Big Ten Power Rankings: Week Eight
1. Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Iowa 34-24
This week: vs. Penn State (4-2, 1-1)
Ohio State pushed the nation’s longest win streak to 19 games after a sluggish start on Saturday in Columbus. The Buckeyes outgained Iowa 306-153 in the second half, after being down 17-10 at half. Senior running back Carlos Hyde added both of his touchdowns in the second half and compiled 149 yards on the ground.
Even after a bye week, the Ohio State secondary still seemed to have numerous coverage issues giving up 138 receiving yards to sophomore tight end, Jake Duzey. To put that in perspective, Duzey only had 31 receiving yards coming into last Saturday.
Ohio State will need to play greater than expectations to have a chance to jump into the national championship picture, after being ranked #4 in the preliminary BCS rankings. If the Buckeyes come out sluggish again next week, a Penn State team with a lot of confidence has the potential to put up points in a hurry. –Ryan Stevens
2. Michigan State (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Purdue 14-0
This week: @ Illinois (3-3, 0-2)
Leaving Michigan State at the No. 2 spot this week was not easy. If it wasn’t for the nation’s top-ranked defense that the Spartans display week in and week out, this team could easily be .500. However, that is not the case.
Thanks to a Denicos Allen 45-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, the Spartans took down the lowly Boilermakers at home 14-0. The Spartans defense forced one more turnover during its shutout, in the form of an interception. A possible Achilles heel to Mark Dantonio’s team is its offense. Michigan State didn’t make it past the Purdue 32-yard line until the 4th quarter! Consistency is the key for the Spartans. The offensive attack must balance the defense if this team wants to win the Big Ten.
The Spartans will have a tough road task this week, as they will go against the Illinois Fighting Illini. – Tyler Feldman
3. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Illinois 56-32
This week: BYE
In the blink of an eye, Wisconsin was up 21-0 over Illinois on Saturday. A pair of runs from senior running back James White and sophomore Melvin Gordon, in the first 10 minutes, had Wisconsin rolling early. Add in a very efficient 89.5 QBR from sophomore Joel Stave and the Badgers never had a lead of less than double digits after the first quarter.
The Badgers defense may have been the bigger story not giving up more than 25 rushing yards to a single rusher on the Illinois offense. Senior defensive end Ethan Hemer had the big fumble recovery in the first quarter, deep in Illinois territory, that helped Wisconsin build their lead. Senior linebacker Chris Borland left with an injury and didn’t return and his status for the rest of the season has yet to be determined. After the bye week, Wisconsin will head to take on a pesky Iowa team in Kinnick Stadium. –Ryan Stevens
4. Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Indiana 63-47
This week: BYE
After losing on the road to Penn State in a quadruple overtime classic last week, the Wolverines stormed into the Big House and set school records on the offensive side of the ball. Devin Gardner set program records with 584 yards of offense, 503 passing yards and tied a Michigan record with five touchdowns to defeat the Hoosiers in a shootout.
Jeremy Gallon set a Big Ten Conference record with 369 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions. With these kinds of offensive numbers, Michigan can be a very scary team to play down the stretch. Having said that, Indiana houses one of the weakest secondary’s in the nation, so keep that in mind. A worry for Brady Hoke’s team has to be defense. For the second straight week, the Wolverines defense allowed 40-plus points.
Michigan goes into a BYE week with a big win to stay afloat the Big Ten. Look for Hoke to address the defense during the week off. –Tyler Feldman
5. Nebraska (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: @ Minnesota (5-2, 1-2)
Even with the Cornhuskers BYE week this past Saturday, the team’s prolific offense, which has scored over 39 points in each of its last three games, has been finding success without its starting quarterback, Taylor Martinez. Nebraska has won three games in a row, but without Martinez, this team just won’t have what it takes to win the Big Ten. Ideally, Martinez uses the BYE week to his advantage and will be healthy and ready to go for the Cornhuskers bout at Minnesota on Saturday. –Tyler Feldman
6. Penn State (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: @ Ohio State (7-0, 3-0)
The last time we saw the Nittany Lions, they were riding higher than ever after a back-and-forth four overtime affair with Michigan. This week will be the biggest test for Penn State as they travel to Ohio State to take on the Buckeyes in primetime.
