The Big Ten East is a two-team race between Michigan and Ohio State. In the Big Ten West, it’s absolute chaos. At the beginning of the year, Wisconsin and Iowa were the two teams that were favored to win the division. It’s the second week of November, and the favorites are now Northwestern and Purdue. The Big Ten has been crazy all year, and there are still some opportunities for more madness in the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 11. Strap in.
Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.
14. Rutgers (1-8)
Lost to Wisconsin, 31-17
Rutgers only lost by two touchdowns on the road against Wisconsin. In my book, that is a huge win for the Scarlet Knights. I still don’t believe Chris Ash survives at the end of the year, but if they can keep it close against Michigan on Saturday, you never know.
13. Minnesota (4-5)
Lost to Illinois, 55-31
The Golden Gopher offense had a very good day against Illinois. 438 total yards and 31 points are usually enough to win games. However, when your defense allows 646 yards of total offense and 55 points, you won’t win any games. Minnesota will look to play the role of spoiler on Saturday when they welcome Purdue to Minneapolis.
12. Illinois (4-5)
Beat Minnesota, 55-31
Two games ago, Illinois was on the wrong end of a 66-33 beatdown. This past weekend, the Illinois offense exploded for 55 points in a blowout victory over Minnesota. The Illini are a different team with AJ Bush Jr. under center, who accumulated 4 TDs on the day. If Illinois can make it to a bowl game this year, that would be the absolute best case scenario for this team. Illinois travels to Lincoln to play Nebraska on Saturday.
11. Indiana (4-5)
Indiana has not won a game since late September. During that span, the Hoosiers have lost four games, which were all to Big Ten opponents. Indiana is now in trouble of missing a bowl game. They will look to get back on the winning side with a game against Maryland at home on Saturday.
10. Nebraska (2-7)
Lost to Ohio State, 36-31
I don’t care that Nebraska lost to Ohio State this past Saturday. Besides Penn State and Purdue, Nebraska was one of the few teams to keep the game under single digits against the Buckeyes. In fact, the Cornhuskers lead against the Buckeyes at halftime. This is exactly why they hired Scott Frost. This very well may be a preview of what’s to come. With Adrian Martinez as their quarterback of the future, the sky is the limit. Nebraska plays Illinois at home on Saturday.
9. Maryland (5-4)
Lost to Michigan State, 24-3
Maryland was in a losing situation before they stepped foot on the field because of the D.J. Durkin saga. Putting all of the offseason issues aside, the Terrapins are still a few years away from taking the next step in competing with the best teams in the Big Ten. It came as no surprise that Maryland could not throw for over 100 yards, but their rushing game, which is the team’s strength, was stifled from the start and rushed for an abysmal 26 yards. Maryland travels to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Saturday.
8. Wisconsin (6-3)
Beat Rutgers, 31-17
Did Wisconsin win the game? Yes, but their performance was subpar at best against an inferior opponent in Rutgers. Jonathan Taylor ran for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. This game also marked the return of Alex Hornibrook under center, who missed last week’s loss to Northwestern. Just like Iowa, Wisconsin will need to win out and hope for a few Northwestern losses to have a shot at the Big Ten West title. The Badgers play Penn State on Saturday.
7. Penn State (6-3)
Lost to Michigan, 42-7
A season that started so promising has now taken a turn for the worst. In their three biggest matchups of the season against Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State lost all three. This game against Michigan was personal as the Wolverines were out for blood after the Nittany Lions humiliated the Wolverines last season. The only thing that Penn State can hope for now is to win out and try to secure a top bowl game. Penn State plays Wisconsin at home on Saturday.
6. Iowa (6-3)
Lost to Purdue, 38-36
In a must-win game, Iowa failed to stop Purdue when it mattered most as they lost on a game-winning field goal attempt. This marks Iowa’s second straight road loss in the final minutes. With the loss, Iowa’s chances of winning the Big Ten West have now pretty much evaporated. However, the Hawkeyes can play spoiler when they welcome Northwestern into town on Saturday.
5. Purdue (5-4)
Beat Iowa, 38-36
And just like that, Purdue disrupted the Big Ten once again as they defeated Iowa with a game-winning field goal. This game had huge Big Ten West implications as Iowa now picked up a third conference loss, which all but eliminates their chances of going to the Big Ten Championship. On the flip side, Purdue still has a chance to make it to the Big Ten Championship but will need some Northwestern losses. For now, all the Boilermakers can do is win out and that starts on Saturday when they play Minnesota.
4. Michigan State (6-3)
Beat Maryland, 24-3
The Spartans are gaining momentum at the right time. Michigan State returned to their old ways with a successful rushing attack and dominant defensive performance in their win over Maryland. If this defense continues to trend upwards, the Spartans will play spoiler in the Big Ten, and that is a real possibility when they welcome Ohio State to town on Saturday.
3. Northwestern (5-4)
Lost to Notre Dame, 31-21
Losing at home to Notre Dame will move you up spots in these power rankings? In an unpredictable season, that’s exactly what’s happening because I learned a lot more about Northwestern in this loss than I have from them all season. I wouldn’t say that Northwestern does any one thing well in particular, but it’s their toughness that stands out for me. The Wildcats play hard from start to finish and more importantly, they keep the game close. The Wildcats could’ve given up down 17 points in the 4th quarter, but they scored two unanswered touchdowns to cut it to a 3 point game. If they beat Iowa at Kinnick on Saturday, it might be time to pop champagne and celebrate a division title.
2. Ohio State (8-1)
Beat Nebraska, 36-31
Ohio State needed to pull out everything in its arsenal to defeat Nebraska in Columbus. Ohio State came back from a 21-16 halftime deficit to defeat the Cornhuskers thanks a 163-yard rushing performance from J.K. Dobbins. Ohio State may be 8-1, but these last two games have been eye-opening. The Buckeyes are not as dominant as many thought, and the absence of Nick Bosa has been a huge loss. The Buckeyes have to figure it out fast because they travel to Michigan State on Saturday.
1. Michigan (8-1)
Beat Penn State, 42-7
Michigan, the Big Ten is yours to lose. After another dominating performance, this time over Penn State, the Wolverines continue to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. If Michigan played Ohio State today, Michigan would win by at least 2 TDs. No team besides Notre Dame has figured out the Michigan defense, and right now, the Ohio State offense hasn’t exactly been a beacon of hope. I don’t see Michigan slowing down anytime soon. Michigan will look to continue its successful season this Saturday when they travel to Piscataway to play Rutgers.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State and Northwestern vs. Iowa have the ability to turn the conference upside down with wins if the Spartans and Hawkeyes come out with victories. If this season has proved anything, it’s that crazier things have happened.