14. Rutgers (1-3)
Last Week: 48-7 LOSS vs. Maryland
This Week: at Indiana (Noon, BTN)
Still not good at the whole football thing? Yup. Next.
13. Illinois (2-3)
Last Week: 40-17 LOSS at Minnesota
This Week: vs. Michigan (Noon, ABC)
Illinois had been rather impressive up to this point in the season. All they really had to do was compete with Minnesota on the road and I would’ve moved them up in the power rankings. However, a big loss to the Gophers keeps the Illini where they are supposed to be, at 13th place.
12. Purdue (1-4)
Last Week: 35-7 LOSS at Penn State
This Week: vs. Maryland (Noon, BTN)
I think alarm bells are starting to ring in West Lafayette. I know Purdue has had a tough stretch with ongoing injuries and naturally tough scheduling but eventually, the excuses pile up. Purdue desperately needs a win against Maryland this weekend to get the doubters back on their side.
11. Northwestern (1-4)
Last Week: 13-10 LOSS at Nebraska
This Week: BYE
Northwestern is not the same team they were last year. They are much worse. Northwestern’s schedule doesn’t get much easier. A bye week this week is immediately followed by an Ohio State matchup immediately followed by Iowa. Safe to say this season is not going to be good for the Wildcats.
10. Maryland (3-2)
Last Week: 48-7 WIN at Rutgers
This Week: at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
Maryland had the solid bounce-back win they needed after getting routed by Penn State. However, there is still work to be done. Maryland’s biggest advantage is its ease of scheduling. If they can find a way to win the winnable games late, the Terrapins may be in a bowl game.
9. Minnesota (5-0)
Last Week: 40-17 WIN vs. Illinois
This Week: vs. Nebraska (7:30 PM, FS1)
Minnesota is in the top 25 this week, yes, but let’s not get too crazy here. They beat Illinois, you know, the team that is one ranking above Rutgers? Frankly, the Gophers have had, by far, the easiest schedule in Big Ten play. This week against Nebraska should be very telling of how good the Gophers really are.
8. Indiana (3-2)
Last Week: BYE
This Week: vs. Rutgers (Noon, BTN)
This is a huge one for Indiana. If the Hoosiers can find a way to win this one by a big margin, Indiana could have quite a momentum boost for the upcoming 3 weeks that carry all winnable games with Maryland, Northwestern and Nebraska. I’m not saying that Indiana can go undefeated over the next four weeks, but for the first time in a long time it isn’t out of the question.
7. Nebraska (4-2)
Last Week: 13-10 WIN vs. Northwestern
This Week: at Minnesota (7:30, FS1)
Nebraska really needed a win over Northwestern to gain some trust back in the Big Ten and they did just that against Northwestern’s stagnant defense. A huge test this week against Minnesota should really tell us what we need to know about Nebraska.
6. Michigan State (4-2)
Last Week: 34-10 LOSS at Ohio State
This Week: at Wisconsin (3:30, BTN)
I was actually pretty impressed with Sparty’s performance at Ohio State. Yes, they still lost but they put up a better fight than most of the Buckeyes opponents so far this season. I still think this Michigan State team is solid in a lot of areas and could compete with anyone in this conference. This week may be the Spartans biggest challenge yet. If they can only lost to Wisconsin by a small margin, they may move up despite the loss.
5. Iowa (4-0)
Last Week: 10-3 LOSS at Michigan
This Week: vs. Penn State (7:30, ABC)
This is a huge week for Iowa. Yes, they lost to a struggling Wolverine team last week. But if they can find a way to upset Penn State at home this week, the Hawkeyes may be in for a big-time jump in the rankings. However, on the other side, if they get blown out, we may have believed too much of the hype on the Hawkeyes.
4. Michigan (4-1)
Last Week: 10-3 WIN vs. Iowa
This Week: at Illinois (Noon, ABC)
Wow. Michigan actually beat a ranked team. That is big time. But let’s not get carried away here. In order for Michigan to be where they want to be (college football playoff contention) they would need to finish undefeated and beat Ohio State. There is still work to be done, but Michigan deserves to move up one spot in this week’s power rankings.
3. Penn State (5-0)
Last Week: 35-7 WIN vs. Purdue
This Week: at Iowa (7:30, ABC)
Penn State is arguably the most interesting team in the Big Ten. Their 5-0 record has no wins against any impossible teams, but that could change this week with their matchup against Iowa. A big win against the Hawkeyes could push Penn State over the top and put them in a 3-way race for the Big Ten with Wisconsin and Ohio State.
2. Wisconsin (5-0)
Last Week: 48-0 WIN vs. Kent State
This Week: vs. Michigan State (3:30, BTN)
Wisconsin has been the most dominant team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. While the Buckeyes outrank the Badgers in pure recruits and all-around talent, Wisconsin plays with a high football IQ. Wisconsin should beat up on Sparty this weekend setting up the biggest matchup of the year between Wisconsin and Ohio State.
1. Ohio State (5-0)
Last Week: 34-10 WIN vs. Michigan State
This Week: BYE
As if they really need a bye week: The Buckeyes are playing truly dominant football. Ohio State has dominated every opponent this season and the foot is not coming off the gas anytime soon. After the bye week, the Buckeyes have a road trip against Northwestern before returning home to face off against Wisconsin in what could be the biggest game of the Big Ten conference slate.