Week 9 Power Rankings: Badgers stay white hot

This is the Wisconsin we all expected at the beginning of the season. The last three games, the Badgers have outscored foes 107-41 and outgained them 1,485 yards to 781. Those offensive line troubles are ancient history and the defense has played well all season long. Where do the surging Badgers land on my latest Power Rankings? See my Week 9 Power Rankings in this post.

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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

[AP: Miller fine after being hurt in Buckeyes’ win]

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

[RELATED: How did we do? Week 8 picks revisited]

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

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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

[RELATED: See who took home our Week 8 Game Balls]

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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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (4 Comments)
Dennon on 10/21/2012 @ 8:35pm EDT Said:

Why hate on the big red? They have one conference loss to OSU. They should be number 2 or 3.

aroznowski on 10/21/2012 @ 10:20pm EDT Said:

1. Ohio State (8-0) [0]
2. Nebraska (5-2) [+1]
3. Northwestern (6-2) [-1]
4. Michigan (5-2) [0]
5. Penn State (5-2) [0]
6. Wisconsin (6-2) [0]
7. Iowa (4-3) [0]
8. Minnesota (4-3) [0]
9. Purdue (3-4) [0]
10. Michigan State (4-4) [0]
11. Indiana (2-5) [0]
12. Illinois (2-5) [0]

Five of the top six teams in my power rankings from last week won. Five of the bottom six teams in my power rankings from last week lost. Therefore, there is very little movement this week. The biggest change in my rankings this week is something that is not directly noticeable. The top six teams in the conference have broken away and are quickly distancing themselves from the bottom six.

John Worthing on 10/22/2012 @ 11:03am EDT Said:

aroznowski…. you have Nebraska & Northwestern ahead of Michigan & Penn State….really? time for a reality check….last I looked Penn State beat Northwestern and Michigan will drop an L on Nebraska this coming weekend.

aroznowski on 10/22/2012 @ 6:15pm EDT Said:

All four of those teams are very close. However, it’s time to take a look at who each of those teams has beaten, how they have beaten them, and where those games were played. Nebraska has defeated three cream puffs all in blowouts at home. In conference, Nebraska has defeated the #3 and #6 teams in my rankings. Northwestern has defeated three nonconference teams from AQ conferences, more than any other Big Ten team by far. In conference, the Wildcats beat the #8 team in rankings on the road and beat the #11 team at home. That home game against that #11 team was a blowout for the most part except during a stretch when Indiana mounted a failed charge before Northwestern pulled away for good. Northwestern was also the first Big Ten team to earn bowl eligibility. That’s saying something. Michigan squeaked out a victory against an undermatched opponent from a non-AQ conference in Air Force. The Wolverines defeated a nonconference cream puff in Massachusetts and the #9, #10, and #12 Big Ten teams according to my rankings. Most of Michigan’s wins have come at home. The Wolverines only have one win on the road coming at Purdue. Penn State’s nonconference wins came against below average opponents in Navy and Temple. Penn State’s conference wins came against the #3, #7, and #12 teams. Penn State’s win over Iowa was very impressive, but most of the teams ahead of them won this past Saturday as well. Now Michigan and Penn State currently have higher ceilings than Nebraska and Northwestern since both of their schedules appear to be backloaded. However, their resumes as of right now without considering what lies ahead are just not impressive enough to vie for the second spot behind Ohio State. By the way, don’t be so sure that Michigan will defeat Nebraska. You seem to be forgetting that the game will be played in a sea of red in Lincoln and that Nebraska has the revenge factor in this game after getting spanked 45-17 a year ago in Ann Arbor. I fully expect that game to be close, but I predict that the home crowd and Nebraska’s arsenal of explosive playmakers will propel the Cornhuskers to victory.