on Saturday. Though the onside kick to start the second half did not come back to hurt them, it was still a head scratcher, especially since they have shown the onside kick on tape already this year. Then on their last drive, they faced a fourth and two and chose to pass the ball as opposed to run it behind the best OL in the league. Still, they played salty football at Michigan, and came oh so close to beating the Wolverines for the second straight year. But as it stands, they have yet to beat an upper division Big Ten team over the last two seasons. They are still probably the fourth best team in the league and they do not play Purdue or Ohio State. If they win the rest of their games, and they could do that, they could still make it to Pasadena.
5. Iowa (last week: #5) The best news that came out of Iowa's bye week was that no one suffered a season ending ACL injury…at least we think that is the case. The Hawks need to win on Saturday, but so do the Bucks. Something's gotta give, and that ‘something' will be a decent bowl game for the loser. Whoever comes out on the short end of the stick on Saturday could be looking at a City Bowl; Music or Motor.
6. Northwestern (last week: #7) Sure, overtime wins against Indiana are only good when the ball is round and you are playing on wood, but since they beat Ohio State the week before, they have to rank ahead of the Buckeyes in our poll. They actually survived missed field goals this week, unlike in the season opener against TCU.
7. Ohio State (last week: #6) Perhaps Ohio State's theme song the past several seasons should have been ‘Living on a Prayer' by Bon Jovi, as the Bucks won 14 of their 28 victories since the start of the 2002 season by seven points or less. Seems their luck has run out; two Big Ten losses in a row for the Buckeyes. You don't see that very often, and you certainly don't see three straight losses. But the Buckeyes will have to snap Iowa's 15-game home winning streak this week if they want to avoid that tag. Buckeye Nation has finally come off of their 2002 National Championship high. Welcome back to the party.
8. Michigan State (last week: T-8) OK, so you beat Illinois at home? Isn't that sort of like playing skeetball at Chucky Cheese? You know you are going to win at least a couple of tickets for having chucked in a dollar.
9. Penn State (last week: T-8) A seven point loss at home to Purdue is a moral victory for the Nittany Lion faithful. Just try telling them that. My, oh my, how that program has fallen. 1-10 in the Big Ten over the course of the last two seasons. Say it ain't so, Joe?
10. Indiana (last week: #10) Close, but No Cigar: The Jerry DiNardo Story. One of these days, Jerry, one of these days.
11. Illinois (last week, and presumably for the rest of the 2004 season: #11) I am just going to copy and paste what we wrote here last week, with one additionL Jon Beutjer was benched near halftime, after completing 10 of his 14 passes and no INT's.
This has to be Ron Turner's last season in Champaign, don't you think? They will probably hold this slot in our power rankings all season. The most interesting thing about Illinois football right now, from an Iowa perspective, is making sure that Jon Beutjer stays healthy and starts against Iowa on October 30th, and whether or not Chuck Long will be Illinois' next head coach.
Pardon me for this out of conference intrusion, but I saw or heard quite a bit of Big 12 football on Saturday, so I feel compelled to stick my nose where it doesn't belong.
The Big 12 North is a Joke. Didn't Public Enemy have a song by that title?
Nebraska loses by 60 at Texas Tech, Iowa State lost its 12th straight league game, Colorado was blitzed by Oklahoma State in Boulder and Kansas beat Kansas State. Missouri beat Baylor, to move to 2-0 in the North. The same Missouri team that lost at Troy earlier this year.
Outside of Baylor, you are probably looking at the South dominating the Big 12 power rankings. Here is a quick HN.com ranking of that league:
1. Oklahoma, and by a wide margin.
2. Oklahoma State: Can't wait for the Bedlam
3. Texas: Did Steve Spurrier unpack his belongings yet?
4. Texas Tech: Proof that you can score 70 and not run up the score.
5. Texas A&M: Emerging from the Slocum shadows?
6. Missouri: Because no one else from the South is good enough to be #6.
7. Kansas: One of the better stories in college football this year.
8. Kansas State: Bill Snyder is now experiencing what Hayden Fry did after all of his assistants went on to greener pastures.
9. Colorado: Boulder might be better than Evanston, but not by much, eh Gary?
10. Nebraska: Hire Frank Solich!
11. Iowa State: Insert Led Zeppelin SONG title here.
12. Baylor: Because they are Baylor.
The Cyclones are still looking up at Nebraska in the standings. How about an old-fashioned loser leave town match when the Clones and the Baylor Bears hook up on October 23rd in Waco? I guess the biggest question surrounding that game is; will it be available on Pay per View?