Plain and simple, this is the bowl game for Penn State this year. In front of 100,000+ under the bright lights of The Horsehoe, this is going to be the litmus test to see where Penn State stands against one of the best teams in the entire country. Through a season of ups as high as beating Michigan and lows as low as being embarrassed by Indiana, a competitive performance on Saturday will go a long way for the entire program.
For freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, this may be the most hostile environment he may ever play in and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure once again. For the defense, they were thwarted last year by then sophomore quarterback, Braxton Miller. It will be intriguing to see what defensive coordinator John Butler can do to try and contain Miller and the rest of the Buckeyes. -Ryan Stevens
7. Minnesota (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Northwestern 20-17
This week: Nebraska (5-1, 2-0)
With head coach Jerry Kill watching from the coaches’ box at Ryan Field, his Minnesota team knocked off Northwestern on the road. The Golden Gophers broke a two-game losing streak, by outscoring the Wildcats 10-6 in the fourth quarter. Minnesota was nothing special on Saturday, even being minus-3 in the turnover battle, but still found a way to win. Thanks to a James Manuel interception return for a touchdown in the
third quarter, the Golden Gophers broke a 7-7 tie and never looked back. It seems as if the two weeks of preparation for this game paid off for Minnesota.
Can Minnesota remain hot and show why they are the sneakiest team in the Big Ten? We will find out next week when they face the talented Nebraska Cornhuskers at home. –Tyler Feldman
8. Northwestern (4-3, 0-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Minnesota 20-17
This week: @ Iowa (4-3, 1-2)
All of the sudden, after a 4-0 start to the season, Northwestern has dropped its last three games, to begin Big Ten play on a sour 0-3 note. The way in which the Wildcats have inconsistently played this season is beyond repair. Another tough loss at home, this time to Minnesota, is not what the doctor ordered for Pat Fitzgerald’s team. If the Wildcats are going to prove that they are the team that they were during the first four games of the season, they must win out and prove that they are Big Ten competitors. Being plus-3 in the turnover battle against Minnesota is a positive sign.
Now the Wildcats must face an Iowa team on the road that also competed closely with Ohio State just this past Saturday. Based on recent results, this matchup is very even and should be a good one. –Tyler Feldman
9. Indiana (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Michigan
This week: BYE
Remember the days of defenses being the mantra of Big Ten football? Gaining at least 500 yards on offense used to be more than enough to win football games, but in Indiana’s case, they came up well short of Michigan’s offensive total of 751 yards. In Indiana’s seven games, the Hoosiers have been held under 400 offensive yards once. The other side to that is Indiana has held only one team under 400 yards this season, and that was FCS opponent Indiana State.
The game plan is simple every week for Indiana, put up so many yards on offense that opponents just can’t keep up. I hate to break it to Kevin Wilson, because I love what his offense brings to Indiana, but it simply doesn’t apply to winning football teams. Five of Michigan’s 14 drives didn’t end up in points for the Wolverines. That’s pathetic. Offensive fire power may be the new fad in college football, but there has to be at least some sign of a defensive presence to compete every week in the Big Ten. –Ryan Stevens
10. Illinois (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Wisconsin 56-32
Next week: vs. Michigan State (6-1, 3-0)
This was lining up as the game Illinois could pull out, if they wanted some glimmer of hope in their daunting opening slate of Big Ten play. Three early touchdowns from Wisconsin and a costly fumble from senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase deep in Illinois territory buried the Illini before they could get started. Illinois’ offense kept them in the game and gave Wisconsin problems trying to put them away in the second half.
