Big Ten East Power Rankings: Michigan State Drops Heartbreaker But Still Controls Own Destiny
Big Ten East division power rankings following Week 10:
(1) Ohio State Buckeyes (1); Record: 9-0 (5-0)
Last Week: Won vs. Minnesota 28-14
QB Cardale Jones—187 passing yards, TD, 65 rushing yards, TD—played good enough to beat Minnesota, but not good enough (12 of 22) to create a QB controversy, as J.T. Barrett returns this week. The defense set the tone with an early pick-six by S Vonn Bell, but it was surprising to see them allow 281 yards through the air to the punchless Golden Gophers. That was Ohio State’s 29th-straight conference win, which ties the FBS record.
Coming Up: 11/14: @ Illinois; 11/21: vs. Michigan State
(2) Michigan State Spartans; Record (2): 8-1 (4-1)
Last Week: Lost @ Nebraska 39-38
The Spartans were hosed. Nebraska’s Brandon Reilly stepped out of bounds—he wasn’t forced out—on the game-winning touchdown. However, one bad call wasn’t the reason MSU gave up 320 passing yards through the air. This is the second year in a row their defense has been disappointing. They had numerous opportunities to win this game throughout, wasting Connor Cook’s four-TD effort, as the senior signal caller became the school’s all-time leading TD passer in defeat.
Coming Up: 11/14: vs. Maryland; 11/21: @ Ohio State
(3) Michigan Wolverines (3); Record: 7-2 (4-1)
Last Week: Won vs. Rutgers 49-16
Jersey boy Jabrill Peppers had an 18-yard scoring scamper and QB Jake Rudock threw for a career-high 337 yards (2 TDs, no INTs), as four Wolverines including Rudock scored on the ground against Rutgers. Six different Michigan players had receptions of at least 21 yards, among them two running backs, two tight ends and a fullback. That’s Jim Harbaugh football, as he finds a way to make an average passer look better than average. Defensively, the Wolverines held Rutgers to fewer than 100 yards passing despite 27 attempts.
Coming Up: 11/14: @ Indiana; 11/21: @ Penn State
(4) Penn State Nittany Lions (4); Record: 7-3 (4-2)
Last Week: Lost @ Northwestern 23-21
We can focus on the regression of QB Christian Hackenberg—just 21 of 40 passing with no TD passes and an INT—however, their run defense isn’t what it was supposed to be. It almost burned them against Maryland and finally bit them at Northwestern. Despite going up against backup QB Zack Oliver, the Nittany Lions allowed a career-high 186 yards by Justin Jackson. PSU gave up 227 rushing yards and that includes their six sacks.
Coming Up: 11/14: Idle; 11/21: vs. Michigan
(5) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5); Record: 3-6 (1-5)
Last Week: Lost @ Michigan 49-16
The Scarlet Knights defense has now allowed at least 48 points in four-straight games, the longest such streak in the Big Ten since 1981. Not the way you want to get recognition. Even though they were playing from behind for much of the day, Rutgers was just 11 of 27 passing for 97 yards and an INT (no TDs). After throwing for six TDs against Michigan State and Indiana, QB Chris Laviano is 25 of 60 passing (41.7 percent) with no TD passes and three INTs in his past three games.
Coming Up: 11/14: vs. Nebraska; 11/21: @ Army
(6) Indiana Hoosiers (6); Record: 4-5 (0-5)
Last Week: Lost vs. Iowa 35-27
Transfer RB Jordan Howard ran the ball like a Heisman Trophy candidate, using speed and power to rumble for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries against what had been a tough Iowa D. However, as usual the defense let the Hoosiers down (467 yards), which they may have been able to overcome had QB Nate Sudfeld played better. The senior was inconsistent with his accuracy (16 of 37) for most of the game.
Coming Up: 11/14: vs. Michigan; 11/21: @ Maryland
(7) Maryland Terrapins (7); Record: 2-7 (0-5)
Last Week: Lost @ Wisconsin 31-24
If not for special teams—a 98-yard kick return TD and a 57-yard fake punt allowed—Maryland might have pulled off an ugly upset against Wisconsin. The run D really stepped up against the Corey Clement-less Badgers but their passing issues continue to haunt them. Starter Perry Hills was 6 of 16 for 107 yards, a TD and an INT and backup Caleb Rowe (7 of 18, 97 yards, TD, INT) wasn’t much better. For what it’s worth—a lot to some—the Terps have covered four-straight games.
Coming Up: 11/14: @ Michigan State; 11/21: vs. Indiana
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.