Week 10 B1G power rankings: Stock continues to rise in Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin
What a weekend.
The Halloween weekend was the one circled on the calendar in B1G country for months because of the intrigue of the matchups across the board. We saw rivalry games between Michigan and Michigan State and Iowa and Wisconsin, as well as a premier matchup featuring Penn State and Ohio State.
It lived up to the hype.
Michigan-Michigan State provided the type of entertainment you had to see to believe. Despite recent struggles, Penn State took Ohio State down to the wire. Rutgers-Illinois, Indiana-Maryland and Purdue-Nebraska were all decided by one possession, as well.
After a fun weekend in the B1G, we’ve got to evaluate where each team stands as we head into November. A look at the Week 10 power rankings:
14. Indiana Hoosiers (2-6, 0-5)
Last week: at Maryland, 38-35 L
Indiana found some form of life on the offensive side thanks to 3rd string quarterback Donaven MCulley, running back Stephen Carr and tight end Peyton Hendershot. The problem is that it still wasn’t enough to get a B1G win. Considering how poorly the Hoosiers played on the defensive side, despite finally getting some help offensively, it’s hard to imagine this team winning more than 1 more game. Right now, IU just looks like a bad football team.
Up next: at #6 Michigan
13. Northwestern Wildcats (3-5, 1-4)
Last week: vs. Minnesota, 41-14 L
Once again, Northwestern’s run defense was absolutely steamrolled, this time by Minnesota. This week marked the third time in 5 games the Wildcats have surrendered 300 yards or more on the ground in a loss. Plus, they have nowhere near the amount offensive firepower necessary to compete in a shootout with other teams in the B1G. This is another team with a limited number of potential wins left on the schedule.
Up next: vs. #9 Iowa
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-6, 1-5)
Last week: vs. Purdue, 28-23 L
Turnovers hurt Nebraska at home again this weekend, this time losing the ball 4 times in defeat. Though the Huskers played well in the first half, they weren’t effective in many regards in the second half and let another opportunity slip through their fingertips. A team that looked set for a postseason berth when the 2021 season kicked off now needs a miracle. With 6 losses, Nebraska would have to win each of its final 3 games — vs. Ohio State, at Wisconsin and vs. Iowa — in order to get to a bowl game. The odds of that happening are … not great.
Up next: vs. #5 Ohio State
11. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-6, 2-4)
Last week: vs. Rutgers, 20-14 L
A pretty disappointing outing after a big win in State College last weekend. Illinois continues to struggle with consistency on a week-to-week basis. After shutting down the Nittany Lions a week ago, the Illini gave up 230 yards on the ground to Rutgers, as well as surrendered 23 1st downs. Brandon Peters played well in the loss, but it was one of the few bright spots on Saturday. It should be interesting to see what Illinois team takes the field next week.
Up next: at Minnesota
10. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-4, 1-4)
Last week: at Illinois, 20-14 W
Did the week off spark a little life for the Scarlet Knights? The road trip to Champaign wasn’t the best performance, but it was enough to secure a B1G win, Rutgers’ first of the season. With 4 games remaining on the docket, the Knights need to go 2-2 in order to get to a bowl game. If Rutgers can run the ball as well as it did on Saturday with Isaih Pacheco and Kyle Monangai, it will have a chance. The defense continues to play well enough to win, too.
Up next: vs. Wisconsin
9. Maryland Terrapins (5-3, 2-3)
Last week: vs. Indiana, 38-35 W
Maryland found its offense. After being held to less than 20 points in each of its first 4 B1G contests, the Terrapins were able to rack up 38 points in a 3-point victory, thanks to a 400-yard performance from Taulia Tagovailoa. Mike Locksley’s squad is still very dependent on the pass and don’t have much of a rushing attack. That’s going to be a problem with Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan still on the schedule, but perhaps Tagovailoa getting back into a rhythm will give the Terps some momentum for the final month of the season.
Up next: vs. #20 Penn State
8. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2)
Last week: at Wisconsin, 27-7 L
Too harsh? Maybe. But Iowa’s offense has scored just two touchdowns in games against Purdue and Wisconsin the past two weeks, showing very little signs of life. Plus, the defense appears to be hurting without Riley Moss in the secondary. Iowa is still a good team, but the way it has played through the past two weeks, it’s hard to put them much higher on the list, despite the 6-2 record. The Hawkeyes might be catching a lowly Northwestern team at just the right time after back-to-back losses.
