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Big Ten Power Rankings: It almost literally cannot get worse

Another week, more changes at the bottom.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We are into the the final stretch of the Big Ten season in 2020 with the top of the conference still locked in despite uncertainties over how many games will be played and who will actually be eligible for the conference title game.

These things will work themselves out over time. What is still to be determined is what the pecking order at the bottom of the conference is. There is still a fair amount of volatility in each week’s performances, so here’s what the power rankings look like after another week of play.

1. Ohio State (4-0, Last week: 1)

Ohio State did not play over the weekend due to COVID-19 concerns within the program. They expect to take the field Saturday against Michigan State, though they will be without Ryan Day due to quarantine.

2. Indiana (5-1, Last week: 3)

The week was bittersweet for the Hoosiers, who were able to get back in the win column after the loss at Ohio State the week before. However, Michael Penix Jr. is out for the year with a torn ACL. It’s a tough break for a program and a fanbase always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

3. Northwestern (5-1, Last week: 2)

One could make the argument Northwestern should drop lower after losing at Michigan State, but it’s hard to do that seeing as two of the three teams behind them didn’t play this week. NW is still in the driver’s seat to win the West.

4. Wisconsin (2-1, Last week: 4)

Wisconsin did not play for a third time this season after their game against Minnesota was canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the Gophers.

5. Iowa (4-2, Last week: 6)

Iowa has not lost since starting the season 0-2 and they continue their steady climb up the ladder here. Given that one of those losses was to Northwestern, it’s going to take a miracle in the next few weeks for them to win the West.

6. Maryland (2-2, Last week: 5)

Maryland came back down to earth this week in a loss at Indiana and will look to get back in the win column against Michigan this weekend.

7. Illinois (2-3, Last week: 9)

Illinois avoided having to play at Ohio State this weekend due to the spread of the virus within the OSU program. They only move up this week by virtue of what happened behind them with the other teams.

8. Michigan State (2-3, Last week: 13)

In three losses this year, the Spartans have been putrid. But their two wins came against their chief rival on the road and now a top-ten win over Northwestern. These are the types of program-building victories that can really jumpstart a rebuild and Mel Tucker’s staff deserves props for that.

9. Rutgers (2-4, Last week: 10)

Rutgers is outmanned and outgunned every week in this conference, but they continue to compete and show they belong. This week’s victory came in the form of a 37-30 win against Purdue.

10. Purdue (2-3, Last week: 7)

Purdue hasn’t been able to put it together after a hot start to the season and fell victim to an up-and-coming Rutgers team over the weekend.

11. Minnesota (2-3, Last week: 11)

As it was mentioned before, the Gophers did not play this week and were not rewarded or penalized for not doing so.

12. Penn State (1-5, Last week: 14)

The winless Nittany Lions came into Ann Arbor and handled their business on Saturday. They get Rutgers and Michigan State to end the year with a chance to at least salvage some momentum down the stretch.

13. Michigan (2-4, Last week: 9)

Losing to a winless Penn State squad is another low in what has been a bottoming out this season. They get a chance to get back in the win column on Saturday against Maryland in the home finale in what could be their final chance for a victory this year pending the crossover game.

14. Nebraska (1-4, Last week: 12)

It was always going to take time to turn this ship around, but Nebraska should simply be further along in the Scott Frost rebuild than they are. They have competed this year, but nobody was expecting a 10-19 start to this era of Cornhuskers football.