IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team is off this weekend.
Some will argue that Iowa, with a 5-3 overall record, has been off for most of the weekends since the season started.
A team that many had picked to win the Big Ten West Division for a second consecutive season is now struggling to stay in the upper half of the conference standings.
You won’t find Iowa in the upper half of my latest Big Ten power rankings, but the Hawkeyes still managed to crack the top 10, unlike Michigan State, which still hasn’t won a conference game.
1. Michigan (7-0) – Jim Harbaugh worries that his players might be complacent and look past Saturday’s game at Michigan State with 5-2 Maryland up next on the schedule a week later.
2. Ohio State (6-1) – Watch out for the Buckeyes now that they have their one inexplicable loss per season out of the way.
3. Nebraska (7-0) – Nebraska fans already are starting to rally on behalf of Michigan to make the four-team playoff. The argument is based on the assumption that Michigan’s only loss will be to the undefeated Cornhuskers in the Big Ten Championship game.
4. Wisconsin (5-2) – In appreciation for the victory at Iowa, Barry Alvarez now allows Paul Chryst to think for himself at least twice a day.
5. Penn State (5-2) – It wouldn’t be a surprise if the NCAA sent Penn State a letter of congratulations for defeating Ohio State and asks if there is anything else they could do to help with the healing process.
6. Northwestern (4-3) – Pat Fitzgerald encourages the players on his team who aspire to be sports agents after college to get acquainted with as many Ohio State players as possible before and after Saturday’s game in Columbus.
7. Minnesota (5-2) – Tracy Claeys is winning just enough games to withstand pressure from those who believe he is spreading himself too thin by having dual roles as a college football head coach and the lead character on a hugely successful adult animated sitcom.
8. Maryland (5-2) – Maryland fans are starting to realize that there is another sport being played this time of year on campus besides men’s and women’s basketball practice.
9. Iowa (5-3) – Iowa and Rutgers lead the Big Ten in most games played this season with eight, and that’s about the only thing that Iowa and Rutgers lead the Big Ten in from a statistical standpoint.
10. Indiana (3-4) – The Hoosiers are preparing to host Maryland on Saturday in a game that would actually mean something if the sport were basketball.
11. Purdue (3-4) – Can we assume that Purdue as a result of firing Darrell Hazell mid-season has used the extra time to aggressively pursue the top coaches in the business?
12. Michigan State (2-5) – Is it possible to look past five consecutive opponents before facing your biggest rival? Mark Dantonio sure hopes so.
13. Illinois (2-5) – Lovie Smith now realizes that he isn’t ready to dominate recruiting in Chicago, so his new goal is to put a wall around the town of LeRoy.
14. Rutgers (2-6) – The Scarlet Knight have a bye week, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they still lost on Saturday by double-digits.