The Big Ten West is a madhouse. Northwestern has control and two of the tiebreakers, but Iowa still has to play both Northwestern and Purdue.
Meanwhile, in the East, Michigan seems to be the favorite, but there is a host of teams waiting for the Wolverines to slip up.
Indiana continues to tumble, while the Wildcats have made a big move in the last few weeks. Here’s how the Big Ten stacks up heading into week 10…
14. Rutgers (1-7, 0-5)
Last week: OFF
This week: at Wisconsin (12:00 BTN)
Rutgers was on a bye. There isn’t anything else to say about the Scarlet Knights.
Previous Ranking: 14
13. Illinois (3-5, 1-4)
Last week: 63-33 LOSS at Maryland
This week: vs Minnesota (3:30 BTN)
The Illini allowed 281 yards through the air and 431 yards through the air. That’s 712 yards of total offense allowed to the Terrapins. They also allowed 63 points. The defense was atrocious in the latest loss for Illinois.
The offense showed up. AJ Bush Jr. played a decent game at quarterback, throwing for 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Reggie Corbin ran the ball 18 times for 155 yards and a touchdown, including a 69-yard touchdown run. Wide receiver Dominic Stampley caught four balls for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
However, it doesn’t matter how good your offense is if you allow over 700 yards of offense to the other team.
Previous Ranking: 13
12. Indiana (4-5, 1-5)
Last week: 38-31 LOSS at Minnesota
This week: OFF
This was the final straw for Hoosier fans. They saw their team trail 31-9 heading into the fourth quarter. They saw their team fight back and tie the game. Then the Hoosiers gave up a huge passing play and fumbled on their last possession to lose the game. Sound familiar?
Ramsey had to throw the ball 44 times, passing for 232 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Stevie Scott ran for 96 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. However, their struggles were mainly defensively.
Minnesota had to play their backup quarterback, Taylor Morgan. He went on to throw for 302 yards and three touchdowns. Even when forcing four turnovers, the Hoosier defense wasn’t enough to get the Hoosiers a game they had to win. The Hoosiers have taken one of the biggest tumbles of any team throughout this season’s rankings.
Previous Ranking: 10
11. Minnesota (4-4, 1-4)
Last week: 38-31 WIN vs Indiana
This week: at Illinois (3:30 BTN)
This was a big win for Minnesota. Not because Indiana is a good team, but because this could possibly save P.J. Fleck and even get Minnesota into a bowl game. They still have Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin, and they need two more wins. It’s not probable, but it’s possible.
Taylor Morgan was fantastic (see Indiana section), but the balance was the key to Minnesota’s offense. Shannon Brooks ran 22 times for 154 yards and a touchdown. The Gophers racked up 482 total yards of offense in the win, and they forced three turnovers defensively.
Previous Ranking: 12
10. Nebraska (2-6, 1-4)
Last week: 45-9 WIN vs Bethune-Cookman
This week: at No. 8 Ohio State
Two wins in a row for the Cornhuskers. While it was against Bethune-Cookman, I’m sure Husker fans were happy to see the offense clicking for the second consecutive week. Both the running and passing games were great and balanced, while they forced three turnovers defensively.
While they have some positive momentum in Lincoln, they now have to travel to Ohio State this week. While this is a struggling Ohio State team, they had a bye week to figure things out, and I wouldn’t want to be Nebraska this week. A poor performance this week shouldn’t rain on the recent Nebraska parade in Lincoln.
Previous Ranking: 11
9. Maryland (5-3, 3-2)
Last week: 63-33 WIN vs Illinois
This week: vs Michigan State (12:00 ESPN2)
Maryland fans should be pretty confident when the Terrapins are playing at home. Maryland is now 4-1 at home this season, with the one loss coming in a shocking defeat to Temple. Maryland averages 50 points per game at home, while only averaging 22 points per game on the road. In their two losses on the road, they’ve been blanked by Iowa and held to 21 points at Michigan.
Like what was written in the Illinois section, Maryland ended with 712 yards of total offense. Kasim Hill threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Four running backs ran for at least 60 yards, and three different backs scored a touchdown.
The Terrapins will have a chance to become bowl eligible this week with a home matchup with Michigan State.
Previous Ranking: 9
8. Purdue (4-4, 3-2)
Last week: 23-13 LOSS at Michigan State
This week: vs No. 19 Iowa (3:30 ESPN2)
The Boilermakers finally taste defeat for the first time since week three. This was a predictable let-down game for Purdue. David Blough threw the ball 49 times. He had zero touchdowns and three interceptions. D.J. Knox was only able to get 51 yards on the ground, and one of his seven carries went for 36 yards. The Boilers only ran the ball 13 times.
