Big Ten news of the week? Obviously, the polls deeming Columbus the current capital of college football power.
The great American poet Cornell Haynes once posed this existential query:
“What does it take to be #1, two is not a winner, and three nobody remembers.” In slightly more recent history, another local wordsmith named Kanye West stated “number one can’t put nothing above that. You deserve a verse from me, we’re going to party like it’s our anniversary.”
1. Ohio State (6-0)
By Paul M. Banks
2. Iowa (5-1) Best Defensive line in the nation, arguably the best defense overall as well.
For more on our “ESPN College Gameday” style road trip to Iowa City go here. But I warn you now, hi-jinks ensued!
3. Michigan State (6-0) I’d rank them higher, but I’ve read this book before, and I know how this story ends, the annual second half swoon is starting…sometime. Still this squad reminds me of the superlative 10-2 1999 team. Back when Plaxico Burress was in his halcyon days as a college student, not someone known first and foremost for illegal weapons possession, shooting himself and wearing sweat pants to a nightclub.
Ah those were simpler times!
4. Wisconsin (5-1) If anything happens to John Clay, James White can step right in. Their consistent historical production of tailbacks is assembly line efficient. You could say they’re demonstrating Fordism or Taylorism in college football form.
5. Michigan (5-1) Does Rich Rodriguez tell recruits “Hey, you don’t have to play defense if you don’t want to. We believe it’s optional here!” Their special teams is bad too. However, Denard and company…well I can just stop right there. You know all about him by now.
6. Illinois (3-2) Is this unabashed Illini cheerleading to rank them this high? Maybe- hence the pictures! But their two losses were to two top 15, undefeated teams. And they were right with ’em in the final minutes.
7. Northwestern‘s (5-1) inability to step on people’s throats bit them in the ass Saturday night. However, to be fair that 6-0 would have been very misleading. Other 6-0 teams are much better than these guys. They can still make a New Year’s Day bowl if they learn how to do better than two yards a carry. And work on stopping the run too.
8. Penn State (3-3) Did Evan Royster think it would take him this far into the Big Ten season to become the school’s all-time leading rusher?
9. Purdue (3-2) 232 yards rushing vs. NU behind this offensive line? Danny Hope is a genius
10. Indiana (3-2) So this is what happens when you play a real team in back-to-back weeks? I think my high school prep team offense running the veer, (Yes, I once indeed played scout team QB for a week in high school) could score on these guys.
11. Minnesota (1-4) I don’t even have the energy or the time to criticize them right now.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He is also a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbankFollow paulmbanks