Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 9
After another week of Big Ten clashes, this week's edition of Big Ten Power Rankings remains relatively stable. Michigan still stands a step ahead of the rest.
Nebraska dropped slightly in this week's rankings after an overtime loss in Madison. Michigan State managed to climb out of the doldrums with a decent performance against the Wolverines.
1. Michigan Wolverines (8-0, 5-0): Look, there was no way Michigan could blow out every Big Ten opponent, and considering this was a rivalry game and only the second game the Wolverines have played on the road, the result is another positive. At no point was this win ever really in question. Wolverines return home next week for a reunion with D.J. Durkin.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, 4-1): Another Saturday, another shaky performance for Ohio State's offense. J.T. Barrett didn't account for a touchdown in a game for the first time in his career. The defense and run game continue to be the glue that Ohio State holds together. A likely top-10 showdown awaits in Columbus between the Buckeyes and Huskers next weekend.
3. Wisconsin Badgers (6-2, 3-2): Bucky Badger proved once again it should be the Big Ten West favorite. After an exciting overtime win against Nebraska, Wisconsin can claim the West Division if it wins out and Nebraska loses again. Badgers travel to Evanston next Saturday for a cross-divisional clash.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1, 4-1): The Huskers still control their Big Ten destiny, but it got a lot harder after a 23-17 overtime loss at Wisconsin. Wisconsin's defense proved too much, and with a primetime showdown at Ohio State next weekend, Nebraska's Big Ten title hopes are on the line from here on out.
5. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-2, 4-1): Saturday at Purdue was a trap game if I've ever seen one. Coming off a potential season-defining win versus Ohio State, Penn State found itself tied with Purdue at halftime. The second half was a different story, and the Nittany Lions cruised to a 62-24 victory. Iowa comes to Happy Valley next week.
6. Northwestern Wildcats (4-4, 3-2): It's not often a team rises in the rankings despite a loss, but Northwestern put up a fight in the Horseshoe on Saturday. Austin Carr continues to be one of, if not, the best wide receivers in the Big Ten. Next week against Wisconsin won't be easy, but this Wildcat squad is 100 times better than the team we saw in September.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes (5-3, 3-2): A bye week should help Iowa recover from a tightly-contested loss the previous week to Wisconsin. Happy Valley beckons next Saturday.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2, 3-2): A clinical performance helped Minnesota cruise by Illlinois. Rodney Smith remains arguably Minnesota's best offensive threat, rushing for 100-plus yards once again. Purdue visits the Twin Cities on Saturday.
9. Indiana Hoosiers (4-4, 2-3): In a battle of two programs looking for confidence-boosting victories, the Hoosiers came away with a 42-36 win over Maryland. Indiana appears to be headed in the right direction under Kevin Wilson, but given the Big Ten East difficulty, the program still has a long way to go. Hoosiers are on the road next weekend at Rutgers.
10. Maryland Terrapins (5-3, 2-3): Maryland's signature win this season is a win over a lowly Michigan State team. D.J. Durkin has a lot of work left to do on the defensive side of the football before Maryland starts to pull off major upsets. A trip to Ann Arbor is on the docket for Saturday.
11. Michigan State Spartans (2-6, 0-5): It wasn't a win, but a respectable performance in a rivalry game at home is about all Michigan State can expect for now. The mighty have fallen, and Sparty is still winless in Big Ten play. Michigan State's best chances to break that winless streak come in the next two weeks at Illinois and home versus Rutgers.
12. Purdue Boilermakers (3-5, 1-4): For the second straight week, Purdue put up a respectable first half performance. But like last week against Nebraska, Purdue wishes the first half was all that mattered. Penn State demolished the Boilermakers in the final 30 minutes of play. Purdue is on the road at Minnesota next weekend.
13. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-6, 1-4): There just aren't a lot of positives for Illinois to point to from Saturday's loss to Minnesota. Handled easily at home, the Illini are waiting for basketball season to roll around.
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-6, 0-5): Even during the bye week, Rutgers finds a way to fall to the bottom of the power rankings. We might as well just let Kansas and Rutgers skip a conference game and play each other instead.