Week 11 Power Rankings: Don't sleep on Indiana

Not a lot of movement in my latest Power Rankings following Week 10 of the season, as Ohio State and Nebraska retained possession of the top two spots. Indiana was the biggest mover, as it continued to turn heads with a home win over Iowa. See where all 12 teams land this week in this post.

1. Ohio State (10, 6-0). The Buckeyes moved to 10-0 with a 52-22 win over Illinois. Now, Ohio State has a week off to prep for the last two games. And they are biggies: at Wisconsin and vs. Michigan. Can Ohio State finish the deal and go 12-0? You have to like its chances.
Last week: 1
Next: off

[RELATED: Tom’s Top 10: Would Ohio State beat other perfect teams?]

2. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1). Ever since Bo Pelini said his Huskers must win out after allowing 63 points in a bad loss at Ohio State, Nebraska is 3-0 and riding high. The defense has made a big turnaround during the run, which has featured fourth-quarter rallies at Northwestern and at Michigan State. This is looks like a special team.
Last week: 2
Next: Penn State

[RELATED: Dienhart: “This looks like it will be Nebraska’s year”]

3. Michigan (6-3, 4-1). The Wolverines showed great bounce back with a convincing 35-13 win at Minnesota. Devin Gardner displayed promise in a surprise start, but the defense continues to be the real story for the Wolverines as they head into the home stretch. It’s just too bad Gardner wasn’t ready to play at Nebraska two weeks ago. Maybe Michigan would have won that game. We’ll never know.
Last week: 3
Next: Northwestern

4. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2). The Wildcats still cling to Legends Division title hopes, but they have to win out—and get some help—to have a chance. Northwestern was off last week and has a must-win game at Michigan this week. The offense must pick up where it left off in a win over Iowa.
Last week: 4
Next: at Michigan

[RELATED: Where do Big Ten teams land in latest polls?]

5. Penn State (6-3, 4-1). The Nittany Lions continue to impress, bouncing back from that home loss to Ohio State with a convincing 34-9 win at Purdue. Once again, Matt McGloin dazzled as a passer and a leader in what is turning out to be a season to remember, as the program continues to focus on what it can control.
Last week: 5
Next: at Nebraska.

6. Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2). The Badgers were off this Saturday, but they had work to do as they move forward without injured quarterback Joel Stave. The chief goal: selecting a new signal-caller. How will the offense function during a key stretch run with a new quarterback? Next week’s game at Indiana is a must-win.
Last week: 7
Next: at Indiana

7. Michigan State (5-5, 2-4). That’s four home losses for the Spartans, who still aren’t bowl eligible with two games remaining. The struggles of the passing game continue, and the defense was ripped for 313 yards rushing by Nebraska. That—more than any controversial calls by the officials—was why Michigan State got beat.
Last week: 6
Next: off

[RELATED: How did we do? Week 10 Big Ten picks revisited]

8. Indiana (4-5, 2-3). Saturday’s 24-21 win over Iowa helped Indiana tally back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time since 2007. Even more vital—it sets up a big game next week in Bloomington vs. Wisconsin for an Indiana team that controls its destiny. Amazing. This is a confident team that’s playing well on both sides of the ball.
Last week: 10
Next: Wisconsin

9. Iowa (4-5, 2-3). A 24-21 loss at Indiana may be rock bottom. Maybe not. The Hawkeyes have lost three games in a row and still need two more victories to become bowl eligible. You have to like Iowa’s chances vs. Purdue next week. But after that are games at Michigan and vs. Nebraska. Will the Hawkeyes do it?
Last week: 8
Next: Purdue

[RELATED: Dienhart: 5 things I learned in Week 10]

10. Minnesota (5-4, 1-4). The Gophers still are a work in progress, taking some lumps in a 35-13 home loss to Michigan. Minnesota still needs one more victory to become bowl eligible. And it could happen next week at Illinois. However this turns out, you get the feeling this is a program that’s pointed upward under Jerry Kill.
Last week: 9
Next: at Illinois

11. Purdue (3-6, 0-5). That’s five losses in a row for the Boilermakers, who must win their last three games to become bowl eligible. The offense had disappointed, but the defense has been an even bigger flop. The latest fiasco was an uninspiring 34-9 home loss to Penn State that frankly wasn’t even that close.
Last week: 11
Next: at Iowa

[RELATED: Gerry DiNardo tweets Week 10 Sunday Ruminations]

12. Illinois (2-7, 0-5). That’s six losses in a row following a 52-22 thumping at Ohio State. It’s also seven losses for the Illini, who officially are eliminated from bowl competition after going to the postseason the last two seasons. Offense? Defense? Special teams? They all continue to struggle.
Last week: 12
Next: Minnesota

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 (13 Comments)
NebraskaGuy on 11/4/2012 @ 6:58pm EDT Said:

To Michigan St Fans:

Now that this season is far enough along that I have enough tangible proof to support my original argument, I would like to refer Robert Hanley, Faygo, Sparty Fan, Robert A. Funk, Doug, John Spartan, Jim Hert, and Spartan Fan back to the comments made in response to “Dienhart: Bell, Spartans top Big Ten Power Rankings” posted on 9/2/12.

