At the beginning of the season if I told you that the winner of the Michigan vs. Ohio State matchup on Nov. 24 would go on to face Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game, would you have believed me? In all likelihood barring a major upset, that very situation is going to occur in just under two week’s time. For the love of all that is good in the world, please survive these trap games, Michigan and Ohio State. College football needs you two to face off for all the marbles in two weeks. Make it happen. On to the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 12.
Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.
14. Rutgers (1-9)
Lost to Michigan, 42-7
Well, it was 7-7 in the first quarter. I guess (?) that’s a positive. Rutgers has not won a Big Ten game since November 4, 2017. No comment. Rutgers plays at home against Penn State this Saturday.
13. Illinois (4-6)
Lost to Nebraska, 54-35
Illinois either blows you out or they get blown out. Last Saturday, they were blown out by Nebraska. On a positive note, the Illini rushing game accumulated for 383 yards and 5 TDs. Next season can’t come fast enough as 5-star quarterback Isaiah Williams will most likely be under center. Illinois plays Iowa at home on Saturday.
12. Maryland (5-5)
Lost to Indiana, 34-32
It’s hard to lose ball games when your offense accounts for 542 yards in over 39 minutes with the ball. However, 4 turnovers turned out to be the difference maker in a 34-32 loss to Indiana. If you can remember, Maryland beat Texas in the first game of the season. Here’s to happier times. Maryland plays Ohio State at home on Saturday.
11. Indiana (5-5)
Beat Maryland, 34-32
Going into Saturday’s game against Maryland, Indiana had not won a game since September. That all changed when the Hoosiers defeated the Terps 34-32. Despite being outgained by almost 200 yards, the Hoosiers came out on top thanks Peyton Ramsey’s 3 total TDs. Although the defense allowed more than 500 yards, they did force 4 turnovers. Indiana travels to the Big House to take on Michigan on Saturday.
10. Minnesota (5-5)
Beat Purdue, 41-10
The remaining teams in the power rankings are so inconsistent that their ranking in the bottom varies from week to week. Two weeks ago, Minnesota surrendered 55 points in a loss. Against Purdue, Minnesota’s defense held the high-powered Purdue offense to season lows in points and yards. Only in the Big Ten. Minnesota will try for the upset special this weekend as they play Northwestern at home.
9. Nebraska (3-7)
Beat Illinois 54-35
Don’t look now, but Nebraska is starting to figure things out. The Cornhuskers have won 3 of their last 4 games after starting the year 0-6. This past Saturday, Nebraska exploded for 54 points behind an Adrian Martinez’s 345 total yards and 4 TDs. Things are starting to look up for the Cornhuskers as they are building momentum for next season. Nebraska plays Michigan State at home on Saturday.
8. Wisconsin (6-4)
Lost to Penn State, 22-10
Wisconsin, you need help at quarterback desperately. The Badgers are handicapped at quarterback right now. Alex Hornibrook can only take the Badgers so far and his backup, Jack Coan, threw for 60 (!!!) yards total the other day in the loss to Penn State. If I’m Wisconsin, I try and find the next Russell Wilson via graduate transfer. It worked out before. Why not try it again? If I’m Wisconsin, I’m doing everything in my power to recruit Kelly Bryant from Clemson to play for the Badgers next year. It probably won’t happen, but you get the idea. Wisconsin plays at Purdue on Saturday.
7. Purdue (5-5)
Lost to Minnesota, 41-10
Is Purdue not as good as we thought they were? After dismantling Ohio State, the Boilermakers have lost two of the past three games including a head-scratching loss this past Saturday to Minnesota. The Boilermakers picked a bad time to put up season lows in yards and points as it was a must-win game in order to keep pace in the Big Ten West. With that being said, Purdue will look to improve their bowl position with a win on Saturday at home against Wisconsin.
6. Iowa (6-4)
Lost to Northwestern, 14-10
Tell me if you have heard this story before. Iowa had the lead late, but let it slip through their fingers in the 4th quarter on the way to defeat. For the second straight week, the Hawkeyes were unable to hold on to a fourth-quarter lead as Northwestern scored a touchdown with just under 10 minutes left, which was good enough to win. What started off as a promising season for Iowa (6-1) has taken a turn for the worse after 3 consecutive losses. Iowa will look to get back on track as they travel to Champaign on Saturday to face Illinois.
5. Michigan State (6-4)
Lost to Ohio State, 26-6
With a chance to shock the world, the Spartan offense could not gain any momentum against the Buckeyes on their way to a 26-6 defeat. Michigan State was hanging around the entire game and trailed only 9-6 heading into the 4th quarter. However, a costly fumble with their backed up to their own end zone cost the Spartans as the Buckeyes recovered for the touchdown to go up 16-6. Going 2 for 16 on 3rd down also did not help out the Spartans’ chance for an upset. Michigan State will travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska this Saturday.
4. Penn State (7-3)
Beat Wisconsin, 22-10
Just like that, Penn State is back in the top 4 of these power rankings after beating Wisconsin this past Saturday. Penn State still has an outside chance to make a New Year’s Six Bowl barring a few losses from teams ahead of them in the rankings. Penn State needs to win out in convincing fashion and hope a few teams in the SEC and Big 12 lose. If not, the Outback Bowl or Citrus Bowl will be their final destination. Penn State plays at Rutgers this Saturday.
3. Northwestern (6-4)
Beat Iowa, 14-10
Pat Fitzgerald, take a bow. What you have done this year is simply remarkable. This past Saturday, Northwestern battled and clawed throughout the whole game until Clayton Thorsen threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Bennett Skowronek with just under 10 minutes in left in the 4th quarter to take the lead 14-10, which would be good enough to win. With the win, Northwestern clinched the Big Ten West and will play in the conference championship game in a few weeks for the first time in school history. On July 6, I wrote this about Pat Fitzgerald.
“In two of the past three seasons, Fitzgerald has led the Wildcats to 10-win seasons. Mark my words, Fitzgerald will lead Northwestern to a Rose Bowl appearance one day.”
Maybe this is the year it happens. Northwestern plays Minnesota on the road on Saturday.
2. Ohio State (9-1)
Beat Michigan State, 26-6
I’ll give credit where credit is due. Ohio State did not play up to its own standards, but they won an ugly game in dominant fashion against Michigan State. The Buckeyes had the edge in just about every offensive category, but it was their defense that stepped up, forcing 3 turnovers and holding the Spartans to 6 points. There is a formula to beating Ohio State, and Michigan State did not have it. Teams that can spread the field and run a fast, up-tempo offense (Purdue, Nebraska, Penn State to an extent) give the Buckeyes problems. When they face a slow, pro-style offense, the Buckeyes defense dominates. This is why I still believe Ohio State can beat Michigan. Ohio State travels to College Park on Saturday to take on Maryland.
1. Michigan (9-1)
Beat Rutgers, 42-7
No disrespect to Rutgers, but Michigan had a scrimmage last Saturday. It was a chance to fine-tune their skills against a significantly inferior opponent in Rutgers. Michigan now knows what it has to do.
- Beat Indiana this Saturday
- Beat Ohio State
- Beat Northwestern for the Big Ten Championship
If those three things happen, Michigan will make the College Football Playoff. Can Jim Harbaugh, Shea Patterson, and the rest of the Wolverines take care of business? We will soon find out.