Big Ten Power Rankings 10-20

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1. Iowa (7-0, 3-0)

They are the best team in the Big Ten, and the most boring. They have plenty of talent all around, but quickly name three players on the squad…you can’t can you. There’s nothing flashy or exciting about any of their skill position players. And if you look at their team rankings in all the major categories, nothing jumps out at you. They’re in the middle of the pack or bottom half in pretty much everything. It all makes it a mystery as to how they remain undefeated

2. Penn State (6-1, 2-1)

They’re not as good as you might think- really. Their running game has truly been tested only once (Iowa) at it failed miserably there. I could see this team finishing 10-2 or 9-3, and then getting absolutely ROLLED by a SEC or Big 12 team on New Year’s Day

3. Ohio State (5-2, 3-1)

Come January, another OSU title game appearance would really suck for ratings, because we would have to watch them got destroyed by another 50 points to a bigger, faster SEC team yet again. But that won’t happen this year. Thanks Purdue!

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4. Wisconsin (5-2, 2-2)

Tolzien is coming back down to earth playing like we thought someone with out any prior starting experience would.

5. Michigan St. (4-3, 3-1)

They seem to “get it” now and appear to be streaking. It won’t be THAT MUCH of an upset if they give the Hawkeyes their first loss.

6. Michigan (5-2, 1-2) To quote TSB Michigan correspondent H. Jose Bosch

“Call me the cranky Michigan fan but there is no reason to be that excited about this win.” You beat Delaware St. 63-3, congratulations, what do you want a cookie?

7. Minnesota (4-3, 2-2)

Somebody has finally found a way to slow down Eric Decker. sort of.

8. Northwestern (4-3, 1-3)

Mike Kafka is REALLY great at doing two things: completing passes and giving horribly trite, rehearsed answers to questions. He’s pass completed 72% or more in 3 games this season, and I think I’ve heard him say more than 50% of my 11 phrases that should never be broadcast or published. To his credit, his performances look all the more special when you consider he has the worst offensive line in the league. They’ve “protected him” by being 10th in conference (87th nationally) in sacks allowed. And the OL has “opened running lanes” to create a rushing attack ranked 97th in the nation.

9. Purdue (2-5, 1-2)
So they are truly better than they’re record states- but only for this past week.

10. Indiana (4-3, 1-2)

The last time they beat Illinois this badly, was in another “Pillow Fight Supreme” back in ’97 when the 1-10 Hoosiers spanked the 0-11 Illini. My favorite part of that game was when Illini play-by-play man Brian Barnhart said “we’re making heroes out of all sorts of people this year,” in reference to D. Hogan (Dennis?? David) some tailback so obscure I doubt this mother has even heard of him. He rushed for 140 yards in that game.

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11. Illinois (1-5, 0-4)

Congratulations! The loss to Indiana, now gave Illinois a 11-41 Big Ten record since ’03 (and that includes the fluke Rose Bowl year) good for last place, now that the Hoosiers are 11-40 in the same span. The last time Illinois played Illinois State in a season, was actually 2003. And ISU was their only victim in a 1-11 season. This year, Illinois St. is their only victory this season. Therefore…..

Big Ten Football Power Rankings

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By Paul M. Banks

1. Iowa (6-0, 2-0)

Now won 10 consecutive. The Hawkeyes’ 10-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools behind Tim Tebow’s army of Christian Crusaders. The last time Iowa had a streak like this was when the program won 20 in a row 1920-1923.

2. Ohio State (5-1, 2-1)

I hate their fans as much as I hate the fact that Jim Tressel gets all the credit (and way too much credit) for all that they do. Spike.com aptly summarized why their fans are so annoying:

This is a team whose main cheer consists of spelling their state in repetitive succession. OH-IO…OH-IO… We get it! You passed remedial English and are really excited to show off your basic grasp of the language to the three attractive girls from Ann Arbor who actually visited the Columbus campus over the weekend. Yes, it’s adorable that every one of your alumni is playing a 52-year-long game of “I bet I can annoy everyone I meet today,” but maybe it’s time to get a life and stop idolizing some geek in a sweater vest who just crossed out “get horribly outcoached in two straight BCS Championship games” off his bucket list.

3. Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1)beilema

The Bielema Bowl awaits! as Coach takes on his alma mater, Iowa Saturday. Wisconsin has won at least five of its first six games for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, including a 5-1 start in 2007 and a final mark of 12-1 in 2006, Bret Bielema’s first year as head coach of the Badgers.

4. Penn State (5-1, 1-1)

Did you see the redneck reporter take JoePa to task on his ultra-soft scheduling? We know why their schedule contains more cupcakes than an obese 6 year old’s birthday party. Paterno is trying to further cement his legacy by being the first and only to reach 400 wins, and make certain he finishes ahead of Bobby Bowden, which looks like a done deal given the discontent afoot in Tallahassee.

5. Minnesota (4-2, 2-1)
How do you get out-gained by 120 yards and still win by 15? Because you have a very less than awe-inspiring 7-5 team in the making here, perhaps even less exciting than last year’s 7-5 team that got rolled in their bowl game.

6. Michigan (4-2, 1-2)

Why did Rich Rod sound like a major douche in his postgame press conference? Why was Denard Robinson in there instead of Tate Forcier when the game was on the line? Maybe Rodriguez realized he made a mistake? Or maybe there’s an injury we don’t know about?

7A. Northwestern (4-2, 1-1)
So far QB Mike Kafka pretty much is the entire offense, as the O Line still has not shown up and done anything productive this season. When they couldn’t open up running lanes against Miami of Ohio, one of the worst teams in all of FBS, you could understand why Fitz was so upset. Yet as horrendous as their wins have been this season, the schedule still shapes up to be 7-5 or 6-6. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is calling!

7B Michigan State (2-3, 1-1)

Beating Illinois proves nothing. I guess the superior of the 7th place logjam will establish themselves Satruday. Behind quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, MSU ranks first among Big Ten teams in passing offense (280.3 ypg) and passing efficiency (143.37 rating). The Spartans also rank first among league teams in sacks allowed, giving up just one sack per contest

For these schools….basketball practice begins this week!

Of course, the Hoosiers are going to be awful at that sport this year as well.

9. Purdue (1-5, 0-2)

I’m tired of people saying “they’re so much better than their record.” No, you are your record. Period. If they were any good, they would learn not to throw and fumble the ball away. The Boilers are to committing turnovers what Caucasian women aged 18-35 are to watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”

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10. Indiana (3-3, 0-2)

They were absolutely destroyed by Virginia, a team so fierce that they lost to an FCS team, William & Mary in the season opener. In other words, everything I said about how much Indiana actually sucked back when they were 3-0, was proven ultimately right.

11. Illinois (1-4, 0-3)

As an alumnus, I must refrain from commenting on this phantasmagoric train wreck. Well I guess I just did. But in the future I need to stay objective as a journalist.

Big Ten Power Rankings: less BS than the BCS

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By Paul M. Banks

1. Iowa (5-0, 1-0)
The first BCS rankings of the season will debut in 12 days, and with that in mind, I’d like to do my part to help keep the Buckeyes from making another National title game where they could embarrass the conference and bore America by getting destroyed by an SEC team again. For that reason, I voted them #2 in this week’s poll.

2. Ohio State (4-1, 2-0)
Do the TSB Big Ten power rankings have anything to do with the BCS computer rankings? Probably not, and it will likely have no influence whatsoever. But then again, the flight pattern of a drunk, retarded housefly has more cohesion, logic and order than the BCS standings, so I think every vote of any sort- and I am in the Football Writers Association of America, if that helps- against Ohio State helps

3. Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0)

Just One Win from Bowl Eligibility, and it’s not even Homecoming yet. Of course, one needs to remember how badly they collapsed in the 2nd half of last year. If they upset in Columbus this week, their HC game against Iowa the following Saturday could be epic. I really should have not been such a Scott Tolzien heretic at the beginning of the year, as he’s leading the conference in passing efficiency.

