By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – From being 3-0 to now being in the lower half of my latest Big Ten power rankings, the Iowa football team is moving in the wrong direction after back-to-back losses.
Iowa's 17-10 loss at Michigan State this past Saturday in addition to being boring and hard to watch also cost the Hawkeyes three spots in the rankings.
The conference race is rapidly breaking into three groups, starting with the lead pack that is occupied by Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State in that order.
The second group consists of Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota and Indiana, while the third group has Illinois and Rutgers desperately fighting to stay out of the basement.
1. Penn State, 5-0, 2-0 – If anybody associated with Penn State football deserves a statue in his honor, it is star running back Saquon Barkley. And the statue should be built so it's hard to grab hold of in space.
2. Michigan 4-0, 1-0 – It wouldn't surprise me if Jim Harbaugh spent the bye week arranging sleepovers with 5-star recruits and compiling a list of complaints about the drive thru options in Ann Arbor.
3. Wisconsin, 4-0, 1-0 – I'm hearing that Barry Alvarez showed his appreciation to Paul Chryst after Saturday’s victory over Northwestern by letting him address the team first in the lockerroom.
4. Ohio State, 4-1, 2-0 – As I said a week ago, the Buckeyes have more upside than any Big Ten team, and I appreciate the players and coaches from Rutgers helping to prove my point.
5. Maryland , 3-1, 1-0 – Maryland’s 31-24 victory over Minnesota this past Saturday had to be the first time that two head coaches who go by the initials D.J. sand P.J. were matched against each other.
6. Michigan State, 3-1, 1-0 – The Spartans were slightly better than Iowa on Saturday, and slightly less boring.
7. Nebraska, 3-2, 2-0 – The Cornhuskers being 2-0 in the Big Ten is more deceiving than quicksand.
8. Iowa, 3-2, 0-2 – The Hawkeyes are currently struggling to run, pass, punt and hang on to the football, but they have three weeks to figure it out, and no, I'm not forgetting about Saturday's homecoming game against Illinois.
9. Northwestern, 2-2, 0-1 – The Wildcats are struggling on defense, failing to convert on third-down and losing the turnover battle. So in other words, they should be a huge threat against Iowa on Oct. 21 in Evanston, Ill.
10. Purdue, 2-2, 0-1 – No snarky or sarcastic comment in the wake of Joe Tiller’s death this past Saturday at the age of 74. Rest in peace and thanks for making Big Ten football fun and exciting during your 11 seasons as the Purdue head coach.
11. Minnesota, 3-1, 0-1 – Row, row, row the boat, gently down the field; that’s what Maryland’s offense did to Minnesota on Saturday with a tremendous amount of zeal.
12. Indiana, 2-2, 0-2 – There is a better chance of Bob Knight being friendly and respectful than of Indiana defeating an elite opponent in football. This past Saturday’s 45-14 loss to Penn State was Indiana’s 35th consecutive loss against a top-10 team.
13. Illinois, 2-2, 0-1 – The frozen tundra of Green Bay probably doesn’t look too bad to Lovie Smith right now.
14. Rutgers, 1-4, 0-2 – This coming Saturday as the bye week will be the high point to Rutgers’ Big Ten season.