The Big Ten is broken no longer. Teams that were expected to be near the top are back and the bottom-tier teams are back in the basement.
Week 7 showed us that no one is safe and that Ohio State is still the class of the conference. Sure, they got tripped up by Oregon but until they get knocked off their pedestal in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes remain king.
As for the rest of the conference, they are looking up at a familiar foe and it will be interesting to see if they will get knocked off. There is a new arrival in the AP Poll with Purdue at No. 25, which makes it six ranked teams for the Big Ten. As for Rutgers, morale could not get much lower heading into the bye week.
(Editor’s Note: AP Poll rankings included after power rankings listing for each team it’s applicable for.)
1. No. 5 Ohio State (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: BYE
Next: 10/23 at Indiana
No surprise here — Ohio State is back on top. It seemed like only a matter of time before the Big Ten worked itself out and the Buckeyes were returned to their normal position. This is still the team to beat down the stretch of the season. Until someone knocks Ohio State off, it is hard to believe they will not find a way to win the Big Ten.
2. No. 6 Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: BYE
Next: 10/23 vs. Northwestern
Is Michigan really No. 6 in the nation? They have yet to lose a game but there might not be a less impressive undefeated team. By default, the Wolverines have to be second in these rankings but that is basic process of elimination. We will see what Michigan really is when they take on Ohio State later in the season.
3. No. 7 Penn State (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: BYE
Next: 10/23 vs. Illinois
Penn State had Iowa beat until Sean Clifford went down. They should still be able to beat Illinois even if Clifford is out but they cannot afford to miss him for weeks moving forward. Penn State is still very much alive in the conference with a difficult schedule and a chance to show what they really are. Until Clifford went down, it was clear that the Nittany Lions were one of the top teams in the nation.
4. No. 9 Michigan State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 20-15 at Indiana
Michigan State keeps on rolling. Despite a close call in Indiana, the Spartans are still unbeaten and into the top 10 in the AP Poll. Spartans’ fans could not have imagined that their team would be in this position heading into the bye week but here we are. It has been a great ride for Michigan State to this point.
5. No. 11 Iowa (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 24-7 vs. Purdue
There was no more disappointing performance than Iowa this week. Coming off a come-from-behind victory where they took advantage of an injury against Penn State, the Hawkeyes laid a complete egg on Saturday. Iowa was dominated from the beginning and they will head into the bye on a sour note. By rights, this should have been two-straight losses to Iowa is not heading in the right direction.
6. No. 25 Purdue (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 24-7 at Iowa
Next: 10/23 vs. Wisconsin
Purdue dominated Iowa from the start. They allowed just seven points on the road and now find themselves as a ranked team. They have another winnable matchup coming up with Wisconsin and this will be a game to tell what Purdue really is this season.
7. Minnesota (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 30-23 vs. Nebraska
Next: 10/23 vs. Maryland
Minnesota has been a question mark all season and it is fair to say that they still are. Is Minnesota good? Are they not? A loss to Bowling Green is something that sticks in the minds of college football fans. Coming off a win, the Gophers remain in the middle of the pack in the conference.
8. Nebraska (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 30-23 at Minnesota
If close calls and moral victories counted, Nebraska would be the top team in the nation. The Huskers lost another one-score contest on Saturday against Minnesota. Now, Nebraska has to continue to look for ways to win games. The bye week comes at the right time for a team that could use some rest.
9. Wisconsin (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 20-14 vs. Army
Next: 10/23 at Purdue
Wisconsin’s unimpressive run this season continued with a shaky victory over Army. The Badgers moved down a spot despite winning this past weekend. This is partially because Purdue moved up but also because Wisconsin remains a struggling offensive team with little upside. They will look to take advantage of a potential let-down spot this week against the Boilermakers.
10. Maryland (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten)
Most Recent: BYE
Next: 10/23 at Minnesota
It has been a tough go for the Terps. The bye week came at the right time as Maryland was coming off back-to-back blowout losses in the Big Ten. The schedule eases up a bit and this is where Taulia Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense will look to get back on track. This starts with taking care of the football. Maryland will have a chance to get back on track with an unpredictable Minnesota team.
11. Indiana (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 20-15 vs. Michigan State
Next: 10/23 vs. Ohio State
Indiana has been consistent in the fact that they are one of the lower-tier teams in the conference this season. They are not the top 15 team expected going in. Despite having Michael Penix Jr. back along with his main weapon in Ty Fryfogle, the Hoosiers have not been able to put it together. It is unlikely that they figure things out this week as the Buckeyes come to town.
12. Northwestern (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
Most Recent: W, 21-7 vs. Rutgers
Next: 10/23 at Michigan
Northwestern got back in the win column this weekend and climbed out of the basement of the rankings. The defense put up a Scott Fitzgerald type performance. A win over Rutgers does not bring the Wildcats back to being contenders but it keeps them from being the worst team in the Big Ten.
13. Rutgers (3-4, 0-4 Big Ten)
Most Recent: L, 21-7 at Northwestern
The honeymoon is over for the Scarlet Knights. There was some justifying after losing three straight against the best teams in the conference but nothing can be said after scoring just seven points against Northwestern. The Scarlet Knights are averaging just 11.5 points per game in Big Ten competition. There has been a big step back on offense this season as Rutgers heads into the bye week.
14. Illinois (2-5, 1-3 Big Ten)
Most Recent: BYE
Next: 10/23 at Penn State
Illinois continues to be the lesser of teams in the conference. The schedule does not get easier coming out of the bye with a matchup against Penn State. It seems to be another lost year for the Illini but there are still some winnable games on the schedule — after the Nittany Lions of course.