With one week left in the regular season, here’s our 14th edition of Big Ten power rankings:
14. Rutgers 2-9 (Last Week: 14)
Not only is Rutgers an embarrassment to the Big Ten on the field, its an embarrassment off the field. Perhaps the only qualified person that actually seems to want the Rutgers head coaching position, Greg Schiano, was turned away because he made reasonable demands for his contract like being paid like a middle of the pack coach. NJ.com’s Steve Steve Politi wrote a great column on the situation. This program continues to show that is doesn’t belong in the Big Ten (or the Power Five in general).
13. Northwestern 2-9 (Last Week: 13)
Northwestern did its best to make things interesting against Minnesota, but the Gophers cruised to another win. It’s been a long year in Evanston.
12. Maryland 3-8 (Last Week: 12)
Maryland got bombed by Nebraska over the weekend to continue its tailspin. There’s a case to be made that the Terps belong lower on this list.
11. Michigan State (5-6) (Last Week: (11)
Michigan State picked itself back up after its demoralizing loss to Michigan and spanked Rutgers. Substantial changes are needed for the Spartans to regain a spot in the top half of the Big Ten, but if Mark Dantonio stays on for another year, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. MSU will need a win this week against Maryland to qualify for a bowl game (likely a trip to the Quick Lane bowl in Detroit).
10. Nebraska 5-6 (Last Week: 10)
Nebraska kept its slim bowl games chances alive with a win over Maryland. Now, in order to salvage Scott Frost’s second season, it will need to beat Iowa which won’t be easy.
9. Purdue 4-7 (Last Week: 9)
Purdue and Nebraska are pretty equal, but Purdue gets the nod thanks to its head-to-head win. With its bowl games hopes squashed, all that’s left for the Boilermakers is a shot at rival Indiana.
8. Illinois 6-5 (Last Week: 8)
Illinois hung in there on the road at Iowa, only losing 19-10. The Illini should be able to cap off their incredible regular season with another win against Northwestern to reach the seven-win mark. Looks like Lovie Smith is here to stay.
7. Indiana 7-4 (Last Week: 7)
The Hoosiers started off strong at Michigan before falling apart as the game went along. Injuries are crushing this team, with IU missing its starting quarterback and top receiver, and injuries along the offensive line and at running back. The Hoosiers will need to be ready for Purdue’s best shot to reach 8-4 and secure a spot in an upper tier bowl game.
6. Minnesota 10-1 (Last Week: 6)
This is where thing get difficult. You truly could rank teams 2-6 in almost any order and it could make sense given the roulette of who has beaten who. However, Minnesota’s claim to the top relies on a home win against Penn State and a shiny record against awful teams. Put me down as skeptical, but I need to see a win over Wisconsin to believe this is really the conference’s second or third best team.
5. Iowa 8-3 (Last Week: 5)
Iowa picked up another win over Illinois, which is actually a pretty nice victory. Iowa just screams good but not great, so that’s where it fits in again in this week’s rankings.
4. Penn State 9-2 (Last Week: 2)
Maybe I’m focusing too much on the eye test here, but Penn State just doesn’t seem like its that good of a football team. Solid, certainly. But the second best team right now in the Big Ten? Not seeing it. The relatively close score against Ohio State was because of poor play by the Buckeyes, not because Penn State is some amazing squad. It’s really a shame that Michigan didn’t have it together when these teams met earlier this season.
3. Wisconsin 9-2 (Last Week: 4)
The Badgers are moving along and earned their third straight Big Ten West division victory over the weekend, beating Purdue handily. They don’t play Penn State this year which stinks, but I’ll Wisconsin given the way each team has looked in recent weeks.
2. Michigan 9-2 (Last Week: 3)
Michigan may not have the best resume among teams 2-4, and it obviously doesn’t have the head-to-head results in its favor. However, Michigan is playing like the second-best team in the conference right now and if matched up against any other team this week besides Ohio State, it would likely win. If you’d asked me a month ago what Michigan’s chance were in this year’s game against OSU and my answer would’ve been about one percent. With the way U-M is playing, those chances are significantly higher.
1. Ohio State 11-0 (Last Week: 1)
Ohio State cruised past Penn State despite some mistakes in the second half. Chase Young is back and better than ever and will give Michigan’s offensive line a huge test. Last weekend’s game was the first time this season we’ve really seen some vulnerability from the Buckeyes. Can Michigan take advantage?