Now there is a plethora of evidence to illustrate just how ridiculous and overinflated the Spartan fan base’s opinion of their football team is, and how drastically it differs from reality. As I stated all the way back in week 1, Michigan St is obviously not the #1 football team in the conference. As I stated back in week 1, the top 3 teams in the conference are Ohio St, Nebraska, and Michigan.

aroznowski on 11/4/2012 @ 7:55pm EDT Said:

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

Each team in my top six either won or was idle. Therefore, there is nothing worth changing there. All of the teams in my bottom six lost except for Indiana. Indiana moves up another spot with its second conference win. Iowa has now had three consecutive abysmal weeks, having been taken to the woodshed by Penn State and Northwestern and having lost to Indiana for the first time in five years. The Hawkeyes have now faded behind both Indiana and Michigan State. The Spartans are the beneficiary of Indiana and Iowa’s movement and gain one spot despite losing another close game in a thriller against Nebraska. These rankings could be severely impacted a week from now depending on the results of this upcoming Saturday’s games. The winner of the Northwestern-Michigan game will likely be ranked third next week. The Nebraska-Penn State game could cause some chaos in the rankings if the Nittany Lions win. The winner of the Purdue-Iowa game will likely hold the tenth spot in the rankings and avoid the cellar. The winner of the Wisconsin-Indiana will be playing in the conference championship game barring the unexpected. The Minnesota-Illinois game should be what the Gophers need to become bowl eligible.

Truth on 11/5/2012 @ 12:07am EDT Said:

Winner of Nebraska vs Penn State is your second best B1G team.

Doug on 11/5/2012 @ 11:14am EDT Said:

Hey Neb Guy, NEB needs a fake penalty to squeak by MSU by 4, they need Denard to get hurt to beat Michigan, and OSU blew them out of the water. MSU holds on to win that game, there’s no way you would have come back and admitted you were wrong.

Thiswouldbeentheleadonsportscenterifithappenedtonebraska on 11/5/2012 @ 12:27pm EDT Said:

Nebraska won at MSU…not just because of the horrible PI call at the end of the game, but also because the horrible call during what should have been the play of the year in the BIG 10. Denard’s 95 yard td return that was taken off of the board because our player Johnny Adams wes deemed to have “blocked a player that was out of the play” That was the worst call I have seen in football all season….and Nebraska did win, but it was given to them by bogus officiating.

NebraskaGuy on 11/5/2012 @ 4:59pm EDT Said:

Wow, Michigan St fans, you’re right. Michign St is 5-5 overall (2-4 Big Ten). You’re right…the refs lost all of those games for you. Michigan St actually is the #1 team in the conference. Refs have not made questionable calls that have went against any other team in the country, or conference. 4 of your 5 losses have come at home. It must be the refs fault. Nebraska gashed Michigan St’s defense for over 300 yds rushing (with their best RB, Rex Burkhead, sitting on the sideline). It must be the refs fault. Now it’s time to snap back to reality…

As I previously stated, there is now a plethora of evidence to illustrate just how ridiculous and overinflated the Spartan fan base’s opinion of their football team is, and how drastically it differs from reality. 5-5 overall, 2-4 in the Big Ten. A team with that record hasn’t earned the right to complain about the refs.

NebraskaGuy on 11/5/2012 @ 6:19pm EDT Said:

Doug – “MSU holds on to win that game, there’s no way you would have come back and admitted you were wrong.”
O.K….Apparently it’s hypothetical nonsense time. If Michigan St wouldn’t have lost any of the 5 games they have lost (so far) this season, then they would be undefeated and would be in the national championship discussion. If Michigan St would’ve won 1 of the 5 games that they have lost (so far) this season, then they would have 6 wins and would not have to worry about becoming bowl eligible. If Ohio St, Michigan, Nebraska, and Penn St were not in the Big Ten, then Michigan St wouldn’t be a 2nd tier team in the conference. Arguing hypotheticals is ridiculous and a waste of time.

Doug on 11/5/2012 @ 11:18pm EDT Said:

Hey NEB guy, 4 losses by 10 pts, wow that is really overinflated. NEB was handed the MSU game, and got luck Denard got hurt vs Michigan. O$U smacked NEB around while MSU lost by 1 stinking point to OSU, also on a horrible call by officials, thanks for playing. Go ahead and be proud of yourself you were handed the last couple games, everyone but NEB fans so what happened, now go shuck me some corn !

NebraskaGuy on 11/6/2012 @ 11:08am EDT Said:

Doug – It is the definition of overinflated. You tried to tell me that Michigan St is the #1 team in the conference and now they are 5-5 overall, 2-4 in the conference. Michigan St is obviously not #1. It doesn’t matter if Michigan St’s 5 losses are by a total of 5 points, they are still losses. All that proves is that Michigan St lacks poise at the end of close games. That is not a trait of the #1 team in any conference. A team that is 5-5 overall, 2-4 in the conference, hasn’t earned the right to whine about the refs.

