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Big Ten power rankings, week 9: SPECIAL HALLOWEEN CANDY EDITION

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This week, the usual power rankings tiers get named after best and worst Halloween candies. Plus, fun facts about New Jersey, and comparing the schedule of undefeated Iowa to undefeated Memphis.

Indiana doesn't have a game next Saturday, and I suggest you take the entire week off Big Ten football as well. Here is the rousing schedule that Jim Delany has put together for the last Saturday of October:

  • Illinois at Penn State!
  • Nebraska at Purdue!
  • Rutgers at Wisconsin!
  • Maryland at Iowa!
  • Michigan at Minnesota!

Trick-or-treat, B1G football fans! And yeah, the Little Brown Jug game looked better on paper before the season started, but the rest of these weren't the most riveting to begin with.

So, barring any unexpected results from these games of the century, I expect these will be my last power rankings for two weeks, and I'll recalibrate everything again after the Nov. 7 games.

So without further ado, here are you Halloween candy-inspired power rankings after eight weeks of play.

And no I'm not ranking candy corn because I don't want a candy corn flame war in the comments. Candy corn is fine.

MILK DUDS

14. Purdue (1-6) (Previous: 13)

Last week: Lost to Bye Week, 50-0

This week: vs. Nebraska (3-5)

Even after a bye week, I have no excuse not to rank Purdue last anymore. What I'm curious about is what Purdue's record would be with Indiana's schedule, and vice versa, since the Boilers had a tougher non-con slate than IU.

13. Maryland (2-5) (Prev: 12)

Last week: Lost to PSU, 31-30

This week: at Iowa (7-0)

Under interim coach Mike Locksley, the Terps actually showed signs of life for the first time in a while, but still couldn't grab a victory over "hated rival" Penn State.

Coaching search tangent: How good is the Maryland job? You're in the recruiting hotbed of the DC area, you have a ton of financial backing from Under Armour, whose CEO is an alum and wants to make the program Oregon East, and the school has had some success including a BCS bowl not too long ago. Then again, the job had all these same qualities five years ago, and the best candidate they could attract was Randy Edsall. The only difference is that now there's the B1G factor attached - which on the one hand, means more money flowing to the school, but on the other, means games with OSU, Michigan, and MSU every year.

Would Justin Fuente or Tom Herman leave their current positions at Memphis and Houston for the Terps? It's hard to tell.

12. Indiana (4-4) (Prev: 14)

Last week: Lost to MSU, 52-26

This week: Bye

I think this game needs to come with an asterisk and a stipulation. After reading off the final score, you must also clarify that the game was actually much closer than the score indicated and that Sparty didn't pull away for good until late in the fourth.

11. Rutgers (3-4) (Prev: 11) 

Last week: DISRESPECTED by Ohio State, 49-7

This week: at Wisconsin (6-2)

So Matt Brown, the head honcho over at LGHL, actually went to this game, where he found these two amazing signs:



I went to elementary school in New Jersey, and that "most densely populated state" fact was drilled in our heads every year during social studies.

TOOTSIE ROLLS

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

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Michigan (5-2)

Next two for Minnesota are Michigan and OSU, so hopefully that bye week came in handy for Jerry Kill's squad.

9. Nebraska (3-5) (Prev: 9)

Last week: Lost to Northwestern, 30-28

This week: at Purdue (1-6)

It's official - Nebraska will not have another four-loss season this year!

8. Illinois (4-3) (Prev: 8)

Last week: Lost to Wisconsin, 24-13

This week: at Penn State (6-2)

After a 4-1 start, the Illini are sputtering. With Purdue the only sure win remaining on the schedule, Illinois will have to pick another team off to get to a bowl. Last year, they were able to do so against Penn State, who they'll play in State College this coming weekend.

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

Last week: Defeated Maryland, 31-30.

This week: vs. Illinois (4-3)

The "is Christian Hackenberg actually good?" argument has been a popular one in recent weeks. And while the QB isn't as flashy as some, and throws several incompletions, he has thrown for 1,521 yards with 11 TDs and only 2 INT on the year. This tweet sums up watching him play:

SKITTLES

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

Last week: Defeated Nebraska, 30-28

This week: Bye

A New Years' Day bowl looks in reach for the Wildcats - who have an outside chance to run the table but should finish no worse than 8-4.

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

Last week: Defeated Illinois, 24-13

This week: vs. Rutgers (3-4)

The biggest story in this one was that starting QB Joel Stave got hurt, but backup Bart Houston performed admirably in the victory.

SNICKERS

4. Iowa  (7-0) (Prev: 4)

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Maryland (2-5)

Let's say Iowa and Memphis both run the table in the regular season.

Sure, Iowa is the power 5 team, but will they have played a better schedule than the Tigers?

In the non-con, both teams have beaten Big 12 bottom-feeders, but Memphis's best win over Ole Miss is probably better than Iowa's, over Pitt (which has done very well in its own right this season). Memphis also beat Bowling Green, whereas Iowa's other FBS non-con opponent was a terrible North Texas team. And if Memphis ends up running the table in the AAC, they'll have beaten two other teams who are currently undefeated in Houston and Temple, and both those games are on the road. Iowa's best win is probably at Wisconsin or at Northwestern, regardless of how their last five games go. So yeah, I'm taking Memphis in that scenario. Sorry, Hawkeyes.

REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

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

Last week: Bye

This week: at Minnesota (4-3)

Last year in the Brown Jug game, Brady Hoke put a concussed quarterback BACK INTO THE GAME during an eventual loss to Minnesota. Which is why I thought it was ironic last week when Brady Hoke said he wouldn't have punted at the end of the Michigan-MSU game. Brady Hoke needs to be the last guy talking about what Michigan should or shouldn't be doing right now.

2. Michigan State (8-0) (Prev: 1)

Last week: Defeated Indiana, 52-26 BUT WELL ACTUALLY THE GAME WAS REALLY CLOSE FOR MOST OF IT

This week: Bye

So of course when Sparty decides they finally want to close out a game in the fourth quarter, they do it against Indiana.

1. Ohio State (8-0) (Prev: 2)

Last week: DISRESPECTED Rutgers, 49-7

This week: Bye

The Buckeyes are at the top this week, and as much as I like Cardale Jones and his social media presence, JT Barrett seems to have won back the starting job after this week.

It's looking like that OSU-MSU matchup in the Horseshoe on November 21 will still be huge for national title implications.