Detroit News Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 9

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Ameer Abdullah and Nebraska have a tough finish in the West Division.

Here are The Detroit News' Big Ten Power Rankings, by Matt Charboneau, after eight weeks of the regular season.

1. Michigan State (6-1, 3-0): The Spartans overcame a slow start to roll over Indiana heading into their matchup with rival Michigan. After that, Michigan State gets a bye before its showdown at home against Ohio State. Last week: 1.

2. Ohio State (5-1, 2-0): The Buckeyes have scored 50 or more points in four straight games and J.T. Barrett is now seeing his name in some Heisman talk. Games against Penn State and Illinois are still to come, but all eyes are on Michigan State. Last week: 2.

3. Nebraska (6-1, 2-1): Ameer Abdullah ran for more than 140 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Huskers' victory over Northwestern. The next two weeks offer winnable games before a bye week, then a three-game finish against Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa that could decide the West. Last week: 3.

4. Minnesota (6-1, 3-0): The Gophers looked bad in the first half against Purdue, but they stormed back in the second half and got a late interception to seal the game. The win keeps Minnesota in the driver's seat despite a tough schedule down the stretch. Last week: 4.

5. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1): The Badgers got the week off and running back Melvin Gordon likely took advantage of it, considering he is the only consistent offensive threat for a team that is still looking for dependable play from the quarterback position. Last week: 5.

6. Maryland (5-2, 2-1): The Terrapins found themselves down 14 points early to Iowa this week but found a way to win. Quarterback C.J. Brown was effective on the ground, but with a pair of interceptions, he needs to be more consistent for the Terps to threaten in the East. Last week: 8.

7. Iowa (5-2, 2-1): The Hawkeyes did not do much well in the loss to Maryland and quarterback continues to be an issue as J.J. Rudock threw a pick-six. It was a sloppy performance all the way around, one that, if repeated, will have the Hawkeyes falling rapidly off the pace. Last week: 6.

8. Rutgers (5-2, 1-2): The Scarlet Knights had high hopes heading to Ohio State but quickly found out how tough it is to compete in Columbus, much less win. They'll still cause problems in the East, but a second loss likely knocks them out of the race. Last week: 7.

9. Michigan (3-4, 1-2): Does a bye week after the first Big Ten win count as momentum? Probably not, but the Wolverines will likely cling to whatever advantage they can find heading into their showdown at Michigan State this week. Last week: 10.

10. Penn State (4-2, 1-2): The Nittany Lions had the week off and probably needed it coming off the loss to Michigan. A visit from Ohio State will be all the battered Lions can likely handle as they try to avoid a third straight loss. Last week: 11.

11. Purdue (3-5, 1-3): The Boilermakers probably deserve to move up even higher in the rankings, but even though they've played well the last two weeks, they still only have a pair of losses to show. They are young, but the Boilermakers are headed in the right direction. Last week: 12.

12. Northwestern (3-4, 2-2): After a pair of wins over Penn State and Wisconsin, the Wildcats have now come back to earth and dropped two straight. They get this week off before a tough three-week stretch that ends with a trip to Notre Dame. Last week: 9.

13. Indiana (3-4, 0-3): The Hoosiers showed some spark early against Michigan State and even had the lead late in the first half. But the explosive plays disappeared and the defense looked like the same anemic unit that has been the Hoosiers' Achilles heel for years. Last week: 13.

14. Illinois (3-4, 0-3): The Illini had the week off, so they didn't lose again. But with a defense in shambles and an injured quarterback, there doesn't appear to be many decent chances for wins the rest of the way. Last week: 14.