Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 9
After the biggest matchup in the Big Ten slate to date occurred last weekend between Penn State and Michigan, the top contenders have started to separate from the pretenders throughout the conference.
1. Penn State (7-0, 4-0) – The Nittany Lions finally got the premier matchup they needed to be talked about in the same sentence as Alabama. After scoring 42 points against Michigan, who had the top ranked defense in the country entering the matchup, Penn State proved they can score against anybody. Saquon Barkley reestablished himself as the Heisman favorite but will have to have another spectacular performance against Ohio State this weekend.
2. Ohio State (6-1, 4-0) – J.T. Barrett looks like the quarterback of his freshman year as the offense for the Buckeyes has found its touch once again. Penn State got its chance at a revenge game against Michigan and now Ohio State has an opportunity to find revenge against the Nittany Lions. Coming off a bye week and with College Gameday coming to town, the Buckeyes have the perfect opportunity to take down Penn State. In a matchup that could essentially work as a Big Ten East championship game, the Buckeyes have to be able to limit Saquon Barkley in order to stay in College Football Playoff contention.
3. Wisconsin (7-0,4-0) – Unless a wild upset happens, the Wisconsin Badgers should cruise to a Big Ten title game and a Big Ten West championship. While they have a chance to be undefeated, Wisconsin needs to win out because they have a terrible strength of schedule. Any regular season loss will knock them almost immediately out of the playoff picture. Using an old-school offense, the Badgers won’t blow anybody out so they can’t pass the eye test to many playoff evaluators.
4. Michigan State (6-1, 4-0) – This team is very close to passing Wisconsin in these rankings. Their offense is far from great but their defense keeps them in close games. The Spartans only loss is a strong one to Notre Dame who all of a sudden looks very dangerous. They are the final team of a brutal stretch for Penn State and could throw wrench into the Big Ten East with an upset over the Nittany Lions. The Spartans likely aren’t a playoff team but are plenty dangerous enough to pull off a home upset. Ohio State and Penn State need to be cautious around Michigan State
5. Michigan (5-2, 2-2) – After getting dominated by Penn State in the whiteout game, it is hard to see a scenario where Michigan makes a run at the playoff. The defense was disappointing against Penn State and the offense looks lost on the field. While the season could turn into a disappointment, Michigan can salvage the fact that John O’Korn had some promising moments against Penn State. He scrambled well and made some great throws. They desperately need to return to the Big House and regroup. The new goal for this team has to be looking at the Ohio State game to end the year. While most likely not playing for a spot in the Big Ten title game like last year after two Big Ten losses, the Wolverines could play spoilers for their biggest rival. If the defense can regroup and O’Korn can continue to progress this season won’t be complete wash for Jim Harbaugh.
6. Northwestern (4-3, 2-2)
7. Iowa (4-3, 1-3)
8. Maryland (3-4, 1-3)
9. Nebraska (3-4, 2-2)
10. Minnesota (4-3, 1-3)
11. Indiana (3-4, 0-4)
12. Purdue (3-4, 1-3)
13. Rutgers (3-4, 2-2)
14. Illinois (2-5, 0-4)
Brian McLaughlin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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