The last two outings for Wisconsin didn’t help their case in this week’s Big Ten football power rankings, but they didn’t hurt it either with the difficulty of their schedule. What those games did do, is solidify Michigan and Ohio State as the top two teams in the conference. Nebraska can make things interesting, but their win against Oregon that allowed them to skyrocket up our rankings in week three looks less impressive by the week. Let’s get to this week’s rankings and see who is behind the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
14. Rutgers (Last week: 14)
The Scarlet Knights lost to Illinois 24-7 on Saturday. The good news, it wasn’t a 78-point blowout like the week before. The bad news, it secures their spot at the bottom of our power rankings. Five turnovers didn’t help. Chris Ash opened up a quarterback competition after he replaced Chris Laviano with Gio Rescigno in the second half. Rescigno looked better than Laviano, but will need to prove it this week before Rutgers takes on Minnesota.
13. Purdue (12)
The Boilermakers fell to Iowa 49-35 last week. Quarterback David Blough only completed 50% of his passes, but threw the ball 60 times for 458 yards and five touchdowns. With that loss, comes the loss of Darrell Hazell’s job as well, even though his three wins this season matches his best year as Purdue’s head coach in 2014. Receivers coach Gerad Parker has a tough task in his first game as the interim coach as the Boilermakers travel to Nebraska to take on the Huskers.
12. Michigan State (11)
The Spartans offense finally got things going, but it was in a game where the defense let down in a 54-40 defeat against Northwestern. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brian Lewerke got his first career start and came out on fire, but eventually got benched for Tyler O’Connor after the offense went cold. O’Connor sparked that unit, but it wasn’t enough with the terrible defensive performance. The Spartans look to avoid their first five-game losing streak since 1991 as they travel to Maryland on Saturday.
11. Illinois (13)
It might seem a little premature to jump the Illini up two spots following their 24-7 win over the worst team in the conference. But right now, with MSU’s downward spiral, it makes sense. It also helps to pick up a win without starting quarterback Wes Lunt, who missed the game with a back injury. They hope to have him back this weekend as Illinois travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan.
10. Maryland (8)
After starting the season 4-0, the Terrapins have dropped two in a row with their most recent loss coming in the form of a 31-10 loss to Minnesota. True freshman quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome played for Perry Hills and threw the ball 37 times, while running the rock 25 times, three of those rushing attempts coming off of sacks by the Golden Gophers. That is still a lot of weight to put on the shoulders of a true freshman. Perry Hills is listed as “day-to-day” and, with the issues the offense has had lately, is clearly needed as the Terps host Michigan State Saturday night.
9. Northwestern (10)
The Wildcats offense continues to hit on all cylinders as they hung 54 on Michigan State in a 54-40 win on the road. The 92 points Northwestern scored against Iowa and MSU over their past two games is 27 points more than what they’ve scored during the first month of their season combined. They hope to see offense continue rolling behind Justin Jackson and Austin Carr as they host Indiana on Saturday.
8. Indiana (6)
The Hoosiers gave Nebraska everything they could handle on Saturday, but they still fell to the Huskers 27-22. The defense hasn’t been as bad as it has been in past seasons and, with a very good offense, Indiana can continue to give really good teams a scare. This program is definitely trending up in their sixth season under coach Kevin Wilson. Though Northwestern and Indiana don’t exactly draw viewers, the contest between the two of them should be one of the most interesting games of the conference slate this weekend.
7. Minnesota (9)
The Golden Gophers climb up two spots after pounding the Terrapins 31-10. Quarterback Conor Rhoda got the win in his first start as Minnesota was without Mitch Leidner, who missed the game with a concussion. Most of Rhoda’s work came in the form of handing the ball off to Minnesota’s dynamic duo in the backfield. Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith combined for 40 carries for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with most of that production coming courtesy of Smith. They play Rutgers this weekend.
Tied 5. Iowa (7)
The Hawkeyes continue to move up following a slow start to the season after they beat the Boilermakers 49-35, ultimately being the final nail in Darrell Hazell’s coffin at Purdue. While the two-game winning streak against Purdue and Minnesota is nothing to write home about, they get an opportunity to prove they still belong in the West Division conversation as they host Wisconsin this weekend.
Tied 5. Penn State (5)
It’s hard to punish a team coming off a bye week, which is why we ended up with a tie in the fifth spot of our power rankings as the Nittany Lions stay put. They may have needed that week off as they host Ohio State this weekend.
4. Nebraska (4)
The Huskers narrowly escaped Indiana, beating the Hoosiers 27-22. Tommy Armstrong and Terrell Newby didn’t have their best games, but it was enough against that defense. Nebraska started the season 6-0, something they haven’t done in 15 years according to ESPN. As the only undefeated team in the West Division, they are starting to surpass Wisconsin as the favorites to make the Big Ten Championship. They’ll get a chance to knock off the Badgers in two weeks, but they can’t overlook Purdue, who they host this weekend.
3. Wisconsin (3)
We can’t do it. We can’t drop the Badgers for losing to the top two teams in the conference. Especially after taking Ohio State to overtime last Saturday before falling 30-23. We said before the season that a 2-7 start to the season would be understandable for Wisconsin, but they already blew out that expectation. Things will get easier after playing Michigan and Ohio State, but not by much as they travel to Iowa this weekend.
2. Michigan (2)
The Wolverines had a bye on Saturday after smacking around Rutgers in the previous week in their first road game of the year. They return to the Mitten State for yet another home game, this time against Illinois.
1. Ohio State (1)
The Buckeyes remain on top after a comeback against Wisconsin that resulted in a 30-23 win in overtime. J.T. Barrett continued setting school records as the game-winning pass resulted in his 89th career score accounted for, surpassing the previous mark held by Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes look like the best team in the country that isn’t named Alabama and hope to keep their momentum rolling at Penn State this weekend.