4. Penn State (4-1, 1-1)
They’re not that good, but then again they’re also not that healthy. What could they be when everyone’s back and clicking on all cylinders? “A scary team,” tailback Stephfon Green told me last Saturday. He combines with Evan Royster, to give them arguably the league’s best tailback tandem.

5. Michigan (4-1, 1-1)
So who’s the “little brother” now? Not Michigan State who held the Wolverines to just 28 rushing yards. To verify what a truly emotional game football can sometimes be, think about MSU Defensive End Trevor Anderson’s comments before the big rivalry game. “It’s sickening, their total lack of respect for our school period,” and on Saturday their uppance came

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6A. Minnesota (3-2, 1-1)
These two schools have played each other so ridiculously close the last 3 years, it’s fitting they’re tied here. When you look at what Eric Decker has done in every game this season, you can honestly say NU “limited” him to 8 catches, 84 yards and 2 TDs. In August, everyone thought the conference pitch-and-catch combination would be Juice Williams to Arrelious Benn, but it’s really Adam Weber to Decker, who just became the school’s career leader with 3,000 receiving yards after hauling in eight passes for 140 yards versus Wisconsin.

6B. Northwestern (3-2, 1-1)
Easy to identify who the team MVP is- QB Mike Kafka, who’s 3rd in the nation in completion percentage, and second in conference in both passing yards and total offense. Those numbers rank in the top 25 nationally. Fitz was right, he’s a much better passer than anyone gives him credit for.

For these schools….basketball midnight madness is just a week or so away

8. Michigan State (1-3, 0-1)
Like our Wolverines correspondent HJB said: “what we didn’t know is that the linebackers would also epically fail. Allowing Kirk Cousins to have 10 ypc is pretty pathetic. It got to the point where my dad and I could call when Cousins would be able to step up and then scamper for some yardage.”

9. Indiana (3-2, 0-2)
They’ve been absolutely destroyed in their last two games, both against top 25 teams. So “they are WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE,” not what their earlier record indicated. Of course, they do have a great pair of athletes and skill guys at the DE and RB positions, so it’s nice they have that going for them. They also have a brand new renovated Memorial Stadium, and that will be a huge boost to the program. Look what it did for Illin…oh, wait never mind.

10. Purdue (1-4, 0-1)
You can’t beat anyone when you turn the ball over 6 times, but QB Joey Elliot is coming into his own. Of course, it’s easy to put up big passing yardage numbers when you’re always trailing, and often facing a garbage time- prevent defense. I’d almost rather comment on the women’s volleyball team here instead of the football team.

Illini b-ball media day is next tue...in case you've given up on football season already

Illini b-ball media day is next tue...in case you've given up on football season already

11. Illinois (1-3, 0-2)
As an alumnus, this situation reminds me of Cub fan friends I have. Years of following a team that loses badly what seems like ¾ of the time, but also has some recent successes; only to get your hopes way up high before then crushing your soul with another disappointment and defeat. Many Cubs fans I know have just checked out, gave up due to the mental anguish being a supporter of the program brings. I wonder how much longer they can sell out games? How many more great recruits can Ron Zook bring in, yet still end up doing absolutely nothing with? Is Eddie McGee for Juice Williams going to be enough to avoid going 2-10? This feels like my freshman-through-junior years at the school, when the Illini went 5-28.

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Big Ten Power Rankings Start of Conf Play

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By Paul M. Banks

This will be the  final week that I can feature only one set of records beside each name. It’s the start of conference play! Meaning I’ll soon be including Big Ten records. Through three weeks of play, the Big Ten is the only Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference to feature five 3-0 teams. Four of the Big Ten’s undefeated teams will square off on the opening Saturday, including Indiana playing at Michigan and Iowa facing a primeti me game on the road at Penn State. A re-match from one of last year’s most noteworthy and exciting intraconference tussles.

