Paul: Saturday night was frustrating, but I saw nothing that dissuades me that Nebraska remains the best in the West, particularly in the light of Wisconsin's loss to Northwestern. I am confident that the Huskers can, and will, be the West rep in the conference championship game. Ohio State seems to have gotten its groove back...for that reason I voted them just above Nebraska.
After #3...who knows? Seriously. Is Iowa any good? How about Northwestern? I don't know. They're 2-0 in conference play with coming off wins over a preseason contender for the championship game and a stout Penn State squad. How about Rutgers? They beat Michigan, a program channeling the 2007 Huskers, but needed an epically bad call to do it.
It comes down to this: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State will be the Big Ten's final four and that the other ten teams will remain interchangeably bad.
Ty: I was hoping a Braxton Miller-less OSU would stay bad, but it hasn't turned out to be true. That makes me sad, but oh well. I have them ahead of Nebraska but by a slim margin. Really, we had a lot to be excited about the way we came back. The argument could be made that MSU let off a little, but if we'd have won that game it wouldn't have mattered.
Who the hell is there after the top 4? I mean, seriously, it's MSU, OSU, NU, UW then... The rest? And yes, despite the loss, I've still got Wiscy ahead of NWU. However, I'm drinking Salt's Kool-aid (Which tastes terrible, BTW) on NWU, but how will they look against Minny this week? It seems like the last couple of years they've had reason for hope and then come crashing down.
I think we can all agree that Michigan and Purdue have the last two spots on lockdown, though they're interchangeable for which is which.
Salt Creek: Northwestern remains #1 on my ballot, because they are on fire - two improbable Big Ten wins in two weeks? I expect them to tumble eventually, but until then, I'm going to enjoy the ride. (But not those alternate uniforms. Woof.) MSU is the true #1 - they are, by far, the most feature-complete team in the Big Ten. That being said, I don't believe Nebraska is as far behind as they looked on Saturday. Ohio State looks amazing, but they have been riding on the wings of poor secondaries since their loss to a less than great Virginia Tech. (I'm not convinced that Barrett is as great as he looks, though he probably will, in time, be one of the best QBs in the conference.)
As for the gooey middle, that's mostly arranged winners/bye week/losers. Wisconsin, despite Gordon's ability to get ten yards whenever, is shockingly bad on offense. I don't expect them to remain in the dumps long (we'll get their best shot in November) but I wonder if they right the ship (fire Ludwig) before the division championship is beyond their reach.
And then we have the basement of the league, where Michigan just spilled more beer on the carpet, much to Illinois' chagrin. They just shampooed it on Thursday!
Brian: Well, the top 4 are pretty easy. And the bottom 3. The middle is really a dartboard however. The fact that Illinois got housed by Purdue means you can put the Illini at 14 for the rest of Tim Beckman's term, no matter how long it is.
The Week 7 votes are in, and if we ignore Salt's blatant Northwestern homerism, there's pretty good consensus among the CN writers about the top 4 and bottom 4 teams in the conference. The squishy middle of the conference is a lot hard to identify.
I highlighted the votes that were +/- 1 standard deviation from the average ranking for each team as a way to judge how consistent our writing staff was in their voting. Only Cheese and Corn's votes were all within 1 SD of the group average ranking. Jon, Brian, Greg, and Aaron had only 1 or 2 votes outside 1 SD of the group average. David and Ty had three of 14 outside the 1 SD range, I had 4 outside the range, and Salt had 8.
*note to self: tell Salt to take this seriously*
Not surprisingly, the greatest areas of disagreement among the writers was in the middle third of the rankings.
The only ranks which had standard deviations greater than 1.5 were 4-11, with Wisconsin at #5 having the only SD greater than 2.0 (thanks again, Salt).
All this means that we haven't a clue about how to rank these teams, even after 6 full weeks of football.
Looking at other Big Ten Power Polls, The Detroit News has Nebraska #3 and Iowa #4; BTN has Nebraska #3 and Northwestern #4; ESPN ranks the Huskers #3 and Minnesota #4; Purdue Exponent ranks Nebraska #3; The Daily Illinihas Nebraska #3 and Iowa #4; and Talking10 ranks Nebraska #1 in the West.