Big Ten power rankings after Week 8: 11 of 14 teams move after crazy week

·10 min read

While some things went as expected in the Big Ten’s Week 8, there were still several big surprises.

The biggest? Obviously, the 9 OT stunner — the longest game in college football history — where Illinois shocked No. 7 Penn State. That game had some big ramifications in our latest power rankings, given that the Nittany Lions, though a team falling recently, were expected to handily defeat an Illinois team that’s regularly been at the bottom of our rankings.

Additionally, Wisconsin manhandled a Purdue team that took down the former No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes. Michigan football simply handled Northwestern, just as Minnesota did to Maryland. And then, in prime time, Ohio State showed why it’s one of maybe two elite teams in college football.

Here’s the latest Big Ten power rankings after Week 8.

PREVIOUSLY: Big Ten power rankings after Week 7.

List

What Jim Harbaugh said after Michigan football beat Northwestern

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-4)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

13

7/14

-1

Hello darkness, my old friend.

Even off this week, Rutgers fell back to the bottom of the Big Ten power rankings — albeit for the first time this year. The off-week came at the perfect time, though, as the Scarlet Knights will look to rekindle some of its early magic of the season in the latter half of the year.

Indiana Hoosiers (2-4)

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

9

9/13

-4

Indiana is one of the biggest fallers of the weekend, thanks to just not showing up against Ohio State. While that was to be expected offensively with Jack Tuttle again starting in place of an injured Michael Penix Jr., the thought was that the defense could have helped a little against the Buckeyes. However, no — OSU punted all of twice in the game, and honestly, the 54-7 score wasn’t even indicative of how dominant Ohio State was. Which is really, really saying something.

Maryland Terrapins (4-3)

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

11

6/12

-1

Maryland continues to lose playmakers to injury and it’s looking more and more rudderless. While it could at least count on its offense amidst its defense being a disaster, the offense is starting to catch up. Taulia Tagovailoa has not looked nearly as good in recent weeks, and it’s starting to appear that the Terps are similar to the Rich Rodriguez Michigan teams that won a lot early before losing most of the Big Ten games. Though Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan remain on the schedule, games against Indiana and Rutgers could at least get Maryland to bowl eligibility. The final game being against Rutgers, it would have been hard to fathom three weeks ago that it might take the Terrapins until the final week of the season to become bowl eligible.

Northwestern Wildcats (3-4)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

12

11/14

+1

Now, Northwestern didn’t move up this week because it kept things close against Michigan for a half. No, the Wildcats moved up because the teams below it are just honestly worse.

After spending the entire season in the basement of the Big Ten, NU certainly is showing a little life, though it might not translate into many more wins. In fact, with teams like Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, and Minnesota left on the schedule — or even Illinois — there’s a chance they don’t win another game. However, the Wildcats are showing some grit lately, so don’t count out Pat Fitzgerald’s team to at least improve. It’ll still be a fight to get into a bowl game unless it’s one of the 5-7 teams.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-4)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

10

6/14

Nebraska was off this week, and it’s one of three Big Ten teams that didn’t change its rank here. Let’s hope that the Huskers didn’t fumble their opportunity to clean up all their untimely turnovers late in games in their off-week.

Illinois Fighting Illini (3-5)

Photo: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

14

9/14

+5

Listen, after taking down a team of Penn State’s seeming caliber, we’d love to move Illinois up. However, given the Illini’s lack of consistency, we’ll consider moving up to its highest spot of the season a pretty big accomplishment.

It’s not the first upset of the season for the Illini, but it’s certainly the most surprising. Penn State had much higher aspirations on the season that are now completely gone, and yet, Illinois went toe-to-toe with the Nittany Lions, even while it wasn’t sure who should be under center.

The most impressive thing — save for the whole, you know, nine overtimes thing — wasn’t getting the road win in Happy Valley. It was managing 357 yards against one of the nation’s best run defenses. The last time the Nittany Lions even surrendered 300 yards rushing, it was in 2016 against Michigan.

Purdue Boilermakers (4-3)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

6

6/12

-2

Purdue followed up its enigmatic performance against Iowa by stumbling at home against what seemed to be a beatable Wisconsin team. However, with Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi running all over the Boilermakers, it was a quick reminder of which team tends to control the Big Ten West.

Once again, turnovers plagued quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who was otherwise quite efficient. But if you turn the ball over three times, there usually isn’t going to be much of an opportunity to win that game.

Purdue really needed this one, especially considering the next three games come against Nebraska, Michigan State, and Ohio State.

Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2)

(AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

3

1/7

-4

Once the supposed top team in the conference, the one who beat a ranked Auburn team and opened the season with a win over then-ranked Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions are now looking nothing more than mediocre. Yes, the defense is good, but holding Illinois to a low-scoring output doesn’t really take much.

Penn State had no business being in a dogfight with an Illinois team that has been at the bottom of our power rankings on almost a weekly basis — let alone go to an astounding nine overtimes with the Illini. Less than a week ago, Bret Bielema decried his offensive line’s ability to play big-time college football, yet, here they were, paving the way for 357 rushing yards against a team that hadn’t allowed that much since facing Ohio State in 2013.

With Ohio State up next, what was thought to be a marquee prime time matchup has just lost a lot of luster. But if Penn State can somehow figure out a way to beat the seemingly unbeatable Buckeyes — a heckuva defensive task — then certainly Saturday’s loss could be considered a blip or an aberration.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-2)

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

8

8/12

+2

Don’t look now, but Minnesota has really turned things around.

In the battle of 4-2 teams as the Gophers hosted Maryland, they were two programs heading in different directions. Maryland looked prolific to start the season whereas Minnesota was floundering on a weekly basis. Now, the Gophers seem to have found an identity, even as it plays musical chairs with running backs as injuries mount.

The defense continues to be the star of the show, holding Taulia Tagovailoa to just 189 yards passing, while Tayon Fleet-Davis and company only managed 79 yards rushing. With three games against teams with losing records remaining, the Gophers are a team on the rise. And with Wisconsin and Iowa as the lone winning teams left, if Minnesota can win one or both of those, it very well could find itself in Indianapolis in December.

Wisconsin Badgers (4-3)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

7

6/11

+2

Guess who’s back? Back again? Bucky Badger is certainly looking like it was expected to all year.

Wisconsin played a much smarter offensive game plan on Saturday, not putting the ball much in Graham Mertz’s hands while relying on the run game. And the one-two punch of Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen looks like a winning formula. Allen, in particular, has been something of a revelation. After barely being a factor in the first four games of the season (he didn’t even play against Notre Dame), he’s managed 379 yards in the past 3 games, and averaging 8.2 yards per carry. With four touchdowns scored by Allen in said three games, the Badgers are starting to look more and more as expected on a yearly basis.

Even more so after holding Purdue to 13 points and -13 yards rushing this past week. With Iowa up next, the Badgers can get back into the thick of the Big Ten West in short order.

Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

5

1/5

+1

Iowa got to have the week off to lick its wounds after losing at Purdue last week. The defense certainly remains solid, but the Hawkeyes are likely best served spending the bye week in search of more of an offensive attack.

Michigan State Spartans (7-0)

Photo: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

4

3/5

+1

Michigan State got to sit back, relax, and watch how its rival Michigan performed in Week 8 as the Spartans were on bye week. With the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy up next, we’ll know precisely how legitimate the green and white really are.

Win or lose that game, given what Penn State showed in Week 8, the Spartans might have a floor of 10-2 this year.

Michigan Wolverines (7-0)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

2

2/4

The first half wasn’t pretty, but the second half certainly was.

Northwestern has shown more life this year, and while Michigan let the Wildcats hang around for a half, eventually it stopped toying with the Evanston outfit and put them away with utmost devastation.

Cade McNamara didn’t hit on any deep shots, but he completed nearly 75% of his passes, while the run game fell just short of 300 yards on the day. The defense let up one really big play, a handful of intermediate plays, and that’s about it.

Pat Fitzgerald said that Michigan would be the best team Northwestern would face and after the game, he said ‘they were as advertised.’ With Michigan State up next week, either the Wolverines will hold onto the No. 2 spot, or it’ll be the Spartans as the next best thing in the conference.

Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1)

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Pvs Rnk

Hi/Lo

Chg

1

1/5

Ohio State hasn’t just found its stride, it’s regained its championship look. In a year where teams have been upset with impunity, the Buckeyes included, OSU is now looking impenetrable, perhaps impossible to bring down. The defense has been shored up and the offense looks literally unstoppable.

While there is something of an Indiana caveat, given how bad the Hoosiers have been this year, what Ohio State did to them on Saturday night, particularly to their defense, isn’t something we’ve seen all year. Remember: Penn State and Michigan State got a fight from IU. The Buckeyes bent them to their will all-but immediately.

OSU has a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot and the gap between the top spot and the No. 2 spot might be wider than No. 2 and No. 14 at the moment.

1

1

1

1

1

1

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting