Movement near the top after Iowa’s upset



It wasn’t the sexiest weekend of Big Ten football with Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State all off on bye weeks, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t some explosive movement in the latest power rankings.

No. 2 Iowa was manhandled and shocked by upstart Purdue, a team with two losses on the season, while Michigan State struggled mightily against now 2-4 Indiana. Nebraska still lost by one score and had plenty of chances to surge ahead of Minnesota, but Tanner Morgan finally looked like a senior quarterback. Northwestern beat Rutgers and Wisconsin evened its record with a win over Army.

With all of the above, we saw some big movement near the top, in the middle, and at the bottom of our latest power rankings. Here’s where the Big Ten stands through Week 7.

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Ranking Big Ten teams by PFF grade after Week 6

Illinois Fighting Illini (2-5)

Photo: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry, Illinois — though you were off, you fell down to the bottom spot, yet again.

Yes, previous last place Northwestern earned a slight rise after showing life against what once looked like a good Rutgers team. While that might not be the most inspiring win, it beggars belief that Illinois suddenly could contend with any team left on the schedule not named Rutgers or Northwestern. The Illini have Penn State next, but the Scarlet Knights the next week, and Northwestern to end the season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-4)

Photo: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, Rutgers — we believed in you (past tense).

The Scarlet Knights played solid, mistake-free football the first three games of the season and was solid against Michigan in Week 4. After losing their first turnover of the season at the end of that game, since, Rutgers has returned to look more like what it had been previously, having turned the ball over in every game since. The once-stout defense gave up 402 yards to a previously inept Northwestern offense and special teams have become more and more of a debacle.

The Knights get a brief reproach, facing Illinois this next week, but then hosts a resurgent Wisconsin. The game against the Illini, Indiana, and Maryland are winnable, and Rutgers will need all three to get to bowl eligibility.

Northwestern Wildcats (3-3)

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Given the win, Northwestern was elevated from not only the bottom spot, but above Rutgers. The Wildcats showed some life in the passing game, with Ryan Hilinski managing 267 yards through the air, along with two touchdowns. Defensively, they held Rutgers to just 159 yards passing and 63 yards rushing — the second-lowest output the Scarlet Knights have had all season.

It’s a step in the right direction, but Northwestern heads to top 10-ranked Michigan this next week.

Maryland Terrapins (4-2)

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Maryland is another team that’s idle that fell a spot, but that’s more due to being jumped by Indiana — despite the Hoosiers losing. The Terps have been awful since entering Big Ten play, and until something changes, it’ll remain in the bottom-third of the power rankings. It’ll have a chance against an up-and-down Minnesota team.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-5)

Photo: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Just when it appeared that the Huskers had turned the corner after an offensive explosion in the second half against Michigan, Nebraska continues to get in its own way.

At Minnesota, the pass defense fell apart early, and the offense just refused to not make mistakes or score the football. Nebraska had chances — it failed to get into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the two-inch line and missed a chip-shot field goal. Every time the Huskers had a chance to tie or take the lead, they politely declined. It was another one-score loss, but it was only that way at the end of the game, when Nebraska led a torrid march down the field — too little, too late.

This team will continue to be a hard out for most teams, but with Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa left on the schedule, it’s hard to imagine the Huskers will get over the hump this year.

Indiana Hoosiers (2-4)

Photo: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, we moved Indiana up three spots after a loss to Michigan State. This was another team that had chance after chance, and if it hadn’t settled for field goals instead of touchdowns early, it would have won quite easily. The Hoosier defense bottled up Kenneth Walker III and mostly kept Payton Thorne and the wide receivers at bay. But with Jack Tuttle starting for the injured Michael Penix Jr., the offense was a debacle throughout. Still, all four losses this year are to current top 10 teams — Iowa, Cincinnati, Penn State, and Michigan State — so it might just be in a similar situation to Wisconsin in that its schedule has been too brutal. Indiana showed life, and probably should have won, which counts for something in this particular matchup.

It, however, has Ohio State next, before facing Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Minnesota, then Purdue.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-2)

Photo: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

You never really know what Minnesota you’re gonna get on a weekly basis.

