With one week to go, we theoretically know who will play in the Big Ten Championship game. Well, we should know. Northwestern will come out of the West, and Indiana will come out of the East because Ohio State doesn’t qualify for the 6-game minimum.
But, it looks like Ohio State will have the rules changed for them and they will play in the Big Ten Championship. There are also COVID-19 issues that have already canceled one game (Michigan vs. Ohio State), while others are in jeopardy of the same fate.
With that, I have attempted to rank teams 1-14 again in the Big Ten. Here goes nothing.
14. Michigan State (2-4)
Last week: 12-52 LOSS vs No. 4 Ohio State
Previous ranking: 11
Someone has to be last, and most of the teams in the bottom tier of the conference deserve to be. Michigan State has been here before, but then they knocked off Northwestern and temporarily moved up. But, after another disappointing showing this week, I truly believe they are the worst team in the league. It’s by a small margin, but that’s where we’re at right now.
Next up: at Penn State; Saturday, 3:30 ET on ESPN
13. Rutgers (2-5)
Last week: 7-23 LOSS vs Penn State
Previous ranking: 9
Rutgers was trending upward, but a home loss to a Penn State team that is missing most of its important players wasn’t a great look for the Scarlet Knights. I thought they had a chance to win out and finish .500, but this loss was uninspiring and tough to watch.
Quarterback Noah Vedral has done wonders for Rutgers’ offense, but that didn’t show on Saturday, scoring only once on a fourth-down chuck to the endzone. Rutgers could still win this weekend and finish with three wins, but this is a drop based on what I saw this past week from the Scarlet Knights.
Next up: vs Maryland; Saturday, Noon ET
12. Michigan (2-4)
Last week: OFF
Previous ranking: 12
Michigan didn’t play last week and won’t play this week either, so they will stay here at No. 12. Sounds familiar to another Big Ten team staying at No. 12 in a different poll.
Next up: CANCELLED vs No. 4 Ohio State
11. Nebraska (2-4)
Last week: 27-37 WIN at Purdue
Previous ranking: 14
Nebraska earns a bump based on its performance Saturday, a very impressive road win at Purdue. Nebraska isn’t a good team, but this was enough of a statement to move them out of the Big Ten cellar. The Cornhuskers like to believe they are the reason the Big Ten is playing, so I guess we’ll let them have that since the football they’ve played hasn’t been pretty.
Next up: vs Minnesota; Saturday, Noon ET
10. Illinois (2-4)
Last week: 21-35 LOSS vs No. 19 Iowa
Previous ranking: 8
Illinois was trending in the right direction. Brandon Peters seemed to be the difference. And for a quarter or so, it looked like Illinois was in position for its second straight season with a top-25 win. However, Iowa rallied together a 35-0 run and pulled away from the Illini. Illinois isn’t great, but they aren’t the worst. That’s about all I have on Illinois this season.
Next up: at No. 14 Northwestern; Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN2
9. Purdue (2-4)
Last week: 27-37 LOSS vs Nebraska
Previous ranking: 7
Purdue isn’t good. That’s official after this past weekend and the previous three weekends. A four-game losing streak after such a promising start should probably have them lower than No. 9, but the Big Ten is having a serious down year and that has allowed Purdue a ‘pass’ on this bad season.
Next up: at No. 12 Indiana; Saturday, 3:30 ET on BTN
8. Penn State (2-5)
Last week: 23-7 WIN at Rutgers
Previous ranking: 13
I know, this is a big jump for a 2-5 team. However, we all know the talent this Penn State team has and it’s finally showing. Back-to-back wins — I don’t care who they were playing — is a sign of something and a reason to move them up in the rankings. I know this is typical optimist fan, but with the young talent emerging on this team, Penn State should be solid next season.
Next up: vs Michigan State; Saturday, 3:30 ET on ESPN
7. Minnesota (2-3)
Last week: OFF
Previous ranking: 10
Minnesota didn’t play, but they move up a lot because I haven’t seen them play in awhile and a lot of other middle-of-the-conference teams lost this week.
Next up: at Nebraska; Saturday, Noon ET
6. Maryland (2-2)
Last week: OFF
Previous ranking: 6
Another team with another game cancelled. Maryland has had it rough this season. I still think there’s some talent on this team when they’re healthy.
Next up: vs Rutgers; Saturday, Noon ET
5. Wisconsin (2-2)
Last week: 6-14 LOSS vs No. 12 Indiana
Previous ranking: 4
As good of a win as it was for Indiana, I don’t think Wisconsin is very good, especially offensively. Freshman quarterback Graham Mertz was a stud in week one, but it’s fair to say that was more of Illinois’ defense then it was Mertz and Wisconsin’s offense . This team is far from the playoff contender we thought they were early in the season.
Next up: at No. 16 Iowa; Saturday, 3:30 ET
4. Iowa (5-2)
Last week: 35-21 WIN at Illinois
Previous ranking: 5
I’ve been waiting to do something with Iowa, but the Hawkeyes’ window didn’t open until this week following another poor performance from Wisconsin. Iowa has played really good football, and Spencer Petras put together his best game in his young Hawkeye career. Iowa will be a tough out for Indiana or Ohio State, whoever they draw in next week’s Champions Week.
Next up: vs Wisconsin; Saturday, 3:30 ET
3. Northwestern (5-1)
Last week: OFF
Previous ranking: 3
Northwestern was also off last week, so they stay at No. 3. They continue to hover around the middle of the College Football Playoff rankings and they will be off to Indy next week for the Big Ten Championship.
Next up: vs Illinois; Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN2
2. Indiana (6-1)
Last week: 14-6 WIN at No. 16 Wisconsin
Previous ranking: 2
What a win. At least I think so. Indiana dominated Wisconsin from start to finish, and Jack Tuttle made the throws he needed to in the red zone. The key to the game was Indiana’s rushing attack and red zone effectiveness. Indiana was 2-for-2 inside the 20-yard line, scoring two touchdowns, while Wisconsin was 2-for-2 with two field goals.
Next up: vs Purdue; Saturday, 3:30 ET on BTN
1. Ohio State (5-0)
Last week: 52-12 WIN at Michigan State
Previous ranking: 1
Ohio State wins but they won’t play this week. Now we wait to see what the Big Ten will do. Ohio State is the best team in the conference, but I’m not sure that means the rules should be changed to meet the Buckeyes every need. We’ll see what Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and company decide to do.