Big Ten Football Power Rankings After Week 8: What���s For Real, And What���s Not?

The 2021 Big Ten football journey is nearly complete. After a lot of back and forth and ups and downs, we finally head into the final week of the season with some clarity. In the East, Ohio State and Michigan will do battle next week with the winner headed to Indy for the Big Ten Championship game.

In the West, Wisconsin and Iowa are still co-leaders, but the Badgers have a leg up and figure to meet the winner of “The Game” between the Buckeyes and Wolverines unless Minnesota has something to say about it next week. The Hawkeyes hope the Golden Gophers can speak loudly so they can hop on the plane and head east themselves.

Each week, we look back to determine which teams in the Big Ten are playing the best and rank them from worst to first. It’s a little easier now with almost a full slate of games, so here we go with our Big Ten football power rankings after Week 12, with a big week set ahead of us.

Indiana Hoosiers (2-9, 0-8)

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Haskell Garrett (92) and Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Jerron Cage (86) sack Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Jack Tuttle (14) during the first quarter of an NCAA Division I football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

Indiana dropped its seventh in a row and might finish with exactly no Big Ten wins this year. Crazy for a team that started out ranked inside the top 25. I really didn’t see this coming from Tom Allen’s crew.

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Next up: at Purdue

Northwestern Wildcats (3-8, 1-7)

Sep 25, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald on the sideline during the first half against the Ohio Bobcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

After yet another loss, this time against a Purdue team that turned it on in the second half, it’ll be a year to forget in Evanston. Time to turn the page and see what Pat Fitzgerald can do in 2022.

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13

Next up: at Illinois

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-8, 1-7)

Sep 4, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez (2) looks to hand off the ball to running back Markese Steppingstones (30) during the game against the Fordham Rams in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Cornhuskers lost a close one to a good team. It was yet another one-score loss for Scott Frost and company, but it was still a loss. I don’t care how well a team plays on a weekly basis, to be a good team, you have to find a way to pull some of those out.

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Next up: vs. Iowa

Maryland Terrapins (5-6, 2-6)

Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Teradja Mitchell (3) and Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste (8) come together to tackle Maryland Terrapins running back Challen Faamatau (29) during the second quarter of their NCAA college football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on October 9, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

History seems to be repeating itself in College Park. The Terps seem to start out white-hot, then hit the skids once conference play begins. Maryland has now lost three in a row and has to beat Rutgers to end the season just to become bowl eligible. Who really thinks that’s going to happen at this point?

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Next up: at Rutgers

Illinois Fighting Illini (4-7, 3-5)

Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Tony Adams (6) celebrates on the field following his team’s nine overtime victory against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

Illinois has surprised a few teams this year after looking pretty dismal to start the year. However, this team is still one that has to have an upgrade in the talent and depth department. It was actually a pretty good showing in a loss to Iowa, but do we really believe the Hawkeyes are that solid of a ball club any longer.

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Next up: vs. Northwestern

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-6, 2-6)

WATCH: What Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said about Ohio State pregame
WATCH: What Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said about Ohio State pregame

Sep 18, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano runs onto the field before the game against the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens at SHI Stadium. Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

I didn’t really expect Rutgers to show very well against Penn State and that held to be true Saturday, but this team is still a more competitive bunch than when Greg Schiano inherited things. It’s been an up and down year, but if you told Scarlet Knights’ fans that their team would be playing to become bowl-eligible on the last Saturday of the regular season, they probably would take it like … yesterday.

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+ 1

Next up: vs. Maryland

Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 5-3)

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck motions during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

There are times when Minnesota looks like the best team in the West, and then there are times when the Golden Gophers look surprisingly average. Another win has P.J. Fleck’s crew looking to position itself for a decent bowl game. If Minnesota can find a way to beat Wisconsin next week, things get real interesting to determine who goes to Indy.

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Next up: vs. Wisconsin

Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2, 6-2)

Nov 6, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) and Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Alex Padilla (8) celebrate after the touchdown in the first half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

After falling off a cliff for two-straight weeks in the middle of the season, the Hawkeyes seem to have righted the ship a wee bit and have now won three in a row. A Wisconsin loss coupled with an Iowa win at Nebraska would send the Hawkeyes to Indy. What a winding road that would be.

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Next up: at Nebraska

Purdue Boilermakers (7-4, 5-3)

Purdue Boilermakers running back Zander Horvath (40) evades Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Marcus Williamson (5) and Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (35) during the third quarter of Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Oh., on November 13, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

It’s been a year of surpassed expectations in West Lafayette. Week 12 saw another victory to assure the Boilermakers of a couple of huge top-five wins and a winning Big Ten record. Now, it’s time to build on success and not slide next season. The Boilers will head somewhere warm for a winter bowl date.

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Next up: vs. Indiana

Penn State Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-4)

Penn State fans cheer as their players leave the field after warmups before Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on October 30, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

People like to talk about Nebraska being snakebitten, but think about how close Penn State has come to being where Michigan is right now. If Sean Clifford wouldn’t have gotten hurt, and if the Nittany Lions had a better bounce or two against the Wolverines, that’s exactly where they would be. Penn State looked downright dominant defensively against Rutgers.

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Next up: at Michigan State

Michigan State Spartans (9-2, 6-2)

Ohio State vs. Michigan State: 3 reasons Spartans could cause problems
Ohio State vs. Michigan State: 3 reasons Spartans could cause problems

Michigan State’s Xavier Henderson, right, celebrates a stop with Quavaris Crouch during the fourth quarter in the game against Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

We knew it was a bad matchup, but we didn’t know it was 56-7 bad. Michigan State was finally exposed against Ohio State, but you have to give the team credit for being scrappy and overachieving this year. There’s a very good bowl awaiting at the end of the rainbow, and that’s a great turnaround from last season.

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Next up: vs. Penn State

Wisconsin Badgers (8-3, 6-2)

Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson (84) makes a reception for a first down in front of Northwestern defensive back Coco Azema (0) during the second quarter of their game Saturday, November 13, 2021, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat Northwestern 35-7. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

Wisconsin took its turn receiving a close shave from Nebraska but found a way to outlast the Cornhuskers in Madison. The defense wasn’t its usual staunch self, but the Badgers look like the class of the West after a poor start to the season and will probably end up in Indy to face the winner of Ohio State and Michigan.

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Next up: at Minnesota

Michigan Wolverines (10-1, 7-1)

Michigan defensive line coach Shaun Nua talks to defensive lineman Christopher Hinton (15) and Michigan linebacker David Ojabo (55) during the first half Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

The reason for the ranking

I don’t know that anyone saw Michigan bouncing back like this in 2021, but yes, even an Ohio State site can give the Wolverines their due. It hasn’t always been pretty, but you have to tip your hat to the ability to pull games out and seemingly improve week-to-week. Now for the big one against the maize and blue’s Darth Vader.

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Next up: vs. Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1, 7-0)

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) and defensive tackle Taron Vincent (6) make their way through fans that stormed the field following the 33-24 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The reason for the ranking

It’s not that Ohio State is finally beating good, ranked teams, it’s how they are doing it now. The defense is vastly improved, and I don’t know that any team can stop the Buckeyes’ offense if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot, Michigan and Georgia included. OSU has now embarrassed two ranked teams back-to-back. Is Michigan next?

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Next up: at Michigan

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Source : https://news.yahoo.com/big-ten-football-power-rankings-030019027.html

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