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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week Eight

A couple of head-to-head matchups at the top of the conference helped give us a clearer picture of how the teams stack up

Michigan State v Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor (23) of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a touchdown with teammates during the second half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Camp Randall Stadium.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Last Week: Bye (5-0)

SP+ Rankings: 1

Is Ohio State the best team in the country? I won’t believe it until they beat an Alabama or a Clemson, but the Buckeyes do sit atop the SP+ throne which is more than enough to make them the top team in the Big Ten. They get Northwestern on Friday night which is great for the Wildcats because hopefully nobody will watch them get dominated.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

Last Week: 38-0 win vs. Michigan State (6-0)

SP+ Rankings: 4

The Badgers pantsed Michigan State. Johnathan Taylor went for 80 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Jack Coan was a model of efficiency going 18/21 for 180 yards and a touchdown. Those are nice numbers considering the Spartan defense is supposed to be good. The Badger defense and special teams also got in on the scoring. This is the kind of result you want to see from a team that’s trying to get into position for a potential B1G title/College Football Playoff run. The Badgers are legit and they’ve got a bad Illinois team on the docket for this weekend.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions

Last Week: 17-12 win @ Iowa (6-0)

SP+ Rankings: 6

Penn State faced its first “big” test of the season last weekend when it traveled to Iowa and the results were fine. KJ Hamler showed once again why he’s one of the most electrifying playmakers in the conference, scoring a touchdown while also picking up 61 yards on seven catches and doing things like this:

Each week it seems more and more like the Nittany Lions could be Legit. They’ll take on Michigan in Happy Valley this weekend. That should be the biggest game in the conference and one that PSU might win in a grander way than expected.

4. Michigan Wolverines

Last Week: 42-25 win @ Illinois (5-1)

SP+ Rankings: 13

Michigan almost let Illinois hang around too long before turning on the jets and somehow winning by multiple scores. The Wolverines are largely a fine team I guess, but they do leave something to be desired. Shea Patterson hit 50 percent of his throws and had three touchdowns against the Illini. UM also did a great job of establishing the run as it had two 100+ yard rushers. Next up is a much, much tougher matchup with Penn State.

5. Iowa Hawkeyes

Last Week: 17-12 loss vs. Penn State (4-2)

SP+ Rankings: 19

Just edged out by the Nittany Lions at home last week. Nate Stanley was fine? The Hawkeyes are still ranked heading into this weekend’s matchup with Purdue which should get them up to five wins on the season.

6. Indiana Hoosiers

Last Week: 35-0 win vs. rutger (4-2)

SP+ Rankings: 25

IU moves up a spot, the highest the Hoosiers have been in these rankings so far this season. Do not say to me the words “head-to-head loss to Michigan State” as we’re in the midst of #9WINDIANA.

7. Michigan State Spartans

Last Week: 38-0 loss @ Wisconsin (4-3)

SP+ Rankings: 27

Michigan State didn’t show up at Camp Randall. The Spartan offense did...well...nothing. Rocky Lombardi got some time under center and was stunningly not great, though neither was Brian Lewerke. The Spartan defense got beat up a bit by Coan and Taylor. All in all just a bad week for MSU. They get a bye this week to lick their wounds.

8. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Last Week: 34-7 win vs. Nebraska (6-0)

SP+ Rankings: 17

Once again I refuse to believe the Minnesota hype until they beat a real team. Nebraska famously isn’t good this season. The Gophers get rutger this weekend so we’ll have to keep waiting to see whether or not they’re Actually Good.

9. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Last Week: 34-7 loss @ Minnesota (4-3)

SP+ Rankings: 44

It’s been a really tough season for the Huskers, hasn’t it? Maybe they need to go back to their roots and bring in a guy like Scott Frost to build the program back up because whatever they’ve got going now just isn’t working.

10. Purdue Boilermakers

Last Week: 40-14 win vs. Maryland (2-4)

SP+ Rankings: 51

Purdue lives! The Boilers wore the moon unis and more or less whacked Maryland over the head with a mallet like a cartoon character for three hours! For their efforts, they get a trip to Kinnick Stadium to play Iowa. Yikes.

11. Northwestern Wildcats

Last Week: Bye

SP+ Rankings: 62

Mc MickCall

12. Illinois Fighting Illini

Last Week: 42-25 loss vs. Michigan (2-4)

SP+ Rankings: 74

They tried to give Michigan a game until unsurprisingly falling apart down the stretch. They’re still bad and they’ll play Wisconsin this week. Surely that will go well.

13. Taryland Merrapins

Last Week: 40-14 loss @ Purdue (3-3)

SP+ Rankings: 43

Sure they’re banged up, but so is Purdue and the Boilermakers stomped them. Maryland isn’t a good football team despite beating a Syracuse team that has since dropped down to the 60s in SP+.