What a win for Purdue. A team that was once 0-3 is now 4-3 after a dominating win over the Buckeyes. Michigan has moved up and now seems to be the national favorites in the conference. It’s crazy how things change over the season.
Meanwhile, the West is starting to heat up. Four teams have just one loss in conference play, and they almost all play each other coming down the stretch. Wisconsin still has to play at Northwestern and Purdue. Iowa still plays Northwestern and Purdue. You get the point. There’s a lot to be decided in the West.
There was a lot of shakeup this week. Check out the latest rankings right here…
14. Rutgers (1-7, 0-5)
Last week: 18-15 LOSS vs Northwestern
This week: OFF
Rutgers has to find a quarterback if they want to win games. Artur Sitkowski went 15-for-31 for 81 yards. The team only had 188 yards of total offense. However, their defense kept them in the game, holding Thorson to only 150 yards and a fumble. But the offensive woes proved too much for the Scarlet Knights to win.
Only ranked teams remain on the schedule for Rutgers, so it appears 1-11 is on the horizon for this Scarlet Knight squad.
Previous Ranking: 14
13. Illinois (3-4, 1-3)
Last week: 49-20 LOSS at No. 23 Wisconsin
This week: at Maryland (3:30 BTN)
The two quarterbacks for the Illini combined for 9-of-21, 90 yards and three interceptions. That won’t get it down against any team, especially against a top-25 team like Wisconsin. The positive for Illinois was the running game, rushing for 210 yards and two scores. Reggie Corbin ran nine times for 100 yards and a touchdown.
A few weeks ago, I thought Illinois was improving, and they still may be. If they could win one or two more, that would be a success for Lovie Smith. It’s been a long rebuilding process, but if it keeps taking this long, Illini fans may lose patience with Smith and company in Champaign.
Previous Ranking: 13
12. Minnesota (3-4, 0-4)
Last week: 53-28 LOSS at Nebraska
This week: FRIDAY vs Indiana (8:00 FS1)
We wondered who would be the first team to lose to Nebraska. We now have our answer; the Minnesota Golden Gophers. P.J. Fleck turned to backup quarterback Tanner Morgan, who led them on three touchdown drives in the second half. However, the defense wasn’t anywhere near good enough, allowing 383 rushing yards and 276 passing yards. That’s 659 yards of total offense.
Now Minnesota has a quarterback controversy on their hands. That, plus a short week, will make things interesting in Minneapolis this week.
Previous Ranking: 11
11. Nebraska (1-6, 1-4)
Last week: 53-28 WIN vs Minnesota
This week: vs Bethune-Cookman (12:00)
First off, congratulations to Scott Frost on his first win as a Nebraska head coach. His team picked up right where they left off last week (albeit they lost), with Adrian Martinez going 25-for-29 for 276 yards and three touchdowns. The Huskers had three backs rush for 100+ yards.
It hasn’t been a great year for Nebraska, but I have seen this team improve each week. They’re getting better and better, and there is some promise in Lincoln that was on full display this past week. There’s a lot to be excited about for Husker fans.
Previous Ranking: 12
10. Indiana (4-4, 1-4)
Last week: 33-28 LOSS vs No. 18 Penn State
This week: FRIDAY at Minnesota (8:00 FS1)
Another game against a ranked team, another close, heartbreaking loss for the Hoosiers. It looked like something was in the air when Michael Penix Jr. came in for IU. While he was only 9-for-19, he orchestrated a couple solid drives for the Hoosiers. However, he was hurt early in the third quarter on a quarterback scramble and is now out for potentially the rest of the season.
The Hoosiers turned the ball over three times, plus the turnover on downs in the red zone.
In more positive news, Stevie Scott had his first good game in a while, running 26 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Peyton Ramsey finished 26-for-36 for 236 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Now the Hoosiers head to Minneapolis for a must-win game against Minnesota.
Previous Ranking: 10
9. Maryland (4-3, 2-2)
Last week: 23-0 LOSS at No. 19 Iowa
This week: vs Illinois (3:30 BTN)
47 passing yards. That’s the most important stat of the game. That plus only 68 rushing yards is why Maryland was nowhere near contending with the Hawkeyes. I don’t see how you can possibly believe you can contend with Big Ten teams with 47 passing yards. Even last week in their blowout win against Rutgers, Maryland had less than 100 passing yards.
Maryland has been solid at home, but atrocious on the road. They’ll be back at home this next week to take on Illinois. I would expect Maryland to move within one game of bowl eligibility on Saturday.
Previous Ranking: 7
8. Northwestern (4-3, 4-1)
Last week: 18-15 WIN at Rutgers
This week: vs No. 20 Wisconsin (12:00)
Northwestern may have not played well, but they were able to find something in the ground game for the first time since Jeremy Larkin’s retirement. Freshman Isaiah Bowser ran 24 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns. On a day where Clayton Thorson struggled, they needed that from Bowser.
