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September 24, 2013

Big Ten Power Poll: Week 4





It's time to update the BadgerBlitz.com Big Ten Power Poll, where Jon McNamara, Jon Gorman and I will rank the Big Ten teams from 1 to 12 every week.

I complied the list in a traditional power poll style- a first place vote was good for 12 points, a second place one for 11, and so on.

1. Ohio State (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten) - 36 points (3 1st place votes)
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Florida A&M 76-0

The Buckeyes got out to a 55-0 lead at halftime against the Rattlers, and didn't look back behind another solid game from Kenny Guiton. With Wisconsin up next the Buckeyes have to make a decision- do they roll with Guiton as the hot hand, or switch back to Braxton Miller now that he's been cleared to play? As of right now, it sounds like Miller will start, even if he's a little rusty.

2. Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0) - 33 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Purdue 41-10

The Badgers are back up to the second spot in our power poll following an impressive 41-10 win over Purdue. Melvin Gordon and James White give the Badgers one of the best backfields in the nation, but the passing game still leaves a lot to be desired. Joel Stave will need to step up his game this week against Ohio State- the Buckeyes are untested against the run, but it's hard to win on the road if you can't throw the ball well.

3. Northwestern (4-0, 0-0) - 30 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Maine 35-21

That wasn't a very convincing win over Maine for the Wildcats, but they're still undefeated heading in to their bye week. That's all you can ask from Northwestern at this point- they have a solid win over Syracuse, and a couple bottom feeders. Next week's game against Ohio State will tell us one way or another just how real the Wildcats are this season. For now, I'm still a little skittish.

4. Michigan (4-0, 0-0) 27 points
Weekly change: -2
Last game: defeated UConn 24-21

Ok, so maybe Michigan's struggles against Akron weren't much of a fluke. The Wolverines barely escaped with a win over UConn last weekend, and Devin Gardner had a pretty poor game under center. Big Ten play is going to be rough if the Wolverines can't get their offensive woes straightened out, so we'll find out soon if Michigan just took Akron and UConn for granted or if their issues run a little deeper than that.

5. Michigan State (3-1, 0-0) - 22 points
Weekly change: N/A
Last game: lost to Notre Dame 17-33
The Spartans lost a tough game to a good team, so they stay at No. 5 in our power poll. The fact that Michigan State was even able to score against a good defense should be encouraging for the Spartans, who had trouble outscoring their own defense earlier in the season. They'll take a bye week now before heading out on the road to take on Iowa.

6. Penn State (3-1, 0-0) - 21 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: beat Kent State 34-0

The Nittany Lions beat a listless Kent State team on Saturday, but it was good to see them bounce back after a tough loss to UCF the previous week. Penn State's defense has been relatively solid so far- they allow just 14.5 points per game, but that will be put to the test in two weeks when they travel to Indiana for their first Big Ten game of the season. I'm excited to see what Christian Hackenberg can do in Big Ten play- I'm expecting a few great games and some tough ones for the freshman.

7. Nebraska (3-1, 0-0) - 20 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: beat South Dakota State 59-20

The Cornhuskers beat a good FCS team on Saturday in South Dakota State, but the game was probably closer than it should have been. The Cornhuskers drop a spot in our poll, mostly because we're not sold that this defense can keep up with some of the good offenses in the Big Ten. That's a problem that the Cornhuskers will have to solve with some extra offensive firepower, but Taylor Martinez missed last week's game with turf toe.

8. Minnesota (4-0, 0-0) - 14 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated San Jose State 43-24

Minnesota and Iowa have flip-flopped in each of the past few weeks in our power poll, but the Gophers definitely deserve the move up after a solid win over San Jose State. The Spartans are better than you might give them credit for, and have an NFL-worthy quarterback in David Fales. But the Gophers executed a great game plan and kept him off the field, limiting his chances to hurt them.

9. Iowa (3-1, 0-0) - 13 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: defeated Western Michigan 59-3

Look, Iowa can score! The Hawkeyes beat a terrible team on Saturday, but did it in convincing fashion. Jack Rudock threw for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-15 passing, but the real story was on the ground for the Hawkeyes. Iowa had four running backs get 10 or more carries against the Broncos, and are obviously using the running game to take some of the pressure off of Rudock. We'll see how they perform this weekend against Minnesota- these teams seem pretty even so far.

10. Illinois (1-2, 0-0) - 7 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: BYE

Illinois had a bye week this weekend, and will get back out on to the field this weekend against Miami (Ohio). I'm not sure what else we'll find out against the Illini this week when they play the Redhawks- they're rated as one of the worst teams at the FBS level, so we'll find out just how good the Illini are when they go on the road to Nebraska in two weeks.

11. Indiana (2-2, 0-0) - 6 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: lost to Missouri 45-28

I'm not sure if anyone really expected the Hoosiers to beat the Tigers, who actually have a pretty decent team this season. But losing to Mizzou to me means that Indiana's already small chance to make a bowl game just got a lot smaller. I just can't see this team winning four Big Ten games with the defense that they have, so their loss to Navy looks like it will keep them out of the postseason for another year.

12. Purdue (1-3, 0-1) - 5 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Wisconsin 41-10

What else can you say about Purdue? They're a bad team running an offensive system that doesn't fit their personnel just yet. They might get there in a few years, but for now it looks like a pretty rough season in West Lafayette.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.



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