Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 12
There wasn't much shake up in this week's edition of our Big Ten Power Rankings as the top-six teams held serve despite close finishes for those sitting on top. Michigan State found a way to climb a couple steps out of the Big Ten cellar.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1, 7-1): It's never easy for Urban Meyer when he squares off against Mark Dantonio and Michigan State. Despite a fairly anemic offense, the Buckeyes came away with a rivalry win, thanks in large part to the Silver Bullets. Everything Ohio State worked for comes down to this week. Next: vs. Michigan.
2. Michigan Wolverines (10-1, 7-1): The nation watched to see how Michigan would perform without Wilton Speight under center, and let's just say John O'Korn left a lot to be desired. It won't get easier for O'Korn and Michigan, but Harbaugh has yet to rule Speight out for Saturday's regular season finale at the Horseshoe. Next: at Ohio State.
3. Wisconsin Badgers (9-2, 6-2): Wisconsin's smooth ride to the finish line continued on Saturday with an easy win over Purdue. Trailing after one quarter of play, the Badgers stepped up and cruised to a dominating victory. Only game game stands between Wisconsin and a trip to Indy. Next: vs. Minnesota.
4. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2, 7-1): Another mediocre first half for the Nittany Lions was followed with an explosion in the second half. Leading only 9-0 at Rutgers at the midway point, James Franklin got his team turned around and put up 30 over the final two quarters. Penn State's Big Ten East title hopes are very much alive. Next: vs. Michigan State.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-2, 6-2): No Tommy Armstrong, no problem. The Huskers eased their way to a 28-7 victory over Maryland on senior day, controlling the game from kickoff to final whistle. Nebraska needs a little help, but a win over Iowa and a Wisconsin loss would see the Huskers playing in Indy. Next: at Iowa.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4, 5-3): Iowa receivers struggled with drops again on Saturday, but the Hawkeyes were far too talented to lose to Illinois. The Hawkeyes avoided the letdown game after a major win over No. 3 Michigan, but their Big Ten title hopes faded on Saturday. Even if a rare four-way tie occurs in the Big Ten West, Iowa would be eliminated. Next: vs. Nebraska.
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-3, 5-3): Minnesota surprised a lot of people with their performance this season, reaching eight wins after trouncing a Northwestern team that was playing better than its record indicated. Like Iowa, the Big Ten West hopes are gone, but the Golden Gophers can still play spoiler and earn a trip to a respectable bowl. Next: at Wisconsin.
8. Northwestern Wildcats (5-6, 4-4): After the fight Northwestern showed against Ohio State and Wisconsin, it was shocking how Minnesota completely handled the Wildcats in each facet of the game. The pressure ramps up for Northwestern as the fight to become bowl eligible drags into the final week of the regular season. Next: vs. Illinois.
9. Indiana Hoosiers (5-6, 3-5): Indiana fought Michigan harder in the Big House than any other team has this season, but even the valiant fight and effort wasn't enough in the snow. The Hoosiers are a resilient team with one more shot to lock up a bowl berth. Next: vs. Purdue.
10. Maryland Terrapins (5-6, 2-6): The Terrapins failed to get going offensively at Nebraska until the fourth quarter, and by then it was too late. Maryland is fortunate to be 5-6 (astonishingly weak non-conference schedule), but to miss a bowl game would be a disappointment for D.J. Durkin's first season at the helm. Next: vs. Rutgers.
11. Michigan State Spartans (3-8, 1-7): The record isn't there, but Michigan State has looked exceptionally better in three of its past four performances. Sparty was one play away from knocking off Ohio State for the second consecutive season, and going for the two-point conversion was the right call. Michigan State still has plenty of pride to play for next week. Next: at Penn State.
12. Purdue Boilermakers (3-8, 1-7): You don't win a lot of football games giving up 35 points in one half, let alone one quarter. Next: at Indiana.
13. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-8, 2-6): Lovie Smith has a mess on his hands. Illinois can't get fans in the stands or quality players throughout the depth chart. Even against one of Iowa's weaker performances this season, Illinois still found a way to get shutout at home. Next: at Northwestern.
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-9, 0-8): Not a great senior night for Rutgers football. Rutgers was shutout for the second straight week and fourth time this season, and it has scored seven points or fewer in six of its 11 games. Next: at Maryland.