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Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 9

Here’s where everyone stands entering the weekend.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

1. Penn State Nittany Lions

I imagine many Badger fans had PTSD flashbacks while watching Penn State execute an incredible brand of aggressive offense that looked exactly like what the Nittany Lions did to the Badgers last December. This is the best offensive team in the country. Their jump ball-style passing attack down the field is legit, not some lucky fluke, and the importance of Trace McSorley to their success cannot be understated. Get ready for the game of the season as these boys head to Columbus this weekend.

Last Week: Win vs. No. 18 Michigan (42–13)

Up Next: at No. 6 Ohio State

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Coming off a bye in Week 8, they should be able to keep rolling into their massive matchup with Penn State, as well as get their team completely healthy. J.T. Barrett has passed the eye test since his letdown against Oklahoma, but this is a different beast for him. The Nittany Lions’ defense presents a huge test for Barrett, and will act as a measuring stick to see if he has truly put his deep-ball woes in his past.

Last Week: Bye

Up Next: at No. 2 Penn State

3. Wisconsin Badgers

As much as it hurts to hear college football talking heads discredit Wisconsin in the college football playoff conversation due to the weakness of its schedule, it does make sense. The Badgers continue to play up-and-down football in terms of quality of play, and the average-at-best competition they have played has not made them pay for their many mistakes. Yet when the offense is clicking, there aren’t many teams in the country superior to Wisconsin.

Last Week: Win vs. Maryland (38–13)

Up Next: at Illinois

4. Michigan State Spartans

It’s certain the Spartans are better than last season, but it’s worth noting they haven’t won any conference game thus far in comfortable fashion, although they haven’t lost. A big road test is on the horizon in Week 9.

Last Week: Win vs. Indiana (17–9)

Up Next: Bye

5. Michigan Wolverines

This is uncharted territory for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. His team is playing well below preseason expectations, dropping out of the top 25 after what must have been a horror show for Wolverine faithful. Michigan fans shouldn’t panic, as they lost more experience than anyone last season, and the youth should be more than fine moving forward. The real question pertains to this season: Can Michigan bounce back?

Last Week: Loss at Penn State (42–13)

Up Next: vs. Rutgers

6. Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern had its biggest win of 2017 in Week 8, toppling Iowa at home and moving to second in the power complex in the West division. The Wildcats showed grit and just enough offense to scare the more talented teams on their schedule the rest of the season, which starts with Michigan State this weekend.

Last Week: Win vs. Penn State (17–10)

Up Next: vs. No. 16 Michigan State

7. Iowa Hawkeyes

Hawkeye nation has to be frustrated after Iowa’s third conference loss of the season, which officially ends its chances at a shot at Indianapolis. It’s noteworthy that the Hawkeyes’ best player and leader of the defense, Josey Jewell, was out against Northwestern, but this still feels like all-too-familiar territory for the fanbase.

Last Week: Loss at Northwestern (17–10)

Up Next: vs. Minnesota

8. Indiana Hoosiers

Tom Allen and his Hoosiers had a real chance to snatch a victory at Michigan State in Week 8, yet an egg was laid in the fourth quarter. This Indiana team is solid and can hang with the best for a period of time, yet it always seems to find a way to lose to the talented teams.

Last Week: Loss at Michigan State (17–9)

Up Next: at Maryland

9. Purdue Boilermakers

This may be too high for the Boilers, who dropped their first disappointing game of Jeff Brohm’s tenure. Losing to Rutgers will always drop you on any list.

Last Week: Loss at Rutgers (14–12)

Up Next: vs. Nebraska

10. Maryland Terrapins

Without its top two QBs, Maryland is a work in progress. The Terps have talent and youth on their side, so expect them to make small strides the rest of the way taking a step up in 2018.

Last Week: Loss at No. 5 Wisconsin (42–13)

Up Next: at Illinois

11. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Last week’s bye came at the perfect time for the Huskers, as they attempt to salvage what they can from 2017. The rest of the season is for pride, which means a ton in Lincoln.

Last Week: Bye

Up Next: at Purdue

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers

P.J. Fleck’s first season has been nothing short of a disappointment, as the Gophers have absolutely nothing going at QB. Keep an eye on their matchup with Iowa this weekend, which would be the first significant notch on Fleck’s belt in his first year.

Last Week: Win vs. Illinois (24–17)

Up Next: at Iowa

13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Their victory over Purdue was the surprise of the weekend, which means legit progress for Rutgers. That’s big-time for the struggling program.

Last Week: Win vs. Purdue (14–12)

Up Next: at Michigan

14. Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois as a football program should not be this bad, yet the Illini continue their downward spiral into the conversation of the worst Power Five football team in 2017.

Last Week: Loss at Minnesota (24–17)

Up Next: at No. 5 Wisconsin