Defensively, they allowed Spartans’ backup QB Rocky Lombardi to throw for 318 yards and two touchdowns in a pretty clean game for Lombardi.
Purdue still plays Wisconsin and Iowa, but with Northwestern a game ahead of them, they have a bit of an uphill climb to get back into the Big Ten West race. It could start this week by knocking off the Hawkeyes.
Previous Ranking: 6
T6. Michigan State (5-3, 3-2)
Last week: 23-13 WIN vs Purdue
This week: at Maryland (12:00 ESPN2)
This T6 group is tied because both teams are riding backup quarterbacks at the moment. Lombardi was the better of the two, leading his team to a win and playing a mistake free game, with zero interceptions and two touchdowns.
Michigan State has been playing injured all season. They’ve been one of the unluckiest teams with injuries. The QB position is rotating, the offensive line is decimated, their best WR is out, and the list goes on. However, they have still won a couple big games and can still salvage a decent season with a few more wins down the stretch.
Previous Ranking: 7
T6. Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2)
Last week: 31-17 LOSS at Northwestern
This week: vs Rutgers (12:00 BTN)
Wisconsin dropped, but not as much as they would have if Hornibrook was playing. He hasn’t been great, but it’s still tough to win on the road without your starting quarterback. Backup Jack Coan went 20-for-31 for 158 yards and a touchdown. Jonathan Taylor was the most disappointing, rushing for only 46 yards on one carry.
This loss hurts Wisconsin, but they still have a tiebreaker over Iowa and they still get to play Purdue. It will be tough, but they have a chance to still win a battered and broken West division.
Previous Ranking: 5
5. Northwestern (5-3, 5-1)
Last week: 31-17 WIN vs No. 20 Wisconsin
This week: vs No. 3 Notre Dame (7:15 ESPN)
Northwestern has taken almost total control over the West. They now have the tiebreaker over both Purdue and Wisconsin. They will have to go to Iowa but having two of the three tiebreakers is going to help the Cats.
This is the first time they’ve started 5-1 in the Big Ten since their last Rose Bowl trip in the 1995-96 season. Now they get a bit of a “break” from Big Ten play. I make that in quotes because they have to play Notre Dame this week. They are one of the nation’s best chances at knocking off Notre Dame, with some weak opponents remaining on Notre Dame’s schedule. However, right after that game the Cats will have to travel to Iowa. Buckle up Northwestern fans.
Previous Ranking: 8
4. Iowa (6-2, 3-2)
Last week: 30-24 LOSS vs No. 17 Penn State
This week: at Purdue (3:30 ESPN2)
Costly mistakes by Nate Stanley down the stretch cost Iowa the game and their top position in the Big Ten West. Stanley finished 18-for-49 (36.7 percent), with 205 yards and two interceptions. Their two touchdowns were a pick-six and a fake field goal.
The upside for Iowa is that they still get to play both Purdue and Northwestern in their last few weeks. They will have an opportunity to still get to Indianapolis and even further to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. But they will need to win out to do this, and Stanley has to play better in order for that to happen.
Previous Ranking: 3
3. Penn State (6-2, 3-2)
Last week: 30-24 WIN vs No. 18 Iowa
This week: at No. 5 Michigan (3:45 ESPN)
The Big Ten East race is interesting. Michigan is first, but they still have to play Penn State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes are in second, but they still have to play at Michigan State and Michigan. With three teams sitting there with two losses, trying to shake things up, the Big Ten East could get very interesting down the stretch.
This was a big win for Penn State. They couldn’t afford to lose three straight home games, and their defense stepped up big in the win. McSorley was shaken up but returned to the game and scored a 51 yard rushing touchdown that helped seal the win for Penn State. Now the attention turns to his injury and if he will be good to go at the Big House Saturday afternoon.
Previous Ranking: 4
2. Ohio State (7-1, 4-1)
Last week: OFF
This week: vs Nebraska (12:00 FOX)
This was a big off week for Ohio State. They hadn’t looked good for several weeks and the Purdue game was the final sign of that. However, they get the bye week and don’t have any ranked teams on their schedule until they host Michigan. I’m sure Urban Meyer was able to rally the troops this week during the bye and I would be scared if I was a Nebraska fan.
Previous Ranking: 2
1. Michigan (7-1, 5-0)
Last week: 21-7 WIN at No. 24 Michigan State
This week: OFF
There is surely no shoe-in for Indianapolis from either division in the Big Ten. However, Michigan has certainly assumed the role of the favorite in the Big Ten. Fortunately for them, they have another big game at home in the Big House. With a week to recover and a possibly banged-up Trace McSorley, Michigan should be favored again this week and are starting to look toward a Michigan/Ohio State game for the East division championship.
Previous Ranking: 1