The state of Michigan had an unbelievable weekend. The Michigan Wolverines asserted their dominance on the defensive side of the ball in a blowout victory over Wisconsin. Michigan State pulled a rabbit out of their hat and escaped Penn State with a last-second victory. Now, the in-state rivals will face each other this Saturday in East Lansing with huge Big Ten implications on the line. Where do both teams fall in the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 8? Find out below
Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.
14. Nebraska (0-6)
Lost to Northwestern, 34-31
Nebraska, you were so close to winning your first game! Northwestern had to score 10 points in under 6 minutes in the fourth quarter to tie the score, where the Wildcats pulled out the win in overtime. Will Scott Frost win a game this year? This week, they will have an excellent chance to win as Minnesota comes into town.
13. Rutgers (1-6)
Lost to Maryland, 34-7
I’m running out of things to say about Rutgers. They just don’t belong in the Big Ten. The competition is too stiff, and they play in the harder side of the conference with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan. That’s just not fair. Then again, Rutgers was blown out by Kansas and Buffalo, so this team can’t beat anyone right now. In three years under Chris Ash, Rutgers has lost a staggering 15 out of 24 games by more than 20 points. Hot seat: Chris Ash. Rutgers hosts Northwestern on Saturday.
12. Illinois (3-3)
Lost to Purdue, 46-7
Did I jinx Illinois? Last week, I said it’s time to start “Bowl Watch” for Illinois after accumulating three wins. This past Saturday against Purdue, they were steamrolled from start to finish. After scoring the first touchdown of the game, Purdue scored the last 46 points of the game to win handily. Unfortunately, Illinois has to travel to Camp Randall to play a Wisconsin team that will be looking to take out their frustration after a blowout loss to Michigan. Pray for the Illini.
11. Minnesota (3-3)
Lost to Ohio State, 30-14
If we’re honest, I was super impressed with Minnesota this past Saturday. They hung around the entire game against Ohio State in Columbus. Going into the game, Ohio State was averaging 56.75 points per game at home and beat teams by an average of 40.25 points. Minnesota held Ohio State to 30 points and only lost by 16. Moral victories don’t win games, but they help build programs. I’m starting to believe in PJ Fleck. Minnesota travels to Lincoln to play Nebraska on Saturday.
10. Indiana (4-3)
Lost to Iowa, 42-16
Indiana had another chance to beat a quality Big Ten opponent but was blown out of their own building against Iowa. Indiana is now 1-3 against conference opponents with their one win coming against Rutgers. The bottom line is that Iowa’s defense pushed Indiana’s offense around especially at the line of scrimmage. Indiana only rushed for 67 yards on the day. Indiana will have another chance to beat a top-notch Big Ten opponent when they welcome Penn State to Bloomington on Saturday.
9. Purdue (3-3)
Beat Illinois, 46-7
Purdue scored 46 unanswered points this past Saturday after falling behind 7-0 to Illinois. Don’t look now but Purdue is now 3-3 after beginning the season 0-3. The offense has been the key to the turnaround as the Boilermakers are averaging just below 40 points a game during their three-game winning streak. Purdue has a chance to shock the country if they can pull off the upset victory at home on Saturday night against Ohio State.
8. Maryland (4-2)
Beat Rutgers, 34-7
Dominate on the ground and be efficient through the air is going to be Maryland’s ride or die offense. The Terps running game exploded once again for 290 yards and 1 TD. However, quarterback Kasim Hill only accumulated 76 yards through the air, but it resulted in 3 TDs. I still do not believe this formula can beat the top teams in the conference, but it’s lead to 4 wins so far including a standout victory over Texas, so I can’t argue it doesn’t provide results. Maryland will turn heads if they defeat Iowa in Kinnick on Saturday.
7. Northwestern (3-3)
Beat Nebraska in OT, 34-31
The Wildcats won their second straight game after scoring 10 points in the final 5:41 to force overtime, where they eventually defeated the Cornhuskers on a field goal. Quarterback Clayton Thorson continues to put the Wildcats on his back and deliver in big situations. Thorson finished with a career-high 455 yards and three touchdowns. Northwestern will look to make it 3 in a row on Saturday against Rutgers.
6. Wisconsin (4-2)
Beat to Michigan, 38-13
Wisconsin had a chance to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the Big Ten with a win over Michigan. However, the Badgers put up a dud on Saturday night and lost by 25 points. Credit to Michigan’s defense for holding the Badgers running game to 183 yards as opposed to their average of 269.7. It’s no secret in how to beat Wisconsin. Stack the box and make quarterback Alex Hornibrook throw the ball. Against Michigan, Hornibrook threw for 100 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs for a QBR. of 0.7 (!!!). The Badgers are going nowhere if that poor play continues. Wisconsin plays at home against Illinois on Saturday.
5. Penn State (4-2)
Lost to Michigan State, 21-17
Penn State just can’t buy a break. In 2017, Penn State lost in heartbreaking fashion to Ohio State and Michigan State in back-to-back weeks. History repeated itself in 2018 as Penn State once again lost in heartbreaking fashion to Ohio State and Michigan State in back-to-back weeks. James Franklin needs to figure out how to close out games if they ever want to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Penn State travels to Indiana on Saturday afternoon.
4. Michigan State (4-2)
Beat Penn State, 21-17
Will the real Michigan State please stand up? Two weeks ago, the Spartans looked lost in all facets of the game after losing to Northwestern at home. This past Saturday, the Spartans rallied back in the fourth quarter to win the game on a Brian Lewerke touchdown pass with 19 seconds left to defeat the Nittany Lions. It’s crazy how in one week, the entire outlook of your season changes. Michigan State now controls its own destiny and can make the Big Ten title game if they win out. The Spartans take on the visiting Wolverines in a battle for state supremacy on Saturday.
3. Iowa (5-1)
Beat Indiana, 42-16
After 7 weeks, I did not expect Iowa to be the third best team in the Big Ten, but here we are. Unlike Wisconsin, Michigan State, or Penn State, Iowa is consistent and rarely plays down to their competition. Iowa beats the teams they are supposed to beat and you can’t fault them for that. The defense has always been the team’s strength, but after a 6 TD day from quarterback Nate Stanley, the Hawkeye offense is starting to hit its stride. Iowa takes on Maryland at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
2. Michigan (6-1)
Beat Wisconsin, 38-13
Michigan is the second best team in the Big Ten. That is not up for debate anymore after throttling Wisconsin this past Saturday night, 38-13. The Wolverine defense is arguably the best in the country. Michigan is first in the Big Ten in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing defense. Dominant is an understatement. Expect a defensive slugfest on Saturday as the Wolverines travel to East Lansing to take on their in-state rival, Michigan State.
1. Ohio State (7-0)
Beat Minnesota, 30-14
Dwayne Haskins throws for over 400 yards and multiple touchdowns. Ohio State wins by double digits. Have you heard that story before? That’s because it happens almost every Ohio State game. This game was closer than expected, but Haskins’s 412 yards and 3 TDs were too much for Minnesota as the Buckeyes remain undefeated. Haskins is first in the Big Ten in total offense with an average of-of 340 yards per game, which is 50 more than second place. Ohio State travels to red-hot Purdue on Saturday night. Expect a huge and raucous crowd for the Boilermakers.
In a perfect world, Michigan and Ohio State win out the rest of the year and face each other in late November for a trip to the Big Ten Title. However, this is college football. Anything can happen.