Week 7 featured a few close games and the biggest stunner of the Big Ten season — Purdue knocked off Iowa in Kinnick Stadium to upend the Hawkeyes’ national title hopes. Elsewhere, Wisconsin and Michigan State struggled while Minnesota and Northwestern pulled off surprise victories. Take a look below to see how far Iowa has fallen in our weekly power rankings.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes, 5-1 (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Despite being on a bye this past week, it feels right to have the Buckeyes back at one given how they’ve been on a roll since conference play started. They still have a path to the College Football Playoff if they win out and win the conference, an outcome I believe will come to fruition.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions, 5-1 (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 3
Many people disagreed with my placement of Penn State last week at third in the conference. However, that was under the assumption that Sean Clifford is healthy. With Clifford, I would absolutely take the Nittany Lions over Michigan and Michigan State at a neutral site at this time. Without him, not so much. In the absence of an injury update and with Illinois up next, I feel it’s appropriate to move Penn State up to second this week.
3. Michigan Wolverines, 6-0 (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 4
Michigan was on bye this week but moved up one spot thanks to Iowa’s loss. The run on Big Ten East teams continues as the division continues to be the most powerful in college football. Next up is a tilt with Northwestern followed by the showdown we’ve all been waiting for, Michigan State.
4. Michigan State Spartans, 7-0 (4-0)
Previous Ranking: 5
The Spartans struggled this week in a classic trap game against Indiana, but managed to survive. Payton Thorne has been trending downwards lately, but will hope to use the bye week to get right prior to facing Michigan. Kenneth Walker III only managed 3.7 yards per carry on 23 carries. Despite the rough outing, this is still a potent offense.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes, 6-1 (3-1)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last week I wrote the sentence “if I’m an Iowa fan, I’m starting to look at flights to Indianapolis in early December right about now.” I’ll admit that aged very poorly. The Hawkeyes stunned the nation by faltering at home to Purdue, 24-7. The offense looked anemic and the defense wasn’t much better. Iowa can still reach the Big Ten title, but any hopes of reaching the CFP appear to be gone. I highly doubt the selection committee would take a 12-1 Iowa team with a loss to Purdue over an undefeated Cincinnati or Oklahoma, should it shake out that way.
6. Maryland Terrapins, 4-2 (1-2)
Previous Ranking: 7
There still exists a large gap between the top five in the conference and the rest of the pack. The Terrapins lead the next group in my opinion despite their struggles of late. Following harrowing losses to Iowa and Ohio State, Maryland will look to get right at Minnesota this Saturday.
7. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 3-5 (1-4)
Previous Ranking: 6
I was finally starting to believe in Nebraska just a little bit following their narrow loss to Michigan at home. Then they put up a clunker at Minnesota on Saturday as they were unable to slow down Tanner Morgan and company. The season is all but lost at this point, and bowl eligibility is next to impossible. With that being said, I’d still take the Cornhuskers against the last seven teams in our power rankings any day of the week.
8. Wisconsin Badgers, 3-3 (1-2)
Previous Ranking: 8
Wisconsin provided yet another argument for why it’s a terrible idea to schedule service academies. In the end, the Badgers run game proved slightly superior to Army’s, though it was not an inspiring effort. Wisconsin has clawed back to .500 thanks to the defense, but it will need to find a passing game if it wants to make any noise in the Big Ten West.
9. Purdue Boilermakers, 4-2 (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 12
Purdue pulled off an epic stunner by taking down the No. 2 team in the country on their home turf. David Bell hauled in 11 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown as the Boilermaker passing attack torched a vulnerable Iowa secondary. Do I believe Purdue should be ranked in the AP Poll as they are? Absolutely not. However, it’s enjoyable to see Purdue get their 10 minutes of fame.
10. Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 3-4 (0-4)
Previous Ranking: 9
The wheels have officially fallen off at Rutgers. Following a 3-0 start, the Scarlet Knights have now lost four straight, the last of which being a 21-7 defeat to Northwestern. There’s still time for Greg Schiano to resurrect the season, but changes will need to be made fast, starting during the bye week this upcoming week.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers, 4-2 (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 11
Minnesota surprised me by beating Nebraska at home on Saturday. I had given up a bit on the Golden Gophers. Before we get ahead of ourselves ponder Minnesota’s legitimacy in the Big Ten West, let’s remember it lost to Bowling Green this season. This team is a feast-or-famine type team that you don’t know what to expect from week in and week out.
12. Indiana Hoosiers, 2-4 (0-3)
Previous Ranking: 10
The Hoosiers hung around with Michigan State on Saturday before finally falling, 20-15. It’s amazing how far expectations have fallen for Indiana. Prior to the season, I would have marked a matchup against the Spartans as an easy W for the Hoosiers. But alas, it was not meant to be. Next up is a trip to Columbus which will likely not go well for Indiana.
13. Northwestern Wildcats, 3-3 (1-2)
Previous Ranking: 13
Following a horrendous loss to Nebraska, Northwestern bounced back and pulled off a surprise win over Rutgers, 21-7. Ryan Hilinski looked good for the first time this season on Saturday against one of the better defenses in the conference. Next up is a trip to Ann Arbor. Can the Wildcats put up a fight?
14. Illinois Fighting Illini, 2-5 (1-3)
Previous Ranking: 14
Illinois was on bye this past week as well. They deserve to remain on the bottom of the power rankings solely based on Bret Bielema’s comments on Monday. Here is what he said about the offensive line:
I don’t believe we have a player in the two-deep that they’ve recruited here over the last three years that is really significantly doing anything for us in the playing department. That’s a major concern.
Yikes. Best of luck getting any recruits to want to come play for you.