Best & Worst of the Big Ten Week Three Plus Power Poll

September 20, 2009

Written by Jon Miller

Best of the Big Ten: Iowa’s 27-17 win against Arizona is at the top of the board this week.  The Hawkeye defensive line came to life for the first time this season, and were it not for a few missed tackles on two plays, the defense allowed just 144 yards on 48 of Arizona’s 51 total plays on the day.  Kirk Ferentz felt he may have pushed his team too hard coming out of August after they broke camp, and Adrian Clayborn acknowledged yesterday that he feels like he is just starting to get his second win.  Karl Klug was huge against Arizona as well, and the entire defensive line looked like an old school Hawkeye front four.  There was also excellent coverage on the back end on Saturday as well.  Don’t dismay over the national statistical rushing defense ranking (140/game), as I think that is a bit of an aberration based on the style of offenses Iowa played in the first two games.  This week’s game against Penn State will be more like the Arizona offensive attack, which bodes well for the Hawks.

Honorable Mention:  Michigan continues to look impressive, and their offense is well ahead of where most people thought it would be in year two of the Rich Rodriguez era.  Now, the Wolverines have not gone on the road yet, and that will change in a few weeks when they travel to Michigan State and Kinnick Stadium for back to back games.  They still have a freshman quarterback, and that typically rears its head in road game environments.  But they waxed an Eastern Michigan team that gave Northwestern all it could handle the week before, putting up 448 yards on the day.  Eastern Michigan did gain 179 on the ground, but the Wolverines piled up 380 rushing yards.

Worst of the Big Ten:  Purdue apparently is who we thought they were, falling to Northern Illinois at home.  Their defense allowed 454 yards to the Huskies, and the Boilermakers committed three turnovers.  The Huskies also had the ball for 41:40!

Dishonorable Mention:  Northwestern lost to Syracuse 40-37 on a last second field goal in the Carrier Dome.  Syracuse is probably playing their best ball in several seasons, but they still have a Duke point guard at quarterback.   The most alarming statistic for Northwestern fans has to be that they were able to gain just 52 yards rushing on the day, but Cuse held Penn State to less than 80 yards on the ground the game before, so perhaps they are a little more legit in that area than I am giving them credit for.  NW QB Mike Kafka did shine in the loss, as he completed 35 of 42 passes for 390 yards and three touchdowns, so that is something to build upon.

Jon Miller’s Weekly Big Ten Power Poll

1. Ohio State:   Terrelle Pryor threw it well this week; 17-28  262 yards, 3 TD but 2 INT
2. Iowa:  Hawkeyes start the season ranked, go 3-0 and probably won’t be ranked
3. Michigan:  We’ll see how the kids do when they head on the road in two weeks
4. Penn State:  No one really knows what this team is about just yet
5. Michigan State:  Heart breaking loss in South Bend; should have won it
6. Wisconsin:  They beat Wofford like you need to beat a Wofford
7. Northwestern:  Kafka maybe able to throw it better than I thought
8. Minnesota:  Just 37 yards rushing vs Cal; Decker still their offense
9. Illinois:  Looked the best they have all season this week, in a bye
10. Indiana:  Not a bad performance against Akron, good enough to vacate the cellar
11. Purdue:  We have already used Dennis Green’s line

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Iowa at Penn State:  Penn State has not had their mettle tested at all this year.  They have no mental scars, because they knew before they played each of their first three games that they were going to win.  Iowa has had to survive the huge scare against UNI, they knew they had to pack a lunch before playing Iowa State and they were focused all week preparing for a solid Pac 10 foe.  They also knew going into the Arizona game that they would be without their top three players on offense, and two of their best playmakers, and they still won the game.  If this game were in Iowa City this week, I would pick Iowa without any hesitation.  But it’s going to be played in the toughest environment and setting that any Iowa player will likely ever play in for his entire career.  So I need a little more time to talk myself into calling for the Iowa win against what I still believe to be the most overrated football team in America.  ESPN’s College Gameday will be in Happy Valley, and the entire nation will be watching on Saturday on ABC PrimeTime at 7pm.  A huge spot for Iowa football.  Will this potentially be the most watched regular season Iowa football game ever?

Minnesota at Northwestern:  Both teams are 2-1 and this is a game that may have an impact on the Big Ten bowl slotting later in the year.  I think one of these teams will go to a bowl game, but just one.  Loser leave town match?  Where is Jimmy Snuka?

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Michigan State at Wisconsin:  Another test for Michigan State, who finds themselves 1-2 right now and on the brink of a January bowl bid being out of the mix just four weeks into their season.  The Badgers have a chance to vault themselves into that conversation, and they have weathered the flu bug earlier than many teams around the nation, and they didn’t lose a game in the process.  Past MSU teams would have folded the tent after back to back devastating losses.  Will things be different under the new coaching regime?

Illinois at Ohio State:  Illinois had the week off to rest and regroup.  It will not matter.  Their best defensive player (Martez Wilson) is out for the year, and he was the only Illini player that played with heart against Mizzou earlier this year, and he called some of his teammates out for quitting in that game.  I think you can see the beginning of the end of the Ron Zook era from here.

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Way Too Early Bowl Slotting

Rose:  Ohio State
Cap One:  Iowa
Outback:  Michigan
Champs:  Penn State
Alamo: Wisconsin
Insight:  Michigan State
Motor City:  Northwestern

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