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Big Ten Football Week 7 Power Rankings: Michigan closing gap at the top

Here is how the conference looks after seven weeks!

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Big Ten has taken shape and the teams at the top are proving to be some of the best in the nation.

Ohio State continues to be a National Championship contender but is Michigan closing the gap? Here is how the conference looks after seven weeks of action.

14. Northwestern (1-5, 1-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 13

Week 7: BYE

Northwestern continues to prove that Week 0’s victory was a fluke. There might not be another one on the schedule for the Wildcats. The bye week could have been the last enjoyable one for fans of Northwestern. After a couple strong years, Northwestern is back in the basement.

Week 8: 10/22 at Maryland

13. Rutgers (3-3, 0-3 Big Ten)

Previously: 12

Week 7: BYE

Rutgers absolutely shattered hopes during its loss to Nebraska. The quarterback play is inept and offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson was the scapegoat. The Scarlet Knights will have another chance to win a Big Ten game against Indiana but nothing is guaranteed. If Rutgers does not defeat the Hoosiers, it could be a winless conference slate.

Week 8: 10/22 vs. Indiana

12. Indiana (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten)

Previously: 13

Week 7: L, 38-33 vs. Maryland

Indiana will enter Piscataway with the same mindset as Rutgers — that it’s a winnable game. There could be revenge on their mind after Rutgers dismantled the Hoosiers last season. Just looking at recent performances, Indiana might hold an edge, especially after competing with Maryland.

Week 8: 10/22 at Rutgers

11. Nebraska (3-4, 2-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 14

Week 7: L, 43-37 at Purdue

Nebraska will enter its bye week with two conference victories. The program itself is looking toward the offseason with a massive coaching search on the horizon. For now, the Huskers will look to get through some more games and potentially get another win or so.

Week 8: BYE

10. Wisconsin (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten)

Previously: 10

Week 7: L, 34-28 at Michigan State (2OT)

Wisconsin is as low as it has been in years. Paul Chryst is out of the building after multiple nine-win seasons. That is not a number that the Badgers will reach this season. Braelon Allen is one of the top running backs in the conference but there is not much else for Wisconsin to be excited about. Like the Huskers, Wisconsin will need to hire the right candidate as head coach.

Week 8: 10/22 vs. Purdue

9. Iowa (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 8

Week 7: BYE

As good as the defense is (which should get exposed a bit by Ohio State), it does not help Iowa when the offense is what it is. At some point, it is just time to admit that the team is bad and move on. We have reached that point.

Week 8: 10/22 at Ohio State

8. Michigan State (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten)

Previously: 9

Week 7: W, 34-28 vs. Wisconsin (2OT)

Michigan State earned a much-needed win at home against Wisconsin. It was a back-and-forth affair that the Spartans almost gave away but a win is a win. Mel Tucker needed to see one on the scoreboard. With the bye week coming up, who knows what Michigan State will work on.

Week 8: BYE

7. Minnesota (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 7

Week 7: L, 26-14 at Illinois

The allure of Minnesota and its returning talent has quickly gone away in Big Ten play. The Gophers are now 1-2 after losing to a much-improved Illinois team. Minnesota has plenty of talent to turn it around, and will be able to make a bowl game, but the inconsistency on both sides of the ball has to be concerning.

Week 8: 10/22 at Penn State

6. Maryland (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten)

Previously: 4

Week 7: W, 38-33 at Indiana

After a tough loss to Purdue, Maryland rebounded with a close call against Indiana. The Terps remain a fringe team because of inconsistency but have a very high ceiling. When looking at the teams directly above them in the rankings, the Terps have a chance to move up with a few victories — beginning this week against Northwestern.

Week 8: 10/22 vs. Northwestern

5. Purdue (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 5

Week 7: W, 43-37 vs. Nebraska

Purdue continues to survive and advance in the Big Ten. If it weren't for a blown lead to Penn State in the first game of the season, the Boilermakers would be unbeaten in conference play. Aidan O’Connell is throwing the ball well and if this continues, Purdue will be a tough out.

Week 8: 10/22 at Wisconsin

4. No. 18 Illinois (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 6

Week 7: W, 26-14 vs. Minnesota

Chase Brown carried the ball 41 times against Minnesota. 41 carries for 180 yards. That is an insane workload. With that being said, the Illini continue to roll as Bret Bielema shows his prowess as a head coach. Illinois is heading in the right direction. Tommy DeVito is doing enough under center. If he does not turn the ball over, Illinois can win more games.

Week 8: BYE

3. No. 16 Penn State (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten)

Previously: 3

Week 7: L, 41-17 at Michigan

Penn State was dominated on the ground against Michigan but remain a top three team in the conference. The defense will have a chance to get back on track against a struggling Minnesota team at home. The Nittany Lions are still in a good position but will now have to win a game they are not supposed to.

Week 8: 10/22 vs. Minnesota

2. No. 4 Michigan (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten)

Previously: 2

Week 7: W, 41-17 vs. Penn State

Michigan rolls into its bye week after rushing for 418 yards against the Nittany Lions. Blake Corum rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, entering his name firmly in the Heisman conversation. Donovan Edwards led the team with 173 yards, highlighted by a long touchdown run. Is Michigan closing the gap at the top of the Big Ten?

Week 8: BYE

1. No. 2 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten)

Previously: 1

Week 7: BYE

As good as the Wolverines looked against Penn State, the Buckeyes remain a top two team in the nation. Ohio State is coming off a bye unbeaten with CJ Stroud at the top of the Heisman race. It will be interesting to see the adjustments Ohio State made when it takes on Michigan at the end of the season given the outcome last year. This is looking like a similar Wolverines’ team. For now, Ohio State is at the top until proven otherwise.

Week 8: 10/22 vs. Iowa