A brand new team reaches the top



This was the marquee weekend for the Big Ten, with two of the giant nationally televised games (Fox Big Noon Kickoff for Michigan at MSU and ABC prime time for Ohio State vs. Penn State), while there was another sneaky good noon kick with Iowa at Wisconsin.

Nearly all of the Big Ten’s games were good games with only one true blowout in Minnesota’s win over Northwestern, though the Badgers’ win over the Hawkeyes was by three scores, and certainly qualifies.

Given the magnitude of these games, there was certain to be some movement in our latest power rankings, even near the bottom and the middle. There’s a new team at the top now and also at the bottom.

PREVIOUSLY: Big Ten power rankings after Week 8

Here is how teams in the Big Ten rank after nine weeks of play.


What Jim Harbaugh said after Michigan football loss to Michigan State

Indiana Hoosiers (2-6)

Photo: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to absolute bottom, Indiana.

Without Michael Penix Jr. and now Jack Tuttle, injuries have killed the Hoosiers. Still — Donavan McCulley actually performed pretty well, considering, going 14-for-25 for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Indiana also ran 42 times for 204 yards.

And lost.

The defense couldn’t stand up to Maryland, allowing Taulia Tagovailoa to throw for 419 yards. At this juncture, unless it’s against Rutgers in Week 11, it’s hard to see Indiana winning another game this year. Hard to believe after starting the season ranked.

Northwestern Wildcats (3-5)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Northwestern played Michigan close for a half last week, but it couldn’t even eke that out against Minnesota. The offense for the Wildcats was particularly anemic, managing just 98 yards through the air and 143 yards on the ground. Illinois is probably the only winnable game left for Northwestern this year, barring something unexpected.

Illinois Fighting Illini (3-6)

Photo: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

So, the sharp rise from last week meant that there was really nowhere to go but down this week for Illinois. After the surprise upset last week against Penn State, the Illini followed that up by losing to Rutgers.

Brandon Peters played pretty well, but the Scarlet Knights ran for 230 yards, which was the entire difference. Who knows which Illinois we’ll see next week.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Started to think Rutgers was never going to get its fourth win. After the debacle two weeks ago at Northwestern, it seemed the Scarlet Knights were destined to remain at the bottom of the Big Ten. Now, a win over Illinois means little, but the Illini had beaten Penn State, so it’s not nothing.

The Rutgers passing game still isn’t very good, but the running game came alive. The defense also limited a rushing attack that absolutely eviscerated PSU last week.

So, out of the basement and back into the land of the living. With games against Indiana and Maryland left, bowl eligibility is still on the table.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-6)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

No. 10 is exactly where Nebraska belongs. The Huskers have a penchant for losing games by one score, and though, like last week it was scoring late to bring it within one score, it still counts — all six of Nebraska’s losses are by one score and the Huskers have lost by a combined 33 points this season.

This week, Adrian Martinez was an interception matching against a Purdue team that did the same thing to upset Iowa. The rushing game was underwhelming, but hey — the school in Lincoln continues to find creative ways to be this exact team.

Maryland Terrapins (5-3)

Photo: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Just when it was looking like Maryland was just going to completely fall apart, it went ahead and got back in the win column. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was against hapless Indiana.

Taulia Tagovailoa passed for 419 yards and two touchdowns against a team that doesn’t generally allow that, though the Hoosiers’ stellar rush defense held the Terps rushing attack at bay.

More bad news? One game away from bowl eligibility, Maryland doesn’t face any teams down the stretch that currently have a winning record through Week 9.

Penn State Nittany Lions (5-3)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

That’s three losses in a row for Penn State — the former No. 1 in these here power rankings. Yes, it was a loss, but the Nittany Lions showed heart against an Ohio State team that had appeared unstoppable in recent weeks. Losing 33-24 in Columbus, the game was close until the very end, in large part due to the defense as well as Sean Clifford throwing for 361 yards.

But PSU is still spiraling, has no run game, and still has to face Michigan and Michigan State. Believe it or not, bowl eligibility isn’t 100% certain for this Nittany Lions team.

Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa followed up the loss to Purdue with a bye week, and then followed that up with its second-consecutive loss.

In a game where both offenses were expected to be putrid, it was the Hawkeyes who upstaged Wisconsin — in a bad way. Iowa managed 132 yards passing and 24 yards rushing against the Badgers (the latter isn’t surprising, but if you’re not able to pass on Wisconsin, it’s game over). Suddenly, the Hawkeyes have gone from No. 2 in the country to having back-to-back interdivisional losses. The Big Ten West is all but lost, unless some other teams start slipping up. Minnesota looks particularly daunting in two weeks.

Purdue Boilermakers (5-3)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

After taking down a tough Nebraska team (again, did we mention the Huskers have lost every game this year by just one score?), the Boilermakers move back up to their season-high spot. After losing last week to Wisconsin, Purdue isn’t the class of the West division, but it might be able to challenge one of the big East foes.

It better, because it faces Michigan State and Ohio State the next two weeks.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2)

Photo: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s kind of amazing that Minnesota has two losses now, because it appears like the Gophers are rolling. (We still didn’t forget that one of the two losses was to Bowling Green.)

Per usual, Tanner Morgan was unspectacular, while the running game was, as it put up 308 yards on Northwestern. Minnesota plays Iowa in two weeks and Wisconsin in four — two games that are likely to determine whether the Gophers are legit or not.

Wisconsin Badgers (5-3)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Don’t look now, but Wisconsin is now two games above .500 and has a quality win over a ranked opponent. The Badgers’ loss to Penn State is looking worse, but losses to Notre Dame and Michigan still appear to be — OK?

Wisconsin did what it does defensively, while also kind of doing what it does offensively. Recovering three fumbles made all the difference against Iowa on Saturday.

Now look: the Badgers are still a mess. But they still have a shot to win the Big Ten West, believe it or not. Games remain against Rutgers, Northwestern, and Nebraska before the season finale against Minnesota.

Michigan Wolverines (7-1)

Photo by: Isaiah Hole

Two things can be true: Michigan State can be good and Michigan football had no business losing to the Spartans.

Cade McNamara had a career day and dominated through the air while the Wolverines struggled on the ground — on both sides really. The usually stout rush defense was no match for Kenneth Walker III, who went all Saquon on the maize and blue.

Overall, Michigan outgained MSU, 552-396, and squandered a 16-point lead that was ripe for ballooning until MSU roared back into the game. The Wolverines settle far too often for field goals in the red zone, and it finally came back to bite them this week.

Next is Indiana, Penn State, Maryland, and Ohio State.

Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1)

It’s not Ohio State’s fault that it dropped — OK, maybe it is a little.

The Buckeyes looked like world beaters against the likes of Akron, Rutgers, Maryland, and Indiana. In a normal year, that’s a no-brainer. After losing in Week 2 to Oregon and struggling against Minnesota and Tulsa, the fact that it looked like the OSU of old made all of college football maybe overrate them a little?

The rush defense was stellar, but the pass defense was atrocious, allowing 361 yards to PSU. On the other side, it was great, but not elite, with 305 passing yards and 161 yards rushing (the fact that it seems underwhelming tells you all you need to know about this Ohio State offense).

Credit to Penn State for giving the Buckeyes a game, but ultimately, the likely winner of the conference struggled to put away what very well could be a 6-6 PSU team once the ink is dry.

Michigan State Spartans (8-0)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Congratulations, undefeated Michigan State — you’re the new top team in the conference! At least for now.

Though thoroughly outplayed at home, MSU did what it needed to: score touchdowns to match Michigan’s field goals. It’s now the only undefeated team in the conference and continues to win games despite an absolutely horrid pass defense.

Kenneth Walker III is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and while it wasn’t a great day for Payton Thorne and the receiving corps, the defense helped give the offense a chance by completely slowing Michigan’s run game.

It will be a tough road ahead, with games against Purdue, Ohio State, and Penn State left, but for now, the Spartans have the right to be called the team to beat, with the current best in-conference win.








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