Did that really just happen? The Big Ten Power Rankings Week 9 got flipped upside down.
Yup, that actually happened. For the second straight year, Ohio State was blown out by an unranked opponent on the road. This doesn’t derail their chances for a Big Ten Title, but it may throw a wrench in their plans to make the College Football Playoff. The blowout loss to Iowa from a season ago played a major factor in Ohio State’s absence from the playoff. Will this loss to Purdue have the same impact? Only time will tell.
Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.
14. Rutgers (1-7)
Lost to Northwestern, 18-15
Rutgers almost won a Big Ten game. They should have won the game against Northwestern. Rutgers had the lead entering the fourth quarter before surrendering the game-winning touchdown with 8 minutes to go. If there are moral victories, at least Rutgers did not lose by double digits. Rutgers has a bye week.
13. Nebraska (1-6)
Beat Minnesota, 53-28
Scott Frost, congratulations on your first win at Nebraska. It should be the first of many to come in the future. Nebraska’s offense is one of the best in the Big Ten, and they proved that in their 53-28 win over Minnesota. Nebraska’s offense totaled 659 yards for the game, led by their sensational freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, who threw for 276 yards and 3 TDs and rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown. Now that the monkey is off their back, can Nebraska make it two straight? The Cornhuskers play Bethune-Cookman at home on Saturday.
12. Illinois (3-4)
Lost to Wisconsin, 49-20
Illinois losing by 29 points to Wisconsin came as a surprise to no one. Wisconsin laid an egg the game before so many expected the frustrated Badgers to take out their aggression on the Illini. That’s exactly what happened. Here’s the good news. Four of the next five games come against unranked opponents. Can the Illini make it to a bowl game? The journey starts on Saturday when the Illini go on the road to face Maryland.
11. Minnesota (3-4)
Lost to Nebraska, 53-28
There has been no rowing of the boat as of late. PJ Fleck’s squad started the season with three straight wins, but after Saturday’s loss against Nebraska, Minnesota has lost 4 straight games. There was one lone bright spot for the Golden Gophers. Backup quarterback Tanner Morgan replaced Zack Annexstad at halftime and led Minnesota on two straight scoring drives. The defense allowed a mind-blowing 659 yards of offense to a Nebraska team that was 0-6 coming into the game. Minnesota plays Indiana at home in their version of “Friday Night Lights.”
10. Indiana (4-4)
Lost to Penn State, 33-28
Indiana missed an opportunity to register a quality win against a Big Ten opponent. I seem to be writing that same phrase every week because once again, Indiana lost a close game in the Big Ten. This time, it was Penn State who pulled out a 5 point victory of the Hoosiers. With a 1-4 record in the Big Ten, Indiana still has not figured out how to win the close game against a tough opponent, and it continues to cost them week after week. To make matters worse, freshman quarterback Michael Penix is out for the season with an ACL tear. Indiana travels to TCF Bank Stadium to take on Minnesota under the lights on Friday night.
9. Maryland (4-3)
Lost to Iowa, 23-0
With a chance to shock the Big Ten, Maryland was nowhere to be found on Saturday as Iowa controlled the game from start to finish. Maryland’s rushing game, which is one of the best in the nation, struggled mightily, accumulating 68 yards. The Terps had only 115 yards of total offense and had the ball for less than 20 minutes. That’s a recipe for disaster. Maryland plays Illinois in College Park on Saturday.
8. Michigan State (4-3)
Lost to Michigan, 21-7
Michigan State is one of the weirdest teams in college football. Two weeks ago, they pulled off the last second upset victory over Penn State. This past weekend, the Spartans accumulated less than 100 yards of total offense on their way to a defeat at the hands of Michigan Wolverines. For a team that had so much potential coming into the year, this season has been nothing short of a disappointment. Michigan State plays Purdue in East Lansing on Saturday.
7. Northwestern (4-3)
Beat Rutgers, 18-15
Northwestern is not flashy by any stretch of the imagination. They love to flirt with disaster this season. On Saturday, the Wildcats were losing to Rutgers (yes, Rutgers) 15-10 heading into the 4th quarter. However, the Wildcats once again found a way to win as running back Isaiah Bowser scored a 5-yard touchdown in the middle of the 4th quarter to take the lead, 18-15, which ended up being the difference. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Northwestern is now tied for 1st in the Big Ten West. The Wildcats welcome Wisconsin to Ryan Field in an extremely important matchup this weekend.
6. Purdue (4-3)
Beat Ohio State, 49-20
Purdue just changed the entire landscape of the college football season with a blowout win over Ohio State. Purdue’s offense not only scored at will, but they out-dueled the prolific Ohio State offense. The defense is still spotty at times, but it is hard to outscore a Boilermaker team that averages 36.0 points per game. After starting the season 0-3, Purdue has now won 4 straight games and is back in the hunt for a Big Ten title. Purdue travels to play Michigan State on Saturday.
5. Wisconsin (5-2)
Beat Illinois, 49-20
Wisconsin returned to their winning ways after the embarrassing loss to Michigan. Alex Hornibrook was much better against Illinois, throwing for 3 TDs on the day. The Badgers still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. Win out, and they will play in the Big Ten title game. Wisconsin travels to Northwestern on Saturday in a game with huge conference implications in the Big Ten West.
4. Penn State (5-2)
Beat Indiana. 33-28
This was a lot closer than expected. Penn State overcame a second-half deficit to defeat Indiana in Bloomington. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Nittany Lions. It will be hard for Penn State to play in the Big Ten championship, but they can play spoiler to a lot of teams in these upcoming weeks. It all starts with the game against Iowa on Saturday at Happy Valley.
3. Iowa (6-1)
Beat Maryland, 23-0
Run the ball and play good defense. That’s the Big Ten way. The Iowa rushing attack ran for 224 yards, and the defense pitched a shutout as the Hawkeyes defeated the visiting Maryland Terrapins. Iowa still needs another Wisconsin loss to overtake the Badgers in the Big Ten West, but Northwestern and Purdue both have one conference loss as well. As things begin to play themselves out, will Iowa be the last Big Ten West team standing? Iowa travels to Happy Valley for a monster game with Penn State on Saturday afternoon.
2. Ohio State (7-1)
Lost to Purdue, 49-20
Wow. I’m still speechless after Saturday night. For the second straight year, Ohio State is in danger of missing the College Football Playoff thanks to a blowout loss. Last year, Iowa scored 55 on the Buckeyes. This past week, Purdue put up 49 points in a dominant 49-20 win over the Buckeyes. Last year proved that one loss could change everything. Ohio State will now have to not only win out, but win in convincing fashion to compete with the likes of Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame. Ohio State has a bye week.
1. Michigan (7-1)
Beat Michigan State, 21-7
I said last week that Michigan was the second team in the Big Ten. Now, they are the best team in the Big Ten. It’s amazing how things change so quickly in college football. Michigan won an ugly game against in-state rival Michigan State the other day, which was Harbaugh’s second win over the Spartans in his tenure at Ann Arbor. This game was personal as Harbaugh, and Mark Dantonio pretty much hate each other at this point. The Wolverines are in the driver’s seat to the Big Ten Championship. Michigan has a well-deserved bye week.
Will the Big Ten miss the College Football Playoff for the second straight year? If Michigan and Ohio State both pick up a second loss, no Big Ten team will make the playoff. If you want to root for the success of the conference, you better pray Michigan and Ohio State to win out the rest of the year until their matchup in late November.