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Big Ten power rankings | college football week 10 penn state | Oct 29 2018

Every week here at the Centre Daily Times, we’ll release our Big Ten power rankings online Monday and in the newspaper Tuesday.

We had a ton of movers and shakers this weekend — hello, Northwestern — so let’s get straight to it. How far did Penn State rise? How much did Wisconsin fall? Take a look:

1. Michigan Wolverines (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten)

Game result: Bye

Movement from last poll: None

The Wolverines are the Big Ten’s best shot at the College Football Playoff right now. They’ve won their last three Big Ten games by double digits, and their defense hasn’t allowed more than 24 points in a game all season. With the offense making strides, it won’t be easy to knock this team out of the top spot.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, 4-1)

Game result: Bye

Movement from last poll: Up (1 spot)

Was Purdue just an aberration? We probably won’t know for at least another two weeks. Nebraska shouldn’t provide much of a challenge this weekend, but Michigan State in two weeks should act as a proper measuring stick. The Buckeyes obviously have talent … but the loss to the Boilermakers, by such a large margin, remains puzzling.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-2, 3-2)

Game result: W, vs. Iowa, 30-24

Movement from last poll: Up (2 spots)

Consistent? No. Mistake-free? Definitely not. But the Nittany Lions know how to keep it close, and Trace McSorley has the ability to will his team to a win on most nights. His 51-yard touchdown run against Iowa, after suffering a leg injury, was the epitome of his toughness. Penn State always has a chance when he’s on the field.

4. Northwestern Wildcats (5-3, 5-1)

Game result: W, vs. Wisconsin, 31-17

Movement from last poll: Up (5 spots)

Is there a harder Power Five team to figure out than Northwestern? It lost to Akron and barely beat two of the Big Ten’s worst, but it also upset Wisconsin and Michigan State while nearly beating Michigan. Early in the season, it looked as if the Wildcats might miss out on a bowl. Now, they’re in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten West.

5. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2)

Game result: L, at Penn State, 30-24

Movement from last poll: Down (3 spots)

If Iowa would’ve held on to a 12-0 lead against Penn State, it might be No. 2 in this week’s power rankings and the favorite to win the West. Instead, it’s now part of a Big Ten bottle-neck to get into a second-tier bowl. How Nate Stanley bounces back will go a long way in determining just how far the Hawkeyes go.

6. Michigan State Spartans (5-3, 3-2)

Game result: W, vs. Purdue, 23-13

Movement from last poll: Up (1 spot)

Michigan State’s win over Purdue was a big one for Mark Dantonio … which is not something we thought we’d write before the season. Regardless, this offense needs to find an answer soon to salvage this season. The running game has been inconsistent at best, and Brian Lewerke has played well under his potential. Over the last four contests, Sparty is averaging less than 18 points per game.

7. Wisconsin Badgers (5-3, 3-2)

Game result: L, at Northwestern, 31-17

Movement from last poll: Down (3 spots)

The defense is great but far from elite, while the situation at quarterback has grown dire. Wisconsin has gotten away with being one-dimensional in the past, but there are simply too many issues here this season. Wisconsin went from West favorite to middling Big Ten team in a hurry.

8. Purdue Boilermakers (4-4, 3-2)

Game result: L, at Michigan State, 23-13

Movement from last poll: Down (2 spots)

The progress the Boilermakers have made this season has been remarkable. Purdue hasn’t had a winning conference record in 12 years, and it’s on pace to have one in 2018. This offense still makes too many mistakes — David Blough had three interceptions on Saturday — but, when this team is playing at its best, it can hang with anyone.

9. Maryland Terrapins (5-3, 3-2)

Game result: W, vs. Illinois, 63-33

Movement from last poll: Down (1 spot)

The Terps boast the nation’s No. 11 rushing offense. Passing offense, on the other hand? No. 125. This is another one-dimensional offense that’s not too difficult to figure out: Stop the run, stop the Terps. But that’s easier said than done. Maryland had 48 carries for 431 yards and five touchdowns against Illinois. The only reason it moved down is because Northwestern moved up.

10. Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-4, 1-4)

Game result: W, vs. Indiana, 38-31

Movement from last poll: Up (2 spots)

The Golden Gophers badly needed a win Friday to keep their bowl hopes alive, but the postseason is still no guarantee. They should get the win over Illinois on Saturday, but can they get one more win from Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin? It won’t be easy. Minnesota just doesn’t have the talent to yet compete with the Big Ten’s best.

11. Indiana Hoosiers (4-5, 1-5)

Game result: L, at Minnesota, 38-31

Movement from last poll: Down (1 spot)

So much for another season of bowling for the Hoosiers. With the loss to Minnesota, that means Indiana has to win against two of its next three opponents to become bowl eligible — and their remaining slate includes Maryland, Michigan and Purdue. In other words, Indiana’s hopes at a postseason berth are very slim. Tom Allen just doesn’t have the personnel in 2018.

12. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-6, 1-4)

Game result: W, vs. Bethune-Cookman, 45-9

Movement from last poll: Down (1 spot)

What can you say about a season that sets the school record for most consecutive losses? It’s been a tough one for Nebraska, but back-to-back wins at least shows the Huskers have found some kind of momentum. Scott Frost deserves a pass this season, but this team needs to be bowling in 2019.

13. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-5, 1-4)

Game result: L, at Maryland, 63-33

Movement from last poll: None

Just how bad is Illinois’ defense? Here’s how many points it surrendered to its Big Ten opponents who aren’t from New Jersey this season: 63 (Maryland), 49 (Wisconsin), 46 (Purdue) and 63 (Penn State). Most years, this team would deservedly be in the last spot, if not for …

14. Big-Ten-school-from-New-Jersey (1-7, 0-5)

Game result: Bye

Movement from last poll: None

Five weeks ago, we said this school embarrassed the conference and didn’t deserve to be named until it won another game. So maybe we can finally call it by its proper name next season? The only category this school actually leads in is “most fan tweets depicting a dumpster fire.”

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