By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - With the Iowa football team one-third of the way through its 2018 schedule, and with Illinois preparing to face Rutgers on Saturday in an epic showdown that could go a long way in determining which teams will challenge Nebraska for last place in the conference, this seems like the right time to unveil my first Big Ten power rankings.
Iowa will hit the road for the first time this season when it faces Minnesota on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Both teams are coming off a bye week and off disappointing losses, and they’re both 3-1 overall, although, Iowa’s 3-1 looks considerably better than Minnesota’s 3-1, which includes a 42-13 loss at Maryland in its last game.
That’s why Iowa is ranked five spots ahead of the injury-plagued Gophers, who are also suspect at quarterback.
1. Ohio State 2-0, 5-0 – Urban Meyer is fortunate that his job as the Ohio State head coach relies more on the incredible talent of his players than on his incredible lack of integrity.
2. Penn State, 1-1, 4-1 – James Franklin should ask Urban Meyer for the medication that Meyer conveniently blames for his memory loss so Franklin can forget his horrible play call against the Buckeyes this past Saturday.
3. Michigan, 2-0, 4-1 – The Wolverines are on the rise under Jim Harbaugh due mostly to an incredible defense and to not having to play at Kinnick Stadium this season.
4. Wisconsin, 1-0, 3-1 – I had the privilege, the honor and what will now be a life-time memory of riding on the elevator with Barry Alvarez following Iowa’s loss to Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium. At least, that was the impression Barry gave me.
5. Michigan State, 1-0, 3-1 – This year marks the 40th anniversary of Michigan State’s march to the national title in men’s basketball behind Magic Johnson and the 30th anniversary of former Michigan State receiver Kirk Gibson’s legendary home run in the 1988 World Series.
As for the current Michigan State football team, it seems unlikely at this stage that we'll mark its anniversary down the road..
6. Iowa, 0-1, 3-1 – With only three games left at Kinnick Stadium this season, the Hawkeyes will be on the road more in October and November than an old, crusty rock band with bills to pay.
7. Maryland, 1-0, 3-1 – Prediction: Bret Bielema will be the next head coach at Maryland.
8. Indiana, 1-1, 4-1 – The Hoosiers are just two wins from becoming bowl eligible, which says more about the bowl system than the Hoosiers.
9. Purdue, 1-1, 2-3 – The Boilermakers are the best 2-3 team in the country with a loss to Eastern Michigan.
10. Northwestern, 1-1, 1-3 – The Wildcats are battered, bruised and in danger of having their season unravel, which means Iowa will be in trouble when it plays Northwestern on Nov. 10th at Kinnick Stadium.
11. Minnesota, 0-1, 3-1 – I’m hearing that Floyd of Rosedale will secretly be cheering for Iowa on Saturday in hopes of staying in Iowa City for another year because he has no interest in rowing any boat or hearing excuses.
12. Illinois, 0-1, 2-2 – Illinois controlled the ball for 10:30 in the fourth quarter against Penn State on Sept. 22 in Champaign, but still was outscored 35-0 during the final 15 minutes of a 63-24 moral victory.
“There are things to build on,” said Illinois head Lovie Smith. “We’re getting better as a team.”
In other words, more patience is needed.
13. Nebraska, 0-2, 0-4 – Nebraska fans are slowly and reluctantly starting to accept that a playoff berth won’t happen until year two, or maybe even year three under Scott Frost.
14. Rutgers, 0-2, 1-4 – Rutgers fans can take comfort in knowing that Kansas isn’t on any future schedules at this point.