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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 7 Recap

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Purdue shocks Iowa on the road, Michigan State stays unbeaten and Nebraska loses again.

Find Week 6’s rankings here.

1. (Last Week: 2) Michigan (6-0), BYE, Next Week: vs. Northwestern

The Wolverines had a bye in Week 7. Jim Harbaugh and company will look to remain unbeaten on the season when they host Northwestern this upcoming weekend.

2. (3) Penn State (5-1), BYE, Next Week: vs. Illinois

Penn State had the weekend off following their loss to Iowa two weeks ago. The Nittany Lions will host Illinois this Saturday in a very winnable game.

3. (4) Ohio State (5-1), BYE, Next Week: at Indiana

The red-hot Buckeyes had a bye last week and will travel to Indiana this upcoming Saturday. Ryan Day’s squad has scored 50+ points in three straight games, as they continue to build on their College Football Playoff resume following their early-season loss to Oregon.

4. (5) Michigan State (7-0), W - 20-15 at Indiana, Next Week: BYE

Michigan State escaped Bloomington with a win, thanks to the strong play of their defense and special teams units. The Spartans had two interceptions and held Indiana’s passing attack to just 3.6 yards per pass in the win. On special teams, kicker Matt Coghlin came up huge and drilled two field goals of 49 and 51 yards in the second half.

With star running back Kenneth Walker III largely kept in check for most of the game (3.7 yards per carry) and quarterback Payton Thorne having his worst game of the season, the Spartans had to lean on their defense and kicker to pull this win out. Mel Tucker’s team head into their bye week with a surprising 7-0 record, and while Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State still remain on the schedule, this season has already been a massive success for Sparty.

5. (1) Iowa (6-1), L - 24-7 vs. Purdue, Next Week: BYE

Coming off their emotional win over Penn State last week, the Hawkeyes were upset by Purdue over the weekend in a classic letdown spot. Iowa’s offense could get nothing going on Saturday, as quarterback Spencer Petras threw four picks and the Hawkeyes rushed for just 2.5 yards per carry in the loss. Iowa’s typically-stout defense was torched by Purdue’s passing attack and allowed 378 yards through the air. The Hawkeyes will get this weekend off before traveling to face Wisconsin on October 30th.

6. (8) Purdue (4-2), W - 24-7 at Iowa, Next Week: vs. Wisconsin

The Boilermakers notched a massive win at No. 2 Iowa on Saturday, thanks to standout performances by quarterback Aidan O’Connell and star wide receiver David Bell. O’Connell threw all over an excellent Purdue secondary, finishing the game with 375 passing yards and two touchdowns. Bell, a potential Biletnikoff Award finalist, exploded for 240 receiving yards and a touchdown in the win. Purdue’s defense also deserves some credit for the upset, as they forced four takeaways and notched four sacks, all while holding the Hawkeyes scoreless in the second half. Purdue now finds itself squarely in the Big Ten West title race and will host Wisconsin this upcoming Saturday afternoon.

7. (7) Wisconsin (3-3), W - 20-14 vs. Army, Next Week: at No. 25 Purdue

It wasn’t pretty but the Badgers pulled out a win over Army on Saturday night to get back to .500 on the season. The Badgers relied on their rushing attack in the win, with freshman running back Braelon Allen leading the way. Allen finished with 108 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, and continued to make his case to be Wisconsin’s number one back.

Jim Leonhard’s defense did a good job slowing down the triple option for most of the game, but some fourth quarter breakdowns made this game closer than it probably should have been. Late in the fourth quarter, linebacker Leo Chenal forced a fumble deep in Army’s own territory to essentially seal the win for the Badgers. The Badgers will travel to play a newly-ranked Purdue team this Saturday, fresh off their win at No. 2 Iowa.

8. (11) Minnesota (4-2), W - 30-23 vs. Nebraska, Next Week: vs. Maryland

Minnesota has bounced back nicely from their embarrassing loss to Bowling Green with two straight conference wins over Purdue and Nebraska. The Golden Gophers sneaked past the Cornhuskers on Saturday behind a strong running game and timely defensive stops. Running back Bryce Williams led the way with 127 rushing yards and a touchdown in the win. The Gophers’ defense came up huge in the second half, forcing a goal line stand and a safety as they clung to a one-score lead. With winnable games against Maryland and Northwestern the next two weeks, Minnesota could surprisingly become bowl eligible before November.

9. (9) Maryland (4-2), BYE, Next Week: at Minnesota

After a 49-point loss to Ohio State two weeks ago, Maryland was off in Week 7. The Terps began the year 4-0, before two straight blowout losses to Iowa and Ohio State respectively. A crucial matchup against Minnesota is up next for the Terrapins this upcoming Saturday.

10. (6) Nebraska (3-5), L - 30-23 at Minnesota, Next Week: BYE

Another week, another one-score loss for Nebraska. This team just can’t seem to win a game, despite playing teams close nearly every week. The Cornhuskers once again made some costly mistakes, including a 27-yard missed field goal, two turnover on downs in Minnesota territory, and a safety late in the fourth quarter. Tight end Austin Allen was the lone bright spot for Nebraska’s offense, hauling in five catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. The Cornhuskers’ defense had no answer for Minnesota’s rushing attack and allowed 214 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. After playing eight straight weeks to start the season, the Cornhuskers will get a much-needed bye this week.

11. (14) Northwestern (3-3), W - 21-7 vs. Rutgers, Next Week: at No. 6 Michigan

The Wildcats got their first Big Ten win of the season, after a 21-7 victory over Rutgers in Evanston over the weekend. Quarterback Ryan Hilinski played his best game of the season, throwing for 267 yards, two touchdowns and no picks in the win. After a shaky start to the season, Northwestern’s defense took care of business and shutdown a subpar Rutgers offense on Saturday. They allowed just 222 yards of total offense and sacked Rutgers’ quarterback Noah Vedral four times in the game. A tough matchup at Michigan is on deck for the the Wildcats this weekend.

12. (12) Indiana (2-4), L - 20-15 vs. Michigan State, Next Week: vs. No. 5 Ohio State

The Hoosiers fell at home to Michigan State on Saturday, to remain winless in conference play this season. Backup quarterback Jack Tuttle filled in for the injured Michael Penix Jr. and completed just 53% of his passes and had three turnovers (two INTs, one fumble). Indiana’s defense played well, holding an explosive Michigan State offense in check for much of the game and keeping running back Kenneth Walker III under 100 rushing yards.

This was a winnable game for Indiana, they just couldn’t make enough plays on offense to get past the Spartans. All four of Indiana’s losses this season have come against ranked teams in Cincinnati, Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan State.

13. (10) Rutgers (3-4), L - 21-7 at Northwestern, Next Week: BYE

The Scarlet Knights couldn’t get it done on the road and finished with a modest 222 total yards in a loss to Northwestern over the weekend. Rutgers had virtually no success running the ball (63 rushing yards, 1.9 yards per carry), while quarterback Noah Vedral had another inconsistent performance under center. Greg Schiano’s team also had 11 penalties for 90 yards and were held scoreless in the second half. This game was a big step back for a team that was fairly competitive in games against Michigan and Michigan State earlier this season. The Scarlet Knights are still looking for their first conference win of the season as they head into their bye week.

14. (13) Illinois (2-5), BYE, Next Week: at No. 7 Penn State

After starting the season 2-5, Illinois had a much-needed bye in Week 7. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Illini, as they will travel to play No. 7 Penn State in Happy Valley this upcoming weekend.