The Big Ten Championship is set, with Michigan and Purdue fighting for the title. The Wolverines return to Indy as the only undefeated team in the Big Ten. The dust in the Big Ten West settled after all the right pieces fell into place for Purdue to reach Indy for the first time ever.
How did everyone stack up in the final week? Here’s the updated Big Ten Power Rankings.
14. Northwestern Wildcats (1-11, 1-8 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 14
The Wildcats end their season with one win and an 11-game losing streak. The Wildcats actually out gained Illinois, 321-292, but six turnovers proved costly to Northwestern’s efforts. Quarterback Cole Freeman threw four picks before being replaced by Jack Lausch, who also threw a pick. Late in the third, the Wildcats came away with their own interception, which set up their lone score of the game. Northwestern has a lot to revamp this offseason.
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-8, 1-8 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 12
Rutgers was shut out for the second time this season. The Scarlet Knights end the season 1-8 in conference and with a five-game losing streak. Their meager 135 total yards and seven first downs couldn’t keep up with Maryland. Even coming up with two fumble recoveries, Rutgers couldn’t score. Its longest possession was 22 yards and its punter had 10 punts for 442 yards.
12. Indiana Hoosiers (4-8, 2-7 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 10
After doubling the amount of wins from a year ago, the Hoosiers fell short in their finale against Purdue. Despite out gaining the Boilermakers, 421-388, two missed field goals and a pick-six was costly for Indiana.
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-8, 3-6 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 13
Nebraska got off to a hot start, shutting out the Hawkeyes 17-0 in the first half. Despite scoring a single touchdown in the final 30 minutes, the Cornhuskers held on to claim the win. Casey Thompson threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns to put the Cornhuskers on top. Nebraska won the game and a got new coach to end the year on a positive note.
10. Michigan State Spartans (5-7, 3-6 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 11
The Spartan offense struggled from the jump, scoring a field goal in the first half and fumbling on their first drive. Michigan State pulled within five in the fourth quarter, but were quickly overwhelmed with Penn State’s offense. Their final possessions consisted of an interception and a drive that went -12 yards. The Spartans end their season 5-7 with no rivalry trophies and no bowl game.
9. Wisconsin Badgers (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 9
The Badgers lost to Minnesota and had a chance to tie it and force overtime, but Graham Mertz went down with injury. At 1st and goal, two penalties forced the Badgers to the Minnesota 30-yard line. An incomplete pass from Chase Wolf ended the game.
8. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 7
Iowa fell at the finish line, losing 24-17 at home to Nebraska and blowing their chances to return to the Big Ten Championship. The Hawkeyes had four turnovers, two in the first half that set up two scores for Nebraska. Iowa pulled within seven with five minutes to play, but their offense only moved 27 yards between their final two possessions. The Hawkeyes fumbled it away, literally and figuratively.
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 8
Minnesota held on through the final minutes to beat Wisconsin on the road. Quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis led the Golden Gophers with 319 passing yards and two touchdowns. Their star running back Mo Ibrahim was held below 100 rushing yards. A late 45-yard touchdown and poor execution by the Badgers in the final moments helped Minnesota secure the win.
6. Illinois Fighting Illini (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 6
Illinois bounced back from a three-game losing streak by demolishing Northwestern. Despite being outgained by the Wildcats, Northwestern’s six turnovers led to three scores. Illinois’ defense still reigned supreme, holding the Wildcats to three points. Their offense wasn’t perfect, but they put up three rushing scores from three different rushers.
5. Maryland Terrapins (7-5, 4-5 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 5
Maryland snapped a three-game losing streak to win its final game of the regular season, rolling through Rutgers. Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 342 yards and a touchdown while Roman Hemby rushed for three scores.
4. Purdue Boilermakers (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 4
Purdue is bound for the Big Ten Championship after winning its final three games. The Boilermakers put Indiana away in the second half after a slow start in the first. They closed the game with a 60-yard passing touchdown and a pick-six. Their greatest concern was allowing 421 total yards while being called for 70 penalty yards.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 3
Led behind Sean Clifford’s 202 passing yards and four touchdowns, the Nittany Lions rolled past Michigan State to finish 10-2. Their offense started rolling in the second half, scoring 21 of their 35 points. They didn’t waiver when MSU pulled within five, scoring their final two touchdowns to prevent any comeback.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 1
The Buckeyes thought they made all the necessary changes after a sad defensive showing against the Wolverines a year ago, but they got burned on their home turf. They allowed 45 points, the most all year, while being outgained, 530-492. Bogged down with injuries and 91 penalty yards, the wind went out of the Buckeyes’ sails in the second half. QB C.J. Stroud threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns, but his two turnovers proved costly in the final moments of the game.
1. Michigan Wolverines (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) — Last week’s rank: 2
Michigan reigns supreme once again in The Game. The Wolverines put on a masterclass to defeat their rival, 45-23. Michigan was down three points going into halftime, but a 45-yard touchdown to Colston Loveland gave the Wolverines the go-ahead in the second half. Donovan Edwards had two monster rushing touchdowns, 75 yards and 85 yards, to put the Buckeyes away. Michigan’s defense came up huge, forcing two turnovers and only allowing three points in the second half.