Michigan State — take that, big bro — makes big move in B1G power poll
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More than half of the teams in the brand-new AP Top 25 have played six games already. Where we come from, six is roughly halfway to 12. A few midseason awards:
Most important player: Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant won’t be on anyone’s Heisman Trophy list, but he has demonstrated in guiding the 6-0 defending champ that he’s a more-than-able successor to Deshaun Watson. He has thrown the ball with precision, rushed for seven touchdowns and made one good decision after another. Oh, and he’s faced arguably the toughest schedule in the country to date.
Best surprises: Georgia (6-0) is so good, we might as well start planning for the mother of all SEC title games against Alabama. Washington State (6-0) is so legit, is it wrong to dream of the Cougs in a late-November Apple Cup matchup with fellow unbeaten Washington?
Top moment: Every time players (on both teams) and fans at Iowa games exchange waves with patients and families at the new children’s hospital that overlooks Kinnick Stadium.
Question of the week
Which four teams are going to the playoff?
Yikes, it’s early. But my midseason prediction is Alabama, Clemson, Washington and … a Big Ten team to be named later. It could be Ohio State, which would be the same foursome from last year’s playoff. Would that be totally boring?
“Little sisters! Little sisters!”
That was what Michigan State players were chanting with fans in the stands after the Spartans’ huge upset victory at Michigan. MSU has never forgotten being called “little brother” after a loss at Michigan 10 years ago. Still, what’s with the meatheaded “sister” audible? Little sisters rule.
Big Ten power rankings
1. Penn State (6-0, 3-0): Northwestern learned that shutting down running back Saquon Barkley and moving the ball on the Nittany Lions defense just can’t be done on the same day.
2. Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0): Nice 249-yard, two-touchdown night for freshman running back Jonathan Taylor. No, it’s not too soon to put the West title in the bag for the Badgers.
3. Ohio State (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten): The Buckeyes, who visit Nebraska next, just outgained Maryland 584-66. Who even knew that was possible?
4. Michigan State (4-1, 2-0): There’s no way to fake eight victories in 10 years over chief rival Michigan. The Spartans have bounced back in dramatic fashion from an awful 2016.
5. Michigan (4-1, 1-1): The season’s not over, Wolverines players were quick to say after Saturday’s 14-10 loss to MSU. No, it’s not. But the dream of winning the league pretty much is.
6. Iowa (4-2, 1-2): The Hawkeyes let Illinois hang around for a half, then put both feet on the accelerator. There’s little doubt this is the West’s second-best team.
7. Purdue (3-2, 1-1): Unless the West’s second best team is the Boilermakers, that is. Congrats to first-year coach Jeff Brohm on beating Minnesota for his first Big Ten “W.”
8. Indiana (3-2, 0-2): Here comes Michigan, and you’d better believe the Hoosiers think they’ve got what it takes to win.
9. Maryland (3-2, 1-1): No team in America has shown a bigger range of good and bad. The performance at Ohio State was pathetic.
10. Nebraska (3-3, 2-1): The offense can be potent, but this is just another Huskers defense that doesn’t know where to begin to stop the run.
11. Minnesota (3-2, 0-2): The Gophers are one-dimensional on offense — but at least that dimension is a physical running game, which will keep the team in most contests.
12. Northwestern (2-3, 0-2): In the time it took you to read this sentence, quarterback Clayton Thorson was sacked a half-dozen more times. Not really, but he must feel like it.
13. Illinois (2-3, 0-2): Oh, baby, it’s Rutgers week. Somebody has to win.
14. Rutgers (1-4, 0-2): There’s only road out of the bottom spot, and it goes through Champaign. Intimidating, is it not?
Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.