Head coach Tim Beckman pointed most of the blame to the poor tackling in space for an Illinois defense that hasn’t played well all year. Senior receiver Steve Hull was the focus for Scheelhaase as he set a season high in receiving yards with 105 on six catches. Illinois’ offense will be put to the test on Saturday as Michigan State features one of the most vaunted defenses in the country. The Spartans are holding opponents to 228 yards per game and led by senior linebacker Max Bullough who is up for many post- season award considerations. -Ryan Stevens
11. Iowa (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Ohio State 34-24
This week: Northwestern (4-3, 0-3)
For three quarters the Hawkeyes bout on the road versus Ohio State was even. Then the fourth quarter came along and Iowa got outscored 10-0 to lose to the fourth best team in the country by just 10 points. Disregard the loss though. This Iowa team does have some fight. Quarterback Jake Rudock was very strong for the Hawkeyes, completing 19 of 34 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Ohio State was just too much for Kirk Ferentz’s team, but that’s okay....Ohio State’s two superstars, Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, ran all over Iowa, but that’s okay...
Iowa plays in their house next week against a struggling Northwestern squad. A win over the Wildcats and Iowa could be back to life in the Big Ten. –Tyler Feldman
12. Purdue (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Michigan State 14-0
This week: BYE
You can’t spell Boilermakers without the “L”. Purdue had no realistic chance to win on Saturday, but stayed in it to keep it somewhat interesting in the end. More growing pains from freshman quarterback Danny Etling were evident, but I thought he did a solid job against the top rated defense in the country after fumbling on a sack that resulted in a Spartan touchdown.
It’s more of what I’ve been preaching all year to the Purdue faithful again this week: just be patient. Next week will be one of the hardest writing assignments ever with Purdue on a bye week and having to head to Ohio State after that. Hey, at least for one week in the foreseeable future, there won’t be a loss next to Purdue’s name. –Ryan Stevens
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Ryan is a senior from Bloomington, Illinois majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in english. He has been involved with numerous radio shows, play-by-plays, beat writes and producing various Penn State athletics events since his first days of being on campus in the fall of 2012 with ComRadio. Since the fall of 2013, Ryan has been involved with State College’s ESPN Radio 1450 as an assistant producer intern and high school football reporter.
During the summer of 2014, Ryan co-hosted Sports Central with Cory Giger streaming over Altoona, Pa. and State College Pa. markets. Ryan also assisted USA Basketball media coverage in New York for World Cup of Basketball exhibition games.
Ryan was the marketing & communications intern for USA Track & Field at the national office in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the media contact for the 2015 USATF Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships as well as the 2015 National Junior Olympics.
Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Marketing
Currently, Feldman is an executive producer, reporter and anchor for the Centre County Report, as well as ComRadio’s senior sports director. He also is the host of the Penn State Coaches Show featuring Guy Gadowsky, which airs live from Lettermans on ESPN Radio 1450 and GoPSUSports.com every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Additionally, he was the first to report the hiring of Joe Moorhead as Penn State football’s new offensive coordinator on December 12, 2015.
He’s a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism within the College of Communications and enrolled in the Smeal College of Business.
Feldman, a Pittsburgh native, has broadcasted sporting events from a number of international and professional venues, including Estadio Latinoamericano in Cuba, Madison Square Garden, CONSOL Energy Center, Wells Fargo Center, MetLife Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, and EverBank Field.
Last spring, he traveled with the Penn State men’s volleyball team as their play-by-play man, announcing his very first NCAA tournament matches at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
He has gained valuable broadcasting and reporting experience interning and working at WTAJ-TV, MLB Network, GoPSUSports.com, 105.9 The X, 970 AM ESPN, Big Ten Network Student U, and State College’s ESPN Radio 1450.
Feldman has a strong passion for sports and dreams to become a sports anchor/reporter in a national market and/or a hockey play-by-play announcer.