Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 10
1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Purdue 56-0
This week: BYE
For two weeks in a row Ohio State has rewritten the record books, for their opponents. After having the highest total offensive output against Penn State in their history, the Buckeyes tied the largest margin of defeat in Purdue’s history. A 56-0 victory wasn’t expected, even as arguably the best and worst teams in the Big Ten squared off.
Now with a bye week coming up for Ohio State, they simply need to do two things. Hope Alabama, Oregon or Florida State lose, and get healthy. If Stanford can knock off Oregon by a close margin, that should do enough to keep Ohio State ahead of Stanford in the BCS polls. The Buckeyes also have potentially four more games to impress the voters and will need everyone at 100%. Winning may not be enough for Ohio State, but they seem determined to wipe any opponent out of the way to gain national exposure. –Ryan Stevens
2. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Michigan 29-6
This week: BYE
Week after week the Michigan State Spartans show the country just why they are the nation’s number one statistically rated defense. The physicality and vision of Michigan State’s defense was just too much for in-state rival, Michigan. Mark Dantonio’s squad has now won five of the last six meetings against the Wolverines; this past game being the most lopsided victory in the rivalry since 1967. Despite a loss earlier in the season to Notre Dame, this Spartans team is all but impenetrable.
Junior running back Jeremy Langford rushed 26 times for 120 yards and a touchdown, as he continues to prove very capable of managing the game clock. Sophomore quarterback Conner Cook added to the offense by throwing for 252 yards and a touchdown. With a BYE week approaching for the Spartans, they will be sitting comfortably as the second best team in the Big Ten and the only team atop the Legends Division. –Tyler Feldman
3. Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Iowa 28-9
This week: vs. BYU (6-2)
After a sluggish start that saw Wisconsin up only one at half time, the Badgers hopped on the back of senior running back James White to a victory in Iowa City. Sophomore running back Melvin Gordon didn’t have another explosive performance, as he and the rest of the Wisconsin running game was relatively held in check, to 218 yards. The victory was all the more impressive with senior linebacker Chris Borland out with a strained hamstring. Sophomore quarterback Joel Stave managed the game great, and hit senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis in the end zone, after an interception deep in Iowa territory.
Wisconsin has an unusually late non-conference affair with BYU at Camp Randall, on Saturday. After starting 1-2, BYU has won their last five games with four of them being by double digits. Expect a lot of rushing yards, as Saturday will feature two of the top 15 rushing attacks in the country. –Ryan Stevens
4. Michigan (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Michigan State 29-6
This week: vs. Nebraska (6-2, 3-1)
Even after a BYE week, Michigan was unable to take down in-state rival Michigan State. Not only did the Wolverines lose on the road in East Lansing, a much better Spartans team demolished them. Quarterback Devin Gardner was sacked seven times throughout the contest, as the Michigan offensive line was unable to stop the Spartans heavy penetration. As a whole the Wolverines were held to minus-48 rushing yards, which is the worst rushing performance ever totaled against Michigan State.
Devin Gardner’s passing wasn’t much to look at either, as he completed just 14 passes on 27 attempts for 210 yards and an interception. Michigan returns to the Big House next week, as they look to get back on track against a strong, and maybe a little lucky, Nebraska team. And again, this Michigan team was always considered overrated throughout the season, so a fashionable loss to rival Michigan State is somewhat fitting. –Tyler Feldman
5. Minnesota (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) @ Indiana 42-39
This week: vs. Penn State (5-3, 2-2)
The inspirational football continues out of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Since Jerry Kill decided to step away from the sideline because of health complications, the Golden Gophers are 3-0. Linebacker Aaron Hill recovered an Indiana fumble with just 25 ticks left on the clock to hold on and beat the offensively minded Hoosiers. Minnesota gave up a 35-13 lead, but still managed to get the win.
Minnesota was terrific offensively as quarterback Philip Nelson completed 16 of 23 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns. Moreover, running back David Cobb galloped 29 times for 188 yards and a touchdown. To stretch its hot winning streak to four games, Minnesota will have to get past Penn State at home this upcoming Saturday. –Tyler Feldman
6. Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Northwestern 27-24
This week: @ Michigan (6-2, 2-2)
The hot seat just got a whole lot cooler for Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini after this weekend. Trailing the Wildcats 24-21 with no time left on the game clock, the Cornhuskers had no choice but to attempt the legendary Hail Mary. And what do you know, as time expired, Jordan Westerkamp caught Ron Kellogg III’s tipped pass in the end zone to give Nebraska the three-point victory.
