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Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 10

or: The Haves and the Have Nots

NCAA Football: Penn State at Indiana Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

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 10 is in the books and there is a big ol’ gulf between the top 3 and everybody else. Let’s get to it!

1. Ohio State

On a day when poor weather hounded half of the conference, Ohio State was on the struggle bus against Northwestern. Perhaps a hangover from their tough win over Penn State contributed, but 21-7 over the worst team in the conference is a rough day at the office.

Next up, home vs. Indiana.

2. Michigan

Similarly, the Wolverines got off to a slow start, trailing Rutgers at the half before pulling away for a 52-17 victory. Not every win can be easy, even if the final score would indicate otherwise.

Next up, home vs. Nebraska.

3. Penn State

Perhaps the best win of the week, the Lions routed the Hoosiers 45-14 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. While it’s disappointing that Penn State is outside of the top two this year, they are VERY clearly the best team that won’t participate in The Game.

Next up, home vs. Maryland.

4. Minnesota

You could literally put the teams from #4 through #10 in a jar, shake them up, pick names out and I would be perfectly happy with that order of ranking. Literally no one in this group is particularly good, and no one is particularly bad. This week, Minnesota floats to the top by virtue of their 20-13 win over Nebraska. Next week, who knows!

Next up, home vs. Northwestern.

5. Michigan State

Like the phoenix, Michigan State has risen from the ashes to return to (some form of) relevancy with their 23-15 win over West-leading Illinois. Will the Spartans continue to make noise the rest of the season? Who knows! But a win over an Illinois squad that had otherwise looked very good is a good day.

Next up, home vs. Rutgers.

6. Illinois

The Illini could still lock up a berth in the B1G CCG well before week 12, but they made it harder on themselves by stumbling against Michigan State. A win this weekend and Indianapolis could be calling.

Next up, home vs. Purdue.

7. Wisconsin

The Badgers have refound themselves after Paul Chryst’s departure, having beaten Maryland 23-10 on the back of a strong run game and solid defense. Almost like just doing what you do is best or something?

Next up, away at Iowa.

8. Maryland

The Terrapins appear to be improved, and I still wouldn’t take the game against them lightly, but they’ve only played a handful of tough defenses and have struggled. Their best offensive showing against a good defense came in a loss to Michigan, which, hey, happens to the best of us.

Next up, away at Penn State.

9. Iowa

Another “upset” win, the Hawkeyes took down Purdue 24-3. A win this weekend could keep an outside shot at the West title alive.

Next up, home vs. Wisconsin.

10. Purdue

The previously high-flying Boilermaker offense has ground to a halt in recent weeks, and without that offense to win them games, Purdue could be in real trouble.

Next up, away at Illinois.

11. Nebraska

From here to the bottom all of the teams are fairly equally bad, so at this point we’re just looking at ranking inertia more than anything else. A 20-13 loss to Minnesota won’t help Big Red move up a tier.

Next up, away at Michigan.

12. Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights put some fear into Michigan, but couldn’t adjust in the second half and the Wolverines pulled away. Perhaps next year!

Next up, away at Michigan State.

13. Indiana

PUNT WEEK came and went, and unfortunately for the Hoosiers, the trophy went home with the Lions. James Evans did have himself a nice day, punting 9 times for 417 yards, a 46.3-yard average!

Next up, away at Ohio State (James may need a leg brace after this two-week stretch).

14. Northwestern

The Wildcats really did their best against Ohio State, but couldn’t quite take advantage of the horrendous weather and the hungover Buckeyes. In the basement you say!

Next up, away at Minnesota.

All I want for squiggles is youuuuuuuuu.

OSU, Michigan and Penn State stay at the top before chaos begins. Minnesota and Michigan State climb as Illinois drops. Wisconsin is on the rise but Maryland is not. Iowa moves up almost by default at the expense of Purdue and Nebraska. Rutgers, Indiana, and Northwestern are all content with their homes in the basement.

On to Week 11!