The biggest weekend in Big Ten conference play came to a close where each of the top teams in the divisions faced each other. Now, Ohio State and Northwestern appear to be on track to face each other for the title and CFP chances. Indiana proved to be legit and Wisconsin got knocked out of CFP contention. Also, lets not forget Penn State continues to plummet to new depths of despair.
November 23, 2020 Big Ten Football Power Rankings
No. 14 Penn State (0-5, 0-5 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last: Loss against Iowa 21-41
Penn State is a mess. Nothing about this season has been good and they continue to dig deeper into the bottom spot of the conference. Star TE Freiermuth is now out for the season as the team faces QB struggles. Overall, a historically bad season for the Nittany Lions.
No. 13 Rutgers (1-4, 1-4 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last: Loss against Michigan 42-48 (3OT)
Rutgers was handed it’s the fourth straight loss this past weekend in a three overtime battle with Michigan. However, the Scarlet Knights once again competed until the very end, which is a significant improvement from previous seasons. Rutgers QB Noah Vedral carried the load on offense, completing 29 of 43 times for 381 yards and three touchdowns. Once again, the Scarlet Knight struggled to stop the run on defense, as Michigan’s Hassan Haskins rushed for 109 yards on 25 carries. Next up for Rutgers is Purdue.
No. 12 Nebraska (1-3, 1-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last: Loss against Illinois 23-41
Well, at least Nebraska “brought back Big Ten Football.” So far they have only beaten a winless Penn State team and have struggled otherwise. Offensively and defensively, there were no areas that really excelled again. Scott Frost and Co. have a lot they need to figure out in order to salvage a few more wins on the short season.
No. 11 Michigan State (1-3, 1-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last: No game due to COVID-19 cancellation.
Michigan State did not end up playing this week due to COVID on the Maryland team. Rough week ahead when the Spartans face an unbeaten Northwestern team.
No. 10 Illinois (2-3, 2-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last: Win at Nebraska 41-23
Illinois has started to find its rhythm especially with a solid running game. Overall, Illinois has shown incremental improvement each of the last several weeks but may not win another game in the regular season as they face Ohio State, Iowa, and Northwestern the next three weeks.
No. 9 Minnesota (2-3, 2-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last: Win against Purdue 34-31
Ibrahim continued his dominance and reliability on the field with another 3 TD performance against Purdue. Minnesota has been strange this season with coming into the season with a dynamic duo in Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman but have found the most reliability in their run game.
No. 8 Purdue (2-2, 2-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last: Loss at Minnesota 31-34
Well, let’s just get it out of the way: Purdue may have been robbed by the refs. The game’s final minute was defined by an extremely controversial offensive pass interference call that heavily influenced the result. So, if you’re friends with any Purdue fans, you’ll be hearing about that for weeks to come. In terms of the play on the field, Purdue QB Jack Plummer looked great in his first start of the season, throwing for 367 yards and three touchdowns (which should have been four if not for a drop). WR Rondale Moore was just as explosive as anticipated, catching 15 balls for 116 yards, while fellow receiver David Bell had eight catches for 104 yards demonstrating that Purdue may have the best receiving duo in all of college football. On defense, the Boilermakers struggled on third down and in the passing game. Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan had only completed 58% of passes coming into the weekend but completed 68% against Purdue, including several 50-50 balls. Purdue finishes the season with games against Rutgers, Nebraska, and rival No. 12 IU.
No. 7 Michigan (2-3, 2-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last: Win at Rutgers 48-42
Michigan defeated the Rutgers in Piscataway, but it took 3 overtime periods to secure the win. This just shows how rough of a season it has been for the Wolverines this season. They still have major questions that need to be answered this offseason including whether or not to keep Harbaugh, but they may have found their starting QB in McNamara who had a 4 TD performance this weekend.
No. 6 Maryland (2-1, 2-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last: No game due to COVID-19 cancellation.
Maryland didn’t play again due to COVID. They are expected to play next week against Indiana, but it will be an evolving story as the week progresses.
No. 5 Iowa (3-2, 3-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last: Win at Penn State 41-21
Iowa has started to look like their former selves with another win, this time against the reeling Nittany Lions. Iowa didn’t look great but took advantage of their scoring chances when they arose. They seem fully capable of winning two if not all three of their remaining games.
No. 4 Wisconsin (2-1, 2-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last: Loss at No. 19 Northwestern 7-17
In a crucial battle for the Big Ten West, Wisconsin’s offense struggled to put points on the board against the stout Northwestern defense. The Badger offense was not nearly as explosive as past weeks but still accumulated 366 yards of total offense. However, Northwestern’s bend-but-don’t-break defense sacked Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz three times and forced him into three interceptions. Wisconsin’s defense also played well, only conceding 24 total rushing yards and 263 overall yards, but it wasn’t enough to topple a motivated Northwestern squad. With this loss, Wisconsin ceded control of the Big Ten West to Northwestern and will have an uphill battle to finish the season as Minnesota, No. 12 Indiana, and a surging Iowa team lie ahead.
No. 3 Indiana (4-1, 4-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last: Loss at No. 3 Ohio State 35-42
Tough fought battle for the Hoosiers. They may not think there is a consolation prize for losing, but their close game against Ohio State in Columbus solidified their footing in the top of the conference. They have an impressive passing attack and despite giving up 42 points, have a tough defense especially with passing defense. They need to improve their running game and rush defense and if they do, they will have a lot more security in these close games against top opponents. The CFP may be out of reach now, but they need to focus on Maryland and not let the loss demoralize their momentum.
No. 2 Northwestern (5-0, 5-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last: Win against No. 10 Wisconsin 17-7
Northwestern is for real. Beating a heavily favored Wisconsin team has pushed them into the discussion for CFP hopes and pushed Wisconsin out. They have the inside track for the Big Ten Championship and have a 96% chance of winning out now.
No. 1 Ohio State (4-0, 4-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last: Win against No. 9 Indiana 42-35
The biggest loss that Ohio State faced this weekend was Justin Fields’ Heisman chances may be fleeting. He did not play like a Heisman winner against Indiana and got outdueled by Penix. However, they won and are still heavily favored to make the CFP.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