MOLINE, Ill. — Wisconsin Interim Head Coach Jim Leonhard earned his first win as the Badgers defeated Purdue, 35-24. Penn State shredded Minnesota's top-ranked defense in a 45-17 victory. Ohio State gave Iowa its worst loss of the Kirk Ferentz era in a 54-10 beatdown.
Let's take a look at WQAD's Big Ten power rankings as we head into Week Nine.
14. Northwestern Wildcats (1-6)
Result: L, 31-24 vs. Maryland
Previous power ranking: 14
Analysis: The Wildcats led at halftime on the road against Maryland, but quarterback Brendan Sullivan threw a second-half opening drive interception that led to a Maryland touchdown. In the end, the Wildcats' defense couldn't stop the Maryland ground game, which racked up 257 yards on 50 carries.
This week: at Iowa
13. Indiana Hoosiers (3-5)
Result: L, 24-17 vs. Rutgers
Previous power ranking: 12
Analysis: After Indiana opened the game with a 14-0 lead, Rutgers scored 24 unanswered points. Over 11 offensive drives between the first and fourth quarter of the game, Indiana either punted, missed a field goal or turned the ball over. On seven of those drives, Indiana gained 9 yards or less. The Hoosiers have now lost five straight games after starting the season 3-0. They have little hope of ending that streak, with Penn State and Ohio State next up on their schedule.
This week: Bye
12. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-3)
Result: W, 24-17 vs. Indiana
Previous power ranking: 13
Analysis: Rutgers climbed out of an early 14-0 hole to end a 21-game home losing streak with their victory over Indiana. Their ground game was effective, running for 192 yards on 50 carries. The Scarlet Knights' defense stood tall against Indiana, allowing just 272 total yards of offense.
This week: at Minnesota
11. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-4)
Result: L, 54-10 vs. Ohio State
Previous power ranking: 8
Analysis: Iowa was handed their worst loss of the Kirk Ferentz-era against Ohio State. The despondent Iowa offense produced just 158 yards and committed six turnovers. Pundits and fans alike were outraged on social media during and after the game, becoming increasingly critical of the program's path moving forward. Many are calling for Offensive Coordinator Brian Ferentz to step down from his position as the leader of the worst offense in college football.
Following Saturday's defeat, Kirk Ferentz was asked why he hadn't considered firing his son to try to jumpstart the Iowa offense. He responded by saying that he'd already answered that question weeks before and that his philosophy doesn't include mid-season coaching changes.
"Nobody does everything perfect. If you've ever been in that situation, you never play perfect," he said. "You never coach perfect. I think we have a good offensive staff and good leadership. We're going to keep pushing forward."
They'll host Northwestern on Saturday, who, since 2015, is the only Big Ten program that Iowa hasn't beaten inside Kinnick Stadium.
This week: Hosts Northwestern
10. Michigan State Spartans (3-4)
Previous power ranking: 10
Analysis: Michigan State travels to Ann Arbor to take on their in-state rival. The Spartans have won the rivalry's last two games, but ESPN's Analytics' matchup predictor gives them just a 9.8% of pulling off the road upset. Michigan is steamrolling towards a Big Ten East championship season finale with Ohio State, and they appear poised to win the 115th edition of the historic rivalry.
This week: at No. 4 Michigan
9. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-4)
Previous power ranking: 9
Analysis: The Cornhuskers have some momentum after two straight conference victories and a close one-possession loss on the road to Purdue. They'll host Illinois, the top team in the Big Ten West on Saturday. ESPN Analytics' matchup predictor gives Nebraska a 32% of winning. The Cornhusker defense, which allows over 470 yards per game, will need to play lights out in order to pull off the upset.
This week: Hosts No. 17 Illinois
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-3)
Result: L, 45-17 vs. No. 16 Penn State
Previous power ranking: 7
Analysis: Minnesota's defense got exposed badly in the second half against Penn State, allowing touchdowns on four consecutive Nittany Lion possessions. The Gophers' defense was ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring and yards allowed prior to the game, before giving up 479 yards and 45 points to the Nittany Lions. The Golden Gophers are now firmly outside of the Big Ten West title conversation.
This week: Hosts Rutgers
7. Wisconsin Badgers (4-4)
Result: W, 35-24 vs. Purdue
Previous power ranking: 11
Analysis: Wisconsin scored touchdowns on their opening offensive and defensive drives, jumping to a 14-0 lead just 3:44 into the game. The Badgers climbed to a 28-3 lead, and Purdue never recovered. Braelon Allen ran for 113 yards on just 16 carries. The Badger defense bent, but held strong at multiple junctures, forcing multiple Purdue field goal attempts and turnovers. The Badgers look to finish the season strong with remaining matches against Maryland, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota.
This week: Bye
6. Maryland Terrapins (6-2)
Result: W, 31-24 vs. Northwestern
Previous power ranking: 6
Analysis: Despite star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa being sidelined with a knee injury, Maryland figured out a way to survive against struggling Northwestern. Backup quarterback Billy Edwards Jr. played well enough, and running back Roman Hemby picked up the slack left by Tagovailoa's absence, rushing for 179 yards on just 24 carries. The Terrapins secured bowl eligibility with their sixth win. They expect to have Tagovailoa back for their Nov. 5 road match with Wisconsin.
This week: Bye
5. Purdue Boilermakers (5-3)
Result: L, 35-24 vs. Wisconsin
Previous power ranking: 5
Analysis: Missed opportunities and turnovers sunk the Boilermakers into a hopeless 28-3 hole. Quarterback Aidan O'Connell threw two interceptions, both of which Wisconsin cashed in for touchdowns. Purdue would've entered the AP Poll for the first time all season with a win. Now, they'll likely have to beat Illinois in order to have a shot at a Big Ten West title. Despite losing on the road for their third loss, the Boilermakers are still a formidable squad that has kept every game close, with the exception of last weekend's game.
This week: Bye
4. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-1)
Result: W, 45-17 vs. Minnesota
Previous power ranking: 4
Analysis: Penn State and Minnesota seemed poised for a classic Big Ten slugfest after the second quarter started with the score tied at three. However, Penn State scored touchdowns on four successive second-half possessions, racking up 479 yards of offense on Minnesota's top-five defense.
The Nittany Lions will have an upset opportunity on Saturday when they host No. 2 Ohio State.
This week: Hosts No. 2 Ohio State
3. Illinois Fighting Illini (6-1)
Previous power ranking: 3
Analysis: The Fighting Illini could have a challenge waiting for them in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have solid momentum after two straight conference victories followed by a close one-possession loss on the road to Purdue. ESPN's Analytics matchup predictor gives Illinois a 68% chance of winning. The Fighting Illini have won six straight games and moved up one spot in the AP Poll to No. 17 during the Bye week. Nebraska's Memorial Stadium will be the most hostile environment they've played in this season.
This week: at Nebraska
2. Michigan Wolverines (7-0)
Previous power ranking: 2
Analysis: Michigan hosts in-state rival Michigan State. The Spartans lost four straight games before beating Wisconsin in Week 8. The Spartans have won two straight against Michigan, but the Wolverines are a different beast this season. Michigan opens as 22.5-point favorites.
This week: Hosts Michigan State
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0)
Result: W, 54-10 vs. Iowa
Previous power ranking: 1
Analysis: The Buckeyes struggled in the first half against the stubborn Iowa defense, but CJ Stroud threw four second-half touchdowns to clobber the Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes' defense terrorized Iowa all game long, forcing six turnovers, and allowing just a single field goal.
They'll have their toughest match-up thus far when they travel to Penn State on Saturday.
This week: at No. 13 Penn State
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