What a time it is to be the Big Ten.
Despite Iowa’s loss to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, overall, the Big Ten had a remarkable showing in Week 3, and the AP poll reflects that.
FULL RANKINGS: Week 4 AP Poll
Four Big Ten schools find themselves inside of the top 11: No. 2 Ohio State; No. 4 Michigan; No. 8 Michigan State and No. 11 Wisconsin.
For what it’s worth, the conference absolutely deserves all of the praise it’s getting. Ohio State manhandled a reigning College Football Playoff team (Oklahoma) on the road on Saturday night, while Michigan took care of business against Colorado and Michigan State went into South Bend and escaped with a victory.
And by the look of things, 2016 could prove to be a rebound year for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Mike Riley’s squad upset Oregon on Saturday afternoon at home, and the Huskers are ranked 20th in the Week 4 poll. Though the Big Ten East is clearly superior to the west, the latter is looking far more competitive than it has in years past.In the SEC, it looks like everyone else is playing for second behind Alabama. But don’t sleep on Texas A&M, which finds itself at No. 10 in this week’s poll. The Aggies scored an impressive win over Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins in Week 1, and on Saturday night, they took care of business on the road against Auburn. Myles Garrett is looking like one of the most dominant defensive players in the country, and this very well may be the best defense Kevin Sumlin has ever had in College Station.
The SEC isn’t top-heavy after the Crimson Tide, but it still has a ton of depth. The conference had plenty of naysayers after Week 1, but chatter that this is a down year for the league is proving to be erroneous. Eight SEC teams are ranked in the Week 4 poll, which paces the field by a comfortable margin. The next closest conference (the Big Ten) has five ranked teams.
It doesn’t look like the voters had a ton of sympathy for bluebloods that boast losing records. 1-2 Oklahoma fell all the way to No. 25 in this week’s poll after sputtering against the Buckeyes, while Notre Dame is out of the rankings completely after falling short against Michigan State. The Fighting Irish’s two losses came against No. 21 Texas and the No. 8 Spartans, but regardless, Notre Dame is on the outside looking in.
With that said, the Sooners and the Fighting Irish have a lot of football left to play. If they perform to their respective talent levels, each could finish the season in the 10-20 range. But College Football Playoff hopes can vanish in a pinch, and just three weeks into the season, each squad’s playoff hopes are looking extraordinarily bleak.