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Big Ten power rankings, week 8: Could the East end in a three-way tie?

Plus: The Hoosiers continue to fall, the mediocrity of the West, and the curse of the #1 spot.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 4: Rock bottom

14. Indiana (4-3) (Previous: 10)

Last week: Lost to Rutgers, 55-52

This week: at Sparty (7-0)

I usually rank these teams about 5 minutes ahead of time before I start writing - there isn't too much rhyme or reason for them, besides how I think they're doing at that time of the season. But I will say - if you blow a 25-point lead at home with a 99.6% chance of winning, that should make you the #14 team for the week.

13. Purdue (1-6) (Prev: 13)

Last week: Lost to Wisconsin, 24-7

This week: Bye

Because of IU's collapse, I get to keep Purdue in the 13 slot, which will always provoke a reaction from Travis at H&R. "YOU DON'T KNOW TRUE FOOTBALL MISERY LIKE WE HAVE AT PURDUE! FIRE MORGAN BURKE HIRE NEIL ARMSTRONG!"

12. Maryland (2-4) (Prev: 14)

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Penn State (5-2) 

The good news: Maryland didn't lose last week. The bad news: They were on a bye. They now get Penn State, and our friends at Black Shoe Diaries have a really good list of why this is a such a huge rivalry.

11. rutger (3-3) (Prev: 12) 

Last week: ugh don't wanna talk about it

This week: vs. Ohio State (7-0)

Props to the Scarlet Knights for real though. They didn't quit on that game, and ultimately weren't as gassed as the Hoosiers in the final quarter. It's a big win, but getting to a bowl game will still require a few upsets, as Army and Maryland should be the only games left on their schedule in which they'll be favored.

Tier 3: Mild Mild West

10. Minnesota (4-3) (Prev: 8)

Last week: Lost to Nebraska, 48-25

This week: Bye

Despite the winning record, the Gophers have to be disappointed at how their season is going thus far, as many picked them to be a potential B1G West champion. With games still left against Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin, even a bowl game might be a tall order this season.

9. Nebraska (3-4) (Prev: 11)

Last week: Beat Minnesota, 48-25

This week: vs. Northwestern (5-2)

The offense came alive this week and gave Nebraska enough of a margin to assure itself of a victory. More importantly, they won this bad boy:

Seriously, it still makes me so happy that this thing exists.

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

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Wisconsin (5-2)

Once again, a team that had a bye week moved up in the rankings.

Serious question: How good of a job is Illinois football coach? There's a great chance to tap into the Chicago pipeline, but Urbana-Champaign is not exactly in Chicago's backyard, and the dysfunction within the athletic department may steer some candidates away. However, this is a team that went to the Rose Bowl less than a decade ago, and the B1G West looks fairly open right now - so the potential is there.

Tier 2: Never know what you'll get from them

7. Penn State (4-2) (Prev:6)

Last week: Lost to Ohio State, 38-10.

This week: at Maryland (2-4)

Honestly kind of upset that Ohio State didn't let Penn State score a late touchdown so that the final score would have been 17-38 and we all could have sung Trap Queen.

6. Northwestern (5-2) (Prev: 5)

Last week: Lost to Iowa, 40-10.

This week: at Nebraska (3-4)

So two weeks ago, I had these guys at #1. Since then, they've been outscored 78-10 by two teams that aren't exactly known for their offensive prowess. Expect craziness this weekend - Northwestern-Nebraska games rarely ever go according to script.

5. Wisconsin (5-2) (Prev: 7)

Last week: Defeated Purdue, 24-7

This week: at Illinois (4-2)

Watching Wisconsin football is basically like Groundhog Day at this point.

Tier 1.5: The West favorite

4. Iowa  (7-0) (Prev: 4)

Last week: Defeated Northwestern, 40-10

This week: Bye

Iowa undefeated watch is definitely on, folks. Here's their schedule after this bye week:

  • Maryland
  • at Indiana
  • Minnesota
  • Purdue
  • at Nebraska

Tier 1: The B1G East logjam

3. Michigan (5-2) (Prev: 1)

Last week: Lost to Michigan State, 27-23

This week: Bye

Oh god. The end to that game.

Whereas IU losing to Rutgers was a slow burn that got extended out over the last hour and a half of that game, the Gift Six was so sudden, so momentous, and so unpredictable, that I've rarely seen a football play like it before in my life.

Other than the rivalry aspect, I think it's stupid for Michigan fans to get too upset though - this team is already ahead of schedule under Harbaugh, and Blake O'Neill is not worth getting mad online at either, especially since he booted an 80-yard punt earlier in the game.

Another question after this game is: What if OSU beats Michigan State, Michigan beats OSU, and the three teams win out to tie for first in the B1G East at 7-1? Well thankfully, LGHL broke it down for us, and it's, uhh, complicated. Looks like the College Football Playoff poll would determine a divisional champion in this scenario.

2. Ohio State (7-0) (Prev: 2)

Last week: Defeated Penn State, 38-10

This week: at Rutgers (3-3)

Cardale Jones is being benched for J.T. Barrett this weekend.

Cardale Jones is also 10-0 as a starter in his young career at OSU.

Life sure is tough for the Buckeyes right now, isn't it?

1. Michigan State (7-0) (Prev: 3)

Last week: Defeated Michigan, 27-23

This week: vs. Indiana (4-3)

You're probably wondering why I have MSU in first ahead of OSU. Well that's because I'm trying to keep the #1 power ranking curse alive right now. Two weeks ago, NW was ranked #1 and lost. Last week, Michigan was ranked #1 and lost. Now? I'm gonna rank Sparty first and see what happens, because they play Indiana, after all.

Plus, Rutgers plays OSU so if I really want to keep this curse alive it's not gonna be with them.