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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 9 Recap

Ohio State takes care of business, Wisconsin keeps the Axe and Penn State puts up 50 on Illinois.

Find Week 8’s rankings here.

1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (6-0), W - 22-10 vs. Northwestern, Next Week: vs. No. 2 Clemson (CFP Semifinal)

The Buckeyes were on the ropes early but shutout Northwestern in the second half on their way to a 22-10 win in the Big Ten title game. Running back Trey Sermon was the story of the game, rushing for a school-record 331 yards and two touchdowns in the win. However, quarterback Justin Fields had perhaps his worst game of the season and finished with just 114 passing yards and two interceptions against the Wildcats. The Buckeyes, who were without star wide receiver Chris Olave and 21 other players due to COVID-19 on Saturday, will have 12 days to prepare and get COVID-free for their College Football Playoff matchup against Clemson.

2. (2) Indiana (6-1), DNP, Next Week: vs. Ole Miss (Outback Bowl)

Indiana’s game against Purdue was canceled due to positive coronavirus cases in both programs. The Hoosiers were robbed of a New Year’s Six bowl and instead will play against Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl.

3. (3) Northwestern (6-2), L - 22-10 vs. Ohio St., Next Week: vs. Auburn (Citrus Bowl)

Northwestern gave the Buckeyes their best shot, but just didn’t have enough offensive firepower to hang on to their four-point halftime lead. The Wildcats were shutout in the second half and quarterback Peyton Ramsey had three turnovers (two INTs, one fumble) in the loss. Northwestern’s defense was gashed for 399 rushing yards, despite picking off Justin Fields twice and holding the Buckeyes to only 114 yards through the air. The Wildcats will look to cap off a great season with a win over Auburn in the Citrus Bowl.

4. (4) Iowa (6-2), DNP, Next Week: vs. Missouri (Music City Bowl)

Iowa was forced to cancel their season finale against Michigan because of COVID-19 concerns within the Wolverines’ program. The Hawkeyes will take their six game winning streak into a matchup against Missouri in the Music City Bowl.

5. (5) Penn State (4-5), W - 56-21 vs. Illinois, Next Week: N/A

The Nittany Lions hung 56 points on the Illini and won their fourth straight game this past weekend. Wide receiver Jahan Dotson had an amazing performance, hauling in six catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Quarterback Sean Clifford continued his strong finish to the year with 285 yards and two touchdowns through the air; he will be the favorite to start Week 1 for the Nittany Lions next season. Penn State’s defense shutout the Illini in the final three quarters after allowing 21 points in the first period. After starting the season 0-5, the Nittany Lions finished with an impressive four game winning streak and will look to have a bounce back year next season. Penn State has elected not to play in a bowl game this year.

6. (6) Wisconsin (3-3), W - 20-17 OT vs. Minnesota, Next Week: vs. Wake Forest (Mayo Bowl)

Led by Garrett Groshek’s 154 rushing yards, the Badgers topped Minnesota in overtime to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe in Madison. Kicker Collin Larsh drilled the 30-yard game winning field goal in overtime, after Minnesota missed a 36-yard kick on their first possession in the extra period. This was a gutsy win for Wisconsin, who were without their top two running backs (Jalen Berger, Nakia Watson), top two wide receivers (Danny Davis, Kendric Pryor), and starting left tackle (Cole Van Lanen). Quarterback Graham Mertz was pedestrian (132 yards, zero touchdowns) before leaving the game with a concussion. The Badgers will turn their attention to Wake Forest and their fast-paced offense in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

7. (8) Minnesota (3-4), L - 20-17 OT at Wisconsin, Next Week: N/A

Minnesota came into their game against Wisconsin as 12-point underdogs and nearly pulled off the upset, but a missed field goal kick in overtime ultimately was the difference. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 151 yards, setting a school record with his eight straight game with at least 100 rushing yards. This has been a disappointing season for Minnesota, who had to deal with COVID-19 issues as well as wide receiver Rashod Bateman declaring early for the NFL draft. Despite the overtime loss, the Gophers move up one spot due to their head-to-head win over Nebraska. P.J. Fleck’s team has chosen not to participate in a bowl game and their outlook for the 2021 season will likely hinge on if Ibrahim decides to leave early for the draft or not.

8. (10) Nebraska (3-5), W - 28-21 at Rutgers, Next Week: N/A

Nebraska ended their season on a high note with a hard fought road win at Rutgers on Friday night. The Cornhuskers rushed for 365 yards as a team, led by running back Dedrick Mills’ 191 yards and quarterback Adrian Martinez’s 157 yards and two touchdowns. Martinez completed 86% of his passes and threw for 255 yards, but committed four turnovers (two INTs, two fumbles) in Nebraska’s win. This was a much-needed win for Scott Frost and the Cornhuskers, as they head into a make or break season in 2021. Nebraska has elected not to play in a bowl game, despite being the loudest proponent to start the Big Ten season on time back in September.

9. (7) Rutgers (3-6), L - 28-21 vs. Nebraska, Next Week: N/A

The Scarlets Knights allowed 620 total yards to Nebraska and were outscored by two touchdowns in the second half on their way to a home loss. Rutgers was outplayed on both sides of the ball, but four turnovers by Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez (two INTs, two fumbles) kept the Scarlet Knights in the game. Former Badger Aron Cruickshank also had a kick return touchdown, his second of the season, in the loss. Overall, Rutgers fans have to be excited with Greg Schiano’s first year back in New Brunswick. The Scarlet Knights played all nine games, winning three of them, and were competitive in three others (Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska). Gone are the days of Rutgers being an automatic win on the schedule, and the future looks bright heading into 2021 for the Scarlet Knights.

10. (9) Maryland (2-3), DNP, Next Week: N/A

Maryland was forced to cancel their fourth game of the season due to positive coronavirus cases within their program. The Terps end their season with two solid wins over Minnesota and Penn State, but played just five games on the year, the least in the Big Ten.

11. (11) Michigan State (2-5), DNP, Next Week: N/A

The Spartans had their season finale against Maryland canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Terrapins’ program. Michigan State was up and down all season, but wins over in-state rival Michigan and a ranked Northwestern team will have Spartans fans feeling positive heading into 2021.

12. (12) Purdue (2-4), DNP, Next Week: N/A

Purdue had their rivalry game against Indiana canceled for the second straight week due to COVID-19 concerns in both programs. It was a forgetful season for head coach Jeff Brohm and the Boilermakers, who struggled mightily on the defensive end but led the Big Ten in passing yards per game.

13. (13) Michigan (2-4), DNP, Next Week: N/A

The Wolverines were forced to cancel their third straight game due to positive coronavirus cases in their program and did not play Maryland this past weekend. Michigan will not play in a bowl game and finish the 2020 season with a disappointing 2-4 record.

14. (14) Illinois (2-6), L - 56-21 at Penn St., Next Week: N/A

In their first game without Lovie Smith, the Illini allowed 56 points and fell to Penn State on Saturday. Illinois came out hot with 21 points in the first quarter, but were never able to score again and totaled just 273 yards in the game. Quarterback Isaiah Williams got the start and struggled through the air (eight completions, one INT), but added 102 yards rushing in the loss. Williams looks to be the quarterback of the future for new head coach Bret Bielema, who will enter next season with a full rebuild on his hands. The Illini have not had a winning season since 2011.