Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 11
As if the College Football Playoff picture couldn't get any murkier, the Big Ten East race swung in Penn State's favor in a big way with Iowa's upset victory over Michigan in Iowa City.
I've sifted through the chaos and come through with clarity. Thanks to recent consistent performances and a Wolverine loss, the Ohio State Buckeyes return to the top of this week's Big Ten Power Rankings.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1): After back-to-back 62-3 victories vs. Nebraska and at Maryland, the Buckeyes offense seems to be hitting its stride. Either that, or Urban Meyer recognized the need for Curtis Samuel to touch the football more. Ironically, Michigan's loss at Iowa hurts Ohio State's chances of making the Big Ten Championship. Next: at Michigan State.
2. Michigan Wolverines (9-1, 6-1): A Saturday night loss at Iowa is far from the end for Michigan, but it does give Penn State hope. The defense was dominant, but Wilton Speight never got going at Kinnick Stadium. If Michigan wins out, it'll make the College Football Playoff. Next: vs. Indiana.
3. Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 5-2): Wisconsin continues its ride through the remainder of the season and into the Big Ten Championship game. With a dominate defense and fairly soft remaining schedule, it would take a remarkable upset for the Badgers to be watching rather than playing during Championship Week. Next: at Purdue.
4. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2, 6-1): Penn State received its first test since its program-vaulting win over Ohio State. Indiana was a pesky foe, but the Nittany Lions did just enough to pull away and win. As a reward, Iowa knocked off Michigan and gave Penn State a reasonable path to Indianapolis. Next: at Rutgers.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-2, 5-2): There aren't many players with more heart than Tommy Armstrong, and it was great to see him back under center for the Huskers on Saturday. Minnesota provided a stiff challenge, but Nebraska kept its Big Ten West hopes alive. Next: vs. Maryland.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-4, 4-3): Jim Harbaugh just can't win at Iowa, and Kinnick remains a fortress, especially in primetime games. It's still a long shot, but Iowa's Big Ten West hopes aren't gone quite yet. If anything, Saturday's win over Michigan guarantees Iowa's season meant something good. Next: at Illinois.
7. Northwestern Wildcats (5-5, 4-3): It's stunning how much better Northwestern is now compared to September. Those two early-season loses definitely sting, but the Wildcats have looked good ever since and are just one win from bowl eligibility. Next: at Minnesota.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-3, 4-3): Minnesota kept it close against Nebraska, but the Huskers had too much skill and speed and overpowered the Gophers in the second half. The Gophers best win this season is arguably over Maryland, but that could change in the final weeks of the season. Next: vs. Northwestern.
9. Indiana Hoosiers (5-5, 3-4): Stop me if you've heard this before: Indiana loses a close one against a top-10 opponent. Indiana had chances and probably should've pulled off the upset victory, but five turnovers were too much to overcome in the end. Next: at Michigan.
10. Maryland Terrapins (5-5, 2-5): After Rutgers was outscored 136-0 in consecutive games against Ohio State and Michigan, Maryland followed suit and lost by a combined 121-6 in consecutive weeks. Good thing the Terps grabbed some wins during nonconference action. Next: at Nebraska.
11. Purdue Boilermakers (3-7, 1-6): Unfortunately, the Boilermakers missed out on playing Rutgers and Michigan State this season. As a result, the losing streak is up to five, and it'll likely be six in a week's time. Next: vs Wisconsin.
12. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-7, 2-5): The Illinois quarterback carousel continues its course as injuries continue to derail whatever progress Lovie Smith is making. To be fair, Illinois wasn't going to beat Wisconsin, regardless of who was playing quarterback. Next: vs. Iowa.
13. Michigan State Spartans (3-7, 1-6): Hey, Sparty grabbed a Big Ten win. All that's left for Michigan State is to play spoiler with the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions remaining on the schedule. Next: vs. Ohio State.
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-8, 0-7): Sorry, Scarlet Knights. Barring an upset, it appears you'll suffer through a winless 2016 Big Ten campaign. On the bright side, Rutgers men's basketball beat Drexel on Sunday.