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Big Ten Power Rankings: Where do teams sit heading into this Saturday’s slate?

Ohio State blows past Sparty, Purdue outlasts Maryland and Wisconsin impresses in Evanston.

Find Week 5 rankings here.

1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (6-0), W - 49-20 at Michigan State, Next Week: BYE

Ohio State’s juggernaut offense had another great day on Saturday, scoring 40-plus points for the fifth straight game in a blowout win at Michigan State. Quarterback C.J. Stroud had another Heisman-worthy performance and finished with 361 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception in the game. Sophomore running back TreVeyon returned from a one-game absence and rushed for 118 yards and a score, while three different receivers finished with 80-plus receiving yards. A lot of crazy things can happen in college football, but it’s hard to imagine a team in the Big Ten slowing down Ohio State this season, especially with with star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njiba expected back sooner rather than later.

2. (2) Michigan (6-0), W - 31-10 at Indiana, Next Week: vs. No. 10 Penn State

The Wolverines took care of business on Saturday, shutting out Indiana in the second half to earn their second straight Big Ten road win. First-year starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to be getting more and more comfortable with every start and threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Michigan’s defense dominated in the second half and finished Saturday’s game with seven sacks. Jim Harbaugh’s team will look to stay unbeaten with a win over a top-ten Penn State team tomorrow afternoon in Ann Arbor.

3. (3) Penn State (5-0), BYE, Next Week: at No. 5 Michigan

Penn State had a bye this past week. The off-week couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Nittany Lions will need all the rest and preparation they can get to beat the fifth-ranked Wolverines this weekend.

4. (5) Illinois (5-1), W - 9-6 vs. Iowa, Next Week: vs. Minnesota

Credit to the Illini for avoiding an obvious letdown spot and pulling out an ugly win against Iowa this past weekend. Starting quarterback Tommy DeVito left the game in the first quarter with a leg injury and backup Art Sitkowski was shaky in relief. It was Illinois’ defense that earned this win, as they held Iowa scoreless in the second half and came up with a key interception late in the fourth quarter. With the win, the Illini were ranked No. 24 in the AP Poll on Sunday, their first time being ranked since 2011. DeVito’s status for tomorrow’s game against Minnesota is still up in the air, but the Illini’s strong defense should keep them in the game even if Sitkowski is under center.

5. (6) Purdue (4-2), W - 31-29 at Maryland, Next Week: vs. Nebraska

Purdue scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to pull out a road win at Maryland this past Saturday. After falling behind 23-17 with 7:47 left in the game, quarterback Aidan O’Connell orchestrated two touchdown drives to give Purdue the lead. Tight end Payne Durham had a huge game, finishing with seven catches for 109 yards and a score, including a 56-yard catch and run on the Boilermakers’ go-head touchdown drive. Jeff Brohm’s team has seemed to hit it’s stride in October with three straight wins including road wins at Minnesota and Maryland, two of the better teams in the conference. The Boilermakers will look to avoid a letdown spot in a home matchup against Nebraska tomorrow night.

6. (7) Minnesota (4-1), BYE, Next Week: at No. 24 Illinois

The Golden Gophers had a bye this past week. P.J. Fleck’s team will travel to play Illinois in an important Big Ten West battle tomorrow afternoon.

7. (4) Maryland (4-2), L - 31-29 vs. Purdue, Next Week: at Indiana

This past Saturday’s game against Purdue was right there for the taking, but too many penalties and defensive mistakes down the stretch cost the Terps a win. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense had no problem moving the ball, as the junior threw for 315 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a losing effort. However, the Terps couldn’t get enough stops when it mattered and allowed two back-breaking fourth quarter touchdown drives. Maryland will look to get back on track this weekend when they face a very beatable Indiana team in Bloomington.

8. (10) Wisconsin (3-3), W - 42-7 at Northwestern, Next Week: at Michigan State

Interim head coach Jim Leonhard couldn’t have asked for a better debut, as the Badgers gained 515 total yards on their way to a dominating win over Northwestern. Quarterback Graham Mertz had his best game of the season, throwing for 299 yards, five touchdowns and no picks in the win. Wisconsin’s defense forced the Wildcats into three turnovers (two INTs, one fumble), including two interceptions by safety Kamo’i Latu. The Badgers will look to keep the momentum going under Leonhard when they travel to face Michigan State this weekend.

