By Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on Twitter)
Post-Week 5 Big Ten Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Wisconsin (5-0) – The Badgers officially staked their claim to the top spot in the Big Ten with one of the most impressive performances by any team in any league Saturday night when they dismantled Nebraska 48-17. The Huskers went up 14-7 early in the second quarter before UW rolled off 35 unanswered points. Quarterback Russell Wilson was masterful at the helm of the Big Red ship, throwing for 255 yards and two scores while adding 32 yards and another score on the ground. Wilson consistently evaded pressure with ease, only enhancing his Heisman Trophy campaign. Tailback Montee Ball scored four times and is leading the nation in scoring at 16.8 points per game. With a combined margin of victory of 191 points in five games, Wisconsin has yet to beat an opponent by less than 30 points.
2. Nebraska (4-1) – Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska. The Huskers were given a rude welcome to their new league at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers. Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions — including the first play of the second half — and completed only 11 of his 22 passes in the embarassing 48-17 loss in Camp Randall. The Huskers are still considered the favorites to win the Legends Division, but will need to regroup quickly with The Ohio State University making its first-ever trip to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln this weekend.
3. Michigan (5-0) – The Maize and Blue are unbeaten and might be establishing themselves as the main contender in the Legends Division after winning the Little Brown Jug this weekend. Michigan held Minnesota to 177 total yards and 0-11 on third downs to win 58-0 while starting to resemble the Wolverines of years past. Denard Robinson played his most efficient game of 2011 by completing 15-of-19 without a turnover of any kind. He finished with 169 yards passing and 51 rushing while the team as a whole rushed for 363 yards. Vincent Smith became the fourth player since 2000 to run, pass and catch a touchdown in the same game.
4. Illinois (5-0) – The Land of Lincoln Trophy belongs to the Illini after 218 second-half passing yards and 28 final-half points against Northwestern. After his team had trailed 28-10 in the third, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase wiggled into the end zone with 13 seconds left to edge Northwestern 38-35. The passer set a career mark with 391 yards with wide receiver A.J. Jenkins acting as the primary beneficiary. The senior wideout set a school record with 268 yards on 12 receptions and three touchdowns. It was the first time Illinois has won a Big Ten opener since 2007. The fighting Ron Zookers travel to rival Indiana this Saturday.
5. Michigan State (4-1) – The Spartans boast the nation's No. 1 defense, and Saturday did nothing to change that. Michigan State, at 173.4 total yards allowed per game, held Ohio State to 178 total yards of offense. Braxton Miller lasted only 10 attempts before Joe Bauserman took over and led OSU to its only score with 10 seconds to go. The 10-7 win ended a seven-game losing streak for Michigan State against the Buckeyes and sets up a huge game two weeks from now with Michigan (MSU is on bye this weekend).
6. Penn State (4-1) – The Nittany Lions won an ugly, mistake-prone road game over Indiana 16-10. The Nits turned the ball over twice inside of their opponent's five-yard line, leading to a 3-3 halftime score. Matt McGloin reentered the game and on his first pass connected with Derek Moye for a 74-yard touchdown to put PSU up for good. Silas Redd ran for 129 yards, and Penn State improved to 15-0 all-time against the Hoosiers. The rested Iowa Hawkeyes come to Happy Valley this weekend.
7. Iowa (3-1) – The Hawkeyes were on bye last weekend. Iowa has had two weeks to prepare for the lethargic Penn State offense it will have to face this weekend in Beaver Stadium. After Saturday, Iowa gets Northwestern, Indiana and Minnesota, so a win over Penn State should put the Hawks squarely in the Big Ten Legends Division race (with Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska as three of its last four).
8. Ohio State (3-2) – The Buckeyes mustered 178 yards of total offense and scored no points in the first 59:50 of gametime. With the meaningless touchdown pass aside, that is as bad as an Ohio State offense has looked in years - and the crowd let Luke Fickell know it. The boos from Scarlet and Gray nation rained down upon the Buckeyes as they left the field with a 10-7 loss to the Spartans. Things don't get any easier with road trips to Nebraska and Illinois and Wisconsin at home over the next three.
9. Northwestern (2-2) – This might be the year of "What Could Have Been" for Northwestern fans. After surging to a 28-10 lead in the third quarter, the Wildcat defense crumbled in the face of Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illini set all sorts of passing records en route to a 38-35 dramatic comeback over Purple Nation. Dan Persa's return to the field looked like something out of a storybook as he completed 10-of-14 passes for 123 yards and four touchdowns (three to Jeremy Ebert). But the defense couldn't stop Scheelhaase in the second half, and Pat Fitzgerald's bunch headed home with the loss. Despite leaving late in the game as a precaution, Persa appears set for the Michigan game this weekend.
10. Purdue (2-2) – The Boilermakers were outgained 287 to 84 yards on the ground in the thorough 38-10 beatdown at the hands of Notre Dame. The Irish, who have won three straight since starting 0-2, looked good in all phases of the game. Notre Dame held Purdue to only 276 yards of total offense while rolling up 551 of their own without committing a turnover. Neither Caleb TerBush (10-15, 101 yards, TD, INT) nor Robert Marve (9-22, 91 yards) was effective enough to consistently move the football against the developing Notre Dame front seven. Purdue gets Minnesota at home this Saturday.
11. Minnesota (1-4) – To say the Gophers failed to show up for a rivarly game would be quite an understatement. Michigan rolled up 363 yards rushing and 58 points in the shutout victory over the Gophers. Minnesota totalled eight first downs, went 0-11 on third downs, compiled 177 total yards and turned the ball over twice in the loss. Minnesota travels to Purdue this weekend in what could be its only chance for a conference win in 2011.
12. Indiana (1-4) – It appears that Dusty Kiel has cemented himself as the starter after throwing 45 times in a tightly, but sloppily, played 16-10 loss to Penn State. He completed 22 of those passes for 184 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His Hail Mary heave came up five yards short in the final seconds. He added 28 yards rushing. Hoosiers fans need to get used to seeing the name Kiel under center, as Dusty's younger brother, Gunner, is the nation's No. 2 QB prospect and should compete for immediate playing time in 2012.