Northwestern is in the thick of things in the Big Ten West. The Cats, along with Purdue, Wisconsin and Iowa, all have one loss in conference play. I’m very intrigued with what will happen in the West.
Previous Ranking: 8
7. Michigan State (4-3, 2-2)
Last week: 21-7 LOSS vs No. 6 Michigan
This week: vs Purdue (12:00 ESPN)
This was a big game, and Michigan State laid an egg. Brian Lewerke, while playing through injury, really struggled. He went 5-for-25 for 66 yards. The running game wasn’t good either. L.J. Scott was the leading rusher, with 10 carries for 25 yards. The Spartans had only 94 yards of total offense.
The season is officially a wash for the Spartans. After the win in Happy Valley, there was some life in East Lansing. However, after this loss and the multitude of injuries surrounding the team, it’s time to pack it up and expect a Pinstripe bowl type of season for Sparty.
Previous Ranking: 4
6. Purdue (4-3, 3-1)
Last week: 49-20 WIN vs No. 2 Ohio State
This week: at Michigan State (12:00 ESPN)
Wow. Just wow. What a performance. David Blough threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns. D.J. Knox ran 16 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns. Rondale Moore had 194 yards from scrimmage. You pick whatever stat you thought was the best from this game, but I’m still in disbelief from this result.
All of the sudden, Purdue could be viewed as the favorite in the West. Both Wisconsin and Iowa have to come to Purdue before the season is over. Watch out for the Boilers, who are now on everyone’s radar after that thumping of Ohio State.
Previous Ranking: 9
5. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1)
Last week: 49-20 WIN vs Illinois
This week: at Northwestern (12:00)
With how things have gone the past few weeks, I don’t think Wisconsin should be the favorite in the West. I think they’re almost third or even fourth on my list of Big Ten West contenders. Hornibrook doesn’t impress me, throwing a pair of interceptions this past week. While the rushing attack is spectacular, they’re going to need to pass the ball to win games.
This week is the biggest test to date for Wisconsin. Yes, they won at Iowa, but they have to win at Northwestern now. With so many teams in contention, any loss is a big one.
Previous Ranking: 5
4. Penn State (5-2, 2-2)
Last week: 33-28 WIN at Indiana
This week: vs No. 18 Iowa (3:30 ESPN)
I don’t think Penn State is as good as we thought. They had lost two straight and found themselves on the wrong end of the score in the second half in Bloomington. While they were able to pull out the win, nothing about that performance was convincing.
McSorley threw for 220 yards and an interception. He was also their leading rusher, running for 107 yards and two touchdowns. However, their rush defense was less than stellar, and while they had some great kick returns, they muffed several punt returns and were fortunate to recover them.
Penn State will most likely need to win out to have a chance at a New Year’s Six bowl, and that is unlikely with their remaining schedule.
Previous Ranking: 3
3. Iowa (6-1, 3-1)
Last week: 23-0 WIN vs Maryland
This week: at No. 17 Penn State (3:30 ESPN)
Nate Stanley went 11-for-22 for 86 yards, a touchdown and an interception. So why would I move Iowa up to No. 3 in the Big Ten?
They found a way to win big over a solid Maryland team without a heavy passing attack. They kept the ball on the ground, running for 224 yards. They held Maryland in check, only allowing 115 total yards. I truly believe that Iowa should be the favorite in the West and that they are a top-three team in the conference, albeit a struggling conference.
Previous Ranking: 6
2. Ohio State (7-1, 4-1)
Last week: 49-20 LOSS at Purdue
This week: OFF
Don’t look at Haskin’s stats. Yeah, he threw for 470 yards, but he threw 73 times. 73 times! The ground game produced nothing, the defense couldn’t stop Purdue, and it never felt like Ohio State was in this game.
What an absolutely embarrassing performance. Not to take anything away from Purdue, they played great, but it never felt like Ohio State was there. They’re not out of Big Ten championship contention or playoff contention, but now they have to win out. And with Michigan looking really good, that season finale could be a lot of fun.
Previous Ranking: 1
1. Michigan (7-1, 5-0)
Last week: 21-7 WIN at No. 24 Michigan State
This week: OFF
Welcome to the top Michigan. It was sloppy, but it’s still a big win for the Wolverines. In a season where top-10 teams are being upset left and right, any win, especially on the road, is a big win. Shea Patterson threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns, while Karan Higdon ran for 144 yards. The defense was phenomenal (see Michigan State section), with four sacks and seven tackles for loss.
Now, with a bye week, Michigan starts to focus on a Big Ten championship. The Wolverines still have Penn State and a trip to Columbus on the schedule. Win and you’re in for Michigan.
Previous Ranking: 2