Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 11
1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: @ Illinois (3-6, 0-5)
Ohio State got a gift this past week from Stanford knocking off Oregon. It’s evident the only way Ohio State is going to get a shot at the national championship is to win out and get another gift of a loss from Alabama or Florida State. There is quite a gap between Florida State and Ohio State, the number two and three teams respectively in the latest BCS rankings...so, Ohio State will have to continue to win convincingly.
The last three game stretch of the Buckeyes season starts this weekend with a trip to Champaign to take on Illinois. The, “Illibuck” turtle has been taken to Columbus for five consecutive years and there are no indications it’s leaving this year. Ohio State boasts the eighth best rushing attack in the country and Illinois hasn’t held a conference opponent to less than 250 rushing yards yet. –Ryan Stevens
2. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: @ Nebraska (7-2, 4-1)
Imagine how dangerous this Michigan State team can be following a bye. Giving the nation’s top defense an extra week of rest prior to traveling to Nebraska is just unfair. The competitiveness and strength of the Big Ten has been brought into question this season, but Mark Dantonio’s defense is no joke. Since losing to Notre Dame back on September 21, the Spartans have rolled off five straight victories.
While the defense was able to rest up this past week, sophomore quarterback Connor Cook got several reps in to prepare for a tough road test in Omaha. Cook has really grown from the start of the season, and with the week off, he was able to hone in on his pocket presence. Expect Michigan State to stretch its winning streak to six games on Saturday. –Tyler Feldman
3. Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. BYU 27-17
This week: vs. Indiana (4-5, 2-3)
Wisconsin’s late season non-conference matchup with BYU featured a little bit of senior running back James White in the receiving game and a lot of James White in the rushing game. White rushed for over 100 for the sixth time this year and continues a streak of multiple two rushing touchdowns in three straight performances.
The last three games of Wisconsin’s schedule shape up nicely with two of those three at Camp Randall. Indiana comes into town this week and there might not be a team that is at polar opposites in terms of offensive and defensive production. No defense and Kevin Wilson’s explosive offensive schemes will be on full display Saturday. Don’t expect that tough Badgers defense to succumb to the offense of the Hoosiers. –Ryan Stevens
4. Minnesota (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Penn State 24-10
This week: BYE
Since head coach Jerry Kill moved up to the team’s coaching box five weeks ago to gain control over his bout with epilepsy, his Golden Gophers are 4-1, including four straight Big Ten wins. Kill says he plans to remain in the box for the rest of the season. That means that Tracy Claeys, who has been an assistant of Kill’s for the last 18 years, will continue as acting head coach for the rest of the season.
With that being said, the Golden Gophers controlled the entirety of their 24-10 victory at home against Penn State last Saturday. Running back David Cobb was stellar, carrying the ball 27 times for 139 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota also converted all three of its fourth down tries, to bring its season total to 11 for 14 on fourth down attempts. It is a feel good story so far for Kill’s squad, who approaches a bye week before a very important end stretch to their season. If Minnesota can win at home against Wisconsin in two weeks and then beat Michigan State on the road in three weeks, the Golden Gophers will shock college football and finish the season atop the Legends Division. –Tyler Feldman
5. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Michigan 17-13
This week: vs. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0)
What a rollercoaster ride this season has been for head coach Bo Pelini. After everything that has gone down with Pelini this season, his team currently sits in second place behind Michigan State in the Legends Division. Coming off a big road victory in the Big House against Michigan last week, the Cornhuskers control their own destiny as they face off against the Spartans at home this coming Saturday. With a win Nebraska would be in first place in the Legends Division and control their own destiny.
Nebraska’s defense was a bright point against the Wolverines, as they gave up only 175 yards of total offense (-21 rushing yards) to Devin Gardner. Offensively, running back Ameer Abdullah was strong again, rushing for 105 yards and a touchdown on just 27 attempts. Look for their matchup against Michigan State this weekend to be a defensive battle. –Tyler Feldman
6. Michigan (6-3, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Nebraska 17-13
This week: @ Northwestern (4-5, 0-5)
Michigan finds itself in a sticky situation after the home loss to Nebraska this past weekend. With the loss, the Wolverines are bowl-eligible, but really have no chance to compete for the Big Ten title. Even Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman understands the state of Wolverines football this season when she gave a drunken speech at halftime during the game against Nebraska this past Saturday.
