Big Ten football rankings entering Week 9 of the 2016 season. There’s a new No. 1 after Ohio State goes down.
Few – if anyone – saw that coming. Penn State pulled off a shocker under the lights in Happy Valley, knocking off Ohio State and putting the Buckeyes’ chances of reaching the College Football Playoff in jeopardy.
That means Michigan, which routed Illinois, moves into the No. 1 spot in our Big Ten rankings and controls its own destiny in the Big Ten West.
Here’s a look at how the rest of the Big Ten teams rank heading into Week 9 of the season.
Week 9 Big Ten Football Rankings
14. Rutgers (Last Week – 14)
The Scarlet Knights finally showed some signs of life and even led Minnesota by a point in the fourth quarter. But Rutgers couldn’t hold on and lost, 34-32, but that’s a heck of an improvement from scoring a combined 14 points the previous four weeks.
13. Illinois (13)
Illinois has beaten only Murray State – an FCS foe – and Rutgers. It showed just how much work Lovie Smith has to do in order to turn the program around in Saturday’s 41-8 loss to Michigan. Not even the son of one of the Fighting Illini’s greatest quarterbacks could do much, as Jeff George Jr. finished 4 of 15 for 95 yards – 43 of them coming on a way-to-late touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
12. Purdue (12)
Gerad Parker’s debut as interim coach wasn’t all that bad considering what Purdue had become under Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers hung around with Nebraska in Lincoln before falling, 27-14, and showed some improvement, even if it was just a little.
11. Michigan State (11)
The losses keep on coming. The Spartans have dropped five in a row, and last year’s trip to the College Football Playoff seems like a distant memory.
10. Indiana (10)
The Hoosiers now have lost three in a row since beating Michigan State after falling, 24-14, at Northwestern. The next two weeks provide opportunities to end their skid, though, with matchups against Maryland and Rutgers on the docket.
9. Maryland (9)
Big win for the Terrapins, who beat Michigan State under the lights, 28-17. Sure, this victory would be much bigger had the Spartans lived up to their preseason hype, but it’s still a huge win for DJ Durkin and the Maryland rebuild.
8. Northwestern (8)
Don’t look now, but those same Wildcats who lost to FCS foe Illinois State earlier this season are in contention for the Big Ten East title. Northwestern has won three in a row, but matchups at Ohio State and home against Wisconsin the next two weeks will be its true tests.
7. Minnesota (6)
Minnesota averted disaster against Big Ten-worst Rutgers before pulling out a tough victory at home. It would’ve been the Gophers’ third loss in four games had they not been able to kick a field goal after trailing in the fourth quarter. They hope to avoid a letdown the next two weeks as well when they face Illinois and Purdue.
6. Iowa (7)
The Hawkeyes had an opportunity to add a big victory this week, but they lost to Wisconsin at home, 17-9, despite hanging tough throughout the contest. They’ll get a week off before back-to-back night games against Penn State and Michigan.
5. Penn State (5)
The annual White Out game was a stunner. The Nittany Lions’ blocked field goal and return for a touchdown proved to be the difference in a 24-21 victory, and the defense stepped up on Ohio State’s final drive. Huge win for coach James Franklin.
4. Nebraska (4)
Nebraska didn’t get caught looking ahead to next week’s showdown with Wisconsin. That’s not to say the Huskers were extremely impressive against Purdue, but Mike Riley’s banged up team should be much healthier against the Badgers.
3. Wisconsin (3)
The 17-9 win over Iowa certainly wasn’t pretty. Wisconsin started Alex Hornibrook, replaced him with Bart Houston – the opening-game starter – and failed to produce points in the red zone twice. Houston played one drive in the second quarter and another in the fourth and threw a touchdown pass. Do the Badgers have a quarterback controversy heading yet another top-10 matchup in Madison?
2. Ohio State (1)
Most everyone figured Ohio State and Michigan would both be undefeated when they met in late November for the Big Ten West title. Instead, the Buckeyes couldn’t hold a 21-7 lead at Penn State in the fourth quarter and suffered a loss few saw coming.
1. Michigan (2)
The Wolverines outscored Rutgers and Illinois 119-8 over their last two games. Not that it’s impressive to blow out the bottom two teams in the Big Ten, but its further validation that Michigan is prepared for every team it faces and isn’t going to have a letdown before heading to Columbus to close out the regular season.