The Gophers, mostly, controlled the game against Nebraska from start to finish, and while the defense bent at times, it didn’t break until the game was in-hand. Tanner Morgan set a school record with 16-straight completions, finally looking like the former NFL first-round pick he was projected as back in 2019. And even with Mo Ibrahim and Trey Potts out for the season, Minnesota managed to run the ball effectively with junior Bryce Williams managing 127 yards on 17 carries.

With Maryland, Northwestern, and Illinois up next, it’s a solid opportunity for the Gophers to get to bowl eligibility and beyond. Still, this is the team that lost to Bowling Green a week after blanking Colorado on the road, so there’s no telling what we’ll see from Minnesota any given week.

Wisconsin Badgers (3-3)

Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t been awe inspiring, but Wisconsin is at least back to beating teams it’s supposed to beat. And Army (now 4-2), wasn’t exactly an easy opponent, given its triple-option attack.

The rushing game remained alive with Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi while the defense clamped down on the Black Knights’ prolific rushing attack — holding Army to a season low. Wisconsin held on to win 20-14.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, particularly on offense as that side of the ball really did close to nothing all game, but the Badgers’ nightmare of having the toughest schedule to open the season appears to be behind them. Up next are Purdue, Iowa, Rutgers, and Northwestern.

Purdue Boilermakers (4-2)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

If there wasn’t a two in the loss column, Purdue would be ranked much higher here. Especially since the Boilermakers just took down the No. 2 team in the country.

Purdue controlled the game against Iowa from start-to-finish, thanks in large part to wide receiver David Bell’s enigmatic performance. He had 240 yards receiving (averaging 21.8 yards per catch) while Aidan O’Connell managed 30-for-40 passing for 375 yards against one of the best defenses in the country.

Even with the score being 24-7, it wasn’t even that close, as Purdue fumbled while trying to reach the end zone and missed a field goal. It forced Spencer Petras into four interceptions while holding the rushing attack to just 76 yards. It was a banner day, but the Boilermakers not finding any offense two weeks ago against Minnesota is still troubling, from a consistency standpoint.

Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kirk Ferentz reportedly said that Iowa wasn’t the No. 2 team in the country, and it showed that it wasn’t on Saturday.

Spencer Petras’ four interceptions made a huge difference in the game, and Purdue marched down the field early and often against the usually dominant Iowa defense. This is where the lack of a solid offense can hurt, because if the defense doesn’t have that support, it can only do so much.

Iowa still has a good resume, but with Iowa State sporting a few losses, Indiana only having two wins, and Penn State still having to face Ohio State, Michigan, and MSU, that resume very well could look lackluster by the season’s end. Still, the West runs through Iowa City — at least, for now.

Michigan State Spartans (7-0)

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Michigan State was the first team in the country to reach 7-0, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.

The Spartans have yet to beat a team with a winning record and both times that they’ve faced a defense with a pulse — Nebraska and Indiana — the seemingly explosive offense falters and fizzles. If it weren’t for linebacker Cal Haladay’s pick six and the big leg of Matt Coghlin, MSU would have suffered its first loss of the season. Credit for finding a way, but this was a game that State should have controlled, and honestly, it was lucky to win this one.

Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1)

Photo: HawkCentral

Penn State had a bye week, but moves up thanks to the Iowa loss and Michigan State barely surviving a lesser opponent. There are certainly questions about the offense and quarterback Sean Clifford’s health — which could be solved by the bye week — but for now, the Nittany Lions look like, at worst, the third-best team in the conference.

Michigan Wolverines (6-0)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Michigan football moves up a spot thanks to Iowa’s loss, but it was idle this week. The Wolverines have played just two subpar halves, and only one of them (against Rutgers) saw both sides of the ball falter. Against Nebraska last week, it was just the defense that didn’t have a good half, but it was ultimately what helped finish the game.

Up next, Michigan hosts Northwestern before facing the undefeated Michigan State Spartans.

Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1)

(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Ohio State was also on bye this week, and given what we’ve seen the past three weeks, there’s still little doubt about the Buckeyes being the top team in the conference. OSU travels to Indiana next week before the big showdown against Penn State on Oct. 30.








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