9. (8) Iowa (3-3), L - 9-6 at Illinois, Next Week: BYE

Iowa’s offense failed to show up again, as the Hawkeyes lost to Illinois for the first time since 2008. The Hawkeyes managed just 1.7 yards per carry (52 yards on 30 carries) in the game and gained only 89 total yards in a scoreless second half. Through six games, Iowa ranks last in the Big Ten in points scored per game, passing yards per game and rushing yards per game. Kirk Ferentz’s team was stout on defense as usual, forcing three turnovers and allowing no touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough. Hopefully, the Hawkeyes can use their bye this week to work on improving things offensively, but I doubt it.

10. (12) Nebraska (3-3), W - 14-13 at Rutgers, Next Week: at Purdue

The Cornhuskers rise two spots this week after a 13-point comeback win at Rutgers last Friday night. Quarterback Casey Thompson battled through an injury suffered in the first half and finished with 232 passing yards, two touchdowns and two picks in the win. Nebraska’s defense came up with three interceptions, including one in Rutgers’ own territory that set up the Huskers for the go-head touchdown in the fourth quarter. They also held Rutgers scoreless in the second half and had three sacks in the game. The Cornhuskers will travel to Purdue tomorrow in a crucial Big Ten West matchup...keep in mind, Nebraska only has one conference loss right now.

11. (9) Michigan State (2-4), L - 49-20 vs. Ohio State, Next Week: vs. Wisconsin

After a surprise breakthrough season in 2021, the Spartans have crashed back to mediocrity this year. Mel Tucker’s team lost their fourth straight game on Saturday, after getting blown out by Ohio State in East Lansing. Michigan State’s defense had no answers for the Buckeyes and allowed seven touchdowns on Ohio State’s first eight possessions. On offense, the Spartans did nothing on the ground (seven rushing yards, 0.4 yards per carry) and quarterback Payton Thorne completed just 11 passes in the loss. With three road games still left to play against ranked teams (Michigan, Illinois, Penn State) and a home date against a newly-motivated Wisconsin team tomorrow, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Spartans to become bowl eligible.

12. (11) Rutgers (3-3), L - 14-13 vs. Nebraska, Next Week: BYE

Rutgers was held scoreless in the second half, as they blew a 13-0 halftime lead in their loss to Nebraska last Friday night. The Scarlet Knights actually outgained Nebraska 348 to 304, but three second-half interceptions and nine penalties ultimately doomed Greg Schaino’s squad. Rutgers has a bye this weekend before hosting Indiana on October 22nd in a must-win game for the Scarlet Knights’ quest to make a bowl game.

13. (13) Indiana (3-3), L - 31-10 vs. Michigan, Next Week: vs. Maryland

The Hoosiers were tied with the fourth-ranked Wolverines heading into halftime but were held scoreless in the second half to drop their third straight game. Tom Allen’s team punted five times and had one turnover on downs in their six second-half possessions, as Michigan’s defense flexed their muscles in Bloomington. Indiana’s offense, led by gunslinger quarterback Connor Bazelak, has looked dangerous at times this season, but the defense has been one of the worst in the conference through six weeks (last in the Big Ten with 30.5 points allowed per game). I’d expect the first team to 35 will likely come out the winner in tomorrow’s game versus Maryland.

14. (14) Northwestern (1-5), L - 42-7 vs. Wisconsin, Next Week: BYE

The Wildcats lost their fifth straight game last weekend, after an uninspiring effort against Wisconsin. Pat Fitzgerald’s defense was gashed for 322 yards and six touchdowns through the air, and allowed a generous 5.1 yards per carry. On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Ryan Hilinski threw two picks and running back Evan Hull, the Wildcats’ best player, had a quiet day on the ground (nine carries, 13 yards). Unfortunately, Northwestern heads into their bye this week as the unquestioned worst team in the conference