Big Ten Football Rankings And Reactions, Week 8

    Week 8 Big Ten rankings and reactions: The Buckeyes started to look the part again with J.T. Barrett at quarterback, Wisconsin rolled over Illinois, and Michigan State survived Indiana.

    September 26, 2016

    Big Ten Football Rankings And Reactions, Week 8

    Week 8 Big Ten rankings and reactions: The Buckeyes started to look the part again with J.T. Barrett at quarterback, Wisconsin rolled over Illinois, and Michigan State survived Indiana.

    Big Ten Player of the Week

    Michigan State QB Connor Cook completed 30-of-52 passes for 398 yards and four scores in the win over Rutgers.

    Week 8 Big Ten Football Rankings

    1. Ohio State (8-0)

    W, at Rutgers 49-7: So J.T. Barrett is the answer now? It sure looks like it with a nearly-perfect performance. But before thinking that Barrett should’ve been the choice all along, remember, it’s Rutgers – 123rd in the nation against the pass and 111th in total defense. Cardale Jones hit all three of his throws when he came in, but it was Barrett’s day, with the offense humming like it’s supposed to with explosive running plays, terrific grabs from the receiving corps, and the type of blowout everyone’s been expecting on a regular basis. Now it’s about the consistency with a layup against Minnesota next before going to Illinois. It’s time for the machine to dominate, and with Barrett, it’s looking like Urban Meyer’s offense again.

    2. Iowa (7-0)

    UP NEXT: Maryland

    3. Michigan State (8-0)

    W, Indiana 52-26: This is what Michigan State is. It’s not going to blow teams out of the water, and it’s not going to be the defensive force it used to be when Pat Narduzzi was playing a key role on the coaching staff, but it’s going to rely on Connor Cook playing like a first round draft pick, it’ll count on coming through defensively when it absolutely has to in the fourth quarter, and it’ll keep playing right at the level of the completion, no matter who it is. This was always going to be a dangerous game coming off the Michigan showdown, but it should’ve been an easier blowout after controlling the ball, the clock, and the game for most of the way. Indiana just wouldn’t go away, but Cook kicked it into overdrive in the fourth quarter and the Spartans just keep on rolling – no matter how it looks.

    4. Michigan (5-2)

    UP NEXT: at Minnesota

    5. Wisconsin (6-2)

    W, at Illinois: The Badgers should be able to put it on auto-pilot and win the next two weeks against Rutgers and Maryland before hosting Northwestern. Can Joel Stave be in one piece? Bart Houston stepped in at quarterback and did a decent job, completing 22-of-33 passes for 232 yards and two scores with two picks. Now the Badgers need Corey Clement to come back. He was supposed to be in the mix this week, but he wasn’t, and the running game didn’t go anywhere. The Badgers only ran for 138 yards averaging 3.5 yards per carry, and even that was a mirage with WR Alex Erickson coming up with a 56-yard dash. They just can’t run the ball.

    6. Northwestern (6-2)

    W, at Nebraska 30-28 : Maybe, just maybe, Northwestern looked awful over the previous two weeks because it was playing Michigan and Iowa. It was an ugly and weird start to the Nebraska game, and things didn’t work out as planned with Justin Jackson and the running game getting stuffed once again, but Clayton Thorson took off for one big run and that was about it for the attack. The Wildcats found a way to get it done, and now the pressure is off – they’re bowl eligible. To do more, though, they’re going to have to control the clock better, they’re going to have to run better, and they’re going to have to take advantage of every opportunity against Penn State.

    7. Illinois (4-3)

    L, Wisconsin 24-13: The Illini have completely blown off the running game. That’s fine if Wes Lunt is bombing away, but he struggled against the Badger secondary throwing for just 278 yards and an interception, while Ke’Shawn Vaughn was it for the ground attack coming up with just 55 yards. This was when the Illini had to make a statement, and didn’t. Now it’s on the road for three games in the next four, needing to win two games to get bowl eligible. It’s not going to be easy, but Purdue should be a win, and it’ll likely take a win over Minnesota or Northwestern to get it done.

    8. Penn State (6-2)

    W, at Maryland 31-30: There’s no need to get too deep into how rough the performance was – Christian Hackenberg threw for 315 yards and Penn State is bowl eligible. No, the Nittany Lions can’t seem to handle running quarterbacks, and the three fumbles were a problem, and there was no ground game whatsoever – but they got the win. And now here’s the crazy part – as mediocre as the team has been, it’s still knee deep in the Big Ten East race with Illinois and Northwestern up next before the showdowns against Michigan and Michigan State. No, it’s not good enough to really be in the hunt, but it’s late October and it’s 6-2. It’s a step.

    9. Nebraska (3-5)

    L, Northwestern 30-28: Uh oh. Just when it seemed like the Huskers were going to turn things around after a great performance against Minnesota, it clunked in yet another close loss. Yeah, the five losses are by a total of ten points, but now there’s little margin for error needing to win three out of the last four – that’s going to be tough with Michigan State and Iowa coming to Lincoln. It might be easy to assume that Nebraska just isn’t physical enough, but this is the Northwestern D, and not the one that got lit up by Michigan and Iowa. But that means nothing to a fan base used to its team beating teams up with the ground attack – 38 carries for 82 yards and two scores isn’t going to get it done.

    10. Minnesota (4-3)

    UP NEXT: Michigan

    11. Rutgers (3-4)

    L, Ohio State 49-7: Congratulations, Rutgers. You got to play Ohio State when it sort of figured out what it was doing. The Scarlet Knights not have to go to Wisconsin and Michigan in back-to-back weeks, and then comes the finishing kick with Nebraska, Army and Maryland all at home – or close to it – with a bowl appearance still possible. The game got away from the Scarlet Knights early on, and the passing game couldn’t catch up. Leonte Carroo was held to three catches for 55 yards, and there wasn’t any running game to steady the ship. Chalk it up to playing the No. 1 team in college football – Wisconsin is more of a winnable game on the right day.

    12. Indiana (4-4)

    L, at Michigan State 52-26 : They gave it a terrific shot. The Hoosiers got Nate Sudfeld and the passing game rolling, and Jordan Howard returned to contribute 78 yards and a score to the running game, but in the end, Michigan State had more talent late. The wheels came off in the fourth quarter, but until then the Hoosier hung punch for punch, with Sudfeld spreading the ball around well and the offense taking advantage of almost every key opportunity. Now the team gets a week off to prepare for Iowa and an interesting finishing kick. If the Hoosiers keep playing this well offensively, they’ll beat Maryland and Purdue on the road to go bowling. But getting a win over Iowa or Michigan would make the season.

    13. Maryland (2-5)

    L, Penn State 31-30: Mike Locksley’s team was right in it because of QB Perry Hills, but five turnovers turned out to be a killer. Hills ran for 124 yards and threw a touchdown pass, but he also gave away three picks – the Terps gave away too many mistakes in a winnable game. The defense was fantastic against the run, and the offense might have more of an identity now with the coaching change, but the four-game losing streak is still ugly. With at Iowa, Wisconsin, and at Michigan State up next, it’s not going to get better.

    14. Purdue (1-6)

    UP NEXT: Nebraska


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