Last week: won at Minnesota 52-10
Going on a ‘Kill Bill'-like rampage, Ohio State outscored Purdue and Minnesota 101-10 in the wake of its loss in Madison. Now the Buckeyes get a week to think about how to keep that momentum going into the final trifecta of the season, which includes big games at Iowa and home against Michigan. The doormat brigade is over in Columbus.
2) No. 7 Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1); LW, 2
Last week: Idle
This is the highest ranking achieved by Bucky in three seasons, but the last time the spotlight shined this brightly on Wisconsin, it lost a lackluster contest at Illinois. Each and every week from here on out, the Badgers must focus on beating inferior teams and not falling short of expectations.
Next: at Purdue
3) No. 15 Iowa (6-2, 3-1); LW, 4
Last week: won vs. No. 5 Michigan State 37-6
No clock management issues this week. Of course, this was a game Iowa simply had to have. When Ricky Stanzi plays that efficiently, and the defense plays up to its abilities like that, the Hawkeyes can play with any team in the Big Ten and beyond.
Next: at Indiana
4) No. 16 Michigan State (8-1, 4-1); LW, 1
Last week: lost at No. 18 Iowa 37-6
Probably an expected result. It's too harsh to call MSU a fraud, but clearly the Spartans weren't top-ten material. Then again, you turn the ball over like that, you'll have a hard time beating Iowa, Iowa State or Iowa Mennonite School of Kalona.
Next: vs. Minnesota
5) RV Illinois (5-3, 3-2); LW, 5
Last week: won vs. Purdue 44-10
Very similar routs over Hoosier State teams in back-to-back weeks, and Illinois deserves to be regarded as a solid bowl contender. Interesting note: the only three teams to have beaten the Illini this year are Ohio State, Missouri and Michigan State - all teams who have spent time in the top six, with a combined 23-3 record.
Next: at Michigan
6) Penn State (5-3, 2-2); LW, 7
Last week: won vs. Michigan 41-31
Obviously, when Evan Royster (150 yards, two touchdowns) runs like that, the Nittany Lions become infinitely more competent. But what I did I tell you about Matt McGloin? I know he sounds like a small-claims attorney, but what a stud with the football, right?
Next: vs. Northwestern
7) RV Northwestern (6-2, 2-2); LW, 8
Last week: won at Indiana 20-17
Hardly the King of the Close Calls, but Northwestern is now 3-1 in games decided by a field goal or less. An uninspiring victory in Champaign continues to boost the overall mark, but Happy Valley will bring a slightly more intimidating atmosphere.
Next: at Penn State
8) Michigan (5-3, 1-3); LW, 6
Last week: lost at Penn State 41-31
Goes to show how quickly things can change in college football - and, really, in all of sports - when Denard Robinson, Mr. Heisman Pose, is outdueled by Matt McGloin. The Wolverines' bowl prospects could take a giant hit if they can't hold off the Illini on Saturday.
Next: vs. Illinois
9) Purdue (4-4, 2-2); LW, 9
Last week: lost at Illinois 44-10
Not all is well in West Lafayette following a promising Big Ten start, with losses of 49 and 34 points in late October. What should have been at least a capable offense is outside the top 100 nationally in scoring. This is a trap game coming up for Wisconsin, but don't be surprised to watch a focused UW team out of the bye roll over Purdue.
Next: vs. No. 7 Wisconsin
10) Indiana (4-4, 0-4); LW, 10
Last week: lost vs. Northwestern 20-17
If Northwestern and Indiana play a Big Ten football game and nobody makes a sound, does it really count?
Next: vs. No. 15 Iowa
11) Minnesota (1-8, 0-5); LW, 11
Last week: lost vs. No. 10 Ohio State 52-10
It's not about to get better for the Gophers. Two more highly-ranked opponents and a third game in Champaign, and Minnesota is almost certain to reach double-digits in the loss column. They are the worst Big Ten team since ... the 2007 Gophers.
Next: at No. 16 Michigan State