Last week: won at Illinois 28-17
It's crazy that the Badgers have routinely been ranked in the mid-teens in recent years, with UW teams that would get blown away by the 2011 roster. BLOWN away. Maybe there's a talent boon, or maybe the pollsters and computers just place far too high a value on Hail Mary-inflicted losses. Here's the good news for Bucky: if you don't like it, go crush Penn State, go avenge Michigan State, go beat whoever in Pasadena. It's all still there in front of you.
Next: vs. No. 20 Penn State, 2:30 p.m. ESPN
2) No. 11 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1 Legends); LW, 2
Last week: won vs. Indiana 55-3
The Spartans have got their mindsets right in that they want to finish strong against Northwestern. Certainly MSU has got everything in tune, proving they're a lot more than just showing up for the huuuuuuuuge games. Careful traipsing through sleepy Ryan Field on a Saturday morning, though.
Next: at Northwestern, 11 a.m. BTN
3) No. 17 Michigan (9-2, 5-2 Legends); LW, 3
Last week: won vs. No. 17 Nebraska 45-17
Looks like the Wolverines enjoyed coming back home, after a brutal four-out-of-five streak on the road through October and early November. Just a total dismantling of Nebraska won't get the Wolverines into the Big Ten title game, but a nice bowl is in the offing and Michigan is clearly back among the league's elite. Of course, none of that will matter to blue-blooded UM fans if they, uh, blow The Game.
Next: vs. Ohio State, 11 a.m. ABC
4) No. 20 Penn State (9-2, 6-1 Leaders); LW, 5
Last week: won at Ohio State 20-14
The Nittany Lions have played admirably the past couple weeks - any win over Ohio State has to feel good, but this one had to resonate with Tom Bradley. Good for the players and remaining staff. Now, this has to be a telling quote from the a still-employed PSU coach with the Paterno surname (Jay): "Essentially, we're in the Big Ten semifinal. I started to think about Wisconsin - and I'll have some nightmares tonight."
Next: at No. 15 Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m. ESPN
5) Iowa (7-4, 4-3 Legends); LW, 6
Last week: won at Purdue 31-21
Brad Gilbert once wrote a wonderful tennis book called "Winning Ugly." The Hawkeyes wrote a football follow-up on Saturday in a little town in Indiana.
Next: at No. 22 Nebraska, Friday 11 a.m. ABC
6) No. 22 Nebraska (8-3, 4-3 Legends); LW, 4
Last week: lost at No. 20 Michigan 45-17
That is the third time this team's been embarrassed this season. So, then, the gap between No. 15 and No. 22 must be entire zones larger than the one between No. 1 and No. 15. You wouldn't think there'll be many years where the Cornhuskers and Buckeyes are outside the Big Ten's top five, but this is one of them.
Next: vs. Iowa, Friday 11 a.m. ABC
7) Ohio State (6-5, 3-4 Leaders); LW, 7
Last week: lost vs. No. 21 Penn State 20-14
The Buckeyes could be end up playing in something called the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. TaxSlayer.com. Woody Hayes, your coffin is rolling.
Next: at No. 17 Michigan, 11 a.m. ABC
8) Northwestern (6-5, 3-4 Legends); LW, 8
Last week: won vs. Minnesota 28-13
Wait, the Wildcats have won four straight? Other than the Nebraska shocker, that's been the quietest four-game streak ever. But here's Northwestern, back from the dead to make a bowl game. Exactly 28 points in three straight games. MSU serves as an interesting benchmark.
Next: vs. No. 11 Michigan State, 11 a.m. BTN
9) Purdue (5-6, 3-4 Leaders); LW, 9
Last week: lost vs. Iowa 31-21
Discipline didn't favor the Boilermakers late in the frustrating Iowa loss, when Dwayne Beckford threw a punch as Iowa was kneeling out the clock. We'll find out today if the Big Ten holds him out of Purdue's win-or-go-home tilt in Bloomington.
Next: at Indiana, 2:30 p.m. BTN
10) Minnesota (2-9, 1-6 Legends); LW, 10
Last week: lost at Northwestern 28-13
Jerry Kill's health has got to start taking primary consideration over coaching meaningless football games.
Next: vs. Illinois, 2:30 p.m. BTN
11) Illinois (6-5, 2-5 Leaders); LW, 11
Last week: lost vs. No. 15 Wisconsin 28-17
6-0, then 0-5. Which one's the real Illini? All the pieces were there to say the former, but you can't argue with five straight losses, an uneasy mis-achievement in college football.
Next: at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m. BTN
12) Indiana (1-10, 0-7 Leaders); LW, 12
Last week: lost at No. 12 Michigan State 55-3
An underrated college rivalry (for obvious reasons), it's up to the Hoosiers to send Purdue home packing for the winter without bowl eligibility. Try and contain your excitement.
Next: vs. Purdue, 2:30 p.m. BTN