Big Ten football power rankings: Week 9
Michigan tops in-state rival MSU in East Lansing
Saturday was a day of almost-shocking finishes that turned out to be pretty much what we all expected. There were three opportunities for huge upsets, and two of them finished with the favorites winning by single digits.
Here are the Big Ten power rankings after Week 9:
Last week: 1
Week 9 result: Michigan 32, Michigan State 23
Though the Wolverines weren't overly impressive this weekend, they did enough to knock off in-state rival Michigan State and become the last undefeated team in the Big Ten. Wilton Speight was great in the first half, leading the offense to five scores on five drives, but Michigan fell silent in the second half, managing just one field goal. Amara Darboh stole the show, catching eight passes for 165 yards. Two tough road tests stand between Michigan and an unblemished regular season.
Last week: 2
Week 9 result: Wisconsin 23, Nebraska 17 (OT)
For the second straight week, the Top 10 Badgers faced a must-win game in the West Division, and for the second straight week, they found a way to win. Wisconsin welcomed undefeated Nebraska to town Saturday and, despite flipping between two quarterbacks, survived. Wisconsin adds another great win to its resume and has a chance to take control of the West if Nebraska falls to Ohio State.
3. Ohio State
Last week: 3
Week 9 result: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 20
After suffering its first loss of the season, Ohio State had a chance to bounce back with a statement win over a surprisingly tough Northwestern team. Instead, the Buckeyes found themselves locked in a fourth quarter tie and needed a goal line stand to keep Northwestern from having a chance to leave Columbus with a victory. J.T. Barrett did not score a touchdown in the game.
4. Penn State
Last week: 4
Week 9 result: Penn State 62, Purdue 24
Last week, Penn State picked up its biggest win in years when it topped No. 2 Ohio State. This week, it avoided a major let down on the road against Purdue and cruised to a 38-point win. Saquon Barkley rushed 18 times for 207 yards and two touchdowns, while Trace McSorley threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Last week: 5
Week 9 result: Nebraska 17, Wisconsin 23 (OT)
Nebraska has been playing with fire for weeks, and it finally suffered its first loss of the season Saturday in Madison. The previously unbeaten Cornhuskers didn't play their best game against Wisconsin, allowing Dare Ogunbowale to gain more than 10 yards per carry and scoring just 17 points. Tommy Armstrong Jr. struggled, completing just 12 of 31 passes for 153 yards and two interceptions. Now Nebraska faces a near must-win in Columbus, which is an unenviable position to be in.
Last week: 9 (Up 3)
Week 9 result: Minnesota 40, Illinois 17
What does Minnesota have in common with the five teams above? The Golden Gophers are already bowl eligible. With its sixth win in eight tries Saturday, Minnesota guaranteed itself a spot in the bowl game and should be 7-2 after a home game against Purdue. After that, wins become very tough to come by.
Last week: 6 (Down 1)
Week 9 result: Northwestern 20, Ohio State 24
Northwestern was running into an angry buzz saw this weekend, but almost came away with another huge win. The Wildcats came back to tie Ohio State late in the third quarter and were a few plays from having a chance to take the lead in the fourth. Now, this weekend's home game against Wisconsin become absolutely critical if Northwestern hopes to stay alive in the West Division race.
Last week: 10 (Up 2)
Week 9 result: Indiana 42, Maryland 36
Finally, the Indiana football we've all come to expect was back on Saturday. The Hoosiers gained 650 yards of offense and won despite allowing over 500 yards and 36 points. Indiana is only 4-4 on the year, but Saturday was crucial for its bowl hopes, as it has games against Rutgers and Purdue remaining en route to a possible 6-6 record. Remember what we said about Richard Lagow avoiding turnovers? He had no interceptions in this game, and the Hoosiers came away with a win.
Last week: 7 (Down 2)
Week 9 result: Maryland 36, Indiana 42
Perry Hills was 5-0 in games in which he started and finished healthy, but Saturday, he suffered his first loss of the season. Hills actually played pretty well -- completing 22 of 33 passes for 248 yards, four total touchdowns and an interception, but Maryland dropped to 5-3 on the season and will have to pull off a huge upset to avoid being 5-6 by late November. Road trips to Michigan and Nebraska are sandwiched around a home game against Ohio State over the next three weeks. Afterwards, a game against Rutgers could decide the Terps' bowl eligibility.
Last week: 8 (Down 2)
Week 9 result: Bye week
Saturday was a day off for Iowa, and a much-needed one at that. After a tough 17-9 loss to Wisconsin, Iowa will travel to Happy Valley this weekend before returning home to play Michigan. Both games will be at night, and both will be huge opportunities for the Hawkeyes to get back in the race. They haven't looked like last year's 12-0 Iowa team since Sept. 10.
11. Michigan State
Last week: 11
Week 9 result: Michigan State 23, Michigan 32
It didn't seem like this Michigan State losing streak could get any stranger, but then Mark Dantonio lost his mind during the Michigan game. The Spartans' head coach made a handful of questionable coaching decisions during the loss to Michigan, including kicking a field goal down 20 points in the second half and trying for a two-point conversion with one second on the clock, trailing by seven points. Neither decision worked out very well, and now Michigan State has lost six games in a row.
Last week: 12
Week 9 result: Purdue 24, Penn State 62
The wrath of Penn State was not kind to the Boilermakers
Last week: 13
Week 9 result: Illinois 17, Minnesota 40
Illinois has the honor of hosting the "2-6 Bowl" Saturday against Michigan State.
Last week: 14
Week 9 result: Bye week
Rutgers hasn't won a football game since Sept. 17, but a Rutgers bye week is a win for the world.
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