As we enter the last couple weeks of the season, the power rankings are starting to level out. There will still be some movement as some teams must invariably win and some teams must invariably lose, but we’re starting to get a fairly good picture of how the B1G looks.
Let’s get to it!
1. Ohio State
Ohio State knew the danger that Purdue presented, and hit the gas early. When in doubt, Ohio State simply kept on scoring, knowing that the Boilermakers were too dangerous to be left alive. With a final score of 59-31, the Buckeyes stamped out any thought of an upset, and firmly hold onto the top spot.
The Badgers have the #1 spot in the West, and have a leg up on both Iowa and Minnesota. Their 35-7 win over Northwestern simply cements their spot, and it would appear that Wisconsin is just a couple weeks away from a return to Indianapolis.
The Wolverines went on the road and had their hands full with Penn State. Ultimately they got the win, 21-17, and are headed toward a situation where the winner of The Game will head to Indianapolis. When in doubt, simply take care of business and you’ll do well.
4. Michigan State
The Spartans rebounded with a solid win over Maryland, 40-21. The next two weeks are quite a slog for MSU, as they travel to take on Ohio State before welcoming Penn State in the final week of the regular season. If the Spartans manage to split the last two games, they could be looking at a New Year’s Six bowl game.
The Hawkeyes got the win over Minnesota, 27-22, but once again didn’t look all that stellar in doing so. Still, not unlike Michigan, Iowa took care of business. Keep racking up wins, no matter how pretty they are, and things will generally be good for you.
6. Penn State
Yes, Penn State lost. But for the third time this season, the Lions played a top 10 opponent tough, coming up just short. They haven’t been blown out by anyone, and were it not for an inexplicable loss to Illinois, they would firmly be considered one of the top teams in the conference. Sometimes, even moral victories help you in the power rankings.
I was just looking ahead to the final bowl selections for the season, and I realized that the trifecta of Penn State-Purdue-Minnesota will probably all be vying for bowl games. Penn State is ostensibly the biggest name of the three, but when it comes time for bowl selection, don’t be surprised to see these three teams discussed in the same tier.
The Gophers couldn’t quite do it against Iowa, but they can still spoil Wisconsin’s season if they can claim Paul Bunyan’s Axe next week. Otherwise, it looks like a mid-tier kind of season for PJ Fleck and Co.
The Terrapins didn’t have enough gas in the tank to take down the Spartans, but showed some fight. In the grueling Big Ten East division, what else can you ask for?
Don’t @ me, but I am currently terrified of Penn State’s matchup with Rutgers. After beating Indiana 38-3, in one of the bigger wins in the conference, the Scarlet Knights need one win in the last two weeks of the season to get to bowl eligibility. Their first chance comes this weekend against PSU. Yikes.
Seems like the Wildcats may have mailed it in, as they need to win out to get a bowl game, and that seems a bit optimistic at this point.
Late season BYE week for the Illini.
I tried, Hooser bros. I kept you up in these rankings for as long as I could. But a 35-point loss to Rutgers simply won’t do it, and it’s entirely possible that Indiana ends as the worst team in the conference this year.
Late season BYE week for the Cornhuskers.
The dark blue squiggly line could have made an even bigger jump this week, but realistically, the tiers are starting to become fairly solidified.
The top tier is mostly set with Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa more or less locked in. Penn State continues to climb, but is realistically on the outside of that top tier, along with Purdue and Minnesota. Maryland and Rutgers both need just one more win for bowl eligibility, and make up the third tier in the conference. Northwestern and Illinois hang out and are technically still alive for the postseason. Indiana takes a massive dive, and Nebraska may end up vacating the basement for them next week.