Up next: at Northwestern
7. Purdue Boilermakers (5-3, 3-2)
Last week: at Nebraska, 28-23 W
After laying an egg a week ago against Wisconsin, Purdue bounced back on the road. It was the defense that stepped up again, forcing 4 Nebraska turnovers. Aidan O’Connell also played really well, throwing for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns without any picks, a rarity this season. The question for Purdue? Can it bottle some of that consistency from Lincoln and carry it over for the final 4 games of the year? The Boilermakers will face major tests ahead with games against B1G East powers Michigan State and Ohio State looming.
Up next: vs. #8 Michigan State
6. Wisconsin Badgers (5-3, 3-2)
Last week: vs. #9 Iowa, 27-7 W
There’s no doubt Wisconsin has found its groove. The run defense stifled Iowa, holding the Hawkeyes to just 24 yards on the ground and 9 1st downs for the contest. The combination of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi seems to be coming along nicely, and at the perfect time for the Badgers to make a run at the B1G West title. Wisconsin looked like it was completely out of the division race a few weeks ago. after ripping off 4 straight wins, Paul Chryst’s team controls its own destiny and is playing at a really high level.
Up next: at Rutgers
5. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-3)
Last week: at #5 Ohio State, 33-24 L
It’s hard to get a beat on Penn State right now. The Nittany Lions still have an incredibly talented roster, but 3 straight losses makes you wonder where this team sits from a mental standpoint. After a horrendous loss to Illinois, Penn State bounced back and took Ohio State down to the wire, but it still wasn’t enough to put a tally in the win column. There’s no question this team is a lot better with a healthy Sean Clifford, but how will it respond with the B1G title completely out of the picture?
Up next: at Maryland
4. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2, 4-1)
Last week: at Northwestern, 41-14 W
The Gophers just keep winning. It’s time to stop thinking about that loss to Bowling Green, because it’s had no real effect on how P.J. Fleck’s team has played during this 4-game winning streak. That’s without top two running backs Mo Ibrahim and Trey Potts, by the way. Minnesota’s schedule is about to get much more difficult over the final month. We’re going to find out just how good the Gophers are. So far, though, they’ve been able to run the football effectively and shut down the opponents’ rushing attack. Those are two huge keys to staying in the B1G West race.
Up next: vs. Illinois
3. Michigan Wolverines (7-1, 4-1)
Last week: at #8 Michigan State, 37-33 L
Let’s get this out of the way — Michigan proved it’s playing at a Top 10 level, even in a loss. Having said that, the Wolverines had several opportunities to put Michigan State away in East Lansing and failed to do it. And that was with Cade McNamara throwing for nearly 400 yards and still getting nearly 150 on the ground. Jim Harbaugh is going to catch a ton of heat for dropping another rivalry game, but he’s still got a pretty good football team in Ann Arbor. It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan responds after its first loss.
Up next: vs. Indiana
2. Michigan State Spartans (8-0, 5-0)
Last week: vs. #6 Michigan, 37-33 W
Just win, baby. That seems to be the theme for Mel Tucker’s team. All season long, Michigan State has found ways to win games. The Spartans have done it with big plays on offense. They’ve needed special teams heroics at times. In other games, MSU has relied heavily on the defense. Tucker’s team is a well-rounded squad that has continually overcome adversity and come out on the right side of the scoreboard. It helps when you have a Heisman Trophy candidate like Kenneth Walker III in the backfield rushing for nearly 200 yards and 5 touchdowns in one of the biggest games of the year, too.
Up next: at Purdue
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, 5-0)
Last week: vs. #20 Penn State, 33-24 W
We wondered how Ohio State would respond when it got smacked in the mouth and we found out. It was ugly, but the Buckeyes found a way to overcome a tough defensive opponent and make just enough plays on both sides to take down Penn State. When they needed a big play, CJ Stroud or TreVeyon Henderson dialed something up. Late in the game, it was the defense that came up with some big stops to preserve a lead. Can the Buckeyes continue to do that against much better competition in the final 4-game stretch? We’ll find out pretty soon.
Up next: at Nebraska