1. Ohio State 11-0 (8-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Last Week’s Result: Win vs Penn State 28-17
Next Week: at Michigan
Think about this: Justin Fields fumbled while diving into the end zone in the first quarter, and early in the third quarter, Ohio State twice fumbled deep in their own territory, which directly led to 10 points for Penn State. That’s a complete 17-point swing against the Buckeyes ... and yet, they still won 28-17.
Ohio State out-gained Penn State 417-227 in total yardage, and Chase Young came back with a vengeance, finishing with 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Ohio State clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship game and is the undisputed number one team in the conference.
2. Minnesota 10-1 (7-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Last Week’s Result: Win vs Northwestern 38-22
Next Week: vs Wisconsin
I honestly grappled back and forth over where to place each of the teams from spots 2-5. They’re all really close. I’d prefer the overall depth of talent and upside on each of the other three teams, so anyone who thinks Minnesota is really only the 5th best team in the Big Ten, I won’t argue with you.
But that win against Penn State means too much, and their loss against Iowa was perfectly reasonable. As Northwestern fans saw on Saturday, this isn’t some in-over-their head underdog that’s just survived. The offensive talent is real and they have another chance to prove it against Wisconsin this Saturday.
3. Penn State 9-2 (6-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Last Week’s Result: Loss at Ohio State 17-28
Next Week: vs Rutgers
That was a pretty good loss, even if a lot of things bounced in Penn State’s favor. The Nittany Lions’ defense at least slowed down what seemed like an unstoppable force in the Ohio State offense. Their Playoff and Big Ten title hopes are officially dead, but this was still a tremendous season for a team that was supposed to a year away. Watch out for Penn State in 2020.
4. Wisconsin 9-2 (6-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Last Week’s Result: Win vs Purdue 45-24
Next Week: at Minnesota
Similar to what I said in the Minnesota section, I kind of think Michigan is better than Wisconsin now. I’m aware that the Badgers rolled UM 35-14 earlier this year, but that was almost two months ago, and since then the Badgers have been good but not great, while Michigan has outscored their opponents 187-52 since they trailed Penn State 21-0.
All this back-and-forth arguing will be rendered insignificant after the two heavyweight matchups realign the conference, but for now, I’ll keep Wisconsin in front of Michigan based on that head-to-head win.
5. Michigan 9-2 (6-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
Last Week’s Result: Win at Indiana 39-14
Next Week: vs Ohio State
I have been admittedly impressed by the way Michigan has played in the last month, and last week they laid the smack down on Indiana, a team with a winning record, in Bloomington. I don’t think they will beat Ohio State, but it’s impossible to deny that this hasn’t become a very impressive team and a part of that top tier of the Big Ten.
6. Iowa 8-3 (5-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Last Week’s Result: Win vs Illinois 19-10
Next Week: at Nebraska
Iowa is a really good team. Their defense is elite, they have a signature win over Minnesota, and their losses were all by seven points or fewer to teams ranked ahead of them on this list.
Iowa is also incredibly boring. They bludgeoned Illinois to death by field goals, and their defense prevents any excitement from happening for the opposing offense. My prediction would be that they remain here at sixth for the rest of the season, as they’ll most likely roll over the remnants of preseason favorite Nebraska.
7. Illinois 6-5 (4-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Last Week’s Result: Loss at Iowa 10-19
Next Week: Northwestern
Yes, they lost and I moved them up. It’s my rankings. Sue me (actually don’t sue me, I’m a broke college kid). Here’s my reasoning for why I moved them ahead of Indiana:
Better wins. Illinois has that flagship victory over Wisconsin from this year and came back from down 28-3 to beat Michigan State, who earlier this year handed Indiana a 40-31 loss. Even in their loss to Iowa their defense was still impressive. I know it’s not a win, but there are such a thing as good losses. Illinois had one this week, similar to their loss against Michigan earlier this season. Meanwhile Indiana ...
8. Indiana 7-4 (4-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Last Week’s Result: Loss vs Michigan 14-39
Next Week: at Purdue
Laid a huge egg against the Wolverines this week. After going up 14-7, the Hoosiers gave up 32 unanswered points in under 25 minutes of game time. It’s awesome for the program that they’ve won seven games, but they haven’t beaten a single team with a winning record.
Their best win is over Nebraska, and their second-best is honestly over your 2-9 Northwestern Wildcats. This is the best Indiana team in three decades, and if they can win their last two games, #9WINDIANA will become a reality. That doesn’t mean they’re a great team or that they’re better than Illinois.
9. Michigan State 5-6 (3-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Last Week’s Result: Win at Rutgers 27-0
Next Week: vs Maryland
The Spartans beat Rutgers easily this week to earn their third conference win and keep their chances at a bowl game alive. Congratulations, here’s your participation trophy. Not only is this a very bad team, but this is no longer a great program, as they are a combined 25-24 over the last 4 years.
10. Purdue 4-7 (3-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
Last Week’s Result: Win vs Penn State 28-17
Next Week: at Michigan
I considered moving the Boilermakers up one spot out of pure spite for how disappointing Michigan State has been, but I just couldn’t do it. Purdue is competing hard, and were within one score of a top-15 team in Wisconsin at halftime. I like where there program is at going forward. They just don’t have the talent right now, especially as they have relied on third stringer Aidan O’Connell the last two games.
11. Nebraska 5-6 (3-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Last Week’s Result: Win at Maryland 54-7
Next Week: vs Iowa
The Cornhuskers finally snapped their four game losing streak versus the hapless Maryland Terrapins this week and I honestly don’t care. That just says how bad Maryland is and does not vault them over Purdue, who beat them earlier this month 31-27. Nebraska needs to upset Iowa this week in order to salvage this catastrophic season, and I doubt that they can do it.
12. Northwestern 2-9 (0-8)
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Last Week’s Result: Loss vs Minnesota 22-38
Next Week: at Illinois
The ‘Cats!!! They moved up one spot!!! Celebrate!!!
The truth is that Northwestern did absolutely nothing to achieve this. This is purely a “Maryland sucks” reasoning. I’d pick NU in a match-up against the Terrapins if they played today, and so, even though Northwestern has one less overall win and lacks a conference win, I’ve moved them ahead. Hopefully they don’t lose by too much to Illinois so they can at least finish here in the final power rankings.
13. Maryland 3-8 (1-7)
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Last Week’s Result: Loss vs Nebraska 7-54
Next Week: at Michigan State
Since I’ve berated Maryland for this entire article, I might as well list off some of their egregious flaws. The Terps’ three wins are over Howard, Rutgers and 4-7 Syracuse, arguably the worst team in the worst power five conference. Maryland has lost six games in a row and has lost by an average of 35.2 points per game. UMD is terrible, and just because they beat Rutgers and have more wins does not mean they are better than Northwestern.
14. Rutgers 2-9 (0-8)
Last Week’s Ranking: 14
Last Week’s Result: Loss vs Michigan State 0-27
Next Week: at Penn State
Rutgers’ loss this week marks the fourth time they’ve been shut out this season and the 11th time they’ve been shut out in conference play since joining the Big Ten 2014. Oof.
On a side: Can we start calling Rutgers’ starting quarterback Johnny Langan, “Johnny Two Gloves” a la Teddy “Two Gloves” Bridgewater? No? Ok.