Week 7 Football Power Rankings

Every week during the football season, Brent Yarina posts his latest Big Ten Power Rankings. Week 6 saw Illinois and Michigan both move to 6-0 and it also included a historic Nebraska rally. As for the power rankings, they are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply Brent’s thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands after its latest game and entering its next contest. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina. See the rankings in this post.

1. Wisconsin (5-0) – The Badgers were doing just about everything right before their bye week, and now they’re rested and healthy just in time for a rough stretch that includes four of six games on the road. Wisconsin has yet to play a true road game – it beat Northern Illinois at Soldier Field – so it will be interesting to see if it can continue its absolute dominance away from Camp Randall Stadium.
Last week: No. 1
Next game: vs. Indiana

2. Michigan (6-0) – The Wolverines faced adversity for the first time Saturday since its Week 2 comeback win over Notre Dame. And just as they did against the Irish, Michigan and Denard Robinson erased a rare deficit, scoring the game’s final 28 points to beat Northwestern, 42-24, in their first road game. As bad as the first half was, the second-half performance has to give Michigan even more confidence about its perfect start.
Last week: No. 2
Next game: at Michigan State

3. Illinois (6-0) – This Nathan Scheelhaase-A.J. Jenkins connection really needs to start getting more national pub. Following Saturday’s big day at Indiana, the duo has hooked up for 18 receptions, 450 yards and five touchdowns in the last two weeks. Granted the performances have come against underwhelming pass defenses, Northwestern and Indiana, those numbers are absolutely silly.
Last week: T-No. 4
Next game: vs. Ohio State

4. Michigan State (4-1) – The Spartans couldn’t have asked for a better time for a bye week. With rival Michigan looming Saturday, Michigan State has two weeks to prepare for the undefeated Wolverines. That’s important because not only is Michigan playing at its highest level since 2006, but it’s never easy to prepare for Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson.
Last week: No. 3
Next game: vs. Michigan

5. Nebraska (5-1) – The first half Saturday had Nebraska fans booing and thinking that their team was a bust. Facing a 21-point deficit and the prospect of an 0-2 Big Ten start, the Huskers pulled off the biggest comeback in school history en route to stunning Ohio State, 34-27. Nebraska fans still probably don’t know what to think of their team, but the Huskers enter their bye week on a high note, and that’s a big positive.
Last week: T-No. 4
Next game: Bye

6. Penn State (5-1) – For all the problems on offense and all the talk about Penn State having a down year, it is 5-1, the lone loss coming against undefeated Alabama. No, the offense isn’t going to scare a single defense, but it doesn’t really matter as long as Devon Still and the defense continue to shut down opponents. Take away the loss to the Crimson Tide, and the Nittany Lions are allowing just 7.2 points per game. Even more impressive, the defense hasn’t been affected by Michael Mauti and D’Anton Lynn’s injuries.
Last week: No. 7
Next game: vs. Purdue

7. Iowa (3-2) – Iowa’s prolific passing attack met its match Saturday against Penn State, as James Vandenberg completed only 50 percent of his passes for 169 yards and two interceptions. It was a disappointing offensive performance, however it’s not like any team is having much success against Penn State’s underrated defense. The good news: Northwestern’s struggling pass defense awaits Saturday.
Last week: No. 7
Next game: vs. Northwestern

8. Northwestern (2-3) – Two Big Ten games in, the Wildcats are surrendering 40 points and 507 total yards per contest. It’s the same problem that haunted Northwestern last season, particularly late following Dan Persa’s season-ending injury, and it’s something Pat Fitzergald and company have to fix. The defense simply can’t keep putting this much pressure on Dan Persa and the offense.
Last week: No. 9
Next game: at Iowa

9. Ohio State (3-3) – If it wasn’t clear before Saturday night, this isn’t the same Ohio State team we’re so used to seeing. The Buckeyes don’t blow 21-point leads – even on the road against a highly ranked foe – but that’s just what happened under the lights in Lincoln. As bad as the meltdown was, the Buckeyes did themselves no favors, committing nine penalties for 75 yards. The passing game also remains a huge liability, which is to be expected when you’re starting a true freshman.
Last week: No. 9
Next game: at Illinois

10. Purdue (3-2) – For the second time this season, Purdue looked great and dismantled an inferior foe, destroying Minnesota, 45-17, Saturday. The last time the Boilers blasted a foe – they beat Southeast Missouri State 59-0 on Sept. 17 – they lost their next game to Notre Dame. Basically, it’s tough to take anything from a home win over another struggling team, and we’ll know a lot more about the Boilers after next week’s test at Penn State. That said, it’s hard to ignore transfer Akeem Shavers’ immediate impact.
Last week: No. 10
Next game: at Penn State

11. Indiana (1-5) – The Hoosiers don’t have a starting quarterback, but it looks like they may have found themselves a running back in Sam Houston. The sophomore totaled 138 yards, including 70 through the air, in Indiana’s 41-20 loss to Illinois. In the last two games, Houston has averaged 100.5 yards and 19 touches. Give him some more totes, take some pressure off the inexperienced quarterbacks, and Indiana’s offense could benefit.
Last week: No. 11
Next game: at Wisconsin

12. Minnesota (1-5) – The Gophers have been outscored, 103-17, in their two Big Ten games. The numbers aren’t pretty any way you look at them. Minnesota is an outmatched team right now, and you can see it in every facet of the game. One positive from Saturday’s defeat at Purdue had to be freshman Marcus Jones’ electric play. He dropped a would-be touchdown pass, sure, but we all saw his potential on a 92-yard kickoff return for a score and a 32-yard reception.
Last week: No. 12
Next game: Bye

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