Big Ten Power Rankings - Week Eight

The Big Ten topped all conferences with six teams ranked among the top 25 in the initial BCS standings, but the two teams with all the hype are an undefeated Wisconsin and a Michigan State program that beat its in-state rival for the fourth straight year. How fitting that they play each other this weekend and are the top two in the Badger Nation power rankings.

1) No. 4 Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0 Leaders); LW, 1

Last week: won vs. Indiana 59-7

When Wisconsin is only sixth in the inaugural BCS rankings and that's the biggest alarm around campus, life is good. The fact is, regardless of ranking, UW needs to win its final seven games to have a shot at New Orleans. And if the Badgers do that, then while they're winning at Spartan Stadium for a GameDay audience, grabbing victories at Ohio State and Illinois, and knocking off some worthy challenger in the first-ever Big Ten championship game ... methinks those BCS standings might change just a tad in the next six weeks. Namely, fifth-ranked Boise State ... Go ahead and win every game by 70, Broncos, but you will be playing a grand total of ONE ranked team this season, so you're bound to slip.

Next: at No. 15 Michigan State, 7 p.m. ESPN

2) No. 15 Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Legends); LW, 4

Last week: won vs. No. 11 Michigan 28-14

So College GameDay's comin' to your city, East Lansing, Mich. Just what Wisconsin needed. Of course, a loss is not what Wisconsin needs. But it's just what Mark Dantonio and company are looking for, especially since the Legends is not going to be an easy division to run away with.

Next: vs. No. 4 Wisconsin, 7 p.m. ESPN

3) No. 13 Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 Legends); LW, 3

Last week: Idle

Perhaps the Cornhuskers watched some film on how to play proper defense befitting of a Big Ten team. Don't look at your old conference, Nebraska ... all five Big XII games on Saturday included well over 60 points.

Next: at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m. ABC

4) No. 18 Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Legends); LW, 2

Last week: lost at No. 23 Michigan State 28-14

Not the way you want to enter a bye week - that sour taste won't go away for a couple weeks. After righting the ship in two Saturdays against Purdue, another tough two-game trip looms at Iowa and Illinois. Denard Robinson has got to be more consistent when he's forced into throwing the ball.

Next: Oct. 29 vs. Purdue

5) Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Legends); LW, 6

Last week: won vs. Northwestern 41-31

Really, the Hawkeyes needed to get that Northwestern monkey off their backs. Scoring points at Kinnick Stadium hasn't been an issue whatsoever for James Vandenberg and his mates, which means the Michigan schools could be in some trouble in November.

Next: vs. Indiana, 11 a.m. BTN

6) Ohio State (4-3, 1-2 Leaders); LW, 8

Last week: won at No. 16 Illinois 17-7

Defensive pride is back, and the Buckeyes have to be reconsidered as a viable threat to win each week. It's actually quite stunning not one AP voter chose to even throw Ohio State on the poll in a low spot.

Next: Oct. 29 vs. Wisconsin

7) No. 23 Illinois (6-1, 2-1 Leaders); LW, 5

Last week: lost vs. Ohio State 17-7

Mmkay, I'd put Illinois' chances of going undefeated at zero now. A stark contrast from last week. Nate Scheelhause has been a fine dual threat, but the Illini need a separate rushing threat.

Next: at Purdue, 11 a.m. ESPN2

8) RV Penn State (6-1, 3-0 Leaders); LW, 7

Last week: won vs. Purdue 23-18

The Badgers are stealing four-star prospects from Penn State. Ugly, ugly, ugly win just to knock off Purdue. And now a trip to sleepy Ryan Field against a ticked-off, desperate yet capable Northwestern team looks awful dangerous. Tenuous times - at least as tenuous as they get for a 6-1 squad.

Next: at Northwestern, 6 p.m. BTN

9) Purdue (3-3, 1-1 Leaders); LW, 9

Last week: lost at Penn State 23-18

Well, the Boilermakers kept it close, but it's the old rule that you can't turn the ball over three times on the road against a better team and expect to win.

Next: vs. No. 23 Illinois, 11 a.m. ESPN2

10) Northwestern (2-4, 0-3 Legends); LW, 10

Last week: lost at Iowa 41-31

Absolutely need a win here when Penn State comes to town, if decent bowl prospects are to remain viable. Other than a trip to Nebraska the first weekend of November, Northwestern's schedule actually opens up quite nicely and allows for second-half momentum, but the Wildcats have to turn it around here.

Next: vs. Penn State, 6 p.m. BTN

11) Indiana (1-6, 0-3 Leaders); LW, 11

Last week: lost at No. 4 Wisconsin 59-7

Only losing 52 points? What a squeaker. Seems like Edward "The Poet" Wright-Baker has been forever leading an offense that no longer can automatically hang 30 on just about anybody. When the opposing quarterback in Camp Randall would qualify as your best receiver, that's not what we call a good thing.

Next: at Iowa, 11 a.m. BTN

12) Minnesota (1-5, 0-2 Legends); LW, 12

Last week: Idle

The Gophers didn't get beat by the bye week. Did they? Hold up, gotta check on this.

Next: vs. No. 13 Nebraska, 2:30 p.m. ABC

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