Now in the seventh edition of these rankings, somewhat of a curse/trend is appearing for the team in first.
- Weeks one and two: Ohio State
- Weeks three and four: Iowa
- Weeks five and six: Penn State
With Penn State losing last weekend to Iowa, who now retakes the number one spot, the top team holds their position for two weeks before losing it, so my guess is we’ll have a new top dog come week nine. Here’s how the full rankings played out:
1. No. 2 Iowa (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 2
Last Result: W vs. No. 4 Penn State (23-20)
Next: vs. Purdue
Iowa was everything they were expected to be against Penn State, but they still managed to eek out a win. They forced four interceptions, had an offense that never looked dominant, but managed to score over 20 points against a great defense. Yes, being at home helped them out, and yes, Penn State suffered some injuries that may have altered the course of the game (depending on who you ask), but at the end of the day, they’re 6-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Hawkeyes may not be winning in sustainable ways or look pretty when they win, but all that matters is the score on when the clock hits zero, and they continue to come out on top. Looking ahead, there is a very real possibility Iowa could finish the regular season 12-0, and it will have a fantastic opportunity to make their first Playoff appearance.
2. No. 6 Ohio State (5-1, 3-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 3
Last Result: W vs. Maryland (66-17)
Next: at Indiana (Oct. 23)
Another week, another game of evidence that this Ohio State offense is otherworldly. The Buckeyes scored 66 (!) points against a helpless Maryland defense on Saturday, as quarterback CJ Stroud put up 400 yards and five TDs through the air while running back TreVeyon Henderson added two more on the ground. The Buckeyes defense had another good display as well, with Ryan Day’s decision to take defensive playcalling away from Kerry Coombs and give it to secondary coach Matt Barnes paying dividends. As things stand, the Buckeyes would be the favorite to win the East division, and would give Iowa a pretty good game in Indianapolis.
3. No. 7 Penn State (5-1, 2-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 1
Last Result: L at No. 3 Iowa (23-20)
Next: vs. Illinois (Oct. 23)
The Nittany Lions got extremely unlucky with how things ended at Kinnick Stadium. They jumped out to a 17-3 lead and were cruising before experiencing some very untimely injuries on defense and to quarterback Sean Clifford, who was ruled out for the game. Iowa got itself back into the game against what was a depleted Penn State and ultimately pulled out a three point win. The game revealed a lot about this PSU team, but the results the Nittany Lions get the rest of the year are very dependent on their health. If Clifford is ready to go in two weeks to face Illinois, they could still very much win the Big Ten, but if it’s a more serious injury, they might not even see nine wins.
4. No. 8 Michigan (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 4
Last Result: W at Nebraska (32-29)
Next: vs. Northwestern (Oct. 23)
There’s just something...different about this Michigan team. In prior seasons under Harbaugh, they would not have pulled out a victory in that environment in Lincoln, they wouldn’t have come through in the decisive moment, and they most certainly wouldn’t have been as two-dimensional as they were. They picked up 200 yards both on the ground and through the air, and for once, the offense bailed the defense out, not the other way around. The Wolverines now get a week off before they face the team from Evanston, likely getting to 7-0 before heading into a showdown with Michigan State.
5. No. 10 Michigan State (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 5
Last Result: W at Rutgers (31-13)
Next: at Indiana
Sparty’s offense continues to be among the best in the country, especially in terms of their big play ability. Against Rutgers, running back Kenneth Walker picked up 233 yards and a TD on 29 carries, while quarterback Payton Thorne connected with WR Jalen Nailor for three long TDs in the first half alone. Nailor accumulated 221 receiving yards on just five catches, as the Michigan State offense cut their way through the Rutgers defense like a hot knife through butter. The Spartan’s pass defense also looked better than it has in the past, but the teams above them also put up good displays, so they stay in fifth for another week.
6. Wisconsin (2-3, 1-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 6
Last Result: W at Illinois (24-0)
Next: vs. Army
Wisconsin had one of the most quintessentially Wisconsin performances in a while, and of course, it was against former head coach Bret Bielema. They picked up 391 yards on the ground, averaging 6.4 yards per rush attempt, and also pitched a shutout on defense. However, the biggest news for this group was not related to their win, as projected preseason starting running back Jalen Berger was mysteriously dismissed from the team after not appearing at all in their first five games. The Badgers are still in the purgatory in these rankings, as they will start to rack up wins in an easier part of their schedule. However, they’re nowhere near as good as number five, and nowhere near as bad as number seven.
