I guess it was time for a shake-up. Eight teams changed positions in this week's power poll, with the top and bottom of the league stable, but everything else up for grabs.
With Purdue healthy again, the Boilermakers have been Hummeling along nicely. Along with Michigan State and Illinois, Purdue has emerged as one of the clearly stronger top three teams that has started to put some imaginary distance between themselves and pack behind them. While those teams just feel superior when you watch them, I call it imaginary distance because no one is too far ahead in the win column this early in the year.
My rankings try to give strike a balance between a snapshot of how each team is playing at the time and the overall body of work. Unexpected swings can be expected from week to week, but overall movement should never be more drastic than a few slots.
For instance, Northwestern just posted the best pair of back-to-back wins the Big Ten has seen this season when it spanked Minnesota at home and then toppled Michigan State in East Lansing. The Wildcats had lost four in row previously and if you look at their schedule, could continue to build a nice winning streak. But in reality, the stars have probably just temporarily aligned for Northwestern, thus they only managed to sneak up to #7.
Northwestern jumped both Ohio State and Michigan; the Wolverines continues to be underwhelming in my book. Wisconsin is completely out of sync but remained at #6 since the last two losses were near-misses in overtime. Still, Wisconsin and Michigan share the conference's longest non-Hoosier losing streak at three games. It could get worse before it gets better for Wisconsin over the next five games and Michigan's next six games on the schedule appear brutal as well.
Iowa St., Wis