Hello there and welcome to the Big Ten Power Rankings! Each week we’ll rank how the teams across the conference are playing, in the hopes of seeing just who is a contender, and who is a pretender over the course of the season.
The rules are few, but resolute:
- Teams are ranked by how they’re playing at that time. Not body of work, not rankings in the polls, but simply how each team is playing at that point in the season.
- The approach to the rankings is not necessarily on the field results (though those do count, as an obvious, tangible data point), but more generally if the two teams played at a neutral site 100 times, which team would win 51 times (or more).
- These rankings are subjective. As the author I get to follow the rules as closely or loosely as I want to, and if you don’t like the rankings, you’re wrong.
Week 11 is in the books and the wild West just got a whole lot wilder. Let’s get to it!
1. Ohio State
The Buckeyes rediscovered their offense en route to a 56-14 shellacking of Indiana. The Game looms.
Next up, away at Maryland (oh you poor Terrapins).
Not that I’m bitter but I took Michigan/Nebraska with the over and the teams combined for 37 points. Thanks a LOT Harbaugh.
Next up, home vs. Illinois.
3. Penn State
The depleted Lions showed out against Maryland, winning 30-0. Their postseason fate is out of their hands, aside from winning as many games as possible and hoping for the best.
Next up, away at Rutgers.
The Gophers handled bottom-feeder Northwestern 31-3, nothing much to report on there. But as far as I can tell, no one in the West controls their fate:
- Minnesota - lost to Purdue earlier this year, so needs the Boilermakers to lose one game, in addition to the Gophers winning out.
- Purdue - lost to Iowa earlier this year, so needs the Hawkeyes to lose one game, in addition to the Boilermakers winning out.
- Iowa - lost to Illinois earlier this year, so needs the Illini to lose one game, in addition to the Hawkeyes winning out.
- Illinois - lost to Purdue just this past week, so needs the Boilermakers to lose one game, in addition the Illini winning out.
Here’s the thing - Purdue has a very favorable schedule the rest of the way (Northwestern and Indiana), so scenarios #1 and #4 up above seem unlikely to happen - not impossible, mind you, college football is weird and Purdue is consistently inconsistent.
Additionally, Illinois plays Michigan this weekend, so #4 seems very unlikely.
That means the difference between scenarios #2 and #3 is whether Iowa wins out or drops a game. The Hawkeyes close the season against Nebraska, which should be a win for the Hawkeyes. That means that the Iowa-Minnesota game likely has massive postseason impacts, affecting four (or more) teams.
Next up, home vs. Iowa (oh hey, wouldja look at that).
5. Michigan State
A narrow 27-21 win over Rutgers wasn’t as comfortable as Mel Tucker would have liked, but a win is a win.
Next up, home vs. Indiana.
The Hawkeyes, somehow, some way, have clawed their way back into West contention following their 24-10 win over Wisconsin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - college football is weird (and I love it)!.
Next up, away at Minnesota (for most, if not all, of the marbles).
Win of the weekend belongs to Purdue, who toppled Illinois 31-24. The Boilermakers surely would like one of their two B1G West losses back, as they can win out, but still not make it to Indianapolis without some help.
Next up, home vs. Northwestern.
The Terrapins took a sizable L this weekend, but manage to stand pat in the rankings thanks to shuffling around them.
Next up, home vs. Ohio State.
Another cruising through the month of October and working their way into the top 15, the wheels have fallen off for the Illini. Back-to-back losses to Michigan State and Purdue mean that Illinois needs to win out and get some help to reach Indianapolis, which seemed like a sure thing just a couple weeks ago. If Illinois has any hope of making the B1G CCG, they must win out.
Next up, away at Michigan (about that winning out thing . . .).
The door was cracked open for the Badgers to make it to Indy, but that door was slammed closed after a 24-10 loss to Iowa. The Badgers are still searching for win #6 to go bowling.
Next up, away at Nebraska.
A 34-3 loss to Michigan was somehow respectable? Like, yes, you lost, but given that you’re Nebraska, this was actually not that bad?
Next up, home vs. Wisconsin.
The Scarlet Knights put some fear into Michigan State, but just didn’t have enough juice to beat the Spartans.
Next up, home vs. Penn State.
Back-to-back games against Penn State and Ohio State are never easy (hey, isn’t that what Maryland is also being asked to do?), but at this point Indiana is just in full-on basketball-school mode.
Next up, away at Michigan State.
The Wildcats lost 31-3 to Minnesota, and I don’t have anything snide to say about it.
Next up, away at Purdue.
Squiggle bells, squiggle bells, squiggle all the wayyyyyyy.
OSU, Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, and Michigan State all hang out before the madness begins. Iowa and Purdue rocket up the board, with Maryland chilling in the eye of the hurricane, while Illinois and Wisconsin plummet. And then, on the far side of the maelstrom, Nebraska, Rutgers, Indiana, and Northwestern all hang out at the bottom.
On to Week 12!