Find Week 9’s rankings here.
1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (8-1), W - 26-17 at Nebraska, Next Week: vs. No. 19 Purdue
The Buckeyes made just enough plays on offense and capitalized on some special teams mishaps by Nebraska in their 26-17 road win over the weekend. Ryan Day’s team was shaky on offense for much of the day, as quarterback C.J. Stroud through two interceptions and the Buckeyes stalled out in the red zone multiple times. However, the Cornhuskers had no answer for wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba who finished with 15 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown in the win. The Buckeyes will look to avoid an upset when they host No. 19 Purdue this upcoming weekend.
OH MY ‼️ JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA 75 YARDS TO THE HOUSE pic.twitter.com/QmB8tbkL9U— 247Sports (@247Sports) November 6, 2021
2. (2) Michigan State (8-1), L - 40-29 at Purdue, Next Week: vs. Maryland
The Spartans suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday, falling to Purdue in West Lafayette. This game was a clear letdown spot for Sparty, coming off their dramatic win over rival Michigan two weeks ago. The Spartans’ offense played well and Kenneth Walker III had another great game (136 rushing yards, one TD) but a costly fourth quarter red zone interception by Payton Thorne was the difference in the game.
Michigan State’s defense was gashed through the air all afternoon, allowing 536 passing yards to the Boilermakers. It was always unrealistic to think this Michigan State team could run the table in the Big Ten, but a loss to Purdue doesn’t end their College Football Playoff hopes just yet, especially with a game against Ohio State still on the docket.
3. (3) Michigan (8-1), W - 29-7 vs. Indiana, Next Week: at Penn State
Michigan took care of business on Saturday night, holding Indiana to just 195 total yards in a suffocating performance by their defense. Running back Blake Corum was forced from the game early in the first quarter with an injury, but Hassan Haskins picked up the slack and rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown in the win. With Michigan’s defense playing so well, quarterback Cade McNamara didn’t have to do much and completed just ten passes for 168 yards in the game. The Wolverines have a tough matchup at Penn State up next this Saturday.
4. (4) Penn State (6-3), W - 31-14 at Maryland, Next Week: vs. No. 6 Michigan
It took the Nittany Lions nearly three quarters to get going, but they eventually pulled away from Maryland to become bowl eligible. Quarterback Sean Clifford looked fully healthy again and finished with 363 passing yards three touchdowns in the win. Clifford’s performance was once again aided by a monster game from wide receiver Jahan Dotson. Dotson hauled in 11 catches for a school-record 242 yards and three touchdowns, as he single-handedly torched Maryland’s defense all afternoon. This wasn’t one of Penn State’s best games this season, but the Nittany Lions will certainly take the road win as they continue to work their way into the College Football Playoff rankings.
Jahan Dotson. See ya. He’s a first round pick for sure.pic.twitter.com/FXqi8kSTd8— Kyle J. Andrews (@KyleJAndrews_) November 6, 2021
5. (5) Wisconsin (6-3), W - 52-3 at Rutgers, Next Week: vs. Northwestern
The Badgers destroyed Rutgers on Saturday behind another shutdown performance by the defense, while Graham Mertz showed signs of life. Mertz threw for 240 yards, three touchdowns and a pick, but more importantly looked as comfortable as he’s been in the pocket all season. Running back Braelon Allen rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries, and has now rushed for 100+ yards in five straight games.
Wisconsin’s dominant defense took advantage of a subpar Rutgers offense and forced the Scarlet Knights into four turnovers (three INTs, one fumble), one being a pick six. The Badgers held Rutgers to only 207 total yards in the win and shut them out in the final three quarters. A home matchup against another below-average offense in Northwestern should have Jim Leonhard and his defense excited.
6. (6) Iowa (7-2), W - 17-12 at Northwestern, Next Week: vs. Minnesota
The Hawkeyes overcame an injury to starting quarterback Spencer Petras and forced three interceptions on their way to a gritty road win over Northwestern. After Petras went down in the first quarter, backup Alex Padilla (172 passing yards, zero turnovers) filled in admirably to lead the Hawkeyes to a win. Running back Tyler Goodson took some pressure off Padilla with a 141-yard, one touchdown performance on the ground. It wasn’t pretty, but this was an important win for Kirk Ferentz’s team after back-to-back losses to Purdue and Wisconsin. A home matchup against Minnesota is up next for the Hawkeyes this weekend.
7. (8) Purdue (6-3), W - 40-29 vs. Michigan State, Next Week: at No. 4 Ohio State
Purdue’s offense was rolling on all cylinders on Saturday, as the Boilermakers beat Michigan State for their second top-five upset of the season. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell was lights out all afternoon and finished with 536 passing yards and three touchdowns in the win. Wide receiver David Bell was once again unstoppable, hauling in 11 catches for 217 yards and a touchdown. Purdue’s defense stepped it up in the second half and essentially clinched the win with a fourth quarter interception in the red zone. The Boilermakers became bowl eligible with the win and will look to take down another top-five opponent when they travel to Ohio State this Saturday.
