Welcome to the final week of the 2022 Big Ten football regular season! Several of the matches this weekend hold immense weight in postseason and bowl decisions, while some teams are just looking to get something positive to build on for next year. Here’s where all the teams stand going into the last week of the season:
1. Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 1
Last Result: 43-30 win at Maryland
Next: vs. Michigan
A career day from running back Dallan Hayden put the Buckeyes over Maryland in a tough contest at College Park. His three touchdowns on 146 yards carried the team when C.J. Stroud couldn’t get the job done, a good sign for the future of this offense.
Ohio State is going to need to get creative going up against a Michigan team that allows some of the fewest completions in the Big Ten while also limiting the ground game better than just about anyone else.
2. Michigan (11-0, 8-0 B1G)
Last Ranking: 2
Last Result: 19-17 win vs. Illinois
Next: at Ohio State
Michigan nearly lost their undefeated streak against a hungry Illinois team, but three fourth quarter field goals from Jake Moody completely erased its seven point deficit late in the game.
Barely squeaking out a win against a far inferior team at home should make the Wolverines a little nervous about their upcoming matchup at Ohio State, and their Big Ten-best defense will be put to the test against C.J. Stroud and Co.
3. Penn State (9-2, 6-2 B1G)
Last Ranking: 3
Last Result: 55-10 win at Rutgers
Next: vs. Michigan State
The Nittany Lions had some fun beating up on lowly Rutgers despite no standout performances to speak of; quarterback Sean Clifford had both a passing and rushing touchdown, contributing to his team’s five total touchdowns on the day.
Michigan State shouldn’t be much more of a challenge, but Penn State’s short pass-heavy approach could hit a wall against a tough Spartans’ pass defense.
4. Purdue (7-4, 5-3 B1G)
Last Ranking: 6
Last Result: 17-9 win vs. Northwestern
Next: at Indiana
Purdue didn’t look as invincible as some other top teams have against Northwestern, but quarterback Aidan O’Connell only needed to find the end zone twice to seal the win.
Next week, the Boilermakers will take on an Indiana team also coming off a win, but they should be able to take advantage of a weak passing defense that Michigan State couldn’t exploit to the fullest.
5. Iowa (7-4, 5-3 B1G)
Last Ranking: 5
Last Result: 13-10 win at Minnesota
Next: vs. Nebraska
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras might be a wizard. He seems to magically have turned his season around over the last four weeks, and this past week, he managed to score the team’s only rushing touchdown while also registering negative rushing yards.
Magic might be enough to put a red-hot Iowa team over Nebraska at home, but in case it isn’t, they can probably rely on a strong pass defense to overpower a middling Cornhusker passing game.
6. Minnesota (7-4, 4-4 B1G)
Last Ranking: 4
Last Result: 13-10 loss vs. Iowa
Next: at Wisconsin
Without running back Mohamed Ibrahim’s heroics, Minnesota looked weak against a surging Iowa team that now leads them in the Big Ten West. Ibrahim still had a great outing with a touchdown over 263 yards, but without any help from the rest of the offense, the team took a fall.
The Golden Gophers will face a much weaker passing defense in Madison next week, but they’ll probably go to the ground game again since it seems to be working.
7. Illinois (7-4, 4-4 B1G)
Last Ranking: 7
Last Result: 19-17 loss at Michigan
Next: at Northwestern
Illinois came so close to beating undefeated Michigan last week, but it was always going to take more than two touchdowns and a field goal to knock the Wolverines off their throne.
The Illini’s defensive effort against one of the Big Ten’s best offenses is something to be proud of, and it should definitely give them enough confidence heading into a matchup against a bottom-feeding Northwestern team.
8. Wisconsin (6-5, 4-4 B1G)
Last Ranking: 8
Last Result: 15-14 win at Nebraska
Next: vs. Minnesota
Despite whiffing on both two-point conversion attempts, Wisconsin’s two-touchdown 4th quarter gave them a win they desperately needed to push their record back above .500.
The Badgers will be facing a more evenly-matched team in Minnesota in the final week of the season, and will have to limit the Golden Gophers’ ground game if they want to end the season with a victory.
9. Maryland (6-5, 3-5 B1G)
Last Ranking: 10
Last Result: 43-30 loss vs. Ohio State
Next: vs. Rutgers
Taulia Tagovailoa actually outplayed C.J. Stroud last week, but Maryland’s run defense let them down in the end, allowing Dallan Hayden to reach the end zone three times in the second half.
It’s definitely encouraging that the Terps were able to hold their own against the best team in the Big Ten, so hopefully for them, that momentum will carry over to their matchup against the much weaker Rutgers.
10. Michigan State (5-6, 3-5 B1G)
Last Ranking: 9
Last Result: 39-31 loss vs. Indiana
Next: at Penn State
The Spartans were unable to pull out a win despite a strong performance from quarterback Payton Thorne, but between his two touchdowns and strong running back play, there isn’t too much to panic about in their double overtime loss to Indiana.
It’s their defensive woes that provide some concern for next week’s matchup at Penn State. If Michigan State can’t hold back a Hoosiers’ run game that ranks second to last in the Big Ten in yards per game, the Spartans probably won’t fare too well against a Nittany Lions run game that’s one of the best in the conference.
11. Nebraska (3-8, 2-6 B1G)
Last Ranking: 11
Last Result: 15-14 loss vs. Wisconsin
Next: at Iowa
Nebraska put forth a valiant effort against a Wisconsin team that has played way better than them this season. Quarterback Casey Thomspon outperformed Graham Mertz, finding receiver Trey Palmer twice in the end zone for the Cornhuskers’ only points of the day.
Wisconsin’s pass defense is nothing compared to Iowa’s, but if Nebraska can capitalize on their short game, they have a shot to outscore a middling Iowa offense.
12. Indiana (4-7, 2-6 B1G)
Last Ranking: 12
Last Result: 39-31 win at Michigan State
Next: vs. Purdue
The Hoosiers flipped the script on their season and had by far the most productive ground game that they’ve had all season. Running backs Shaun Shivers and Josh Henderson combined for three touchdowns, and quarterback Dexter Williams II showed out with an impressive 34-yard rushing touchdown early on.
Purdue is going to be a much tougher opponent than Michigan State, but they also don’t have a particularly strong run defense. Indiana might have a shot in a high-scoring game.
13. Rutgers (4-7, 1-7 B1G)
Last Ranking: 13
Last Result: 55-10 loss vs. Penn State
Next: at Maryland
Rutgers took a beating of epic proportions at home this week, unable to contain Kaytron Allen and the rest of the Penn State offense.
Luckily for them, Maryland runs the ball a lot less, but the Scarlet Knights are still going to need more than a touchdown and a field goal if they want an outside shot at a win to end the season.
14. Northwestern (1-10, 1-7 B1G)
Last Ranking: 14
Last Result: 17-9 loss at Purdue
Next: vs. Illinois
Alas, it looked like this week could finally be the week with the Wildcats only down five with 12:49 to go in the 4th quarter, but after allowing a field goal on the very next drive, it was clear that all hope would be lost yet again.
Northwestern will face its in-state rival Illinois at home to end their season, but there’s no real reason for optimism as the ‘Cats hope to avoid their 11th straight loss.