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November 5, 2013

Around the Big Ten: Week 10 Power Rankings

Ohio State remained undefeated with a blowout win over Purdue, and thus remains No. 1 in this week's power rankings. This week's list:

1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0, Beat Purdue 56-0): The Buckeyes continue to roll. They were up 35-0 before most people settled in for an afternoon of football on TV, destroying the Boilermakers on both sides of the ball. This group will almost assuredly be undefeated when it comes to the Big House Nov. 30 to face Michigan.

2. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0, Beat Michigan 29-6): The Spartans clicked into another gear, as usual, in beating Michigan should take advantage of the Legends' easiest schedule to play in the Big Ten Championship Game. MSU continued its dominance on defense and plays to that strength with an improving offense.

3. Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1, Beat Iowa 28-9 ): The Badgers wore Iowa down for another road win, notching 218 rushing yards and averaging 4.8 yards per play. Their underrated defense held the Hawkeyes to 294 yards. Wisconsin won't get the chance to prove to MSU that it might just be the league's second best team, but the Spartans still have a few challenging road games remaining.

4. Nebraska (6-1, 3-1, Beat Northwestern 27-24): It took a Hail Mary for the Cornhuskers to beat the winless Wildcats, and they looked bad for most of the game. The Cornhuskers have been inconsistent, like Michigan, and haven't beaten anybody good this year. They'll have a tough time winning in Ann Arbor and will probably lose at least two (if not more) conference games given their injuries.

5. Michigan (6-2, 2-2, Lost to MSU 29-6): Michigan slips a notch and now must get plenty of help in order to get to the Big Ten Championship game, a long shot at this point. The offensive line faltered again in the loss at MSU while the defense withered in the second half. The Wolverines seem like a team that has pieces to be better than they are, but they can't put it all together.

6. Minnesota (7-2, 3-2, Beat Indiana 42-39): The Golden Gophers jumped to a big lead, gave it all back and then scored late to win at Indiana and (theoretically) remain in the hunt for the Legends Division title. They could well be 4-2 in conference play after hosting Penn State this weekend, but games vs. Wisconsin and at MSU should bring them back to Earth.

7. Iowa (5-4, 2-3, lost to Wisconsin 28-9): The Hawkeyes played the Badgers tough for a half before succumbing, getting worn down by the running game. The tough schedule has held this team back a bit, but the next three games - at Purdue, Michigan and at Nebraska - are good matchups for the Hawkeyes.

8. Penn State (5-3, 2-2, Beat Illinois 24-17): This is a bad football team that needed to rally to beat the Illini, but the schedule is somewhat favorable from here. The Nittany Lions play at Minnesota this week, but homes games with Purdue and Nebraska are very winnable. They'll close by getting pounded at Wisconsin.

9. Indiana (3-5, 1-3, lost to Minnesota 42-39): The Hoosiers can score on anyone, but they can't stop anyone - we wrote this a few weeks ago and it bears repeating. They should win home games with Illinois and Purdue, but they'll have to steal one at Wisconsin or Ohio State to be bowl eligible. Good luck with that.

10. Northwestern (4-5, 0-5, lost to Nebraska 27-24): No Venric Mark again, and the Wildcats were actually down to their sixth string tailback in a 27-24 loss at Nebraska in which they found yet another way to lose. This team doesn't seem to quit, though, and can still be dangerous down the stretch behind quarterback Kain Colter. The schedule doomed this squad, as predicted.

11. Illinois (3-5, 0-4, lost to Penn State 24-17): This team is lousy on both sides of the ball and will be lucky to win a Big Ten game this year. Its best chance will be Nov. 23 at Purdue - which, consequently will be the Boilermakers' best opportunity for a victory. Something's gotta give.

12. Purdue (1-7, 0-4, lost at Ohio State 56-0): The Boilermakers are even worse than Illinois. They should have just sent the band to OSU (in hindsight, they probably did. Maybe they should have let them play a few snaps?).


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