Here is 1 takeaway from each Big Ten team in Week 8.

Iowa — The Hawkeyes are the class of the West

With all due respect to Northwestern (6-1), Iowa (6-2) is the best team in the West at this moment. After whipping Wisconsin 28-7, the Hawkeyes have won 6 straight, with 5 of those by 14 points or more. By comparison, 4 of Northwestern’s 6 wins are by 10 points or less. The Hawkeyes will surely look back on that 1-point loss to Northwestern from 6 weeks ago with regret. Iowa has really made some impressive strides, especially on offense. Spencer Petras has thrown for 431 yards (and 8.1 yards per attempt), 5 TDs and no interceptions the last 2 weeks. Considering the roll Iowa is on right now, how fun would it have been to see the Hawkeyes face Ohio State next week? Or Indiana (I’m guessing the B1G will pit the Hoosiers against Purdue to make up for this week’s cancelation)? As it stands now, Iowa is probably headed to the Outback Bowl for the 3rd time in 5 years.

Northwestern — Finally, the Wildcats have a running back (or two?)

Yes, that box score is correct — 2 running backs with a total of 18 carries this season combined for 291 yards and 3 TDs on 37 carries. Cam Porter (24 carries, 142 yards) and Evan Hull (13 carries, 149 yards) were fantastic against a banged-up Illinois squad. Porter, a true freshman who was the No. 41 running back in the 2020 class, provided the spark after Drake Anderson’s early fumble. Porter is powerful at 220 pounds and has some speed, as he showed on a 31-yard run to set up Northwestern’s first TD. Given the way Northwestern has struggled to run the ball (1.7 yards per carry over their last 3 games), it was a welcome development. Porter looks like he will be the lead back for the foreseeable future.

Penn State — Those wide receiver questions from the preseason are answered

One of Penn State’s greatest preseason concerns was the depth chart at wide receiver after KJ Hamler bolted early for the NFL. Looking back now, that seems silly, as Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington are one of the best wide receiver duos in the Big Ten, arguably behind only Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Dotson figured to make a leap forward this season, and after his 4th 100-yard receiving game in the win over Michigan State, he certainly has done so. Just a true freshman, Washington (4 catches, 95 yards, 2 TDs) has shown he belongs with 6 receiving TDs and 5 games with 70 or more yards. It would be a whole lot of fun to see Dotson, Washington and QB Sean Clifford run this back next year.

Minnesota — The Golden Gophers’ offensive line is as good as it gets in run blocking

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Minnesota’s offensive line gets after it in the run game. I wasn’t sure how the Golden Gophers would fare without John Michael Schmitz, who is PFF’s No. 5 center. But even against a Nebraska defense that had been much improved against the run, averaging just over 4 yards per carry, Minnesota plowed its way to 206 yards on 40 attempts. Mohamed Ibrahim, who entered the day fifth in the country at 163.4 rushing yards per game, was actually held to 108 on 20 attempts. Minnesota’s ground game is more than numbers, though — it’s how they wear defenses down and don’t let them off the field. Nebraska pulled within a TD on a field goal with 5:15 left, but it never got the ball back as Minnesota got 4 first downs—3 of which were runs by Ibrahim.

Rutgers — Bo Melton is one of B1G’s breakout stars

Bo Melton had all of 2 TDs in his first 3 seasons, but he has broken out in a big way in 2020. After 2 more TDs in the win over Maryland, he has 8 in 8 games. Both of his scores Saturday were of the rushing variety, though the latter was just a sideways pass that technically counts as a run. Melton has 3 multi-TD games this season.

Wisconsin — Not enough weapons right now

The Badgers played without starting running back Jalen Berger and starting wideouts Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis. And the result was predictable against a strong Iowa defense. The Badgers managed just 225 total yards, turned it over twice and were just 4-of-18 on 3rd downs. Its only touchdown drive (breaking a streak of 33 straight drives without one!) came courtesy of a muffed punt. The Badgers have 20 points in the last 3 weeks. Will Paul Chryst go to Jack Coan? Wisconsin (2-3) doesn’t have anyone that scares opposing defenses besides tight end Jake Ferguson, and Iowa limited him to 14 yards on 3 catches.

Nebraska — The offense needs fixing

Minnesota has run out one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten week after week, allowing under 30 points just once this season. And yet Nebraska managed just 308 total yards against a team that hadn’t played in 3 over weeks and was missing numerous players. The inability to develop a running back really hurt on this day, as Minnesota allows an FBS-worst 6.8 yards per carry. And yet Dedrick Mills managed just 50 yards on 12 attempts. Wan’Dale Robinson, save for a 47-yard run, didn’t add much on his other 7 attempts. Meanwhile, Adrian Martinez threw 27 passes, averaging an egregious 4.1 yards per attempt.

Michigan State — In 2021, the Spartans need a run game

The Spartans, at times, have an explosive passing attack. That was the case in the loss to Penn State, with Payton Thorne looking good in his first career start with 325 passing yards. But Michigan State continues to struggle in the run game. The Spartans entered Saturday with a B1G worst 2.8 yards per carry, and that number will go down after 64 yards on 30 attempts (though 3 sacks played into those low totals). Elijah Collins has fallen out of the running back rotation after a decent freshman season, and Connor Heyward has only 21 yards on 13 carries over the last 2 weeks. Freshman Jordon Simmons had his best game of his career with 72 yards on 14 carries, but the running back of the future is probably 2021 prospect Audric Estime, a 4-star recruit who is the No. 12 running back in the class.

Illinois — Lovie Smith may not be long for this job

For the second straight week, Illinois got an early lead and completely fell apart. For the second straight week, Illinois had to bench starting QB Brandon Peters. And for the fourth time this season, Illinois lost by 14 points or more. Lovie Smith, the 5th-year head coach, will finish under .500 for the 5th consecutive season, and with his buyout at just $2.6 million, the Illini may look for a change in leadership over the next few weeks. Illinois has had a very tough year with COVID issues, and it was missing 6 (!!!) starters on defense this week. But every team has dealt with depleted depth charts at one point or another.

Maryland — Missed opportunity for Lance LeGendre

I liked Lance LeGendre on the Netflix documentary QB1: Beyond the Lights, so I have to admit, I was rooting for him on Saturday when he got the start in place of the injured Taulia Tagovailoa. Unfortunately, he did not take advantage of the opportunity, throwing 2 interceptions on 10 pass attempts before getting pulled in the loss to Rutgers. Eric Najarian, who hadn’t attempted a pass before Saturday, threw for 224 yards and 2 TDs in leading a Maryland comeback that fell short in OT.