It was yet another interesting week of Big Ten football.
Michigan and Ohio State continued to win but had to pull games out of the fire to do so. Penn State continued to impress in the East. We gained a little more clarity in the West with Purdue and Iowa winning to set up a weekend when the Hawkeyes control their own path to Indy.
It all has us reassessing the pecking order in the Big Ten. It’s pretty easy to figure out what the top three teams are, but beyond that, good luck using your flow charts, darts and magic eight-balls to figure it all out.
We like a challenge, so we try to make sense of it all after each weekend, and here’s how we see the landscape of things in our Big Ten football power rankings after Week 12.
Northwestern Wildcats (1-10, 1-7)
Lost at Purdue, 17-9
Northwestern actually did something hard to do: maintain sole possession of last place in the Big Ten West division with yet another loss on American soil.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-7, 1-7)
Lost vs. Penn State, 55-10
It sure looked like a promising season at the beginning, but Greg Schiano and gang ran out of wood to chop once the Big Ten season started and are swinging at air toward the finish line.
Indiana Hoosiers (4-7, 2-6)
Won at Michigan State, 39-31
Just when you thought the entire state of Indiana had stopped caring about football, the Hoosiers go and win their first game since the temperatures were in the 80s in the Midwest. It’ll probably be that long again.
at Ohio State
Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-8, 2-6)
Lost vs. Wisconsin, 15-14
The ghost of Scott Frost past found its way into Memorial Stadium again with the ‘Huskers finding a way to bumble away another close contest, this time to Wisconsin. Now Nebraska has to pin its season on ruining Iowa’s shot at a trip to Indianapolis next week.
Michigan State Spartans (5-6, 3-5)
Lost vs. Indiana, 39-31
After turning things around and looking like big muscles Sparty, Michigan State lost to lowly Indiana and will probably be home for the holidays — and not in a good way. Unless that is, you think the green and white can beat Penn State.
at Penn State
Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4)
Won at Nebraska, 15-14
It has been anything but a beauty pageant for Wisconsin this year, but coming back to beat Nebraska on the road is a very underrated win, and one that gets the Badgers bowl eligible. That’s something you can build more than a dam off of moving forward.
Maryland Terrapins (6-5, 3-5)
Lost vs. Ohio State, 43-30
Maryland was as healthy as it has been for weeks against Ohio State, and it showed. The Terps played with a lot of emotion and heart, but came up just short against the Buckeyes at home. There’s a bowl at the end of the rainbow in 2022, but this team has to find a way to win games late in the season and not lean on moral victories.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 4-4)
Lost vs. Iowa, 13-10
You might take issue with us dropping Minnesota so many spots after a close loss to Iowa, but we take offense to the Golden Gophers being one of the most schizophrenic teams in the Big Ten. P.J. Fleck can probably kiss any chance at the West division title goodbye after death blow type of loss.
Illinois Fighting Illini (7-4, 4-4)
Lost at Michigan, 19-17
It’s tempting to keep the Illini higher in these rankings after the good showing at Michigan. The reality is Illinois has lost three games in a row, and you know by now we don’t give credit to teams for losses in this column. There should be a pretty good bowl game out of the deal in a good season to build on for Bret Bielema and company. Also, in all sincerity and honesty, we want to take this moment to send our sincere condolences to Bret Bielema for the passing of his mother this past week.
Purdue Boilermakers (7-4, 5-3)
Won vs. Illinois, 31-24
After tripping over itself three weeks ago, Purdue has found its footing again and is sitting right there ready to head to Indianapolis if Iowa stumbles next week. You know Purdue would love to have back a couple of those games it was more charitable than Mother Theresa when it comes to giving the football away this season.
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4, 5-3)
Won at Purdue, 24-3
I think it’s time to realize Iowa has gotten better ever since the Ohio State game. The offense is not moving backward at least, and the defense continues to dazzle. A win next week and the Hawkeyes are in Indy amazingly enough.
Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2, 6-2)
Won vs. Rutgers, 55-10
Penn State had a loaded front end of the Big Ten schedule and has made a lot of hay on a back end that doesn’t include Ohio State and Michigan. It sure looks like the Nittany Lions have gotten a lot better and you wonder what would happen if they played the Buckeyes and Wolverines again.
vs. Michigan State
Michigan Wolverines (11-0, 8-0)
Won vs. Illinois, 19-17
We’ve gone back and forth between Ohio State and Michigan all year with the No. 1 and No. 2 spot and this could probably really be 1A. However, the Wolverines just aren’t as explosive on offense and you have to wonder if Michigan can hold up against an elite offense. The good news is we’re about to find out.
at Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0, 8-0)
Won vs. Indiana, 56-14
Ohio State struggled on offense in the first half again, especially on the ground, but the second half was a different story. The defense did enough to help out and now all eyes are set on the massive showdown with Michigan on Saturday.
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