Big brother (Michigan) vs. little brother (Michigan State) rivalry tops Big Ten schedule

Rob Oller
The Columbus Dispatch

As Casey Stengel once asked of his pitiful New York Mets, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Well, some can.

Ohio State looks like a playoff team and Michigan keeps rolling along. Michigan State is undefeated, but we’re still not sold on the Spartans.

After that?

Penn State lost to Illinois, Purdue lost to Wisconsin and who knows what unusual turn of events will transpire this week as rivalries ignite, with the Wolverines visiting East Lansing and wounded Penn State heading to the Horseshoe to face the Buckeyes.   

Here's the Columbus Dispatch's Week 9 Big Ten Power rankings before a big week of games in the conference

1. Ohio State (6-1)

Last week: 1

This week: vs. Penn State

What to know: The Buckeyes won’t need nine overtimes to defeat Penn State. They won’t even need four quarters. The Nittany Lions have no answer for OSU’s offense.

Oct 31, 2020; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  Michigan Wolverines running back Hassan Haskins (25) rushes in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium.

2. Michigan (7-0)

Last week: 2

This week: at Michigan State

What to know: Big brother likes nothing better than to put a hurting on little brother, and with a rushing offense ranked No. 5 in the nation the Wolverines should punish their in-state sibling.  

3. Michigan State (7-0)

Last week: 5

This week: vs. Michigan

What to know: The Green and White will be black and blue by the time the dust settles in East Lansing. Sparty’s loss column goose egg gets cooked.   

4. Iowa (6-1)

Last week: 6

This week: at Wisconsin

What to know: What happens when the immovable force that is the Hawkeyes’ defense meets the immovable force that is the Badgers defense? A soccer score in Iowa City. 

5. Minnesota (5-2)

Last week: 7

This week: at Northwestern

What to know: The Golden Gophers are in a first-place tie in the West thanks to a ground attack that has seen five different running backs rush for 100 yards in a game.

6. Wisconsin (4-3)

Last week: 8

This week: vs. Iowa

What to know: Graham Mertz completed just 5 of 8 passes against Purdue last week and the Badgers still won. That won’t cut it against the Hawkeyes.

7. Penn State (5-2)

Last week: 3

This week: at Ohio State

What to know: Uh-oh, James Franklin is 9-13 in the three-game stretch that includes the matchup right before playing Ohio State, then OSU then the game after the Buckeyes. He is 56-17 in other games. 

8. Purdue (4-3)

Last week: 4

This week: at Nebraska

What to know: If the Boilermakers can’t stop the run, which was an issue against Wisconsin last week, the trip to corn country will end in rows of disappointment.

9. Illinois (3-5)

Last week: 14

This week: vs. Rutgers

What to know: The Illini have not won two in a row since last Nov. 14 and 21. After shocking Penn State, can they contain their excitement enough to handle Rutgers? 

10. Nebraska (3-5)

Last week: 11

This week: vs. Purdue

What to know: For whatever reason, the Blackshirts become white surrender flags down deep, ranking 49th in total defense but 100th in the red zone.

11. Northwestern (3-4)

Last week: 10

This week: vs. Minnesota

What to know: The Wildcats’ three wins have come against Indiana State, Ohio and Rutgers. In other words, they have a tall mountain to climb against Minnesota.  

12. Maryland (4-3)

Last week: 9

This week: vs. Indiana

What to know: The Terrapins have lost three straight games by a combined 102 points. No worries, they might score half that many against the Hoosiers. 

13. Rutgers (3-4)

Last week: 12

This week: at Illinois

What to know: The sound of silence — as in no one is talking about a Rutgers resurgence anymore — is not music to Greg Schiano’s ears.  

14. Indiana (2-5)

Last week: 13

This week: at Maryland

What to know: It’s seldom a good thing when injuries necessitate turning to a walk-on quarterback. The Hoosiers are bruised and bottoming out.

Get more Ohio State football news by listening to our podcasts