It has been another crazy week for the Big Ten. From Rutgers’ 55-52 victory over Indiana to U–M’s dropped punt, it was wild week of football. The Big Ten East remains a shootout with the undefeated Buckeyes and Spartans leading the pack, followed by the pesky Wolverines and Nittany Lions, sitting with one conference loss. Meanwhile, the Big Ten West is beginning to separate itself with the unbeaten Hawkeyes in front pursued by Wisconsin.
Without further ado, here are the Week 7 power rankings.
Joey Bosa led the defensive charge against the Nittany Lions recording seven tackles, three of which were for a loss, and a sack. Ohio State picked apart the Penn State offensive line, limiting them to 10 points. This is a big deal for Ohio State because to compete for a national championship, it is important that they play both sides of the ball and limit strong offensive teams as Penn State. Offensively, Ohio State ran a dual threat with the combination of JT Barrett and Cardale Jones as quarterback. While this may be a concern for Ohio State moving forward, as it is difficult for the offense to adjust to two quarterbacks in the middle of a game, the duel threat will likely benefit Ohio State; it adds another element to the already-strong Buckeye offense.
After one of the wildest finishes in Michigan State football history, the Spartans remain unbeaten. Granted, if Michigan did not drop the snap with 10 seconds remaining, the Spartans would have lost, but it is unfair to say that the MSU did not deserve the win. A brand new MSU football team had to show up if they were to pull off the win in the Big House, and that is what happened. With the rush game failing right off the bat, Connor Cook put the team on his back and played like an NFL quarterback, connecting with multiple different receivers in one-on-one coverage. The Spartan defense also stepped up, standing their ground on third downs late in the game. Keep in mind that injuries have cursed the Spartans all season long, and with the hopeful return of Jack Allen, Madre London, Darian Hicks and RJ Williamson, Michigan State will be a threat moving forward. That said, MSU must get their special teams under control before it costs them a win.
Every week the Hawkeyes prove themselves to the nation as one of the biggest surprises of the college football season. Iowa currently finds themselves 7-0, coming off a monstrous victory over Northwestern. The Hawkeye defense has proven themselves as one of the most premiere in the country, holding the Wildcats to 10 points. Even more impressive was running back Akrum Wadley, who replaced the injured superstar, Jordan Canzeri. Wadley entered the year as Iowa’s No. 4 running back. After working his way up to No. 2, his name was called upon in Canzeri’s absence where he managed to rack up 204 yards and four touchdowns. Many people doubted the Hawkeyes, but there is no arguing with the results. Week in and week out, Kirk Ferentz’s old-style football program keeps the Hawkeyes’ perfect season alive.
Although the Wolverines looked good in their loss against Michigan State, they had a big problem with penalties. Michigan had eight flags for 70 yards, many of which were personal fouls. The U-M defense is stingy and did a great job containing the Spartans, but MSU often found themselves getting first downs at the cost of foul play by Michigan. Saturday’s game marked the second consecutive game where a Michigan player was ejected for targeting. In fact, U-M is lucky they did not get penalized more. Joe Bolden made a huge scene after his ejection, humiliating the refs and another player caught a flag thrown by a referee. These acts could have led to more flags, and had Michigan been more disciplined, they likely could have won the game.
Defense. What else needs to be said? Saturday’s win over Purdue marks the fourth time the Badgers held a team to single digits this season. Wisconsin’s defense is averaging less than 11 points per game. With a defense this strong, Wisconsin will never get blown out; they can play close to almost team in the country. The X factor for this team remains the redshirt senior Joel Stave. The Wisconsin defense will always provide chances for Stave to save the day, and he needs to consistently do this to catch the Iowa Hawkeyes, who currently have the advantage in record and head-to-head matchup over Wisconsin.
Penn State had a disappointing 38-10 loss against Ohio State. The Bucks may be good, but this was Penn State’s chance to make a splash in the Big Ten East. The Nittany Lions are in the same division as OSU, MSU and U-M. If Penn State is to survive, they need to compete at an elite level, and Saturday’s game proves that they are not ready. Losing to Ohio State is respectable, but the Nittany Lions gave up from the start, unable to exploit the weakness of the Buckeyes— the secondary. Since they could not exploit the weakness of Ohio State, there is no reason to believe that they will be able to exploit Michigan State or Michigan either. It is “sink or swim” in the Big Ten East, and as the season progresses, Penn State will likely sink.
Northwestern came into the conference schedule with momentum and high expectations. In two weeks, that has all changed. The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back blowout losses, first against Michigan and then Iowa. Both of these games were highly anticipated, but the once-impenetrable Wildcat defense was outscored 78-10 over the past two games. This loss to Iowa likely puts Northwestern out of contention for Indianapolis.
The Cornhuskers lost multiple games on last second plays this season, so a 48-25 win over Minnesota made Nebraska fans breathe easy for a change. This is a win the Huskers needed badly, and they finally picked up their first conference win.
While it was not surprising to see the Gophers lose, it was upsetting to see them get steamrolled by a struggling Nebraska team. The usually stellar Minnesota defense fell apart, allowing Tommy Armstrong to get in sync and throw for miles. Minnesota has been improving every season, but they appear to be taking a step back as they struggle to find answers in 2015.
Kyle Flood led the Scarlet knights on a 25 point comeback against Indiana to win in a 55-52 shootout. Taking advantage of late mistakes from Indiana, Rutgers found their first Big Ten win of the year.
The Hoosiers were leading Rutgers by 25 points, only blow it and pick up their third straight loss. Indiana started the year 4-0, but hopes of a bowl game are starting to wither away. With three turnovers in the final quarter of their heartbreaking loss, hopes of a decent season are in jeopardy for the Hoosiers.
Good news: Purdue threw zero interceptions. Bad news: They had two fumbles. Turnovers have blemished the Boilermakers all season. They continue to generate no offense as they ride on a single win thus far in 2015.