7. Maryland (4-2, 1-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 7
Last Result: L at No. 7 Ohio State (66-17)
Next: at Minnesota (Oct. 23)
Well, Maryland never really had a chance. They ran into the buzzsaw that is the Ohio State offense, and barring a perfect performance from their own offense, this game was never going to be a contest. With everyone below them losing as well, there was no reason for them to move down, but they haven’t been anywhere near as impressive the past few weeks as they were at the start of the year. They now get a week off to regroup before traveling to Minneapolis to face a depleted Gophers team.
8. Rutgers (3-3, 0-3 B1G)
Last Ranking: 8
Last Result: L vs. No. 11 Michigan State (31-13)
Next: at Northwestern
It’s honestly unfortunate that this had to be the season that Rutgers started to finally put things together. They’ve been given an extremely tough schedule, which pitted them against Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State the last three weeks, and they still have Penn State and Wisconsin left to face as well. While the 3-3 record doesn’t scream “good team,” they’ve been solid, and they have a stretch of games coming up where they can prove it. That stretch starts with a team which shall not be named this weekend, and the Scarlet Knights have a good shot at breaking a three-game skid with a win.
9. Nebraska (3-4, 1-3 B1G)
Last Ranking: 10
Last Result: L vs. No. 9 Michigan (32-29)
Next: at Minnesota
Not that it means anything, but the Huskers are the best 3-4 team in the country. Three of their four losses have come against three current Top 10 teams by a combined 13 points, and had things gone slightly differently, we may be looking at Nebraska as one of the better teams in the Big Ten record-wise. As it stands, the Huskers have a solid defense with an extremely potent offense, and have eight or nine-win potential given their remaining schedule. They’ll have a chance to get back to .500 against Minnesota this weekend.
10. Minnesota (3-2, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 9
Last Result: W at Purdue (20-13) (Oct. 2)
Next: vs. Nebraska
While the Gophers didn’t play this past week, they moved down a spot for one important reason. Backup-turned-starting RB Treyson Potts, who was already filling in for Mohamed Ibrahim, was ruled out for the rest of the season, which is really unfortunate for a guy who was having a monster year. What does this mean for Minnesota? Well, an already struggling offense, especially through the air, will have to be even more reliant on the passing game for the rest of the season. There’s not really a scenario where that goes well for the Gophers, so they fall below a resurging Nebraska.
11. Purdue (3-2, 1-1 B1G)
Last Ranking: 11
Last Result: L vs. Minnesota (20-13) (Oct. 2)
Next: at No. 2 Iowa
The Boilermakers didn’t play on Saturday, and no one around them in this list underwent any significant development, so they stay right where they are. They did get an extra week to prepare for Iowa, but that might not matter too much considering the game is on the road and the Hawkeyes are one of the top teams in the country.
12. Indiana (2-3, 0-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 12
Last Result: L at No. 4 Penn State (24-0) (Oct. 2)
Next: vs. No. 10 Michigan State
Like their state rivals, the Hoosiers did not play last week and have no reason to move up or down in these rankings. They face the undefeated Spartans this week with a chance to get their first conference win of the season, and given Indiana’s potential in the passing game, it could cause some problems for one of the worst pass defenses in the nation.
13. Illinois (2-5, 1-3 B1G)
Last Ranking: 13
Last Result: L vs. Wisconsin (24-0)
Next: vs. No. 7 Penn State (Oct. 23)
While the scoreline doesn’t show it, Illinois got utterly annihilated by Wisconsin on Saturday, getting out-gained by nearly 400 yards. Quarterback Art Sitkowski replaced an injured Brandon Peters and proceeded to complete just eight of his 27 passes for 55 yards. The one positive for the Fighting Illini? They committed zero penalties. Typically it’s a good thing if your points and penalty yardage match up, but in this case, Bret Bielema absolutely would not have wanted that, especially against his former employers. This level of defeat was expected, so Illinois stays in 13th, and is on pace to set up one of the lowest quality battles for the HAT in recent history with the team in 14th.
14. Northwestern (2-3, 0-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 14
Last Result: L at Nebraska (56-7) (Oct. 2)
Next: vs. Rutgers
I wish my editors would just let me make this list 13 places so I wouldn’t have to add this sadness at the bottom every week.