1. Penn State (3-0) We still can’t say for sure if they’re for real given how their schedule has been about as challenging as the puzzles on a Denny’s kids menu. But their defense has been much more impressive than even Nittany Lion optimists would have predicted. Not many would have prognosticated they would hold each of their first three opponents to less than a touchdown. JoePa said it best at Big Ten Media Day, when asked if he was worried about this team, “when that phone rings on Sunday, I shake!”

2. Ohio State (2-1) Saturday has all the makings of a “trap game.” In years the Illini are mediocre or better, Illinois has owned them at the Horsehoe. Remember ’07 when Illinois beat a #1 squad for the first time in a half-century? In seasons that OSU has had a major talent advantage over Illinois, it’s what you expect: Ohio State 77, Illinois 0. Or something like that. But this year, expect a tight game. Buckeyes need to make a statement if they want to get their 5th straight conference title.

3. Michigan (3-0) Last week everyone learned the name Tate Forcier. This week it’s Carlos Brown becoming a household name for college football geeks. I guess no one’s talking about illegal practice sessions anymore? They could soon start discussing New Year’s Day bowl games soon instead.

4. Iowa (3-0) You know all about the OL and defensive stalwarts. The next name you should become familiar with is the man filling Jewel Hampton’s shoes (who was supposed to fill Shonn Greene’s shoes). RB Adam Robinson who posted his first career 100-yard effort with 101 yards on 18 carries (5.6 avg.) 2 TDs against Arizona.

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5. Wisconsin (3-0) In the words of TSB Badger correspondent Jake McCormick, “Scott Tolzien continues to grow into the starting quarterback position by completing 15-of-20 passes for 159 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. The running backs were another story, but I’ll get to that later.”

6. Minnesota (2-1) For a half or three quarters, you could say they hung with one of the best teams in the country. And did you see that TD reception of Eric Decker’s? How he hung on to it after that bone-crushing hit. If he choose to pursue MLB instead of the NFL after graduation,  I would be scared for outfield walls everywhere.

7. Northwestern (2-1) Is Syracuse trying to join the Big Ten? Their schedule says yes. If so, congratulate the Orange, and ESPN’s new favorite player Greg Paulus, on their first in-conference win. The good news for Northwestern- they’ve found a couple receivers, and their QB Mike Kafka is indeed a dual threat. The bad news, their defensive line and secondary have no depth, and is currently riddled by injuries. By the way, coming to Evanston this week is the best WR in the Big Ten, Eric Decker. How’s that going to work? Perhaps similar to when the two teams met in ’07, 49-48 OT.

This is the “When does Basketball season start section?” These traditional basketball powers look very shaky so far.

8. Illinois (1-1) If we don’t learn what they’re about this week in Columbus, we’ll surely learn the following week when they host Penn State. With 61 rushing yards against Illinois State, senior running back Daniel Dufrene went over 1,000 yards for his career. He is the 35th player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone, and the Zooker should have made him the unquestioned starter since the day Rashard Mendenhall left. If they keep giving more carries to Jason Ford and Troy Pollard instead of Dufrene…hey, is that infamous domain name fireronzook.com available again?

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9. Indiana (3-0) Can I register this domain name: indianafootballisnowherenearasgoodastheirrecord.com? If it’s taken, let’s try hoosierswillfinishlastinthebigtendespitetheirgoodnon-conferencestart.com

10. Michigan State (1-2) Perhaps they’ve found their answer at QB in Kirk Cousins. He put up some big numbers, but made some crucial mistakes. MSU made a nice rebound from a disastrous start at ND. But ultimately, they accomplished little more than help Jimmy Clausen’s NFL Draft stock.

11. Purdue (1-2) Is Notre Dame trying to join the Big Ten? Their schedule seems to say so. I think the bowl bid train has left the station already. But you can believe in (Danny) Hope, right? After all, that’s the message marketed in the Presidential Election last fall. The Era of Hope will bring wins, just not now.