Big Ten football power rankings: Week 4

Michigan pounds Penn State, MSU falls to Wisconsin


The Big Ten conference schedule kicked off at noon Saturday. By 3 p.m., chaos had already ensued.

Just as the East Division looked ready to run away with the conference, the West Division had an excellent Week 4 and clawed back into the mix.

Here's a look at this week's Big Ten power rankings:

1. Ohio State

Last week: 1
Week 4 result: Bye week

Ohio State didn't play this week, which means its reign atop the rankings wasn't in jeopardy. It won't be at risk for another two weeks as the Buckeyes' Big Ten season begins with cupcake home games against Rutgers and Indiana. Chris Ash's return to the Horseshoe might be a painful one.

2. Michigan

Last week: 3 (Up 1)
Week 4 result: Michigan 49, Penn State 10

Last week, we outlined three reasons why Michigan-Penn State could end up being a total blowout. On Saturday, all three of those possibilities became reality. In its most impressive game of the season, Michigan rushed for 326 yards and sent the Nittany Lions home with their tails between their legs. The Wolverines jumped all over Penn State, scoring 14 unanswered points in the first quarter and 14 more in the second quarter. Penn State managed to squeak out 10 points after the game was all but over, but Michigan's offense scored at will and the defense held Penn State under 200 yards. Jourdan Lewis and Taco Charlton gave the defense a huge lift and even Saquon Barkley couldn't get going for most of the game. The only negative for Michigan came late in the second half, when starting cornerback Jeremy Clark suffered an injury on a meaningless kickoff return. Clark is expected to miss the rest of the season, which leaves another hold in Michigan's secondary.

3. Wisconsin

Last week: 5 (Up 2)
Week 4 result: Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 6

Wisconsin picked up the most impressive win of the week, going into East Lansing and embarrassing the top 10 Spartans. Alex Hornibrook looks like an upgrade at quarterback and did enough to keep Michigan State from really threatening in this game. Corey Clement was held in check despite scoring two touchdowns. Clement had one 22-yard rush, and his other 22 carries went for just 32 yards.

4. Nebraska

Last week: 4
Week 4 result: Nebraska 24, Northwestern 13

There was no letdown following Nebraska's huge home win over Oregon last weekend. Tommy Armstrong threw for 246 yards and rushed for 132 yards as the Cornhuskers rolled to a 24-13 win in Evanston. At 4-0, Nebraska will be favored in each of its next three games and should visit Wisconsin still undefeated with the inside track to the West title on the line.

5. Michigan State

Last week: 2 (Down 3)
Week 4 result: Michigan State 6, Wisconsin 30

Just when it looked like Michigan State was headed for another excellent season, Wisconsin provided a major speed bump. Michigan State failed to score a single touchdown and quarterback Tyler O'Connor was completely ineffective, throwing three interceptions. The Spartans have plenty of time to bounce back, as they should win each of their next four games. But getting blown out at home is never a good way to begin a conference season.

6. Minnesota

Last week: 8 (Up 2)
Week 4 result: Minnesota 31, Colorado State 24

It wasn't flashy, but Minnesota took care of business and cruised through its nonconference schedule with three wins. Mitch Leidner completed 16 of 20 passes Saturday and the Golden Gophers rushed for 243 yards in a solid home win.

7. Maryland

Last week: 6 (Down 1)
Week 4 result: Bye week

Maryland didn't play this weekend, but who would have thought the Terps would come out of their bye week undefeated? Maryland hasn't played any strong teams, but D.J. Durkin has avoided disaster and has a chance to push for a bowl game this season. Maryland should still be undefeated after a home game against Purdue this weekend.

8. Iowa

Last week: 10 (Up 2)
Week 4 result: Iowa 14, Rutgers 7

Iowa has no business moving up two spots after losing to an FCS team and struggling with Rutgers, but this shows how weak the bottom half of the conference is. The Hawkeyes didn't turn the ball over, played even in time of possession and still were out-gained by 28 yards. The last two weeks have raised major question marks about Iowa's chance to win the West again this season.

9. Purdue

Last week: 12 (Up 3)
Week 4 result: Purdue 24, Nevada 14

Purdue needed to bounce back and finish the nonconference with a winning record, and that's just what the Boilermakers did. Nevada jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the second quarter, but Purdue bounced back with 21 straight points. Now the Boilermakers hit the road for two weeks to start Big Ten play.

10. Rutgers

Last week: 11 (Up 1)
Week 4 result: Rutgers 7, Iowa 14

Since getting blown out in Week 1 at Washington, Rutgers has played solid football. Saturday's performance was perhaps the most impressive, as the Scarlett Knights held Iowa to just 14 points and nearly upset the defending West Division champs. If Janarion Grant isn't healthy, Rutgers is in trouble.

11. Penn State

Last week: 7 (Down 4)
Week 4 result: Penn State 10, Michigan 49

Yikes, what a rough week for Penn State. Once a Big Ten powerhouse, the Nittany Lions have fallen so far that a 39-point beating in the Big House felt like it should have been even worse. When your only highlight is a tackle by your kicker, chances are it was an ugly game.

12. Indiana

Last week: 9 (Down 3)
Week 4 result: Indiana 28, Wake Forest 33

Indiana had a chance to pick up a nice win at home and enter its Big Ten season with a 3-0 record. Instead, the Hoosiers turned the ball over five times and couldn't overcome a deep first-half hole. Richard Lagow threw for 496 yards and three touchdowns, but his five interceptions were the difference.

13. Northwestern

Last week: 13
Week 4 result: Northwestern 13, Nebraska 24

Northwestern kept Nebraska close, but never really threatened to make a run in the second half. If Nebraska hadn't fumbled the ball twice at the goal line, the score would have been much worse.

14. Illinois

Last week: 14
Week 4 result: Bye week

Illinois didn't play in Week 4, which was a gift for all Big Ten fans. Saturday's trip to Nebraska should be ugly.