Big Ten Football Power Rankings: Week 11
Big Ten Power Rankings Week 11
Slowly but surely, the Big Ten is becoming relevant again. It took some last second heroics and a predictable beat-down to ensure this relevance.
Ohio State hosted a struggling Illinois team and took care of business like everyone expected them to do and improved their record to 10-0. They are one of a very small group of teams in the country that includes the top four teams in the country.
Besides an undefeated Ohio State team, Nebraska and Northwestern have both recently joined the top 25. If the Buckeyes didn't face a bowl ban, along with Penn State, they may both be in the top 25, giving the conference four teams-- close to the number they started the season with.
As for right not, people just have to live with the fact that the Big Ten is just not having a good year. Is the conference going downhill? No, they have had a bunch of tough losses, but the conference will be back and better than ever next year with Ohio State likely to be ranked in the top five and a handful of teams likely to be in the top 25.
The top five in this week's edition of my power rankings remain unchanged, while the bottom half of the conference continues to shuffle around due to tough losses for teams that seemed like they were on the right path.
Michigan State had a tough loss at home to Nebraska and are facing two crucial games to end the season for bowl eligibility. Iowa lost to a surprising Indiana team and now look doubtful to make it to the postseason after seemingly another week of hangover following their win at Michigan State.
Take a look at the best and worst teams in the Big Ten.
12. Illinois(2-7, 0-5)
There is not much to say about this team. It's hard to defend a team that has lost six straight games by an average of 27 points and shows little-to-no fight game after game. Nathan Scheelhaase has not been the answered that the Illini had hoped for since he came back from injury and their offense was horrific against Ohio State, accumulating just 170 yards. The defense was even worse, giving up over 500 yards. Tim Beckman's tenure as head coach may be a short one in Champagne.
11. Purdue(3-6, 0-5)
Purdue has been free-falling ever since they beat Marshall to improve to 3-1 in their final non-conference game. The Boilermakers have yet to win a conference game this season to the surprise of many that believed they would be the winner of the Leaders Division that was seemingly up for grabs. Robert Marve tore his ACL in week two and has come back to regain his starting position. You know it's bad when you're starting quarterback is playing on a torn ACL.
10. Minnesota(5-4, 1-4)
The battle for the Little Brown Jug didn't go quite as the Minnesota Golden Gophers would have hoped. The Michigan Wolverines traveled to Minneapolis and took it to the Gophers, defeating them 35-13 in what was a close game for the first 40 minutes of play. The Gophers have lost four of their last five games, but will get to face a deflated Illinois team this week, however nothing is a sure win this year. Minnesota may be regretting moving MarQueis Gray to wide receiver.
9. Iowa(4-5, 2-3)
Iowa has seen their record go from 4-2 to 4-5 following a win at Michigan State that looked to be a season-defining win that would catapult the Hawkeyes into the postseason. Now, a bowl seems unlikely with games against Michigan and Nebraska, two of the conference's top three teams, remaining. James Vandenberg's career as a Hawkeye may be over sooner than he would like, especially if he can only throw four touchdowns through the team's first nine games.
8. Indiana(4-5, 2-3)
Many people would not have seen this coming, especially after Indiana's start quarterback Tre Roberson went down early in the season, but the Hoosiers are just two wins away from postseason play. Cameron Coffman has been playing great at quarterback for the Hoosiers as they feature one of the conference's best offenses and are coming off a win against Iowa-- watch out for this unpredictable Hoosier team.
7. Michigan State(5-5, 2-4)
Michigan State has lost another heartbreaker and, of course, it was in front of their home crowd. The Spartans have lost two out of their past three games in the final 10 seconds of play and have lost four straight home games. This team is puzzling for many reasons. They should be one of the top teams in the conference because of their stellar defense, however, the offense is non-existant. Ten points stand between this team and a 9-1 record. Tough stats to live with if you're Mark Dantonio.
6. Wisconsin(6-3, 3-2)
Wisconsin had a much-needed bye week in week 10, following a tough loss in week nine to the Spartans at home in overtime. They will have to play the remainder of the season without their freshman stud quarterback Joel Stave, suffering a broken collarbone, and Danny O'Brien will get another shot at starting after losing his job in week three. The Badgers have already locked up a bowl, but face two of the conference's best teams in their final three weeks and have to travel to Indiana this week-- a task that not too many like to face.
5. Northwestern(7-2, 3-2)
Northwestern is sitting pretty at number five and could easily find themselves in the top three with a win this weekend at Michigan. The Wildcats have finally breached the top 25, coming in at No. 24. They are one of just two teams in the Big Ten that find themselves ranked going into week 11. They had a bye week in week 10, giving them a sufficient amount of time to prepare for a tough Michigan squad that finds themselves tied for first place in the Legends Division. If Kain Colter can dominate with his legs and endless amounts of talent like he has been, the Wolverines may be looking at an upset by the Wildcats in Ann Arbor.
4. Penn State(6-3, 4-1)
The Nittany Lions have become everybody's favorite underdog. Although they have no chance at a bowl because of their postseason ban, they seem to find a way to win week after week with a depleted roster. In the offseason, when many players transferred to other schools following the controversy, including star running back Silas Redd, no one believed this team would win even a third of their games. Lo and behold, here we are in week 11 and the Nittany Lions, behind the strong play of Matt McGloin, find themselves at 6-3 and have a good shot at winning two, if not three, of their final games. Apparently they are, indeed, Penn State.
3. Michigan(6-3, 4-1)
The Wolverines come in at number three for the second straight week after claiming the Little Brown Jug in a win at Minnesota. Denard Robinson didn't play in the game as converted-wide receiver Devin Gardner led the team to victory at quarterback. Gardner looked solid in Robinson's absence, completing over 50 percent of his passes for over 200 yards and two scores. The future may be bright after all in Ann Arbor once Robinson is gone.
2. Nebraska(7-2, 4-1)
Nebraska looked defeated halfway through the fourth quarter of Saturday's game at Michigan State, then Taylor Martinez broke out. Martinez had one of his best rushing games ever as he ran for over 200 yards and scored on two long run plays that Michigan State's usually-great defense has not seen before. The Cornhuskers left East Lansing with a win and find themselves tied for first place-- with three games left-- in the Legends Division with Michigan, as they hold the tie-breaker. This offense is nothing to look past, as they accounted for over 400 yards on a Spartan defense that allowed an average of 267 yards a game entering Saturday.
1. Ohio State(10-0, 6-0)
The award for least talked about undefeated team in the country goes to: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have garnered little respect nationally for their unbeaten record for two reasons. One, they play in a lackluster Big Ten conference this season that has underachieved greatly, and two, they cannot make a bowl game this season because of their postseason ban. They have a Heisman candidate in Braxton Miller and could be playing for a national title if it weren't for the Tressel-Pryor controversy. There's no doubt that this team will be in the top five to start next season and Urban Meyer could see a national championship for the first time since his Florida days.