It is week eight of the college football season and that can only mean that the conference race is going to heat up in the Big Ten. In each division, two teams sit in a tie for the top spot through six games. Penn State shook things up in the West after their road win against Iowa while Minnesota is proving they are here to stay after their six straight win of the season. Wisconsin showed their dominance with a shut out against the Spartans and are looking to make a push for the College Football Playoff race. Teams in the middle of the conference are fighting to establish themselves in the conference as both Indiana and Purdue pulled off big wins to move up as the Big Ten season rolls on.
Big Ten Football Week 8 Power Rankings
No. 14 Rutgers (1-5, 0-4 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Loss at Indiana 0-35
The Rutgers tragic story continues. They were shutout for a third team this season by a decent, but not spectacular, Indiana defense. In the Big Ten, they have been outscored for a total of 165-7. Between a staff transition and injury issues on a depth-challenged roster, the Scarlet Knights have Liberty and Illinois games to salvage some of their season.
No. 13 Illinois (2-4, 0-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Loss against #16 Michigan 25-42
The Illini saw themselves down four touchdowns to the Wolverines before their 25-point rally cut the deficit to just three points. It was not enough as Michigan put two more touchdowns on the board for a 42-25 loss. Lovie Smith’s squad has now lost four straight games after starting the season with back-to-back wins. Illinois has to put this one behind them quickly as they are hosting west division leader Wisconsin next week in Champaign. The Illini will be looking for their first victory against Wisconsin since 2007 when they defeated the Badgers by five.
No. 11 N’western (1-4, 0-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Bye Week
The Wildcats had their second off week of the season, and fans will hope offensive coordinator Mike McCall helped retool an offense that ranks 125th out of 130 in the S&P+ ratings. Northwestern has two tough back-to-back home games coming up, against OSU and Iowa.
No. 11 Maryland (3-3, 1-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Loss at Purdue 14-40
Maryland is a long way from where they were the first two weeks of the season. They have lost three out of their last four games with the most recent being a 40-14 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers. In the three losses, the Terrapins are averaging just over 10 points per game compared to a 63-point average in their wins. Maryland returns home next week for a matchup against an Indiana team that is finding its rhythm as the second half of the season kicks off.
No. 9 Purdue (2-4, 1-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Win against Maryland 40-14
Jack Plummer threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns in an important win for the Boilermakers against Maryland, who are having quarterback depth issues of their own. Between WR David Bell and TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue got 19 receptions and 278 yards worth of production. Besides two incredibly tough road games at Iowa and at Wisconsin, Purdue still has potential to get six wins on the season.
No. 9 Nebraska (4-3, 2-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Loss at Minnesota 7-34
Things keep getting worse for the Cornhuskers. Their wins are hard to watch, while their recent losses, like Saturday’s at Minnesota, end in lopsided fashion. The bye week comes at the right time, and Nebraska will hope to have Adrian Martinez back at QB for the game against Indiana on Oct. 26.
No. 8 Indiana (4-2, 1-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Win against Rutgers 35-0
Indiana took advantage of a struggling Rutgers for a 35-0 win on homecoming. The Hoosiers’ defense held Rutgers to just 75 yards on the day, the lowest amount they have given up since 1966. Tom Allen’s team went up 21-0 in the first quarter and never looked back as the defense kept the shut out and the offense put up four total touchdowns on the day. The Hoosiers move to four wins on the season with just two more needed for bowl eligibility. They will get the chance to make it five next week when they take a trip to College Park to face Maryland.
No. 7 Michigan St. (4-3, 2-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Loss at #8 Wisconsin 0-38
Another rough week hit the Spartans as they got shut out 38-0 against No. 8 Wisconsin. The only bright spot on the day was that MSU held Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor to 80 yards on the day, the first time this season he had less than 100 yards. Michigan State had little going for them offensively as they only had 149 yards total. Michigan State will look to regroup next week as they have a bye week before hosting likely their third consecutive top ten team, Penn State.
No. 6 Iowa (4-2, 1-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Loss against #10 Penn St. 12-17
After starting the season 4-0, Iowa has dropped their past two games by a combined 12 points. Penn State went into Iowa City and defeated the Hawkeyes 17-12 to give Kirk Ferentz’s team their second conference loss of the season. Iowa’s offense recorded just one touchdown on the night with only 70 rushing yards. After back-to-back losses against ranked opponents, Iowa’s next two games are against Purdue and Northwestern. The Hawkeyes can look to use these two weeks to find their stride again before a division showdown against Wisconsin in three weeks.
No. 5 Minnesota (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Win against Nebraska 34-7
Minnesota is one of the most interesting teams in the Big Ten, and probably the biggest surprise. They are still a perfect 6-0 and had a dominating performance against the Cornhuskers and will look to stay unbeaten as they travel to face Rutgers and then host Maryland. Minnesota should break into the Top 25 this week and tune themselves up before playing Penn State 11/9.
No. 4 Michigan (5-1, 3-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last Week: Win at Illinois 42-25
Michigan looked great coming out the gate with an early 28-0 lead over the Illini, but had their lead dwindle down to 3 in the fourth quarter. This victory does not help their resume; however, it shouldn’t hurt them much in the long run. Michigan also cannot seem to put together a great all-around performance lately as now their defense looked sloppy and their offense appeared better this week after their 10-3 victory over Iowa.
No. 3 Penn State (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Win at #17 Iowa 17-12
In easily the best Big Ten game of the weekend, PSU reverted to their history of defense and physicality to win a challenging road game at Iowa. QB Sean Clifford showed some nervousness early, but he overcame it to play a turnover-free contest. RB Noah Cain emerged as the team’s #1 tailback as well. Next week, the Nittany Lions will host Michigan under the lights in the white out game.
No. 2 Wisconsin (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last Week: Win against Michigan State 38-0
Wisconsin has been playing as well as anyone in the country, especially when their junior quarterback Jack Coan confidently leads the Badgers. It’s impressive in itself that they scored 38 points on a stingy Michigan State defense, but the Badgers’ defense was also about to blank the Spartans – and no, that’s not comparable to shutting out Rutgers.
No. 1 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Bye Week
Even though #3 Ohio State didn’t play, Buckeyes fans had a great weekend, as OSU’s playoff chances were bolstered by Georgia’s loss to South Carolina. QB Justin Fields and the team will continue their march to the postseason on Friday night in Evanston.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