We are now in Week 11 of the college football season, and more importantly, there are only two weeks left in the regular season. Each week, the Big Ten gets more and more intriguing: Ohio State and Michigan continue to ramp up for an inevitable battle on Nov. 26 to decide the Big Ten East, and well, the Big Ten West is something. See how the conference rankings shook out after another exciting week of football:
1. Ohio State
Last Ranking: 1
Last Result: 56-14 win vs. Indiana
Next: at Maryland
This segment has three main points.
The first is that every week that C.J. Stroud looks bad, he bounces back the week after and makes people forget his performance from a week ago. Second, Marvin Harrison Jr. is a witch, a wizard, a phenom, however you want to say it. He is the best receiver in the nation as a sophomore.
Third, spotlight to Kamryn Babb. This has to be one of the best stories of the year. After four ACL tears, he finally got his first collegiate reception, and it was a touchdown.
One more week for the Buckeyes before Michigan.
Last Ranking: 2
Last Result: 34-3 win vs Nebraska
Next: vs. Illinois
This has been said the past few weeks, but the Wolverines need much more from J.J. McCarthy. While he has been serviceable as Michigan’s quarterback, that will not be enough against an Illinois defense that is among the best in the country, and furthermore, an Ohio State offense that can score at will.
Michigan should not look ahead to Ohio State on Nov. 26. Illinois is a tougher game than it looks due to the strength of Brett Bielema’s defense and Michigan’s inconsistency at the quarterback position.
3. Penn State
Last Ranking: 3
Last Result: 30-0 win vs. Maryland
Next: at Rutgers
Penn State’s defense just held Taulia Tagovailoa and Maryland’s offense to zero points. One of the best hires of the season has to be Manny Diaz, who has turned this unit into one that feasts in the backfield and is near the top in the nation in pass breakups.
Also, if Penn State has any success these next two seasons, Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen will be some of the main reasons.
Last Ranking: 5
Last Result: 31-3 vs. Northwestern
Next: vs. Iowa
In a very chaotic Big Ten West, Minnesota looks like the team that is favored to come out. While it needed help, Illinois fell short against Purdue and plays Michigan this weekend, so if Minnesota can win out, the West will likely be theirs.
But, they’ll need more from the quarterback position, whether it’s Tanner Morgan or Athan Kaliakmanis. Kaliakmanis was 7-of-14 for 63 yards against Northwestern, and that won’t suffice against better teams.
Last Ranking: 7
Last Result: 24-10 win vs. Wisconsin
Next: at Minnesota
Has Iowa’s offense looked... serviceable? The answer is yes, and with a stellar defense that’s all it needs. The Hawkeyes drove down the field easily against Wisconsin then got a pick six from Cooper DeJean, and this should be a plan for success.
Iowa’s biggest game of the season has to be this Saturday in Minneapolis. If it takes down Minnesota, it can make the Big Ten Championship.
Last Ranking: 8
Last Result: 31-24 win at Illinois
Next: vs. Northwestern
The Boilermakers continue to upset teams that are considered Big Ten West favorites. First, they went into Minnesota and beat the Gophers, and then a month later they scored 31 points against an Illinois defense that is nothing short of exceptional.
There’s a legitimate argument that Purdue is a top team in the Big Ten West. The problem is its slow start and its subpar record against the rest of the West.
Last Ranking: 4
Last Result: 31-24 loss vs. Purdue
Next: at Michigan
It seems that whenever expectations rise for the Illini, the team takes a step back. Illinois had a fairly easy road to the conference championship: it had room to lose to Michigan on the road, but if it won the other two games against Purdue and Northwestern it would still punch a ticket to Indy.
But, Illinois suffered a loss at home to Purdue. And, the week before, it lost at home to Michigan State. That can’t happen for Brett Bielema’s squad, which is vastly improving.
Last Ranking: 6
Last Result: 24-10 loss at Iowa
Next: at Nebraska
Wisconsin ran into an Iowa defense that stifled it. There are two things about this storyline. First, every team that has run into Iowa (not named Ohio State) has struggled against Wisconsin’s defense. Second, this Badgers offense is going nowhere with Graham Mertz at the helm.
The Badgers need to keep Jim Leonhard or else, dare I say it... Braelon Allen transfer season?
9. Michigan State
Last Ranking: 10
Last Result: 27-21 win vs. Rutgers
Next: vs. Indiana
Since they were destroyed by Ohio State (seems like everyone not named Northwestern is), the Spartans have bounced back in their next four games. They have gone 3-1 and their one loss was to No. 3 Michigan in the Big House. Moreover, one of their wins was against an Illinois team at the top of the conference in Champaign.
Mel Tucker’s squad is bouncing back.
Last Ranking: 9
Last Result: 30-0 loss at Penn State
Next: vs. Ohio State
For an offense as high-flying as Maryland’s, no matter who the defense is, there is no excuse for putting up a goose egg. The Terrapins’ weapons, including Taulia Tagovailoa, Roman Hemby, Dontay Demus and more, means they can score points.
Maryland had some expectations going into the year and this loss, along with the one to Michigan and Ohio State looming, throws them out the window.
Last Ranking: 11
Last Result: 34-3 loss vs. Michigan
Next: vs. Wisconsin
So much promise at the start of the season turns into another normal season of Nebraska football. This was strikingly clear as it walked into the Big House and got shattered by the Wolverines.
There is some hope for Nebraska next year: most of its skill players should return. But, Casey Thompson needs to take a huge step forward.
Last Ranking: 12
Last Result: 27-21 loss vs. Michigan State
Next: vs. Penn State
For Rutgers to take a step forward this season, it needs to get two conference wins. That would be improvement for Greg Schiano and Co.
Where does this win come? Penn State at home? Maryland away? Or is there no improvement?
Last Ranking: 13
Last Result: 56-14 loss vs. Ohio State
Next: at Michigan State
The Hoosiers did what most teams do against Ohio State, so there’s no reason to kick them while they’re down.
But, since the magical season in 2020, Tom Allen’s squad has been at the bottom of the Big Ten.
Last Ranking: 14
Last Result: 31-3 loss at Minnesota
Next: at Purdue
This was a good chance for Northwestern to get out of slot 14. It just played Ohio State well, and Indiana was bound to get destroyed by Ohio State.
But, a demoralizing performance against a Minnesota team without its starting quarterback keeps the Wildcats here. They allowed over 300 yards on the ground, and that can’t fly. Ever.