For the uninitiated, HNBTPR stands for HawkeyeNation.com Big Ten Power Rankings.
1. WISCONSIN: (last week #2) Their win against Purdue on Saturday, and how they stymied Kyle Orton and the Boilermaker offense, has the Badgers #1 with a bullet. Given their schedule the rest of the way (they don't play Michigan and they have already beaten Ohio State) might keep Bucky on top for the rest of the season. Here is something to consider: Wisky wins their next three games, and can play for the national championship with a win in their season finale at….IOWA. You can almost make book right now that that contest will be a 2:30 ABC telecast.
2. MICHIGAN: (last week #3) Though a tad lackluster at Illinois on Saturday, which is really nothing new, as Illinois seems to play Michigan somewhat well every now and then, the Wolverines did what they had to do win another Big Ten title. They control their own destiny; win out and win the title. We still think they will stub their toe somewhere along the way…maybe this week in West Lafayette.
3. PURDUE: (last week #1) For the second straight week, all eyes will be on Purdue. They host Michigan this time around, and this will be the game that proves whether or not all the love they have been receiving was worth it. They had Wisconsin beat, but a late Kyle Orton fumble that was scooped up and returned 40-yards for a touchdown helped the Badgers beat the Boilers. This game is a toss up.
4. IOWA: (last week #5) Partly because there are no other teams worthy of being #4, and partly because the Hawkeyes beat the Buckeyes as badly as they have in school history. Sure, these are not the Buck's of recent years, but they still have top shelf talent, and Iowa showed them Kinnick's woodshed. When the sun shone through the clouds on Saturday, it was as if Nile must have wanted a better view. I would love to have read what Al Grady would have written about that game.
5. MICHIGAN STATE: (last week #8) The Spartans are our biggest mover and shaker this week. They put up more than 50 against Minnesota and held the vaunted Gopher ground game to mundane results. They have the second best Drew in the Big Ten (Stanton), but the best dual threat Drew. They have just enough defense to be quite the spoiler this year in league play. BUT…they begin the tough portion of their schedule, with games against Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin on deck, plus their season finale against Penn State. They get Wisky at home on November 13th…be sue to tune in for that one.
6. Minnesota: (last week #4) Lower case for Glen Mason's Gophers. This was the year that they had to prove they could beat a team that will finish in the top five of the Big Ten. Scratch that, they had to do that more than once this season if they were to gain any credibility as one of the NKOTB. If you were alive in the 1980's, you know what that stands for. So far, the paper tigers, err, Gophers, have just given people like me the validation that they are not yet ready for prime time. Their fans give anyone the ammo to point that out as well; they are averaging 43,548 per home contest this year. Now you can see why they make the Iowa game their big-ticket game of the year; it's their only guaranteed sellout, thanks to Hawkeye fans. Be sure to let the Gopher fans know that the Homer Dome is still Kinnick North, later this year. That game could be the ‘loser plays in Nashville'. Well, it might mean that for the Gophers. Glen Mason was upset last year in getting passed over for the Alamo Bowl. So much so that he went on a preemptive strike at the Big Ten meetings in August. Note to Glen: don't leave 20,000 empty seats for your home games. Bowl reps think that is a bad thing.
7. NORTHWESTERN: (last week #6) That is what you get for having a bye week.
Now, we must pause to bring you a pubic service announcement from Hawkeyenation.com. The following might not be suitable for all audiences, namely those who reside in Columbus. Because now, we get to the four teams in the Big Ten who have yet to win a league contest.
8. PENN STATE: (last week #9): Because they looked better in their bye week than Ohio State did at Kinnick.
9. INDIANA: (last week #10) We just happen to like Gerry DiNardo around these parts. I can't tell you why.
10. THE ohio state university (last week #7) I remember back to July and August, when I said that I could not understand why the national talking heads had this team in their top 10 rankings. I could see a rough year coming, but 0-3 to start the Big Ten? They still play three teams ranked in this week HNBTPR. 2-6, anyone?
11. ILLINOIS (last week, you guessed it, #11) I am a traditionalist, so we will not vary from our Illini comments we have featured the past two weeks. The only variation is that Jon Beutjer, the Granville Waiters of college football, has now been benched, for real this time.
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.
By the end of the year, you should be as familiar with this refrain from our Illinois ranking as you are with ‘Seinfeld' reruns.
NOTE: I took some grief from Big 12 North fans last week for including that league in this space. Though I spend three hours a week on the radio talking about college football in general, some considered my barbs as cheap shots.
If I can dish out criticism, I can offer praise. So never let it be said that I am not fair.
Hats off to the Big 12 North for last week's effort. They won two games, a big improvement.. Nebraska handled Baylor with ease, while Iowa State and Colorado squared off in the ‘Somebody has to win, might as well be me' contest, with the Buff's winning at home. Kansas State scored a moral victory, losing by 10 at home against Oklahoma, while Missouri lost by just eight in Austin.
Take that, South!
On tap this week, as my friend Bohawk pointed out on the HN Clubhouse Forum, is what is being dubbed as ‘The Pillowfight in Manhattan; Nebraska v Kansas State'. Hide the women and children.
Seriously, hide them.