Week 10 Power Rankings: How 'bout them Huskers?!

With another Saturday in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to take the temperature of the Big Ten. It was a tough week for the Leaders Division, with four of its six teams losing. And a new leader emerged in the Legends, as Nebraska continues to move up. Where do all the teams land in my latest Power Rankings? Find out in this post.

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1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0). The Buckeyes imposed their will on Penn State, 35-23, to push their record to 9-0. The maligned defense played well, allowing 359 yards (28 rushing). And it hardly looked like Braxton Miller was coming off a neck injury. Bottom line: This team has something special about it as it continues to pursue perfection.
Last week: 1
Next: Illinois

2. Nebraska (6-2, 3-1). Two weeks, two big wins—first at Northwestern and Saturday vs. Michigan, 23-9. What’s it all mean? The Cornhuskers control their destiny in the Legends Division as they chase their first league title since winning the Big 12 in 1999.
Last week: 5
Next: at Michigan State

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3. Michigan (5-3, 3-1). The Wolverines suffered their first Big Ten loss, falling 23-9 at Nebraska. But a bigger loss was quarterback Denard Robinson, who left the game with an elbow issue. Brady Hoke says Robinson will be fine. He better be for this key stretch drive.
Last week: 2
Next: at Minnesota

4. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2). The offense awoke from a three-game slumber to ambush Iowa, 28-17, keeping alive Legends Division title hopes. Just think: The Wildcats are just two fourth-quarter double-digit point blown leads away from being unbeaten.
Last week: 6
Next: Off (at Michigan, Nov. 10)

5. Penn State (5-3, 3-1). No shame in losing to sophomore sensation Braxton Miller and undefeated Ohio State, 35-23. But the Nittany Lions’ issues running the football could prove to be hazardous down the stretch with games remaining vs. the likes of Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Last week: 3
Next: at Purdue

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6. Michigan State (5-4, 2-3). The Spartans’ hopes of winning the Big Ten are bleak, but the 16-13 overtime win at Wisconsin showed Michigan State still has heart, a great defense and likely doesn’t have to worry about not qualifying for a bowl.
Last week: 8
Next: Nebraska

7. Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2). The 16-13 overtime loss at home to Michigan State was a stinger, but it really has little impact on the Badgers’ quest to win the Leaders Division. But the loss does show how much they need QB Joel Stave, who is out for the season after suffering a collarbone injury early in the second half.
Last week: 4
Next: Off (at Indiana, Nov. 10)

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8. Iowa (4-4, 2-2). That’s two ugly losses in a row the Hawkeyes, who may find themselves fighting for their bowl life. Running back Mark Weisman needs to get healthy—right now. And what happened to the defense in that 28-17 loss at Northwestern?
Last week: 7
Next: at Indiana

9. Minnesota (5-3, 1-3). How about true freshman QB Philip Nelson?! Because of him, the Gophers’ bowl hopes got a huge lift with a dismantling of Purdue to end a three-game losing skein. Minnesota now has five wins with games left vs. Michigan, at Illinois, at Nebraska, Michigan State.
Last week: 10
Next: Michigan

[RELATED: How did we do? Week 9 picks revisited]

10. Indiana (3-5, 1-3). Let’s hear it for the Hoosiers, who ended an 11-game Big Ten losing skein with a 31-17 victory at Illinois! The offense continues to shine even without injured QB Tre Roberson, scoring at least 24 points in each game this season. Even more vital: Indiana showed it could close a game and the defense made some stands.
Last week: 11
Next: Iowa

11. Purdue (3-5, 0-4). That’s four losses in a row for the Boilermakers, who will be hard-pressed to make a bowl following a 44-28 loss at Minnesota. Was this really the same Purdue team that lost at Ohio State in overtime last week? Offense? Defense? Special teams? They all are struggling.
Last week: 9
Next: Penn State

[RELATED: Gerry DiNardo tweets Week 9 Sunday Ruminations]

12. Illinois (2-6, 0-4). How did the Illini respond coming off a bye week? They got beat at home by Indiana, 31-17. That’s five losses in a row for Illinois, which is getting whipped in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The wins this season have come vs. Western Michigan and Charleston Southern.
Last week: 12
Next: at Ohio State

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)
aroznowski on 10/28/2012 @ 5:59pm EDT Said:

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

There is no change in my top six this week. The top three teams all won. The #4, #5, and #6 teams all lost. There is still is a clear divide between the top six and the bottom six. That doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. Minnesota and Michigan State each move up one spot after impressive victories. Iowa and Purdue both fall after getting taken out to the woodshed yet again. Congratulations to Indiana on finally winning a conference game and for cracking the top ten in my power rankings. The Hoosiers successfully backed up a prediction that I made way back on July 17 and seemed rather bold at the time (http://btn.com/2012/07/17/indiana-10-reasons-to-be-excited-in-2012/). Even though the Hoosiers and Boilermakers are both 3-5, Indiana has been way more impressive. Purdue has been taken to the woodshed three times now (vs. Michigan, vs. Wisconsin, and at Minnesota) whereas Indiana has yet to be taken there. It has become increasingly apparent that Danny Hope could be unemployed in a couple of months. The other eleven Big Ten head coaches should all be back next season. After Iowa’s lackluster performances against Penn State and Northwestern, Kirk Ferentz’s seat might start getting a tad warm, but I would be shocked if Iowa pulled the plug on him anytime soon. As for Big Ten teams and bowl games, it looks like the Big Ten will have six or seven teams playing in the postseason. Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin are all bowl-eligible. I am very confident that Michigan, Michigan State, and Minnesota will all win at least one game over the next month and become bowl-eligible. Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the postseason. Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue should all become ineligible for the postseason rather soon. That leaves Iowa as the only Big Ten team with its bowl hopes currently hanging in the balance. If Iowa wins at Indiana on Saturday, I think that the Hawkeyes will find one more win and become bowl-eligible. If Indiana pulls the upset, I think that it becomes more unlikely than likely that the Hawkeyes will be in a bowl game.

Brett Kottmann on 10/29/2012 @ 10:33am EDT Said:

1: OSU
2: Nebraska
3: Northwestern

Mike Randleman on 10/29/2012 @ 12:59pm EDT Said:

The statement of Mark Weisman needing to get healthy for Iowa to improve is pretty irrelevant. While having more running back depth, something Iowa continues to lack, is important, Damon Bullock has returned and rushed for 100+ yards last week. For Iowa to improve, issues like coaching decisions, run defense, and QB play, amongst several other factors, are of higher importance than getting Weisman back, whose success has been a big product of a strong O-line.

Doug Masters on 10/30/2012 @ 3:05am EDT Said:

Why are people so mad about these rankings, We know we are not eligible for post season, I guess people like kicking a dead horse. So I guess we kinda like keep kicking back at UM and UW who are not even ranked, and look to play in the Toilet Bowl which isn’t much better than not playing in a bowl, I know I know it is still a Bowl Game in their fans eyes. lol