1. OHIO STATE (6-0, 3-0)
Previous: 1. Last week: No game.
The No. 4 Buckeyes had the week off and now will travel to Northwestern on Friday night. That’s the last hurdle before a massive game in Columbus on Oct. 26 against Wisconsin.
2. WISCONSIN (6-0, 3-0)
Previous: 2. Last week: W 38-0 vs. Michigan State.
The No. 6 Badgers have outscored opponents 152-3 in the first half this season, are the only FBS team that hasn’t trailed this season and have logged four shutouts in six games. They’ve allowed 13-of-83 on third downs and lead the nation at 4.2 points per game allowed. Oh, and Jonathan Taylor has 19 touchdowns in six games. Paul Chryst’s team travels to Illinois, where the task will be not to get caught looking ahead to the Buckeyes.
3. PENN STATE (6-0, 3-0)
Previous: 3. Last week: W 17-12 at Iowa.
The No. 7 Nittany Lions went to Iowa City and came out with a hard-earned victory. Winning at Kinnick Stadium at night is never easy, but PSU found a way despite allowing 286 passing yards to the Hawkeyes and getting outgained 356-294 overall. The key: winning the turnover battle 2-0. James Franklin’s team got touchdowns from Noah Cain and K.J. Hamler, too. Another primetime showdown awaits this weekend, this time at home against Michigan.
4. MICHIGAN (5-1, 3-1)
Previous: 4. Last week: W 42-25 at Illinois.
The No. 16 Wolverines jumped all over Illinois but then saw the game close to within three points early in the fourth quarter. Michigan was able to pull away eventually, thanks to three Shea Patterson touchdown passes and a pair of 100-yard rushers. UM still has its sights set on the East Division, but the sledding gets tough from here. Jim Harbaugh’s team visits Penn State on Saturday, then hosts Notre Dame.
5. MINNESOTA (6-0, 3-0)
Previous: 6. Last week: W 34-7 vs. Nebraska.
The No. 20 Gophers followed up a dominant rushing performance against Illinois by hammering Nebraska on the ground, too. For a team that’s played a bunch of close games, a resounding win over a division opponent will quiet some of the questions from early in the season. How long can P.J. Fleck’s third team ride this wave? Well, it travels to Rutgers this weekend and then hosts Maryland before hosting Penn State on Nov. 9. Life is good in Minneapolis.
6. IOWA (4-2, 1-2)
Previous: 5. Last week: L 17-12 vs. Penn State.
The No. 23 Hawkeyes have not fared well in a recent rugged stretch, dropping back-to-back crossover games against Michigan and Penn State. Kirk Ferentz’s team got some traction in the passing game against the Nittany Lions, but rushed for just 70 and turned the ball over twice. The Hawkeyes jump back into Big Ten West play with Purdue and Northwestern the next two weeks.
7. MICHIGAN STATE (4-3, 2-2)
Previous: 7. Last week: L 38-0 at Wisconsin.
Talk about a brutal stretch for the Spartans, who were throttled on the road by a College Football Playoff contender for the second straight week. MSU mustered just 38 first-half yards and was shut out for just the third time in Mark Dantonio’s 165 games at the helm. The Spartans are off this week and then face another tough test in Penn State on Oct. 26.
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8. MARYLAND (3-3, 1-2)
Previous: 8. Last week: L 40-14 at Purdue.
Without starting quarterback Josh Jackson, the Terrapins got rolled against a Purdue team that hadn’t shown much in recent weeks. Maryland’s defense got ripped through the air and allowed the Boilermakers to hold the ball for more than 37 minutes. Things have slid considerably since UM started 2-0. Up next: Indiana at home this week and then a trip to Minnesota.
9. INDIANA (4-2, 1-2)
Previous: 11. Last week: W 35-0 vs. Rutgers.
The Hoosiers blanked Rutgers and raced out to 21 points in the first 6 minutes, 52 seconds. Michael Penix threw for three touchdowns and Stevie Scott rolled to 164 yards on just 12 carries. IU travels to Maryland this weekend and then Nebraska the following week.
10. NEBRASKA (4-3, 2-2)
Previous: 9. Last week: L 34-7 at Minnesota.
The Huskers thought they had geared up for one final slugfest before a bye week, but instead got thumped in Minneapolis. In four conference games, NU is allowing 267 rushing yards per game and has surrendered 12 touchdowns on the ground, including four against the Gophers. In the meantime, Scott Frost’s team has scored just one offensive touchdown in each of the past three games. After a bye, the Huskers host Indiana and travel to Purdue.
11. PURDUE (2-4, 1-2)
Previous: 13. Last week: W 40-17 vs. Maryland.
The Boilermakers burst out of a listless spell and put the hammer on Maryland. Jeff Brohm got 420 passing yards and three touchdowns from backup quarterback Jack Plummer and a big day from tight end Brycen Hopkins (10 catches, 140 yards). Next up: A trip to Iowa City this weekend.
12. NORTHWESTERN (1-4, 0-3)
Previous: 10. Last week: No game.
The Wildcats come off a bye week to host mighty Ohio State on Friday night. Pat Fitzgerald’s team hasn’t scored more than 15 points in a league game so far this fall.
13. ILLINOIS (2-4, 0-3)
Previous: 12. Last week: L 42-25 vs. Michigan.
The Illini tried to make interesting, closing within 28-25 of the Wolverines in the fourth quarter before letting the visitors extend the lead. It doesn’t get any easier this weekend for Lovie Smith’s team, which hosts Wisconsin.
14. RUTGERS (1-5 0-4)
Previous: 14. Last week: L 35-0 at Indiana.
Midway through the first quarter, the Scarlet Knights were on pace to give up 168 points to Indiana, so at least that didn’t happen.