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-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Illinois celebrates game-winning field goal. (Image Source: Patrick Gorski/USA Today)
The Big Ten rankings following Week 8:
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (1) 7-0 (4-0): Won @ Northwestern 52-3
Unlike other teams in the conference, the Buckeyes kept their eye on the ball despite a big game coming the following week as they simply out-manned the Wildcats.
What’s Next: vs. Wisconsin (12:00/FOX)
2. Penn State Nittany Lions (3) 7-0 (4-0): Won vs. Michigan 28-21
It was a big game for wide out KJ Hamler who had six grabs for 108 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53-yarder which was the difference in the game.
What’s Next: @ Michigan State (3:30/ABC)
3. Wisconsin Badgers (2) 6-1 (3-1): Lost @ Illinois 24-23
What in the name of Lovie Smith’s beard happened in Champaign? We can focus on turnovers and mistakes, but don’t ignore that Illinois was better at running the ball.
What’s Next: @ Ohio State (12:00/FOX)
4. Michigan Wolverines (4) 5-2 (3-2): Lost @ Penn State 28-21
Down 21-0, they fought back and were within a dropped TD pass of tying the game. They played better than people predicted, but there are no moral victories for UM.
What’s Next: vs. Notre Dame (7:30/ABC)
5. Iowa Hawkeyes (5) 5-2 (2-2): Won vs. Purdue 26-20
Their inability to run the ball consistently against a Purdue defense that has struggled to stop the run is a concern in Iowa City. The O-line should be better.
What’s Next: @ Northwestern (12:00/ESPN2)
6. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6) 7-0 (3-0): Won @ Rutgers 42-7
Veterans Rodney Smith (111 yards, 2 TDs), Tyler Johnson (130 yards, TD), and Antonio Winfield (2 INTs, TD) led the Gophers to their seventh-straight win.
What’s Next: vs. Maryland (3:30/ESPN)
7. Michigan State Spartans (7) 4-3 (2-2): Open Week
After back-to-back blowout losses with an aggregate score of 72-10, MSU really needed the extra week to regroup. A win over PSU can turn the season around.
What’s Next: vs. Penn State (3:30/ABC)
8. Nebraska Cornhuskers (9) 4-3 (2-2): Open Week
Like the Spartans, the Huskers would love nothing more than to hit the reset button on the season. If they want to finish strong, they need a healthy Adrian Martinez.
What’s Next: vs. Indiana (3:30/BTN)
9. Indiana Hoosiers (10) 5-2 (2-2): Won @ Maryland 34-28
That was a big B1G road win for the Hoosiers who now give themselves three very realistic chances at earning a bowl bid: @ Nebraska, vs. Northwestern, @ Purdue.
What’s Next: @ Nebraska (3:30/BTN)
10. Maryland Terrapins (8) 3-4 (1-3): Lost vs. Indiana 34-28
That’s back-to-back losses to teams who have less overall talent than the Terps, which is a sign of poor coaching, as is the way the defense is regressing in-season.
What’s Next: @ Minnesota (3:30/ESPN)
11. Illinois Fighting Illini (13) 3-4 (1-3): Won vs. Wisconsin 24-23
The Illini used big plays to earn the biggest win of the Lovie Smith era with touchdown passes of 48 and 29 yards, as well as a 43-yard scoring scamper.
What’s Next: @ Purdue (12:00/BTN)
12. Purdue Boilermakers (11) 2-5 (1-3): Lost @ Iowa 26-20
True freshman David Bell had an absolutely monster effort with 13 grabs for 197 yards and a touchdown. Imagine this offense when they get Rondale Moore back?
What’s Next: vs. Illinois (12:00/BTN)
13. Northwestern Wildcats (12) 1-5 (0-4): Lost vs. Ohio State 52-3
What should we focus on? The 52 points allowed or the Rutgers-esque passing game? The ‘Cats managed just 42 passing yards and 2.0 yards per pass.
What’s Next: vs. Iowa (12:00/ESPN2)
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (14) 1-6 (0-5): Lost vs. Minnesota 42-7
It was another rough game for the Scarlet Knights, who in 21 drop backs (9 of 19 for 48 yards), allowed two sacks and were intercepted three times, including a pick six.
What’s Next: vs. Liberty (12:00/BTN)
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.
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