Big Ten Power Rankings - Week 12

With two weeks to play, four conference teams remain eligible in the race for the Legends Division title. The Leaders Division is just as chaotic with four teams via for a piece of the championship. Congrats Big Ten ... you have created some drama. Badger Nation unveils week 12 of the power rankings.

1) No. 15 Wisconsin (8-2, 4-2 Leaders); LW, 1

Last week: won at Minnesota 42-13

Well, it's a pretty simple recipe for Wisconsin. Russell Wilson completes 70 percent of his passes (or, you know, 94, like he did Saturday), and the Badgers crush an opponent by at least four touchdowns. Complete merely 60-ish percent, and the fate is losing a road game to a tough opponent on a last-second miracle. Two conclusions: it's a farce Russell Wilson isn't at least still in the Heisman discussion, and a bigger farce that some ranking systems don't believe UW worthy of the top 25. I wonder if Dr. Peter Wolfe, whose ranking is one of the six that makes up the BCS computer poll, would wager his child's college fund that No. 24 Tulsa, which just barely beat mighty Central Florida (4-6) two weeks ago, would even have a chance of defeating No. 27 Wisconsin on a neutral field. On a separate note, the injury concerns from Saturday (Konz, especially) are troubling.

Next: at Illinois, 11 a.m. ESPN2

2) No. 12 Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 Legends); LW, 4

Last week: won at Iowa 37-21

The spurned-lover Spartans, who won't let last year's bowl results go, felt the need to pay Iowa back for the late loss in 2010 that kept Michigan State from the Rose Bowl. Obviously, Wisconsin was the big winner from Saturday because of other teams losing, but MSU did itself well by securing a stronghold on the Legends' ticket to Indy.

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

3) No. 20 Michigan (8-2, 4-2 Legends); LW, 5

Last week: won at Illinois 31-14

Looks like Denard Robinson's ouchy wrist should be OK, and the Wolverines are slowly getting back to their trademark: defense. After that video game of a 35-31 win over Notre Dame, the then-maligned unit hasn't allowed more than 28 points in any game, and on the season is the league's No. 2-rated defense. In fact, other than clearly statistically-dominant Wisconsin, UM is the only team in the top three in both offense and defense.

Next: vs. No. 17 Nebraska, 11 a.m. ESPN

4) No. 17 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2 Legends); LW, 3

Last week: won at No. 12 Penn State 17-14

Totally whiffed on my pregame prediction: either Penn State by 20 or Nebraska by 40, with no in-between. Sure looked the latter during the first half, but while Penn State should be commended for rallying and nary giving up, the Huskers are simply treading through a tougher inaugural season than its 8-2 record indicates.

Next: at No. 20 Michigan, 11 a.m. ESPN

5) No. 21 Penn State (8-2, 5-1 Leaders); LW, 2

Last week: lost vs. No. 19 Nebraska 17-14

Remember the Armando Galarraga-Jim Joyce saga, when it was a whole bunch of nastiness preceding one goosebumps moment (which, in this case, was the next day when Galarraga presented the lineup card and embraced Joyce at home plate)? Obviously, the Penn State scandal is approximately 16 zillion times worse than an imperfect game. But the Nebraska-Penn State prayer before kickoff and participated by both teams locked arm in arm, was one of the most hauntingly beautiful scenes possibly illustrated by the ordeal.

Next: at Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. ESPN

6) Iowa (6-4, 3-3 Legends); LW, 6

Last week: lost vs. No. 13 Michigan State 37-21

It's been a season of lost opportunity for the Hawkeyes, but Saturday was more accurately a portrayal of talent gap. Michigan State's just better, and even Kinnick Stadium couldn't save Kirk Ferentz's group. Interesting stat from SI's NFL reporter Peter King the other day: because Iowa is notoriously an open book with NFL scouts, the Hawkeyes have three more draft picks over the past eight years than Penn State, despite the Nittany Lions' 8-win advantage over that same time frame.

Next: at Purdue, 11 a.m. BTN

7) Ohio State (6-4, 3-3 Leaders); LW, 7

Last week: lost at Purdue 26-23 (OT)

Braxton Miller's still got a long way to go. Buckeyes teams have always done it with defense, fundamentals, a running game and a sweater vest, and while three of those things are still around, Ohio State's pathetic 48 completion percentage and 117 passing yards per game ain't gonna get it done.

Next: vs. No. 21 Penn State, 2:30 p.m. ESPN

8) Northwestern (5-5, 2-4 Legends); LW, 8

Last week: won vs. Rice 28-6


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

9) Purdue (5-5, 3-3 Leaders); LW, 11

Last week: won vs. Ohio State 26-23 (OT)

Nobody goes into Ross-Ade Stadium and demands Purdue's turf! Well, nobody wearing scarlet and gray, at least. That's two straight upsets at home by the Boilermakers, throwing more than a monkey wrench into the Leaders race. UW's thank-you note is in the Pony Express.

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

10) Minnesota (2-8, 1-5 Legends); LW, 9

Last week: lost vs. No. 16 Wisconsin 42-13

Believe it or not: other than the Hail Mary losses, no team has played the Badgers closer than season than your friend and mine, Goldingham U. Gopher. So, that's a positive for Minnesota: losing by only 29. (By the way, it's just Goldy. Was just kidding. Even the Gophers' mascot isn't cool enough to have an awesome full name like Buckingham U. Badger.)

Next: at Northwestern, 11 a.m. BTN

11) Illinois (6-4, 2-4 Leaders); LW, 10

Last week: lost vs. No. 22 Michigan 31-14

Granted, the Michigan State and Ohio State losses were sickening to Badger Nation. But nowhere near as revolting or devastating as a loss in Champaign would be. Wisconsin scored 42 points Saturday, and has scored 42 points or more in seven games this year. To be fair, Illinois has scored 42 points. In the last month.

Next: vs. No. 15 Wisconsin, 11 a.m. ESPN2

12) Indiana (1-9, 0-6 Leaders); LW, 12

Last week: Idle

Stealing the Northwestern commentary. Kind of a boring week in the Big Ten coming up, really. Which, after the past week in Unhappy Valley, probably delights the league's higher-ups.

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

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