Running back Ameer Abdullah was strong again for the Cornhuskers, rushing 24 times for 127 yards and catching a short pass and transforming something out of nothing to convert a fourth-and-15 to set up the final play. Bo Pelini’s squad will travel to Ann Arbor next week in a very important Legends Division matchup. –Tyler Feldman
7. Penn State (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten)
Last week: (W) vs. Illinois (24-17 OT)
This week: @ Minnesota (7-2, 3-2)
After suffering a beat down by Ohio State last week, Penn State was fortunate to come away with a win on Saturday against Illinois. If it wouldn’t have been for a 200-yard rushing performance from sophomore running back Bill Belton and more acrobatic catches from junior wide receiver Allen Robinson, then we might be talking about the worst loss in the Bill O’Brien era instead. The lack of interest lately in finding tight ends has proven to be a killer for the Penn State offense, as Robinson seems to be the only confident target for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
Penn State was reluctant to say the least to get a win on Saturday and will need a change in play quickly when Penn State heads out to play Minnesota. The Gophers have played inspired football since head coach Jerry Kill took a temporary leave of absence. It’s going to be a tall task for Penn State to go into Minneapolis and get a win the way they’ve been playing lately. –Ryan Stevens
8. Iowa (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Wisconsin 28-9
This week: @ Purdue (1-7, 0-4)
In a difficult home game versus Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes were unable to get anything going offensively against a stifling Wisconsin defense. Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock completed just 50% of his passes for a mere 109 yards and an interception. Wisconsin was simply too tough defensively and managed the clock in a way that made it a challenge for Iowa to score any points.
Kirk Ferentz’s squad has easily surpassed expectations this season, but they are still just one win away from being bowl eligible. Next week the Hawkeyes travel to Purdue, where they will look to get back on the winning track against the easiest Big Ten opponent. –Tyler Feldman
9. Northwestern (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Nebraska 27-24
This week: BYE
A team that started the season hot with an undefeated record, has now fallen off the face of the earth, losing five straight Big Ten contests. Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats have struggled mightily as of late, which made the loss the Nebraska that much more stinging. Northwestern fell on the road after giving up a Hail Mary touchdown the final play of the game.
Obviously losing in such a fashion is very rare, but at the same time, Northwestern has been unable to hold its own in Big Ten play this season. Star running back Treyvon Green did run for 149 yards and three touchdowns, but his efforts where just not enough to propel his team to a road victory. Now a much needed BYE is on the horizon for the Wildcats, who will look to rest, relax and regroup following a very rough start to the Big Ten season. –Tyler Feldman
10. Indiana (3-5, 1-3 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Minnesota (42-39)
This week: vs. Illinois
Indiana seemed to make just enough plays to avoid the buzz saw that has been the Minnesota Golden Gophers. After a valiant effort to erase a 35-13 deficit, sophomore running back Tevin Coleman fumbled a lateral on the Minnesota nine-yard line with under 20 seconds to go in the game. Usually it’s the Indiana defense that isn’t able to make enough plays to win, but this week, the offense just needed to nine more yards to knock off Minnesota and couldn’t convert a simple pass out in the flat.
This week’s matchup with Illinois will certainly be a case of which team has the ball last will probably be the team that walks out of Bloomington with a win. Expect a lot of points not just from two very efficient offenses, but also two of the worst statistical defenses in the country. –Ryan Stevens
11. Illinois (3-5, 0-4 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) @ Penn State (24-17 OT)
Next week: @ Indiana (3-5, 1-3)
For the first time since October 2011, Illinois looked like they were going to get a Big Ten win. Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had a great day throwing the football, but was picked off by Penn State senior safety Ryan Keiser in the end zone that ended Illinois’ day. Most will say Illinois outplayed Penn State and held strong on various occasions against Penn State’s conservative offense. Even with the loss of senior wide receiver Ryan Lankford, guys like senior Spencer Harris and senior Steve Hull played exceptionally well against a very inexperience Penn State secondary.
Next week will be as close to a 7-on-7 game in the Big Ten as you may ever get. Illinois travels to Indiana and it will certainly not be a game for the old school Big Ten fans that saw defensive battles week after week. With college basketball season starting this Friday, Illinois and Indiana will put up basketball-like numbers on the scoreboard this Saturday for sure. –Ryan Stevens
12. Purdue (1-7, 0-4 Big Ten)
Last week: (L) vs. Ohio State (56-0)
This week: vs. Iowa (5-4, 2-3)
We knew it was going to be bad on Saturday in West Lafayette. It got so bad; I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more fans wearing red than black in Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday. There honestly isn’t one positive stat to report on Purdue this Saturday either. They lost the turnover battle, they averaged one yard per carry and they had only six drives that lasted longer than three plays. The heart of this team will be pushed to the limit the rest of the season. Who really wants to play and who really wants to make the Purdue football brand better in these last four weeks. The goal has to be just to get one conference win, and it starts Saturday at home against Iowa. –Ryan Stevens