David Bell this year against top-5 opponents:— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) November 6, 2021
No. 2 Iowa - 11 catches, 240 yards, 1 TD
No. 3 Michigan State - 11 catches, 217 yards, 1 TD
8. (7) Minnesota (6-3), L - 14-6 vs. Illinois, Next Week: at No. 20 Iowa
Minnesota might have been caught looking ahead to Iowa this upcoming weekend, as the Gophers were tripped up at home by Illinois on Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was sacked six times and threw two interceptions, including one on the Gophers’ final drive to seal the win for the Illini. Minnesota’s injuries at running back may have finally caught up with them, as freshmen Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving were largely ineffective all afternoon. The Gophers’ defense did a good job at limiting big plays and held Illinois scoreless in the second half, but it was all for naught. Minnesota still controls their own destiny in the Big Ten West and will travel to Iowa this Saturday for a crucial matchup.
9. (9) Maryland (5-4), L - 31-14 vs. Penn State, Next Week: at No. 7 Michigan State
The Terps couldn’t become bowl eligible and fell at home to Penn State on Saturday. Maryland played the Nittany Lions tough through three quarters and tied the game at 14-14 early in the fourth, but then Jahan Dotson happened. Dotson scored an 86-yard touchdown on Penn State’s next possession and the Nittany Lions never looked back. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 371 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but the Terps didn’t really hit any big plays through the air. Mike Locksley’s squad will try again to get to six wins when they travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State this weekend.
10. (11) Illinois (4-6), W- 14-6 at Minnesota, Next Week: BYE
Illinois’ defense flexed their muscles in a road win at No. 20 Minnesota this past weekend. The Illini picked off Tanner Morgan twice and held a potent Minnesota rushing offense to just 89 yards and 2.5 yards per carry. On the offensive side of the ball, Illinois leaned on running back Chase Brown once again, as the sophomore rushed for 147 yards on a whopping 32 carries. Quarterback Brandon Peters had only nine pass attempts and completed seven of them for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Although a bowl game is unlikely (at Iowa, vs. Northwestern remaining) for the Illini this season, head coach Bret Bielema has shown the ability to win games against quality Big Ten opponents in his first year at the helm.
11. (10) Rutgers (4-5), L - 52-3 vs. Wisconsin, Next Week: at Indiana
Rutgers was completely overmatched in their 52-3 blowout home loss to Wisconsin this past weekend. Quarterback Noah Vedral was overwhelmed all afternoon and completed just eight passes for 81 yards and two interceptions in the loss. The Scarlet Knights’ defense had no answer for Wisconsin’s rushing attack (305 rushing yards) and allowed big plays through the air all game. It’s still possible Greg Schiano can lead this team to bowl eligibility down the stretch (games left against Indiana, Penn State, Maryland), but it’s highly unlikely, given how little Rutgers has been able to do on the offensive side of the ball.
12. (12) Nebraska (3-7), L - 26-17 vs. Ohio State, Next Week: BYE
The Cornhuskers played Ohio State as tough as any team this season, not named Oregon, but two missed field goals and some questionable coaching decisions by Scott Frost proved costly. Nebraska’s defense played their hearts out against an elite Buckeyes offense, despite allowing 495 total yards in the loss. The Black Shirts picked off C.J. Stroud twice and held the Buckeyes out of the end zone in the second half. A banged up Adrian Martinez was inefficient under center for most of the day, outside of two long completions (72 and 53 yards) to wide receiver Samori Toure. Nebraska will retain Scott Frost for at least another season, but with their final two games against Iowa and Wisconsin, the Cornhuskers are looking at a 3-9 season in Frost’s fourth season.
13. (13) Northwestern (3-6), L - 17-12 vs. Iowa, Next Week: at No. 18 Wisconsin
The Wildcats gave Iowa a scare, but couldn’t get it done in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday night. Senior Andrew Marty got the start under center and struggled for much of the night, throwing three interceptions in the loss. Northwestern was run all over by Iowa running back Tyler Goodson, but they did hold the Hawkeyes to just three points in the second half. With a shaky quarterback situation and a defense that hasn’t impressed all season, wins will be hard to come by for the Wildcats down the stretch
14. (14) Indiana (2-7), L - 29-7 at Michigan, Next Week: vs. Rutgers
The Hoosiers suffered yet another loss on Saturday, as their offense could get nothing going in a tough road environment in Ann Arbor. In just his second career start, freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley completed 10-of-24 passes for only 88 yards and fumbled twice, losing one of them. Indiana’s rushing attack did very little help McCulley, as they could muster only 3.1 yards per carry in the loss. After starting the year ranked, this has been a nightmare season for Tom Allen and company, who are still looking for their first conference win.