Big Ten Week 12 Power Rankings

It was a battle of epic proportions last weekend when OSU took on MSU in East Lansing and while it may not be as popular there is another important game that will be just as entertaining to watch as Nebraska and Wisconsin take on each other in a best of theWest showdown.

As part of the matchup, fans will have a rare treat to see the nation’s top two running backs go head-to-head. Melvin Gordon leads the nation in rushing yards per game (166.8) while Ameer Abdullah is No. 6 (138.9). Both are key components of the offense, both can take over the game and both will undoubtedly produce a dearth of highlights. The Badgers won the Huskers’ inaugural Big Ten game 48-17 in Madison in a meeting of top-10 teams in 2011. The Huskers won 30-27 in Lincoln in 2012 but two months later lost 70-31 to an unranked Badgers team at the conference championship game.

Elsewhere, Minnesota will do its best to hang with the Buckeyes as it is also tied for first in the West. Minnesota has not beaten an AP top-10 team at home since 1977 when it beat No. 1 Michigan. Since then, the Gophers have lost 20 straight games against AP top-10 teams at home. Even Iowa, despite its two losses, is still mathematically also in the running for the West and looks to rebound with a win over Illinois. The East may be set in stone but the West is heating up at just the right time.

1 Ohio State Buckeyes
Record: 8-1 overall, 5-0 conference
Previous ranking: 2
The Buckeyes exacted revenge over last year’s loss to Michigan State in dominating fashion, accumulating 568 yards of offense on the No. 5 defense in the nation and labeling themselves as the top contender in the league. It was their the 21st consecutive regular-season Big Ten win and the 49 points tied the most allowed by the Spartans under head coach Mark Dantonio. The Virginia Tech loss still looms but OSU’s outstanding play makes it appear less threatening.

2 Michigan State Spartans
Record: 7-2 overall, 4-1 conference
Previous ranking: 1

What happened to this once vaunted defensive unit? Despite being ranked fifth in the nation, the MSU defense was rendered obsolete by the high-octane Buckeye offense as Ohio State had players with 300 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game. It will be interesting to see how this team will respond after such a devastating loss.

3 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Record: 8-1 overall, 4-1 conference
Previous ranking: 3

Nebraska desperately needed a weekend off to rest an injured Ameer Abdullah as a chance at the division crown and a longshot of making the College Football Playoff is at stake. With Melvin Gordon on the other side, the Cornhuskers need all the help they can attain but it remains to be seen how effective Abdullah can be against the league’s top defense.

4 Wisconsin Badgers
Record: 7-2 overall, 4-1 conference
Previous ranking: 4

The Badgers got a nice tune-up for Nebraska as Melvin Gordon went over 200 rushing yards again and the passing game surprisingly emerged as QB Joel Stave threw for a season high 219 yards. The defense remained stout as Purdue rushed for 26 yards on 26 carries, the third straight Wisconsin opponent to rush for fewer than 100 yards.

5 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Record: 7-2 overall, 4-1 conference
Previous ranking: 5

It is difficult to decipher what team the Gophers truly are as they lost to Illinois but obliterated Iowa 51-14, the largest margin of victory in coach Jerry Kill’s tenure at Minnesota. At least they head into Saturdays game against OSU with a ton of momentum, a top 25 defense, an underrated tailback in David Cobb and the league’s best tight end in Maxx Williams.

6 Maryland Terrapins
Record: 6-3 overall, 3-2 conference
Previous ranking: 6

Following a physical 20-19 victory over Penn State, the Terrapins were in need of some R + R and extensive preparation as an angry Spartans team invades Maryland. It figures to be another dogfight as the Terps are looking to end the season on a winning note.

7 Iowa Hawkeyes
Record: 6-3 overall, 3-2 conference
Previous ranking: 5

The Hawkeyes chances at winning the division are basically on life support as they were manhandled by the Gophers and now have two losses. They were seen as contenders due to their soft schedule but their inconsistency has plagued them all year.
8 Penn State Nittany Lions
Record: 5-4 overall, 2-4 conference
Previous ranking: 10
Even though it wasn’t pretty by any means, the Nittany Lions scratched out a victory over Indiana and now sit one victory away from a bowl game. The odds are in their favor with a consistently strong defense taking on Temple and Illinois in the final two weeks.

9 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Record: 5-4 overall, 1-4 conference
Previous ranking: 8

Following three weeks of being completely ripped apart by the opposition, the Scarlet Knights finally received a well-earned week off to prepare for a home game with lowly Indiana. They are looking for that elusive sixth victory and there isn’t a better matchup than the one that’s coming up.

10 Michigan Wolverines
Record: 5-5 overall, 3-3 conference
Previous ranking: 13

As abysmal as the season has gone for the Wolverines and as inefficient as the offense has been, Michigan has refused to give in and is now just a win away from making a bowl game. Maryland visits the Big House next and Michigan has a bye to work on patching up its turnover-prone offense.

11 Purdue Boilermakers
Record: 3-7 overall, 1-5 conference
Previous ranking: 11

While there has been considerable progress made under head coach Darrell Hazell in his second year, Purdue still isn’t seeing wins and is worlds apart from competing with the best of the Big Ten though they did make it a competitive game with Wisconsin briefly.

12. Illinois Fighting Illini
Record: 4-5 overall, 1-4 conference
Previous ranking: 12

The Illinois Fighting Illini have reasons to smile. They not only got a week off, but saw their upcoming opponent Iowa get dominated and Wes Lunt is set to potentially return from his leg fracture, giving the Illini a possible longshot chance at making a postseason appearance.

13. Northwestern Wildcats
Record: 3-6 overall, 2-4 conference
Previous ranking: 9

Northwestern’s two conference victories seem eons ago, as the Wildcats dropped their fourth consecutive game in heartbreaking fashion, coming up short in a 2-point conversion that would‘ve given them a 11-10 victory. As determined as they maybe, they face an awfully strong Notre Dame team this week, who are looking to avenge their recent loss.

14. Indiana Hoosiers
Record: 3-5 overall, 0-4 conference Previous Ranking:14

Indiana’s one dimensional offense was effectively shut down. Running back Tevin Coleman, who had been averaging yards per game, was held to just 71 rushing yards, the first time all season he did not reach the 100-yard mark in a game. PSU’s D also had 10 stops in the backfield and two interceptions.