Week 10 was supposed to be a calmer week after a monumental Week 9 that featured Michigan-Michigan State and Penn State-Ohio State. Instead, Purdue pulled off its second stunner of the year against Michigan State, and Nebraska almost pulled off one against the Buckeyes. Was that enough to shake up the top three?
1. Ohio State Buckeyes, 8-1 (6-0)
Previous Ranking: 1
Until the Buckeyes lose a conference game, I can’t move them out of the first spot. Despite not playing their best against Nebraska, Ohio State survived and advanced and are now the final unbeaten team in conference play. At this point, throwing for 400+ yards feels like the norm for CJ Stroud.
2. Michigan State Spartans, 8-1 (5-1)
Previous Ranking: 2
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can the Spartans not have fallen given their loss to Purdue? Both record-wise and by the eye test, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan are the class of the Big Ten. Losing to Purdue hurts, but I can’t jump the one-loss Wolverines over the one-loss Spartans given the head-to-head. Who else could jump above them at this point?
The loss to Purdue has surprisingly few implications for Michigan State. The Spartans still needed to beat Ohio State to control their own destiny. It’s also becoming increasingly unlikely the Big Ten will get two teams in the CFP. Michigan State still has everything to play for.
3. Michigan Wolverines, 8-1 (5-1)
Previous Ranking: 3
Defeating Indiana won’t do much to change the national narrative on the Wolverines, but it was important for Michigan to get back on track. The Wolverines are a very solid three in our power rankings, as there is still a large gap before the rest of the conference, but they will need to win out to have any sort of chance at Indianapolis.
4. Penn State Nittany Lions, 6-3 (3-3)
Previous Ranking: 5
Penn State finally got back in the win column and became bowl eligible. Expectations have certainly been tempered in Happy Valley with the inability to keep pace with the top three in the Big Ten East. With that being said, they have the opportunity to completely spoil Michigan’s season this Saturday and take the Wolverines out of the running. Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson just might be the most electric duo in the Big Ten.
5. Wisconsin Badgers, 6-3 (4-2)
Previous Ranking: 6
Don’t look now, but Wisconsin has won five straight games. In fact, they haven’t lost since a certain Wolverine team took care of business in Madison. Graham Mertz has started to play better of late and the schedule gets easier with Northwestern and Nebraska up next. The Badgers have a very legitimate shot at reaching Indianapolis.
6. Purdue Boilermakers, 6-3 (4-2)
Previous Ranking: 8
Purdue has become the ultimate giant killers this year, having knocked off both Iowa and Michigan State at relative peaks in the rankings. Aidan O’Connell has been one of the biggest surprises in college football this year, throwing for 536 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. Purdue has a shot to go 3-0 against top five opposition this week in Columbus.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes, 7-2 (4-2)
Previous Ranking: 7
I may be underrating Iowa at No. 7 again, but the Hawkeyes have not passed the eye test recently. The offense has regressed and they’ve played down to the level of their opposition. Their matchup with Minnesota this weekend will go a long way in determining Big Ten West superiority.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers, 6-3 (4-2)
Previous Ranking: 4
Just when I start to buy in to the Minnesota hype they put up an absolute clunker against Illinois, losing 14-6. The Golden Gophers could have been in the drivers seat alone in the West, but instead find themselves a part of a four-way tie. I would be surprised if Minnesota wins out.
9. Maryland Terrapins, 5-4 (2-4)
Previous Ranking: 9
Maryland needed to scrape out a win against Penn State in order to regain some legitimacy. They put up a fight but it wasn’t enough. The Terrapins will need a win in their last three in order become bowl eligible. Left on the schedule are Michigan State, Michigan and Rutgers.
10. Illinois Fighting Illini, 4-6 (3-4)
Previous Ranking: 12
Illinois has consistently confounded me this year. They aren’t a good team but have three conference wins, more than a handful of other teams on this list can say. Bowl eligibility seems unlikely as they’d have to beat both Iowa and Northwestern down the stretch, but this has to be considered a successful first season for Bret Bielema.
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 3-7 (1-6)
Previous Ranking: 11
I’ve seen several people on social media say Nebraska is the best 3-7 team of all time, and I think they have a point. On the eye test alone, they have consistently put up a fight and hung tough in most games. Crippling turnovers and mistakes late in games have cost them more than a few times. Nebraska is on bye this week and then travels to Wisconsin prior to hosting Iowa. I don’t envy those two teams, as the Cornhuskers are the ultimate spoilers this year.
12. Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 4-5 (1-5)
Previous Ranking: 10
The struggles continue in Piscataway as the Scarlet Knights have now lost five of six. What was once a promising season has all but gone down the drain. In order to salvage bowl eligibility they’ll have to take two of three against Indiana, Penn State and Maryland. The best I can say is maybe that’s not impossible.
13. Indiana Hoosiers, 2-7 (0-6)
Previous Ranking: 13
Indiana looked like a serviceable team for the first half against Michigan, then ultimately fell victim to a Michigan team looking to get right. It will take an impressive coaching job from Tom Allen in order to continue to motivate this Hoosier team down the stretch, as there is very little to play for and countless injuries across the board.
14. Northwestern Wildcats, 3-6 (1-5)
Previous Ranking: 14
Northwestern surprisingly hung with Iowa through most of the game before eventually falling 17-12. There’s just too little offense in Evanston this year to win many games. It’s incredible to look back at preseason expectation and see just how far Pat Fitzgerald and company have fallen. Next up is a trip to Wisconsin.