BRR: Big Ten power rankings (11-5-14)

BRR contributor Matt Svoboda takes a look at the Big Ten conference heading into a big week.

B1G Power Rankings: Week 10

In Charge:

Michigan State: The leagues best team hosts Ohio State this weekend. This is their best chance to make a case to the playoff committee. A win would make them 2-1 against top 25 teams, with the only loss coming to Oregon. The Spartans will need a balanced offense, but most importantly they need to get a pass rush to frustrate the young Buckeye offensive line.

Bonafide Contenders:

Nebraska: Their bye week has come at a perfect time. The Huskers have been sloppier the last two weeks than the rest of the season and Heisman contender Ameer Abdullah sprained his MCL. Head coach Bo Pelini is confidant Abdullah will be back in two weeks when they go to Madison, Wisc. to take on the Badgers. Nebraska needs to use the next two weeks to clean up their offense and get healthy.

Ohio STATE: After a close win against Penn State, they came out and stomped Illinois. The Buckeyes go on the road to play mighty Michigan State this weekend. They will need the best game their offensive line has played all season in order to pull off the upset. The nation will be watching and it is a chance to make a big statement.

Wisconsin: The Badgers beat Rutgers 37-0. They have outscored their opponents 89-7 in the last two weeks. Running back Melvin Gordon is making his case for the Heisman and the defense is third in the nation in scoring defense. If they can improve their passing game they certainly have a chance to win the Big Ten. They also made their first appearance in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes came roaring out of their bye week. They stomped Northwestern 48-7. It was a beat down from beginning to end.. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has to be pleased with how his team is playing and their continued improvement as the season has gone along. They have a “prove it” game on the road this week against Minnesota, who is trying to bounce back from a brutal loss. The Gophs will be ready.

Contender Wannabes:

Maryland: The Terrapins are better than they looked Saturday, but good grief that was a brutal welcome to the Big Ten at the hands of Wisconsin. Maryland badly needs a defense as they have given up a total of 135 points in their last three games.

PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions have lost four games in a row, with the last three being very close. They need to snap this streak and it will probably happen on the road against Indiana this week. Head coach James Franklin needs his team to regain their swagger. Thankfully for them, the Hoosiers have helped several teams gain confidence in recent years.

MINNESOTA: After their brutal defeat against Illinois they had the week off. Can they come out of their bye and beat a good Iowa team? Or will stumble and fall once again? The defense has been pretty good this year until they gave up 66 points in their last two games.

Contend? That’s Hilarious:

RUTGERS: Well, the three-week terror is over. After getting beat by Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin 135-41 they get to rest up with a bye week and try to forget the past. After a great start to the season, the top tier of the Big Ten sure showed the Scarlet Knights their place.

NORTHWESTERN: After getting two weeks off to prepare for Iowa, they lost by 41 points. It is safe to say this Northwestern team has digressed for two consecutive years now. What will it take for head coach Pat Fitzgerald to turn things back around?

MICHIGAN: The Wolverines gave Indiana a beat down last week. They won 34-10 and controlled the game in every way. Michigan was balanced on offense and stout defensively. While it isn’t likely, it is certainly possible that the Wolverines make a bowl game this year. They have to beat Northwestern this weekend to keep the dream alive.

ILLINOIS: The Buckeyes whipped the Fighting Illini, but now they head into their bye week to regroup. They finish the season against Iowa, Penn State, and Northwestern. Can Illinois use the bye week well enough to win two of their final three games? If so, head coach Tim Beckman could very well make sure he keeps his job as he takes his team bowling.

Purdue: The Boilermakers lost by three touchdowns to Nebraska, who played much worse than normal. The Huskers gave Purdue several chances to pull off a big upset, but they simply couldn’t do it.

INDIANA: The Hoosiers are reeling without quarterback Nate Sudfeld. They were a borderline bowl team with Sudfeld, without him they are the worst team in the Big Ten. A beat down at the hands of Michigan is not an encouraging sign.

*** Posted by Josh Harvey ***

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