Week 6 in the Big Ten was full of many lopsided games. The closest game was Northwestern’s upset victory over Michigan State, 29-19. This week, two of the top teams will square off as Wisconsin travels to the Big House to play Michigan on Saturday night. The whole conference will be watching because it will have a significant impact on the Big Ten title race. There is a clear #1 in the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 7, but the rest are neck and neck.
Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.
14. Nebraska (0-5)
Lost to Wisconsin, 41-24
It’s getting harder to defend a team that has zero wins. Using “Scott Frost will eventually turn this around” is starting to get old. I know that he will probably turn it around, but it likely won’t be this season. No one thought Nebraska would be 0-5 right now. If you search the schedule, it’s becoming harder to pinpoint a game where they can get their first win. Nebraska travels to Northwestern on Saturday.
13. Rutgers (1-5)
Lost to Illinois, 38-17
The only reason why Rutgers is not ranked last is because Nebraska has zero wins. Otherwise, Rutgers would occupy that spot. Rutgers could not build on the momentum from a week ago and instead, scored 0 points in the second half on their way to a 38-17 defeat. If Rutgers ends the season with one win, I don’t see Chris Ash returning as the head coach. Rutgers plays Maryland in College Park on Saturday.
12. Illinois (3-2)
Beat Rutgers, 38-17
Illinois bowl watch has begun! Behind a huge rushing day from running back Reggie Corbin (137 yards), Illinois blew Rutgers out 38-17. The story of the day was AJ Bush Jr. The graduate student got his first career start on Saturday, and he did not disappoint. 116 yards on the ground, 2 TDs, and one passing TD is a great debut. Illinois plays at home against Purdue on Saturday.
11. Minnesota (3-2)
Lost to Iowa, 48-31
What began as a promising 3-0 start has quickly turned into 3-2 after the Golden Gophers lost again on Saturday to the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes. Minnesota’s secondary without Antoine Winfield has been a disaster as they allowed Nate Stanley to pass for over 300 yards and 4 TDs. Freshman Zack Annexstad threw for 3 touchdowns but continues to turn the ball over in losses (3 INTs against Iowa). Things will not get any easier for Minnesota as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State.
10. Purdue (2-3)
Can Purdue continue their offensive hot streak? The Boilermakers have scored more than 30 points in their last three games (2-1 record). Purdue will look to make it three straight wins against Illinois on Saturday.
9. Maryland (3-2)
Lost to Michigan, 42-21
Great start, bad finish. After a first-quarter kick return touchdown, Maryland was winning 7-3. Maryland did not score again until the 4th quarter, and by then, it was too late after Michigan scored 28 unanswered. I can’t stress this enough. If Maryland cannot pass for more than 100 yards per game (73 against Michigan), it will be extremely hard to win games. Maryland plays Rutgers at home on Saturday.
8. Northwestern (2-3)
Beat Michigan State, 29-19
My hand is up. I was in the crowd that thought Northwestern was dead in the water after their heartbreaking loss to Michigan a week ago. I was wrong. Northwestern rallied behind an inspired Clayton Thorson performance to beat Michigan State by double digits in East Lansing. Keep in mind that Northwestern only rushed for 8 yards. However, behind Thorson’s 373 yards and 3 TDs, the Wildcats beat the Spartans for the third straight year. Northwestern will look to win their first home game of the year against Nebraska on Saturday.
7. Indiana (4-2)
Lost to Ohio State, 49-26
The final score does not indicate just how close this game was. Ohio State needed their A-game versus the visiting Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana had the lead early and was only down 28-21 at halftime and 35-26 in the fourth quarter. Indiana needed to be perfect to beat the Buckeyes. They weren’t but did get a tremendous effort from Peyton Ramsey (322 yards and 3 TDs). The Hoosiers gave up over 455 yards through the air and simply did not have enough firepower down the stretch.
6. Michigan State (3-2)
Lost to Northwestern, 29-19
I did not expect this result. Despite only allowing Northwestern to rush for 8 (!!!) yards on the day, the Spartans could not stop quarterback Clayton Thorson, who carved up the Michigan State secondary for 373 yards and 3 TDs. Not having running back LJ Scott proved to be detrimental to the Spartans. Michigan State has to figure things out quickly before they travel to Happy Valley to take on Penn State.
5. Iowa (4-1)
Beat Minnesota, 48-31
The Iowa offense scored 48 points in their win against rival Minnesota to keep the Floyd of Rosedale pig in their possession. If you are shocked that a Hawkeyes offense scored 48 points, then you are not alone. Quarterback Nate Stanley was terrific on his way to 314 yards and 4 TDs. Despite surrendering 31 points, the Hawkeyes defense forced four turnovers. You better believe that Iowa will be the biggest fans of Michigan on Saturday night as they hope to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive. Iowa will travel to play Indiana on Saturday.
4. Wisconsin (4-1)
Beat Nebraska, 41-24
This is the Wisconsin team that we expected to see. Run the ball, control the time of possession, and physically wear down their opponent. Badgers Running back Jonathan Taylor finished the game with 24 carries, 221 yards, 3 TDs. Wisconsin won the time of possession battle 35:33 to 24:27. On the downside, the Badgers secondary was shaky as they allowed 407 yards through the air to the Cornhuskers. Wisconsin will need to fix things on that side of the ball when they travel to Michigan on Saturday night.
3. Michigan (5-1)
Beat Maryland, 42-21
Remember when Michigan lost to Notre Dame? It’s starting to become harder and harder to remember that Week 1 letdown against the Irish. Ever since that game, Michigan has rattled off five straight wins with an average margin of victory of 28.2 points. The defense is in a groove despite missing star Rashan Gary last game. However, if Shea Patterson throws for 282 yards and 3 TDs like he did against Maryland, the Wolverines are dangerous. Michigan plays at home against Wisconsin on Saturday night in a game with huge Big Ten implications at play.
2. Penn State (4-1)
Penn State had an extra week to rest coming off of a brutal home loss to Ohio State. Expect to see a motivated effort from the Nittany Lions as Penn State will look to get back on track against Michigan State on Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley.
1. Ohio State (6-0)
Beat Indiana, 49-26
Dwayne Haskins has been very good at quarterback. His stats look like he’s playing in a video game right now. Haskins stat line in the win vs. Indiana: 33/44, 455 yards, 6 TDs. If Haskins continues to play at an elite level, the question should not be if Ohio State can win the Big Ten. It should be if they can win the National Championship. I will be shocked if Ohio State is not undefeated going into their November 24th game against Michigan. Ohio State plays Minnesota in Columbus on Saturday.
As long as Ohio State continues to play at this level, it will be hard to knock them off the throne of the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 7.