Power Rankings: Badgers, Ball making moves

Montee Ball and the Wisconsin offense sure look like they are back. While still not nearly as explosive as last season’s unit, the offense has found its footing. After all, it went for 645 yards of offense in its 38-14 win at Purdue.

But where do the Badgers land on  my Week 8 Power Rankings? Find out in this post.

1. Ohio State (7-0, 3-0). The Buckeyes marched to 7-0 with a less-than-vintage 52-49 win at Indiana. And, there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight to the losing. But that defense? Well, I’m a bit concerned. Still, this is a motivated, talented and focused team that is aiming for the AP national title. I can’t wait for games at Wisconsin and vs. Michigan.
Last week: 1
Up next: Purdue

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2. Michigan (4-2, 2-0). The 4-2 Wolverines have come to life with the start of Big Ten play, waylaying Purdue, 44-13, and whipping Illinois, 45-0. Now, Michigan will take lots of momentum into a home game with the slumping Spartans who have won four in a row vs. the Wolverines. Think Michigan will be motivated?
Last week: 2
Up next: Michigan State

3. Penn State (4-2, 2-0). The 4-2 Nittany Lions cooled their heels with an off week after ripping off four wins in succession. Will the time off be a bad thing? Regardless, this team remains one of the nation’s biggest surprises.
Last week: 3
Up next: at Iowa

[RELATED: Dienhart: What I learned in Week 7]

4. Northwestern (6-1, 2-1). The Wildcats’ 21-13 win at Minnesota made Northwestern 6-1 and bowl-eligible for a sixth season in succession, believe it or not. Now, Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats have their eyes set on making a run at the Legends Division crown.
Last week: 4
Up next: Nebraska

5. Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1). The Badgers looked like the 2011 Badgers in the 38-14 win at Purdue, notching 645 yards—the second most ever in a game for Wisconsin. Montee Ball enjoyed a breakout game with a career-high 247 yards rushing for a team that looks like it’s hitting its stride with two wins in a row after an uneven beginning.
Last week: 7
Up next: Minnesota

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6. Iowa (4-2, 2-0). Looky here: The Hawkeyes’ gutty 19-16 double-overtime win at Michigan State puts them in the thick of the Legends Division race with a 2-0 Big Ten mark. Kudos to the defense, which has played pretty well all season. The offense? It still has room to grow.
Last week: 9
Up next: Penn State

7. Nebraska (4-2, 1-1). Bo Pelini laid it out last week after the 63-point debacle vs. Ohio State, saying the 4-2 Huskers needed to win out. It all starts now after an off week. Games remain vs. Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Penn State, among others.
Last week: 6
Up next: at Northwestern

[RELATED: How did we do? Week 7 picks revisited]

8. Michigan State (4-3, 1-2). The 19-16 double-overtime defeat to Iowa was the Spartans’ third home loss this season. And it comes on the heels of a near-loss at Indiana last week. Michigan State is 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten. And it seems to have no direction.
Last week: 5
Up next: at Michigan

9. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2). The Cinderella story may be over with the 21-13 home loss to Northwestern, which was the Golden Gophers’ second defeat in a row. Now, Minnesota may struggle to even qualify for a bowl with a tough remaining schedule.
Last week: 8
Up next: at Wisconsin

[RELATED: Minnesota's Jerry Kill released from hospital]

10. Purdue (3-3, 0-2). The Boilermakers have gotten crushed the last two weeks at home, losing 44-13 to Michigan and 38-14 to Wisconsin. And what has happened to the defense? Purdue yielded 534 yards to Marshall; 409 to Michigan; 645 to Wisconsin. The last two games, the Boilers allowed 304 yards rushing to Michigan and 467 to Wisconsin—that’s 771 yards rushing in two games.
Last week: 10
Up next: at Ohio State

11. Indiana (2-4, 0-3). The struggles continue for the Hoosiers, who have now lost four games in a row after a valiant 52-49 home loss to Ohio State. Indiana needs to limit big plays on defense while continuing to hone the ground game on offense. The question looms: Will IU win a Big Ten game this season?
Last week: 12
Up next: at Navy

