Big Ten football rankings entering Week 8 of the 2016 season. Coming off a week with another Top 10 showdown, here’s how the teams grade out.
Ohio State heading up to Madison to face Wisconsin was the unquestioned highlight of the weekend. As, for the second time this season, the Badgers dirtied up their jerseys against a top-10 team. The conference’s undercard was Kevin Wilson’s Indiana club hosting Mike Riley’s Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Elsewhere, Michigan State and Northwestern squared off as two teams looking to turn their seasons around. Meanwhile, Rutgers and Illinois opened the day trading punts and turnovers in the battle to keep at least one foot out of the conference basement.
Here’s a look at how the Big Ten teams rank heading into Week 8 of the season.
Week 8 Big Ten Football Rankings
14. Rutgers (Last Week – 14)
Rutgers needs to stop the bleeding, and fast. The loss to Illinois wasn’t as bad as the demoralizing defeats to Ohio State and Michigan, but still, there’s a lot of work to be done
13. Illinois (13)
You just beat a team that came in not having scored a point in 11 of its past 12 quarters. Nothing is given, but win was to be expected (and that was one ugly win).
12. Purdue (12)
At this point, Darrell Hazell must just be counting down the days until he can leave West Lafayette and start anew.* Meanwhile, fans are scraping together all their spare change and firing up a GoFundMe for Les Miles.
*Update (10/16): Purdue fired Hazell on Sunday, so prepare for the drama to be kicked up a notch. P.J. Fleck, Les Miles, expect some phone calls.
11. Michigan State (8)
Welcome to the first four-game losing streak of the Mark Dantonio era. This wasn’t supposed to be a championship season, but it wasn’t supposed to be this dark. Giving up 54 points to Northwestern is unacceptable.
10. Indiana (10)
At least Indiana looked good in their Candy Stripe uniforms and fought toughly at home. The Hoosiers are progressing as a program, but they’re not yet ready to compete at a consistent level.
9. Maryland (6)
The Terps are coming back down to Earth after such a hot start. They’ll still give teams fits for the duration of the season, but there has been a little luster lost. Where has the offense gone?
8. Northwestern (11)
Look up the word “mercurial” in the dictionary, and you’ll find an image of this Northwestern Wildcats team. They lose at home to Illinois State, but win on the road against Iowa and Michigan State. No doubt Pat Fitzgerald has always dreamed of that kind of offensive output.
7. Iowa (7)
Congratulations on beating a Purdue team that you were supposed to house. See if the winning ways continue at home against Wisconsin next week, then let’s celebrate.
6. Minnesota (9)
Great rebound win after two tight losses to Penn State and Iowa. Don’t look now, but Minnesota might (see: should) be 7-2 by the November 12 showdown in Lincoln.
5. Penn State (5)
The Nittany Lions’ bye week came at the perfect time: midseason, on the heels of a two-game upswing and right before the Ohio State game in The Horseshoe. Time to take stock of what went right against Minnesota and Maryland, and hone in on the deficiencies (see: rushing defense) for the final stretch.
4. Nebraska (4)
Keep doubting Nebraska if you want; the Huskers keep winning games. They let Indiana back into it on Saturday, but made the necessary plays to remain undefeated. Next week at Purdue should be a cake walk before traveling to Madison the following week.
3. Wisconsin (3)
So Wisconsin has now lost to Michigan and Ohio State. That was expected. The real challenge comes in closing out October against Iowa and Nebraska. Win those two games, and the Badgers can set sights on the Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin is, without a doubt, the best two-loss team in the nation. College football fans deserve a rematch between the Badgers and either the Wolverines or Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game.
2. Michigan (2)
What better way to wash down last week’s bloodletting (you know, aside from with a steak and glass of milk) than with a bye week.
1. Ohio State (1)
There is a STRONG case to be made for Ohio State being No. 1 in the nation. Between the evisceration of Oklahoma in Norman, and this thrilling win under the lights in Madison there may not be two more impressive victories in the country.