The World-Herald's Sam McKewon compiled his Big Ten football power rankings.

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1. Ohio State (8-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten)

Last week: Bye

This week: Maryland, 11 a.m., Fox

Here comes the stretch run for the nation’s best team, regardless of what the College Football Playoff rankings suggest. The Terrapins — and Rutgers the following week! — on a soft on-ramp to the Penn State/Michigan duo at season’s end.

2. Penn State (8-0, 5-0)

Last week: Bye

This week: at Minnesota, 11 a.m., ABC

If there’s a team that can slow down Minnesota’s dynamic, balanced offense, it’d be the Nittany Lions’ stingy defense. UM’s defense will test PSU’s offense, too. Should be a great one.

3. Michigan (7-2, 4-2)

Last week: Beat Maryland 38-7

This week: Bye

The Wolverines have held seven of nine opponents under 200 yards passing. Only three teams have completed more than 60% of their passes.

4. Minnesota (8-0, 5-0)

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Penn State, 11 a.m., ABC

The Gophers have the front seven to slow down Penn State’s so-so run game, but can they hem in superstar wideout KJ Hamler from making big plays? We’ll see.

5. Iowa (6-2, 3-2)

Last week: Bye

This week: at Wisconsin, 3 p.m., Fox

The alternate programming game opposite LSU/Alabama on CBS, which is too bad. The Hawkeyes and Badgers always blast each other pretty good physically, and there are NFL linemen on both sides of the ball for both teams.

6. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2)

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Iowa, 3 p.m., Fox

Wisconsin beats Iowa if it scores over 21. How do we know? In Iowa’s past four wins in Madison, Wisconsin didn’t do that.

7. Indiana (7-2, 4-2)

Last week: Beat Northwestern 34-3

This week: Bye

The Hoosiers haven’t won seven games in a season since 2007. They haven’t won eight games since 1993. They haven’t won nine games since 1967. They’ve never — not once, not ever, never! — won 10 games in a season.

8. Michigan State (4-4, 2-3)

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Illinois, 2:30 p.m., FS1

The Spartans can still grab a seven-win season with a win over the Illini. Games against pushovers Rutgers and Maryland still loom.

9. Illinois (5-4, 3-3)

Last week: Beat Rutgers 38-10

This week: at Michigan State, 2:30 p.m., FS1

The Illini lead the nation in takeaways with 22. Lovie Smith coaches it and coaches it and coaches it. And now he’s getting it and getting it and getting it. That’s growth.

10. Purdue (3-6, 2-4)

Last week: Beat Nebraska 31-27

This week: at Northwestern, 11 a.m., BTN

Jeff Brohm — with a motivational assist from former PU quarterback Drew Brees — chiseled out a good win for a young, banged-up team. Purdue receiver David Bell didn’t have a lot of catches but made a big impact every time Nebraska dedicated two defensive backs to cover him, leaving open tight ends underneath.

11. Nebraska (4-5, 2-4)

Last week: Lost to Purdue 31-27

This week: Bye

When Adrian Martinez gets himself more involved in the run game, the offense purrs better. One day, Nebraska would like to run its quarterbacks fewer times, but that’s not in the cards right now.

12. Maryland (3-6, 1-5)

Last week: Lost to Michigan 38-7

This week: at Ohio State, 11 a.m., Fox

In Big Ten games, Maryland is averaging 307.8 yards and 17.8 points per game. Nothing’s easy in the league, even for an offense that topped 600 yards in its first two outings.

13. Northwestern (1-7, 0-6)

Last week: Lost to Indiana 34-3

This week: vs. Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN

If Talent Guy wants to hang his hat at any school, it’d be this one. Pat Fitzgerald didn’t forget how to coach, but he did lose his top three receivers from last season. Northwestern doesn’t have three more.

14. Rutgers (2-7, 0-6)

Last week: Lost to Illinois 38-10

This week: Bye

The Scarlet Knights appear poised, according to news reports, to hire back Greg Schiano, the best coach in school history who was most recently defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Not a bad pick, but the second time around is rarely as good as the first run. Ask John Robinson, Johnny Majors, Randy Edsall, even Bill Snyder.

 

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