Maybe Northwestern is just what the doctor order for Brady Hoke’s squad. The Wolverine’s offense was abysmal against Nebraska, accumulating just 175 yards of total offense on 196 passing yards and a myriad -21 rushing yards. A road test in Evanston will most likely include a plethora of maize and blue to hopefully help comfort this team stuck on a dead end road. –Tyler Feldman
7. Iowa (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Purdue 38-14
This week: BYE
Let’s just say that Purdue is the perfect recipe to cure any loss. After a difficult defeat at home to Wisconsin two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes traveled to West Lafayette, Ind., to snatch up a big 38-14 win this past Saturday. The victory helped Kirk Ferentz’s squad become bowl-eligible, which at this point is all that he can ask for. With only two games remaining on the schedule, even if his team won out, they still would not have a shot at the Big Ten crown.
Running back Jordan Canzeri rushed for a career-high 165 yards and a touchdown on only 20 attempts and Jake Rudock completed 60% of his passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, as the Iowa offense had no trouble taking care of the Boilermakers. After a bye this weekend, Iowa finishes up its season at home against Michigan and on the road against Nebraska. –Tyler Feldman
8. Penn State (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Minnesota 24-10
This week: vs. Purdue (1-8, 0-5)
Saturday’s performance can be summed up as a wasted opportunity for the Nittany Lions in Minnesota. The first play wasn’t a good indication things were going to go well when junior running back Bill Belton mishandled the handoff from freshman quarterback, Christian Hackenberg. A botched snap at the one-yard line and two turnovers on downs in Minnesota territory in the second half deflated Penn State.
The reemergence of senior running back Zack Zwinak and his gloves was one positive for the Nittany Lions. Zwinak ran for 150 yards and one touchdown on the day and the defense was able to get stops in the 2nd half on a consistent basis. If Purdue makes it a game on Saturday, it will be a disappointment in itself, but getting six wins and the possibility of finishing over .500 is still a legitimate goal for Penn State. –Ryan Stevens
9. Northwestern (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten)
Last week: BYE
This week: vs. Michigan (6-3, 2-3)
For a team that began that began the season with a lot of promise, the Northwestern Wildcats suddenly find themselves in a quagmire of a situation within the Big Ten. The Wildcats have proven unable to win in a conference that is considered just slightly above average this season. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald is a terrific coach and a compelling motivator, but his team has proven incapable of winning close games. Northwestern’s last three losses have been by seven points or less.
The Wildcats have proven able to play close with its competitors, they just have not been able to get over that hump and win. This week is not any easier for the purple and white who must play Michigan at home. Northwestern faces the Wolverines this week and then closes out its season with Michigan State and Illinois. It is very possible that this Wildcats team could finish a shocking 0-8 in the Big Ten and 4-8 overall following a 4-0 start. The only shot this team has to win is on the road against Illinois to end the season. –Tyler Feldman
10. Indiana (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Illinois 52-35
This week: @ Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1)
After last week’s late game debacle by sophomore running back Tevin Coleman to end the game, the Hoosiers got back on track in a defenseless battle in Bloomington. Coleman led the charge with 15 carries and 215 yards on the ground with two scores. The breakaway speed on the outside was evident on Saturday and showing why Coleman could be a first-team All-Big Ten selection at the end of the year.
I would say now is the time when Indiana will need to do their best to contain the rushing attack of Wisconsin next week, but everyone knows that won’t happen. If Indiana can hold Wisconsin to under 300 yards rushing, that would what Jerry Jones considers a “moral victory”. The only “W” Indiana will see on Saturday is the one on the helmets of the Badgers’ running backs in the end zone. –Ryan Stevens
11. Illinois (3-6, 0-5 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Indiana 52-35
Next week: vs. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0)
It’s unfortunate seeing the tumultuous failure of a team put out by Illinois week after week when all senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase does is work his tail off. The senior quarterback threw for over 400 yards for the second time this year. It’s a shame people are going to look back at his record and probably not remember how great of a person and how vital of a member he was to the Illinois football program.
Questions surrounded athletic director Mike Thomas regarding whether Tim Beckman is still the answer at head coach. Those questions probably won’t go away after this week’s visit from Ohio State. There’s a legitimate chance that Illinois will have to wait yet another year to get a Big Ten win. –Ryan Stevens
12. Purdue (1-8, 0-5 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Iowa 38-14
This week: @ Penn State (5-4, 2-3)
Patience everyone, PATIENCE. Freshman quarterback Danny Etling and freshman receiver DeAngelo Yancey are still in West Lafayette. If Purdue can make a game out of this weekend with Penn State, that will be as good as a win in their eyes. Besides, the basketball team only beat Northern Kentucky by one the other day, embrace what’s left of Purdue football this year Boilermaker fans. You may not have a head coach that will call out its fans for leaving early, but tolerate and embrace as much as possible before the year is over. –Ryan Stevens