Billed as the Game of the Year in the Big Ten, after the dust settled, Ohio State scored 2 TDs in the final seven minutes to knock off Penn State, 27-26. The Buckeyes are the undisputed kings of the Big Ten. Can anyone defeat Ohio State before the year is over? Both Michigan and Michigan State might have something to say about that. The cream is rising to the top in the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 6.
Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.
14. Rutgers (1-4)
Lost to Indiana, 24-17
On the bright side, at least Rutgers didn’t lose by 40 points. Things were not looking good for the Scarlett Knights when they entered the 4th quarter down 24-7. However, Rutgers showed some heart the other day and outscored Indiana 10-0 in the fourth quarter to only lose by a touchdown. This was a huge moral victory for Rutgers. Can they keep the momentum going? Rutgers plays Illinois at home on Saturday.
13. Nebraska (0-4)
Lost to Purdue, 42-28
Things have gone from bad to worse for Scott Frost as the Cornhuskers fell to 0-4 despite 582 yards of offense. The offense has been humming, but the defense can’t stop a nosebleed. Bright spots have been quarterback Adrian Martinez, who had 414 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs and running back Devine Ozigbo, who rushed for 160 yards and 2 TDs. It will be a few years before Nebraska starts competing for Big Ten titles, and Frost will turn it around, but for now, wins will be a few and far between. Nebraska plays Wisconsin on the road on Saturday night.
12. Illinois (2-2)
After the bye week, Illinois sits at 2-2. So far, Lovie Smith’s team has shown promise. The Illini are still a season or two away from taking the next step, but if this team can make a bowl game this year, that would be a huge success. Illinois travels to New Jersey to take on Rutgers in a very winnable game.
11. Northwestern (1-3)
Lost to Michigan, 20-17
Northwestern offense gets off to fast start. Northwestern takes the lead early. The offense stalls and struggles for the rest of the game. The defense can’t make key stops late. Northwestern loses. Rinse and repeat. That exact formula has happened in all three of the Wildcats’ losses with the one to Michigan being the toughest pill to swallow. Northwestern jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the 2nd quarter before the Michigan defense shut down the Wildcats as the Wolverine came from behind to win 20-17. That could have been a win that changes the season for the Cats, but instead, it’s another heartbreaking loss. Things don’t get any easier for the Wildcats as they travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State.
10. Purdue (2-3)
Beat Nebraska, 42-28
The Boilermakers are on a roll as they dropped 42 points in their win against Nebraska. Quarterback David Blough continues to accumulate a high number passing yards (328 against Nebraska), but the running game was the story as the Boilermakers rushed for 188 yards and 4 TDs. After a disastrous start, Purdue heads into their bye week with two straight wins and serious momentum.
9. Minnesota (3-1)
After a bye week, it’s time for the young Golden Gophers to grow up. If Minnesota surrenders over 400 yards of offense like they did in their last game, it will be a long season for PJ Fleck. Minnesota travels to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday to play Iowa.
8. Maryland (3-1)
It’s no secret that Maryland lives and dies by the run. The Terps average 258.5 yards on the ground, which is 10th overall in the nation. However, Kasim Hill will have to get better as a passer for the Terps to win important games. Speaking of important games, Maryland has a gigantic chance to send shockwaves throughout the conference when they take on Michigan at the Big House this Saturday.
7. Indiana (4-1)
Beat Rutgers, 24-17
The score indicates a close game, but Indiana was winning 24-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Credit to Rutgers for making this a touchdown game late in the fourth quarter, who was coming off two embracing blowout losses. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey was 27 of 40 for 288 yards with 1 TD as well as rushing TD. This will go down as a conference win, but Indiana will have to learn to finish games to make some noise in the Big Ten. Indiana has a huge test on Saturday as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State.
6. Iowa (3-1)
Just like Penn State, Iowa does not control its own destiny. The Hawkeyes have to win out and pray Wisconsin loses two conference games in order to win the Big Ten West. Iowa travels to Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.
5. Michigan State (3-1)
Beat Central Michigan, 31-20
Similar to their in-state rival, Michigan State’s defense is elite. However, the offense is still a work in progress. Michigan State jumped out to a 31-3 lead, but the offense stalled in the fourth quarter and the defense experienced a few hiccups as Central Michigan scored 17 unanswered points. However, a win is a win. With a dominant run defense (ranked first in the country against the run 40.3 yards per game), the Spartans can hang with any team in the Big Ten. Michigan State plays Northwestern at home on Saturday.
4. Wisconsin (3-1)
Wisconsin still controls their own destiny in the Big Ten West. Win out, and they will play for another Big Ten Championship. If quarterback Alex Hornibrook can play like he did at Iowa, the Badgers can compete with any team in the conference. Wisconsin plays Nebraska at home on Saturday night.
3. Michigan (4-1)
Beat Northwestern, 20-17
Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. After allowing Northwestern to jump out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, the Michigan defense pitched a shut out the rest of the game, allowing less than 100 yards of total offense for the final three quarters as the Wolverines scored 20 unanswered points to survive on the road. The offense struggled mightily, but this was a game that Michigan needed to win. Shea Patterson and Karan Higdon did just enough for the Wolverines to squeak out a W. Survive and advance. Michigan plays Maryland at home on Saturday.
2. Penn State (4-1)
Lost to Ohio State, 27-26
Finish. It’s a word that Penn State can’t seem to comprehend as they suffered a heartbreaking defeat to their rivals Penn State. Despite losing the game, Trace McSorley was the best player on the field Saturday night in front of a record-breaking crowd in Happy Valley. The senior quarterback set a school record with 461 yards of offense including 175 on the ground. However, between questionable play-calling and the inability to tackle late, the Nittany Lions will now have to win out and pray Ohio State loses two conference games to play in the Big Ten Championship. Penn State has a bye this week.
1. Ohio State (5-0)
Beat Penn State, 27-26
For the second year in a row, Ohio State used Buckeye magic to erase a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to defeat conference rival, Penn State. Ohio State was dead in the water in the first half as the Nittany Lions pushed the Buckeyes around on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw 2 TDs in the final seven minutes to complete the comeback and stamp Ohio State as the best team in the Big 10. This game not only meant that Ohio State is in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten, but this win puts the Buckeyes in the driver’s seat for the College Football Playoff. Ohio State takes on Indiana in Columbus on Saturday afternoon.