1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0). The 29-22 overtime win over Purdue wasn’t pretty—but the team showed toughness and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. Nice qualities. Best of all, the Buckeyes’ dreams of an unbeaten season march on—for now. Oh, and Braxton Miller’s injury doesn’t look serious.
Last week: 1
Next week: at Penn State
2. Michigan (5-2, 3-0). It wasn’t a work of art. In fact, let’s call it “winning ugly.” That’s the best way to describe the Wolverines’ 12-10 victory over Michigan State that ended the Spartans’ four-game winning skein over Michigan. The Wolverines are the lone unbeaten in the Legends and control their destiny.
Last week: 2
Next week: at Nebraska
3. Penn State (5-2, 3-0). The amazing story of the 2012 Nittany Lions continues with an utterly dominating 38-14 win at Iowa. That sets up a huge showdown with Ohio State in an “NCAA Probation Bowl.” Just think how close Penn State is to being unbeaten.
Last week: 3
Next week: Ohio State
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4. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1). The Badgers look to have regained their plough horse form, steamrolling the last three foes with over 900 yards rushing. But give the defense some props, too, as it yielded just 245 in the 38-13 win over Minnesota and has played well all season.
Last week: 5
Next week: Michigan State
5. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1). The 29-28 comeback win at Northwestern was nothing short of amazing. But best of all: It may have saved the Cornhuskers’ season by keeping them in the thick of the Legends race. The visit from Michigan is huge.
Last week: 7
Next week: Michigan
[RELATED: Huskers silence naysayers in comeback win]
6. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2). The defense continues to have issues, especially late in games. First, the Penn State game. Next, the 29-28 meltdown at home vs. Nebraska. The Wildcats’ wiggle room is evaporating.
Last week: 4
Next week: Iowa
7. Iowa (4-3, 2-1). Here’s all you need to know after the 38-14 home loss to Penn State: The Hawkeyes are No. 11 in the Big Ten in total offense (324.4 ypg). That ranks 105th in the nation. The scoring offense? It’s 10th in the league and 101st in the nation (20.9 ppg). Enough said.
Last week: 6
Next week: at Northwestern
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8. Michigan State (4-4, 1-3). The defense continues to do a standout job, limiting Michigan to 326 yards. But the Spartan offense continues to struggle, which is why they are having issues. Le’Veon Bell had just 68 yards rushing on 26 carries vs. Michigan.
Last week: 8
Next week: at Wisconsin
9. Purdue (3-4, 0-3). The Boilermakers showed great fight in that 29-22 overtime loss at Ohio State after suffering two blowout defeats. But facts are facts: Purdue has lost three in a row. It needs to taste victory to get its season back on track.
Last week: 10
Next week: at Minnesota
10. Minnesota (4-3, 0-3). The Golden Gophers have now lost three in a row since that 4-0 start. In the 38-13 loss at Wisconsin, the defense got gashed for 443 yards, while the offense did little behind true freshman quarterback Philip Nelson, who made his first career start.
Last week: 9
Next week: Purdue
11. Indiana (2-5, 0-3). For a third week in a row, the Hoosiers came close to victory. First it was Michigan State, then it was Ohio State, this week it was Navy, 31-30. Those three losses have come by a combined eight points.
Last week: 11
Next week: at Illinois
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12. Illinois (2-5, 0-3). The good news: The Fighting Illini were off and didn’t have a chance to suffer another loss. The bad news: The Fighting Illini were off and didn’t get a chance to notch a victory.
Last week: 12
Next week: Indiana
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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