Big Ten Power Rankings

Thanks for playing Iowa, but you have been eliminated. The Big Ten has featured multiple champions in five of the last 10 seasons and this year's conference title appears to involve Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. All three teams face interesting challenges this week and Badger Nation ranks the conference.

(rankings are current BCS standings)

1) No. 7* Wisconsin (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten); Last week, 1

Last week: won vs. Indiana 83-2

0 For years as a Badgers beat writer, I heard Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema offer an interesting take on his team: "we're not the prettiest girl in school, but we've always got a date to the prom." Meaning, UW consistently finds itself ranked highly and playing in esteemed bowl games, even if the Badgers don't dominate the SportsCenter highlights with unbelievable play. The 2010 Badgers must have gotten one of those quick-fix makeovers. Hanging 70 on Austin Peay? EIGHTY-THREE POINTS against Indiana??? Don't forget former Gophers coach Tim Brewster's accusing Bielema of running it up. How different these Badgers are. If they end up smelling Roses, it'll all be worth it.

Next: at Michigan, 11 a.m. ESPN

2) No. 9 Ohio State (9-1, 5-1); LW, 2

Last week: won vs. Penn State 38-14

Like Wisconsin, the end result was a rout. But like the Badgers, it didn't start out that way. The Buckeyes came out of the locker room down 14-3 for the second half before turning things around. OSU has to be careful going into an always-hostile Kinnick Stadium to play a team that may or may not be, for lack of better words, ticked off.

Next: at No. 20 Iowa, 2:30 p.m. ABC

3) No. 12 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1); LW, 3

Last week: Idle

Not a bad way to spend a bye week. Iowa's loss probably meant the most to Michigan State, since that was the only conference contender who had been defeated by Iowa. Now if the Spartans - whose end-of-season schedule is easier than Wisconsin's and OSU's - can hang on, they just need either the Badgers or Buckeyes to lose once to be all but certain of a BCS bid.

Next: vs. Purdue, 11 a.m. BTN

4) No. 20 Iowa (7-3, 4-2); LW, 4

Last week: lost at Northwestern 21-17

Ricky Stanzi, you cannot make that throw to the end zone with a 10-point lead like that. Stanzi's career has been marked with good, intelligent decisions, but that gave Northwestern full momentum to make the comeback. Things are pretty gloomy in the Heartland - the OSU game has lost much of its luster, at least to the locals. Who knows its effect in the Hawkeyes' locker room.

Next: vs. No. 9 Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. ABC

5) Northwestern (7-3, 3-3); LW, 8

Last week: won vs. No. 13 Iowa 21-17

And we have yet another entrant to the "Fans Who Inexplicably Rush The Field After A Win" contest that apparently America's college students have decided to stage this season. Iowa's good, sure, but, uh, both teams now have identical records. And it was at Northwestern. And Iowa wasn't even in the top ten. And the Wildcats have now beaten Iowa five out of six. Come on, NU kids.

Next: vs. Illinois, 2:30 p.m. ESPNU

6) Michigan (7-3, 3-3); LW, 7

Last week: won at Purdue 27-16

It has to be said: 19-0. That was the halftime score two seasons ago, in favor of Wisconsin, before the Wolverines stormed back for a shocking 27-25 win. UW has won just twice at Michigan Stadium in 48 years, and its current drought goes back to 1994. James White was 2 years old. Needless to say, the Badgers have some demons to exorcise on Saturday.

Next: vs. No. 7 Wisconsin, 11 a.m. ESPN

7) Penn State (6-4, 3-3); LW, 5

Last week: lost at No. 9 Ohio State 38-14

Matt McGloin has a promising future in white - and one heck of a name to go with it - but he can't make mistakes like the one he made getting picked by Devon Torrence to let the Buckeyes take control. It's odd to see a Penn State team with talent that's still considered a total rebuilding project, but that's what we've got.

Next: at Indiana, 11 a.m. BTN

8) Illinois (5-5, 3-4); LW, 6

Last week: lost vs. Minnesota 38-34

Let's go ahead and call this a startling turn of events in Champaign, no? The monster win in Happy Valley was so close to igniting a 4-2 record in Big Ten play before the Illini scored 65 points in a loss ... followed by this. Losing to one of the worst teams in a BCS conference on Senior Day. Now it's off to Wrigley Field and Fresno to try and scratch out a win just for the right to play in a 13th game, if it means that much to the Illini.

Next: at Northwestern, 2:30 p.m. ESPNU

9) Purdue (4-6, 2-4); LW, 9

Last week: lost vs. Michigan 27-16

Well, at least the Boilermakers lost by just 11 this week. That's a squeaker compared to Purdue's last month. Its last shot at playing spoiler comes in East Lansing, not to mention any prayer of a bowl game shot.

Next: at No. 12 Michigan State, 11 a.m. BTN

10) Minnesota (2-9, 1-6); LW, 11

Last week: won at Illinois 38-34

Hey, perfect timing! Get the big win, and enjoy a week off! All is right in Gopherland again. You know, except those 63 problems that have dogged this football team all season long. Screw it, it's bye week time!

Next: Idle

11) Indiana (4-6, 0-6); LW, 10

Last week: lost at No. 7 Wisconsin 83-20

Rock bottom. That's what this feels like. Minnesota probably doesn't deserve to be relieved of its guard duties in the cellar, but Minnesota hasn't relinquished 83 points in an afternoon before. Any and all progress gained from narrow losses to Northwestern and Iowa have been wiped away. At least Indiana didn't accuse Wisconsin of running it up - it's competitive football. If the Hoosiers had a problem with it, they probably should have done something about it between the lines.

Next: vs. Penn State, 11 a.m. BTN


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