Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 10
Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 10
The Big Ten is entering the final stretch of the season and one team is the clear top dog in the conference. Ohio State is now 9-0 and 5-0 in conference play. Their best start since the Jim Tressel era and things are looking up for Columbus in the future.
Urban Meyer isn't the only coach finding success in his first season as the coach of a Big Ten team. Penn State won five games in a row after losing their first two games of the season, then fell to the Buckeyes in a battle of bowl ineligible teams. Bill O'Brien has the Nittany Lions playing as consistent as any team in the conference, making a strong bid for conference coach of the year.
The conference may be experiencing a down year, but there has been no shortage of amazing finishes and great performances.
The past week saw Michigan State beat the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison for the first time since 2001. The Spartans and Badgers have had their fair share of close games that have been decided in the final minutes.
This game was no different as the Spartans beat the Badgers in overtime, 16-13, and made it three straight seasons in which the Spartans have beaten the pesky Badgers.
The conference title is still up for grabs. With the Leaders Division seemingly in hand, Wisconsin seems to have locked up that side of the title game, waiting to see who will emerge from the Legends Division.
The week nine matchup between Michigan and Nebraska seemed to be one step closer in determining who would come out of the division on top. The Cornhuskers won the game and became the favorite to win the Legends Division.
Let's take a look at the conferences top teams.
12. Illinois(2-6, 0-4)
Illinois has proven once again why they are the worst team in the conference. They had a chance to climb out of the conference's cellar with a win against Indiana. They outplayed the Hoosiers in seemingly every offensive category, but fell short in the only one that matters: points. Tim Beckman and the Illini are in desperate need of a win, but the free-falling Fighting Beckmans are not showing any promise.
11. Purdue(3-5, 0-4)
Purdue was my pick to win the Leaders Division in the preseason, but you know what they say about preseason predictions-- they don't matter. They are one of the coldest teams in the conference and are in the midst of a quarterback controversy. Injured Robert Marve has been deemed the starter after Caleb TerBush failed to get his team a Big Ten win. The team has not been playing up to par lately, and things don't get much easier as they have to face off against a surprising Penn State team.
10. Indiana(3-5, 1-3)
The Hoosiers are one of the conference's toughest teams to beat, but they also have one of the worst records. They are by no means a good team, but the Hoosiers sure are a pesky bunch. They have lost four of their five games by four points or less. They have been a thorn in the side of team such as Ohio State and Michigan State, but will have a tough time the rest of the season, trying to win three games to achieve bowl eligibility won't be easy with their schedule.
9. Minnesota(5-3, 1-3)
Minnesota is just one win away from getting to their first bowl since 2009 and Jerry Kill has this team playing well. They are coming off a huge win against Purdue and they did it behind the arm of newly-acquainted starter, Philip Nelson. It was just his second start for the Gophers as MarQueis Gray has been transitioning in his new role as the team's wide receiver. The Gophers face Michigan this week at home and will be a huge game in determining their postseason chances.
8. Iowa(4-4, 2-2)
Iowa has dropped once again in my power rankings after losing a tough one in Evanston. They found themselves down 28-3 through basically three quarters until they mounted a comeback that resulted in two touchdowns, but nothing more. The Hawkeyes lost 28-17 as James Vandenberg failed to throw a touchdown once again-- a problem he's had all season long. Damon Bullock was back at running back and gained over 100 yards on the ground with just 22 carries. They play Indiana this week and will need to win two of their last four games to get to a bowl game. If they don't, then Kirk Ferentz will experience his first hot seat as the coach of the Hawkeyes.
7. Wisconsin(6-3, 3-2)
The Badgers are coming off a heartbreaking loss against the Spartans of Michigan State in Madison. This will be a tough loss to recover from, but the Badgers are playing with nothing to lose, already reaching bowl eligibility. Although they will have to play the remainder of the season without freshman quarterback Joel Stave, who suffered a broken collarbone after being sacked by William Gholston early in the third quarter. Danny O'Brien will have to win back the Badger fans with his play and improve on something he had a hard time doing early in the season: passing.
6. Michigan State(5-4, 2-3)
The Spartans are in great shape right now after their victory against the Badgers. Many were writing this team off prior to the game Saturday in Madison, saying that a bowl game would be tough and almost unlikely with the schedule they had remaining. However, Andrew Maxwell and the Spartans silenced those critics and took the Badgers to overtime before beating them on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Maxwell to Bennie Fowler. They showed that they can overcome adversity and beat anyone, anywhere, within reason. Their three conference losses are by a total of six points. This team is six points away from being an 8-1 squad instead of an average 5-4 one.
5. Northwestern(7-2, 3-2)
The Wildcats are coming off a big win in week nine against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Their passing attack was lacking with the duo of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian throwing just 10 passes combined and tossing for just 84 yards. The running attack was much more prominent as the Wildcats are developing one of the best rushing units in the conference. Venric Mark gained over 160 yards along with Colter as they combined for over 300 yards on the ground. If they can play like that week in and week out, they have a chance to win nine or even 10 games.
4. Penn State(5-3, 3-1)
Matt McGloin had another dazzling performance against the Buckeyes Saturday, but failed to come out victorious against the conference's best team. They lost by only 12, but the game was in hand before the end of the third quarter. Although they were beaten on their home field, they continue to be one of the conference's best teams and McGloin has emerged as the leading passer in the Big Ten. They are not bowl eligible this season because of offseason troubles, but if they were, they would be playing in the postseason as one of the Big Ten's top teams.
3. Michigan(5-3, 3-1)
The Wolverines faced their toughest test of the season in week nine. They traveled to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers in a matchup of the top teams in the Legends Division. The winner of this game would likely be the favorite to reach the conference title game and try to dethrone Wisconsin. Michigan however failed to come away with a win as they lost 23-9. They suffered a crushing blow as Denard Robinson injured his elbow and was forced out of the game early. They couldn't recover offensively and failed to get into the endzone. They face Minnesota this week in what they hope will be a confidence booster.
2. Nebraska(6-2, 3-1)
This is an easy pick at No. 2 because of the consistency they have showcased all season long. Although they lost an early season matchup against UCLA in the Rose Bowl, the Cornhuskers have rebounded nicely and experienced just one loss since then. That loss was to the top team in the conference, Ohio State, that seems to be rolling over everybody on their way to a possible undefeated year. Nebraska is right behind the Buckeyes because of their offensive firepower and tough wins against Northwestern, Michigan and Wisconsin. They have a great chance to win the Legends Division, but their tough road starts with a game at Michigan State this week. If they win, they could be on the fast-track to a conference title.
1. Ohio State(9-0, 5-0)
The Buckeyes are the Big Ten's biggest surprise and biggest disappointment all rolled into one. I say they are a surprise because no one expected Urban Meyer to do this well with a team comprised of players that don't exactly fit his style in year one. I say they are disappointing, not because of their play, but the fact that they are undefeated in a down year for the conference and could be competing for a national championship if the bowl ban was not in place. This obviously isn't their fault, but it couldn't have come during a better season. The Buckeyes have a real chance of going unbeaten in 2012, and it starts with Illinois this week.