[RELATED: Gerry DiNardo tweets Week 7 Sunday Ruminations]

12. Illinois (2-5, 0-3). A 45-0 loss at Michigan epitomized what’s wrong with the Fighting Illini—just about everything. And now, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is hurt again. Illinois is off next Saturday, which may be just what this discombobulated team needs.
Last week: 11
Up next: Off (Indiana, Oct. 27)

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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8 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (8 Comments)
Mark Charles Peshaba on 10/14/2012 @ 1:40pm EDT Said:

I’m a Buckeye fan. I just gotta say Indiana put up a strong fight last night. I’m sure Indiana will win a few conference games this season.

aroznowski on 10/14/2012 @ 2:41pm EDT Said:

1. Ohio State (7-0) [0]
2. Northwestern (6-1) [+1]
3. Nebraska (4-2) [-1]
4. Michigan (5-2) [0]
5. Penn State (4-2) [0]
6. Wisconsin (5-2) [+3]
7. Iowa (4-2) [+3]
8. Minnesota (4-2) [-1]
9. Purdue (3-3) [-3]
10. Michigan State (4-3) [-2]
11. Indiana (2-4) [0]
12. Illinois (2-5) [0]

Lol, Aroz on 10/14/2012 @ 3:20pm EDT Said:

Aroz… it’s obvious you are a Nebraska fan. They have no business being anywhere near top 5 but then you have them at 3? And if your argument for putting them so high is, “they beat Wisconsin.” Well, you have Wisky only ranked 6… Wow, shows how much you know about football.

aroznowski on 10/14/2012 @ 9:47pm EDT Said:

I do like Nebraska, but to say that I am a fan is a stretch. If I were to rank all twelve Big Ten schools in order of preference, Nebraska would come in fourth. Now let me explain why the Cornhuskers are ranked third, one spot lower than they were ranked last week. Nebraska has one of the two most explosive offensive attacks in the conference. Ohio State has the other one. Nebraska’s major flaw is that its defense is extremely inconsistent. I have watched Nebraska play Southern Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. I have seen that defense at its best during the second half of the game against Wisconsin when they absolutely shut down whatever offense the Badgers brought to Lincoln. I have also seen it at its worst against Ohio State and the offensive attack that is among the best in the conference. Does Nebraska’s defense need to become more consistent? Yes, without a doubt. Right now, that defense is merely average. However, most of the defenses in the Big Ten are average. There is no elite defense in the conference now that Michigan State has struggled with Indiana and Iowa in consecutive weeks. The game of college football is steadily evolving from one controlled by defense to one controlled by offense. Nebraska has the offense to score and compete with any team in the conference and with most teams in the country. Now I will say that the gap between #3 and #4 is rapidly shrinking. With Michigan’s win over Illinois and Nebraska’s bye, a Michigan win vs. Michigan State and a Nebraska loss at Northwestern would drop the Cornhuskers behind the Wolverines. However, the future has not yet happened, and therefore it has no place in these rankings.

Bob Jordan on 10/15/2012 @ 10:48am EDT Said:

You have Penn State ranked too high. Will they go into a free fall when Iowa beats them on Saturday?

Scott on 10/15/2012 @ 1:36pm EDT Said:

I want to keep being a Purdue fan, I really do. But every year they are a massive disappointment. Well at least Michigan State is keeping my spirits….. oh wait they stink too. Actually except our bowl ineligible schools they almost all are mediocre at best, what is happening to this conference?? Is it basketball season yet?

Charles Wolfe on 10/16/2012 @ 12:00pm EDT Said:

Wisconsin has to play both Penn State & Ohio State. It should show how good a team they really are. They should have won both games against Nebraska & Oregon State. Hopefully they’ll meet either Nebraska or Michigan for the B1G Championship. They’re a young team on the rise.

Charles Wolfe on 10/16/2012 @ 12:11pm EDT Said:

Why does Denard’s helmet so big compared to the other players? It reminds me of Darth Helmet in Space Balls. Whats up with the untied shoe laces, & frequently loosing his shoes. Kind of quirky. A rocket of a runner.