Week 9 B1G power rankings: There's no denying Ohio State is the league's best again
That’s why they don’t play the games on paper.
The silly saying was actually fairly appropriate for Week 8 in the B1G, with a pair of Top 25 teams taking a tumble against unranked opponents. No. 7 Penn State fell in an NCAA-record 9-overtime contest to Illinois in the noon time slot and No. 25 Purdue dropped a contest to Wisconsin later in the afternoon.
Both the Boilers and Nittany Lions were at home.
The B1G’s other two ranked teams — No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan — both cruised to easy wins. The Buckeyes blasted Indiana and the Wolverines ran all over Northwestern. Minnesota also made a case to be ranked in the upcoming polls, posting a third straight victory in a win over Maryland.
Enough about the potential Top 25, though, let’s take a look at how much the power rankings in the B1G shifted after Week 8:
14. Indiana Hoosiers (2-5, 0-4)
Last week: vs. #5 Ohio State, 54-7 L
Over the next 5 weeks, Indiana will get the chance to prove it wasn’t a total fraud coming into the season. The schedule gets much easier after an absolute gauntlet in the first 2 months. Still, the Hoosiers have shown very little competence on the field this season, especially on the offensive side. They’ve been blown out in 3 of their 4 B1G games this season and really haven’t shown any signs of improvement. There’s a legitimate chance IU has won its last game if things don’t get fixed in a hurry.
Up next: at Maryland
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-4, 0-4)
Last week: OFF
What kind of adjustments has Rutgers made during the bye week after 4 straight losses? Can the Scarlet Knights find some of that early-season magic they had to start 3-0? Since B1G play has started, Greg Schiano’s team has struggled quite a bit. Let’s see how this group responds on a trip to Illinois.
Up next: at Illinois
12. Northwestern Wildcats (3-4, 1-3)
Last week: at #6 Michigan, 33-7 L
For a half, Northwestern looked like it might be able to go toe-to-toe with one of the giants in the B1G East. Then, Michigan’s offensive line and run game flexed its muscle and wore down the conference’s worst run defense. The Wildcats aren’t playing the same level of defense that keeps them in games and the offense is far from a juggernaut. That’s not a winning recipe. Northwestern does appear to be showing gradual improvement, but even that may not be enough to pick up many more wins down the stretch.
Up next: vs. Minnesota
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-5, 1-4)
Last week: OFF
Nobody played more games without a break than Nebraska. Finally get a week off and some additional time to get healthy, let’s see what the Huskers do with an upcoming 4-game stretch that will likely include 3 ranked opponents.
Up next: vs. #25 Purdue
10. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-5, 2-3)
Last week: at #7 Penn State, 20-18 W (9OT)
Did Bret Bielema know what he was doing the entire time during that press conference that caught so much attention? Whatever the case, Illinois played its best defensive game of the season and Chase Brown excelled in State College, helping the Fighting Illini pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season in a 9-overtime thriller. If the defense can make the stops it did against Penn State and the offensive line plays well enough to pave the way for the rushing attack, Illinois may not be a bowl team, but it could be a really tough team to beat in the final 4 games.
Up next: vs. Rutgers
9. Maryland Terrapins (4-3, 1-3)
Last week: at Minnesota, 34-16 L
Another B1G team on the wrong trajectory. Maryland’s offense was all the rage after a 4-0 start, but the Terps have now dropped three straight games to Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota, all by double-digit margins. Maryland has had to deal with a slew of injuries, particularly on offense, but the real problem is a lack of a defensive presence. The Terps rank 12th in the B1G in pass defense this season, yet surrendered 326 yards on the ground to the Gophers on Saturday. Mike Locksley’s team needs a lot of work on both sides or they may continue to slide.
Up next: vs. Indiana
8. Purdue Boilermakers (4-3, 2-2)
Last week: vs. Wisconsin, 30-13 L
Back to scoring exactly 13 points. It’s the fourth time in 7 games Purdue has hit that total, 3 of which were losses. Despite a solid showing from the defense, the Boilermakers’ offense was putrid, ending the game with -13 rushing yards and 5 turnovers in a loss to Wisconsin. Even though Purdue is 4-3, something has to change offensively. The Boilers still can’t run the ball with any consistency and turnovers are becoming a problem. The defense can only do so much on a week-to-week basis.
Up next: at Nebraska
7. Wisconsin Badgers (4-3, 2-2)
Last week: at #25 Purdue, 30-13 W
Graham Mertz threw the ball 8 times for 52 yards while Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen combined for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns in a win. That’s what Wisconsin’s offense should be doing more of for the remainder of the season. Maybe the Badgers will need to throw the ball a little more in some upcoming matchups, but hammering the ground game is the bread and butter. If Wisconsin does that? Even after an ugly start to the season, it’ll still have a chance to win the B1G West. Especially with how strong the defense has been playing.
Up next: vs. #11 Iowa
6. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2, 2-2)
Last week: vs. Illinois, 20-18 L (9OT)
That was a clunker. There’s really no other way to describe Penn State’s performance against Illinois. The defense allowed 357 yards on the ground and the offense mustered just 227 total yards. About the only good the Nittany Lions did do in the game was force 3 turnovers. It was an especially disappointing performance with a massive showdown against Ohio State looming. That game now holds much less significance and could result in a negative spiral effect for Penn State, which still has games against Michigan and Michigan State on the schedule, as well. James Franklin needs his team to regroup quickly.
Up next: at #5 Ohio State
5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-2, 3-1)
Last week: vs. Maryland, 34-16 W
Are the Gophers quietly the hottest team in the B1G West right now? It’s been hard for people to overlook that ugly 14-10 loss to Bowling Green, but Minnesota has ripped off wins in 3 straight games against Purdue, Nebraska and Maryland and continues to run the ball at an incredible clip, despite being down two top backs. The passing game still needs some work, but the Gophers have proven they can win without it. The defense continues to play extraordinarily well, holding a fourth opponent under 20 points this season. If Minnesota can keep this up, it’ll be in the thick of the division race in late November.
Up next: at Northwestern
4. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1, 3-1)
Last week: OFF
An additional week to lick their wounds was probably beneficial for the Hawkeyes. They still have a pretty clear path to the B1G Championship Game, but they’ll need to win 3 pretty big rivalry games to get there.
Up next: at Wisconsin
3. Michigan State Spartans (7-0, 4-0)
Last week: OFF
Michigan State has found ways to win on offense, defense and special teams through the first 7 games. The Spartans got a much-needed break before a colossal in-state showdown against Michigan next week.
Up next: vs. #6 Michigan
2. Michigan Wolverines (7-0, 4-0)
Last week: vs. Northwestern, 33-7 W
Saturday’s win over Northwestern was a little sloppy, especially in the first half. But Michigan was able to rely heavily on a strong rushing attack to the tune of 294 yards and another lopsided victory. Cade McNamara was also asked to throw a little more than usual and did so without turning the ball over. That’s another good sign. We also saw a little more of that “killer instinct” from the Wolverines, something this team has been lacking at times. Now is a good time to find it, with a tough 5-game stretch upcoming.
Up next: at #9 Michigan State
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 4-0)
Last week: at Indiana, 54-7 W
That loss to Oregon is in the rearview mirror. Ohio State looks like a completely different team right now, scoring easily on the offensive side and starting to show some significant progress on the defensive side. The way the Buckeyes are moving the ball through the air and on the ground, it’s hard to see any team in the B1G keeping pace on the offensive side.
Up next: vs. #7 Penn State