There are changes at the top this week among DI wrestling's elite. Below are the Week 8 power rankings:
1 – Penn State: The Nittany Lions take over the top spot on the strength of dominating wins over Northwestern and No. 16 Wisconsin. PSU (10-0) outscored their Big 10 foes over the weekend 88-16, with 11 bonus-point victories; in the win over the Badgers, PSU rookie 165-pounder Vincenzo Joseph lost in overtime to top-ranked Isaac Jordan and heavyweight Nick Nevills lost by one to All-American Connor Medberry. Cael Sanderson’s powerful squad has nine strong All-American candidates and will wrestle at Ohio State this Friday to secure a spot in the title bout of the NWCA Bowl Dual Series Feb. 19.
2 – Oklahoma State: John Smith’s squad, No. 1 all season, got by a good Missouri team 20-16 on the strength of technical falls by Nick Piccininni (125) and Nolan Boyd (184), plus senior Austin Schafer’s major decision in the final bout. Keys for OSU’s title hopes could rest on the shoulders of Joe Smith (157) and Kyle Crutchmer (174), both not firing on all cylinders entering February. OSU (10-0) bounced back to hammer Iowa State 34-3 on Sunday and have a tricky dual at Edinboro this Friday.
3 – Iowa: A rugged January schedule saw the Hawkeyes drop duals to OSU and PSU, but beat Ohio State last Friday in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes (8-2) get very little rest, hosting Wisconsin Friday and traveling to old rival Minnesota on Sunday. Iowa, without All-American Cory Clark (133), beat the Buckeyes, without national champion Kyle Snyder (285) and got a big victory by Sammy Brooks (184). Unbeaten Thomas Gilman (125), rookie Michael Kemerer (157) and All-American Brandon Sorensen (149) continue to lead the squad.
4 – Ohio State: No doubt Ohio State (8-1) is a different team with 285-pounder Kyle Snyder in the lineup. A trip overseas may have cost the Buckeyes a win over Iowa, but head coach Tom Ryan says all hands will be on deck come March. With the Nittany Lions visiting Columbus this Friday, all hands will be required. A number of marquee matchups highlight Friday’s dual, including Sorensen and Micah Jordan at 149 pounds and recent addition Mark Hall and top-ranked Bo Jordan at 174 pounds.
5 – Nebraska: At 12-1, the Huskers next hit the mat Feb. 10 against Ohio State in Lincoln and at Iowa on Feb. 12. Mark Manning’s senior-laden squad is led by Tim Lambert (125), Eric Montoya (133), TJ Dudley (184), Aaron Studebaker (197), and Collin Jensen (285) who are a combined 115-16 this season; 157-pounder Tyler Berger is 25-2. Dual-wise, NU can go with anybody.
6 – Virginia Tech: The Hokies (15-1) beat a good Lehigh squad, 21-10, last Friday, getting an injury default win at 197 pounds and an overtime decision from Soloman Chishko at 141 pounds. All-American Joey Dance (125) took his first loss of the season and Sunday, in a 26-13 victory over Duke, heavyweight Ty Walz dropped a 15-7 major decision to Jacob Kasper. Atlantic Coast Conference superiority will be on the line Feb. 11 when Tech and North Carolina State square off at Cassell Coliseum.
7 – Missouri: Tiger boss Brian Smith is tired of moral victories and nearly watched his team pull off the upset last Friday against No. 1 Oklahoma State. MU (9-3) got victories from Lavion Mayes (149), Joey Lavallee (157), Daniel Lewis (165), Dylan Wisman (174), and J’Den Cox (197), but OSU heavyweight Austin Schafer’s major decision gave the visitors a 20-16 win. Like Nebraska, also a former member of the Big 12 Conference, the Tigers can wrestle with anybody. They host Northern Illinois this Saturday.
T8 – North Carolina State: Since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Pat Popolizio’s Wolfpack are 33-2. NCSU improved to 10-1 with a 23-10 victory over a good Virginia team last Sunday. Junior 141-pounder Kevin Jack (24-1) leads a team which hosts Pittsburgh and West Virginia this weekend. Popolizio’s group will have home-mat advantage March 4 when they host a very competitive ACC Championships in Raleigh, N.C.
T8 – Cornell: Adding All-American Dylan Palacio to the lineup second semester has strengthened the Big Red (9-2), who moved their Ivy League winning streak to 75 with wins over Brown and Harvard last weekend. CU visits Harvard this Saturday. The Big Red’s losses this season are to Oklahoma State and Missouri.
Knocking on the door:
Michigan, Illinois, Lehigh, Minnesota , Wisconsin, South Dakota State, Stanford, Oklahoma, Rutgers