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Big Ten power rankings, week 7: Can Iowa go undefeated?

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Plus, a new #1, a goodbye to Randy Esdall, and you'll never guess which B1G team spiked the ball on fourth down.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 4: General malaise

14. Maryland (2-4) (Previous: 14)

Last week: Lost to Ohio State, 49-28

This week: Bye

It's official - Randy Edsall is out as the Terps' head coach after a 21-point loss to the Buckeyes. Here's the thing about Edsall: He was hired to take Maryland from "good to great," a cliché that has become overused especially in the sports world, once the Terps fired Ralph Friedgen after a decade of decent seasons. And who was Fridge's coach in waiting while at College Park? That's right - James Franklin, who promptly left for Vandy during this time.

But despite Edsall bringing UConn to a BCS game before arriving at Maryland, he always seemed like an uneasy fit from day one for a school that was openly pining to hire Mike Leach, and employed some strange motivational tactics once on the job, such as taking the names off players' jerseys, and having his players refuse to shake hands against Penn State during a coin flip. Taking over Maryland on an interim basis is offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who once coached New Mexico to an awful 2-26 record, and is not exactly known for having a stellar off-field reputation either.

13. Purdue (1-5) (Prev: 13)

Last week: Lost to Minnesota, 41-13

This week: at Wisconsin (4-2)

Our buddy Travis Miller, who runs Purdue SBN blog Hammer and Rails, is mad online and has had enough of bad football in West Lafayette. Here's an excerpt of his rant about Purdue athletics and the department's priorities over at H&R.

I have been going to Purdue football for most of my life. I went to the Rose Bowl in 2001. I have seen Purdue play football in the following stadiums other than Ross-Ade:

  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Cincinnati
  • Minnesota (Metrodome)
  • Minnesota (TCF Bank)
  • Ohio State
  • Michigan
  • Michigan State
  • Penn State
  • Northwestern
  • Wisconsin
  • Hawaii
I have spent untold dollars driving around the Midwest to watch them over the past decade.

No more.

Fans, watching Purdue football in person is just throwing good money after bad right now because the administration does.not.care as long as it is getting its Big Ten checks to balance the books. I have long been an easy sell for the athletic department, but no more. Not until there is a complete and systematic change of the entire culture.

12. Rutgers (2-3) (Prev: 12)

Last week: lost to Michigan State, 31-24

This week: at Indiana (4-2)

The Scarlet Knights had a chance to tie the game up against Michigan State in the closing seconds. But then Rutgers QB Chris Laviano spiked the ball on fourth down, thus ending the game. Incredibly, despite fourth down spike, Rutgers is still 12th on these rankings. GO B1G.

Tier 3.5: Nebraska, a class of its own

11. Nebraska (2-4) (Prev: 11)

Last week: Lost to Wisconsin,23-21

This week: at Minnesota (4-2)

If football games were 59 minutes long, Nebraska would be 6-0 right now. The Huskers seemed to always be winning close games under Pelini in strange circumstances (they almost lost to McNeese State!), so maybe this is just their luck balancing out. But with games left against MSU, Northwestern, and Iowa, a bowl game might be hard to get to at this point.

Tier 3: Leveled expectations

10. Indiana (4-2) (Prev: 7)

Last week: Lost to Penn State, 29-7

This week: OH GOD PLEASE DON'T LOSE ON HOMECOMING TO RUTGERS PLEASE

I'll have more later this week from my experience at Penn State for the game, but having your third string QB come in on the road against 100,000 screaming fans is not ideal. Get healthy soon, Hoosiers. A win against Rutgers this weekend could go a long way to bowl eligibility.

9. Illinois (4-2) (Prev: 8)

Last week: Lost to Iowa, 29-20

This week: Bye

Lost to Iowa in Kinnick but played the Hawkeyes closely. The Illini might pull off some hard-fought low-scoring victories, but they'll need to do better at stopping the run if they want to get past a .500 record this season, as Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri went for 256 against them on Saturday.

8. Minnesota (4-2) (Prev: 10)

Last week: Defeated Purdue, 41-13

This week: vs. Nebraska (2-4)

After four straight lethargic performances, the Gophers got their offense back against Purdue, in a huge win that could be the turning point of their season. Minnesota has tough cross-division assignments with Michigan and Ohio State coming up after the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy game this weekend (yes, it's a real trophy); however, another eight-win season for Jerry Kill is not out of the question either.

Tier 2: Good but still flawed

7. Wisconsin (4-2) (Prev:6)

Last week: Defeated Nebraska, 23-21.

This week: vs. Purdue (1-5)

Hit a field goal to beat Nebraska in the closing seconds, after having missed a shorter field goal only a couple minutes before that. I still remain unconvinced about the Badgers, even though they should finish no worse than 9-3 with how the rest of their schedule lines up.

6. Penn State (5-1) (Prev: 9)

Last week: Defeated Indiana, 29-7.

This week: at Ohio State (6-0)

Indiana made Christian Hackenberg look like a projected first-round draft pick at times, but the Nittany Lions' QB is still very inconsistent from drive to drive. That being said, he makes up for the inconsistency with big plays, and he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more on Saturday.

Tier 1: Still the top of the class

5. Northwestern (5-1) (Prev: 1)

Last week: Lost to Michigan, 38-0

This week: vs. Iowa (6-0)

So much for ranking the Wildcats number one. Congrats, random twitter dot com user, for being right about them:


I still think this is a very good team - they've handed Stanford and Duke their only losses of the season after all - but things just got out of hand early at the Big House, as the Harbaugh wrecking ball was on full display.

4. Iowa  (6-0) (Prev: 5)

Last week: Defeated Illinois, 29-20

This week: at Northwestern (5-1)

Could the Hawkeyes defy all odds and go 12-0? This should be a serious question, especially if they win this coming weekend at Northwestern, as the rest of their opponents after the Wildcats are a combined 1-10 in B1G games. In one crazy scenario, a potential conference title game looms between Iowa signal-caller CJ Beathard and Michigan QB and Iowa transfer Jake Rudock.

3. Michigan State (6-0) (Prev: 3)

Last week: Defeated Purdue, 31-24

This week: at Michigan (5-1)

Michigan State has struggled with two bottom-tier teams in the past week, and that win over Oregon is looking more suspect after the Ducks lost at home to Washington State last weekend. At 6-0, Spartans fan should be feeling good about their prospects, but as USA Today's Dan Wolken describes in his Misery Index this week (always a good read for getting a feel on the states of maligned college football programs), MSU is in danger of ceding dominance within the state back to the Maize and Blue this weekend, when the Spartans travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan with College Gameday on hand.

2. Ohio State (6-0) (Prev: 2)

Last week: Defeated Maryland, 49-28

This week: vs. Penn State (5-1)

Another slow start for the Buckeyes last weekend, but a strong finish showed that this Buckeye team still can put up points and is dangerous on offense. Penn State under the lights at the Shoe this weekend is a fascinating matchup, as the Nittany Lions gave them a scare in Happy Valley last season.

1. Michigan (5-1) (Prev: 4)

Last week: Defeated Northwestern, 38-0

This week: vs. Michigan State (6-0)

Yes, a one-loss Michigan has jumped to the top this week. But that one loss, of course, was at undefeated Utah, which has the resume of a college football playoff team right now. As for the Wolverines, they've become the first FBS team in over two decades to record three shutouts in a row. Everyone knew that Harbaugh would turn things around in Ann Arbor, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find even the most stalwart Michigan fan who thought it would happen this quickly.