Big Ten Power Rankings: Where Does Michigan Land To Start Conference Play?

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Big Ten Power Rankings: Where Does Michigan Land To Start Conference Play?

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Big Ten Power Rankings: Where Does Michigan Land To Start Conference Play?

While the Big Ten football season started week one with conference play between Purdue and Northwestern, and there was Ohio State vs Rutgers in week two, week four begins the real conference play as there are five Big Ten matchups this week.

While non-conference games are just as important, these Big Ten games are where the real beef is in a season. Michigan enters conference play with a 2-1 record with wins over SMU and Western Michigan, and a loss to No. 8 Notre Dame. Michigan starts their conference play this Saturday at noon against Nebraska. Where does Michigan rank among all 14 Big Ten teams? Check out my list below

1. Ohio State 3-0 (1-0)

Despite losing their head coach Urban Meyer for three weeks as he was suspended over the entire Zach Smith saga, the Buckeyes went 3-0, and in dominant fashion. They destroyed Oregon State and Rutgers, and while No. 17 TCU gave them fits in the first half, they wiped the Horn Frogs clean in the second half and won a meaningful game. Ohio State isn’t in conference play this week as they finish out their non-conference games against Tulane.

With JT Barrett leaving Ohio State, the biggest question was who was going to be the starting quarterback and Dwayne Haskins has answered it loud and clear. Haskins has been very impressive with the Buckeyes as he has thrown for 890 yards on 66 passes for 11 touchdowns and one interception. Running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins have almost a 50/50 split in carries with Weber having one more, as Weber has 46 carries for 281 yards and three touchdowns while Dobbins has 45 carries for 268 yards and one touchdown. The Buckeyes defense, led by Nick Bosa, is also ranked 17th in the NCAA and until they lose, will stay as the number one team in the conference.

2. Penn State 3-0

Despite having some troubles with Appalachian State week one, as the game had to go to overtime, Penn State has rebounded and looked better in their week two and week three wins over Pittsburgh and Kent State, winning both games decisively. They start conference play this week at Illinois in what should be another blow out victory.

Penn State was figuring out how they could survive without star running back Saquon Barkley, and that answer was quarterback Trace McSorley, who has thrown for 603 yards on 45 completions, along with five touchdowns and one interception, but McSorely has done well running the ball too with 26 carries for 143 yards and six touchdowns. Penn State has looked well despite their week one hiccup and is the last Big Ten team that is undefeated and ranked.

3. Michigan (2-1)

The Wolverines did lose their first game against the No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but this Michigan team has improved since losing to Notre Dame, putting up 49 points against Western Michigan and 45 against SMU. Those opponents aren’t impressive, but they will begin Big Ten play against Nebraska this week.

The quarterback play has been well for Michigan as Shea Patterson seems to really be the guy to lead this team far into the season. Patterson has thrown for 589 yards on 46 completions, for six touchdowns and two interceptions. The running game has a three-headed monster in Karan Higdon, Chris Evans, and Tru Wilson, who have combined for 81 carries for 507 yards and five touchdowns. Michigan’s defense has also been playing well, but penalties seem to be something for them to work on.

4. Wisconsin (2-1)

Wisconsin is ranked higher than Michigan in the AP Top 25 polls but not here? Yup. Michigan lost on the road to a top 15 team, while Wisconsin lost to an unranked team at home, that loss is worse than Michigans’s. Wisconsin started out well for the season, taking down Western Kentucky and New Mexico by 31 each, they lost to unranked BYU at home last week to fall to 2-1. They take on undefeated Iowa this week.

Quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been doing well at quarterback, getting 595 yards on 43 completions with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The real star of the offense is running back Jonathan Taylor. He has ran for 515 yards and five touchdowns on 77 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. He will be the focal point of the offense, as Wisconsin is known for having good offensive linemen who can help their running backs work well. Their defense has been great too, being ranked 15th in the NCAA.

5. Iowa (3-0)

With wins with ease over NIU and UNI, leaving Iowa State as the only tough game for the Hawkeyes, Iowa is 3-0 and will host No. 18 Wisconsin in an early Big Ten season test. This game will determine the rest of the season for Iowa and could lead to great things, or put them behind Wisconsin once again.

Iowa’s quarterback play has been well with Nate Stanley, getting 583 yards on 50 completions, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Iowa’s running game has been good as well with Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent getting a combined 371 yards and five touchdowns on 81 carries. The defense is the real winner on Iowa as they are ranked 5th in the NCAA, the best in the Big Ten.

6. Michigan State (1-1)

When you barely win your week one game against unranked Utah State at home, then go on the road and lose to an unranked Arizona State team, along with a very early bye week, you are ranked lower than you should be. Michigan State starts Big Ten play with undefeated Indiana before it finishes their non-conference play with Central Michigan the following week.

Quarterback Brian Lewerke has been playing well for the Spartans, throwing for 601 yards on 50 completions with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Running the ball, an MSU specialty has been rough so far as LJ Scott is the leading rusher with 103 yards on 30 carries. Michigan State can move up if they can go back to their old ways of pounding the rock and playing smash mouth defense and beating Indiana by more than two scores.

7. Minnesota (3-0)

P.J. Fleck is starting to show what he can do with Minnesota. He started the season with a 38 point win over New Mexico State, before barely holding on against Fresno State and putting Miami (OH) down with ease, the Gophers are undefeated. They will have their first road and Big Ten game this year at Maryland this week.

Minnesota has a young team and led by freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad who has done well so far in his young career with 537 yards on 44 completions with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Gophers also have some help on offense with wide receiver Tyler Johnson who has a whopping 20 catches for 283 yards and all five of the Gophers receiving scores. Minnesota also has a 23rd ranked defense that is helping them win games.

8. Indiana (3-0)

3-0 is a good start for the Hoosiers as they have taken down FIU by 10, Virginia, by four, and a big 28 point win over Ball State. They haven’t played anyone too impressive, but a 3-0 start is a 3-0 start and for Indiana that is something they look to improve upon as they have their first tough game against No. 24 Michigan State in East Lansing this week.

Indiana has had good play by quarterback Peyton Ramsey who has thrown for 479 yards on 56 completions for five touchdowns and two interceptions, along with 23 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown. The running game is led by Stevie Scott who has 388 yards on 69 carries and three touchdowns. Indiana is also ranked 44th in defense as they have been doing well, but could improve.

9. Maryland (2-1)

Despite all the off the field distractions by head coach D.J. Durkin, Maryland started the season with a bang by upsetting then ranked 23 Texas 34-29, then destroyed Bowling Green State, before getting hit hard by Temple 35-14. Maryland will play Minnesota this week.

Last season was a disaster at quarterback for Maryland with injuries left and right, this year doesn’t seem to be an issue as Kasim Hill has thrown for 399 yards on 32 completions, with two touchdowns and one interception. Maryland has their own three-headed monster at running back with Anthony McFarland, Ty Johnson, and Tayon Fleet-Davis, combining for 73 carries for 489 yards and four touchdowns. The defense for Maryland has been stout so far as well, ranked 22nd in the NCAA.

10. Illinois (2-1)

7-20 isn’t a great record for a former NFL head coach in the NCAA, but Lovie Smith has started the 2018 season with the same amount of wins as he had last season. With a 10 point win over Kent State, and an easy 20 point win over WIU, Illinois had trouble with USF, losing 25-19. They play No. 10 Penn State this week as Big Ten play begins.

Quarterback is already a problem for Illinois as starting quarterback A.J. Bush is injured and M.J. Rivers II is starting and doing well, throwing for 273 yards on 29 completions with two touchdowns. Running the ball is what has helped Illinois, with backs Mike Epstein and Reggie Corbin combining for 72 carries for 491 yards and five touchdowns.

11. Northwestern (1-2) (1-0)

Northwestern was supposed to be good again this year and give some fits to the others in the Big Ten West, so far it doesn’t look that way. They started the season by beating Purdue, but have slipped to Duke and Akron in the past two weeks, falling to 1-2 going into their bye week.

Clayton Thorson has been inconsistent at quarterback, throwing for 753 yards on 71 completions, but getting three touchdowns and three interceptions. Jeremy Larkin has been the bright spot on offense at running back, getting 346 yards on 72 carries and five touchdowns.

12. Rutgers (1-2) (0-1)

Starting off the season with a win over Texas State, Rutgers has fallen down to reality with a big loss to No. 5 Ohio State and then an embarrassing loss to Kansas, they host Buffalo this week in their last non-conference game before jumping back into conference play.

Quarterback is a big problem for Rutgers as starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski has thrown for 290 yards on 33 completions, but with one touchdown and seven interceptions, he isn’t helping much. Running back Jonathan Hilliman has been the focal point in scoring, getting 33 carries for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

13. Nebraska (0-2)

The Scott Frost Era hasn’t been as beautiful of a beginning as many would have hoped for. Their first game against Akron getting canceled made fans wait an extra week before losing to Colorado, then last week Troy beat Nebraska by five and for the first time since 1957 Nebraska is 0-2 to start the season and will take on No. 19 Michigan this week.

Quarterback is a tough issue for Nebraska as Adrian Martinez got hurt and missed the game against Troy, so backup Andrew Bunch came in and struggled. Combined the quarterbacks have completed 38 passes for 413 yards, getting three touchdowns and interceptions. If Martinez can return, he could help turn the offense around as the running game is better with him as he leads the team in rushing touchdowns with two.

14. Purdue (0-3) (0-1)

Nobody in this conference is as low as Purdue. Not winning a single game and losing your first Big Ten game will do that for you. Purdue seemed to be on the up and up by going 7-6 last season, but with losses to Northwestern, Eastern Michigan, and Missouri, it seems to be going the other way. They play No. 23 Boston College this week.

Quarterback is a question mark as starter Elijah Sindelar was banged up and missed last week, so David Blough got the start. The quarterbacks combined have thrown for 977 yards on 83 completions, with five touchdowns and four interceptions. A big help has been wide receiver Rondale Moore with 25 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

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