Doug on 11/6/2012 @ 11:29am EDT Said:

so if you get screwed over, you can’t whine about the refs if you don’t have a great record? that makes no sense. when they did the rankings way back when, MSU was the best team, and each week they changed, it wasn’t like they said MSU would be # 1 all season long. Why do you care so much, these big ten writers are just voicing their opinion. MSU still has the best OOC win, and stopping Wisky’s 21 game home winning streak was quite an achievement too, even if this isn’t the same Wisky team of last year. Neb got pounded by OSU, and beat a Michigan team without their best player, and needed a couple horrible calls against a .500 MSU team to eek out a 4 point win. Go ahead and tell yourself what you want.

NebraskaGuy on 11/6/2012 @ 3:05pm EDT Said:

Doug –

You’re being ridiculous. Your arguments of “NEB needs a fake penalty to squeak by MSU by 4”, “MSU lost by 1 stinking point to OSU, also on a horrible call by officials”, and “Hey NEB guy, 4 losses by 10 pts, wow that is really overinflated.” are laughable. What you are implying is that Michigan St is a good team and that they keep losing because of the officiating. My argument is that Michigan St isn’t good enough to say that the only reason they are losing games is because of the officiating. Maybe Michigan St players should worry about improving, so that they can win enough games to finally become bowl eligible this season, instead of talking trash on twitter about Denard Robinson (who beat Michigan St) and whining about the officials in the game vs Nebraska (who also beat them).

Also, your argument of “when they did the rankings way back when, MSU was the best team” is false. Just because your perception is that they were the best team, doesn’t mean that they were the best team. Michigan St’s flaws were obvious even then, and just because they hadn’t lost a game yet because of them, doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist. They did. That’s why I argued all the way back in week 1: “Michigan St looked entirely too 1-dimensional to be considered the #1 team of the conference, Maxwell was 22/38 (58%) passing for 248 yds, 0 TDs, and 3 INTs. Maxwell’s performance was so poor that MSU was forced to give the ball to Bell 50 times. The blueprint for B1G teams shutting this extremely 1-dimensional offense down is obvious: account for Bell,load up the box, and force Maxwell into incompletions and interceptions.”

Meanwhile, your argument all the way back in week 1: ” After today, MSU will remain at # 1 and NEB will be lucky to stay at # 5….”, and “Don’t expect Maxwell to fold. He’s a drop back passer unlike T-Mart and D-Rob and Miller. MSU is the best team and will prove it every week. MSU’s defense has yet to give up a TD and has only given up 2 FG’s all season, 1 of them on a turnover by the offense. MSU is the team to beat.”

Well, that “#1 team” is now 5-5, 2-4 in the conference. Yes, I woud say that your argument of Michigan St being the #1 team in the conference is the definition of an overinflated opinion.

Your argument of “Neb beat a Michigan team without their best player” is ridiculous on multiple levels. 1) While Robinson was in the game (almost the entire 1st half) Nebraska’s defense held Michigan to 6 points (2 field goals). It’s not like Robinson was torching Nebraska and when he went out, suddenly everything changed. Would the final score of the game have been closer than 23-9? Probably, but you can’t say that was the only reason Nebraska won. 2) You are saying that losing your best offensive player is such a detriment to a team, that Nebraska doesn’t deserve credit for beating Michigan. Well, if that’s the case, what does that say about Michigan St? Nebraska didn’t have their best offensive player, Rex Burkhead. Apparantly, that is such a detriment, that a team can’t overcome and win, but even with Burkhead out, Michigan St still lost.

Your arguements of “Hey NEB guy, 4 losses by 10 pts” and “and needed a couple horrible calls against a .500 MSU team to eek out a 4 point win” are just plain sad. A loss is a loss. It doesn’t matter if it is only by 1 point. It’s still a loss. That’s all that matters. I guess when your team is 5-5, 2-4 in the conference, it’s time to start searching for moral victories, because actual victories are so few and far between. A team that is #1 in the conference has no room for (or need for) moral victories. I guess I don’t understand the argument of “Your team beat us, but we are still better, because this team beat you by this much and you only beat this other team by this much.” I’m sure, though, that Michigan and Ohio St would be flattered that (due to Michigan St’s inability to beat Nebraska) you have chosen to live vicariously though them.

NebraskaGuy on 11/6/2012 @ 3:19pm EDT Said:

Doug – You stated “needed a couple horrible calls against a .500 MSU team to eek out a 4 point win”. I find it interesting that when referencing Nebraska’s win, you site Michigan St’s .500 record, in order to illustrate that “eeking out a 4 point win” over them isn’t very impressive, because they are only a .500 team (5-5 overall, 2-4 conference). I just thought that was an interesting stance for you to take…

Doug on 11/6/2012 @ 5:30pm EDT Said:

Well, if MSU was 8-1 going into that game and NEB would have won, that would have been impressive, but it’s obvious, as you stated, MSU hasn’t been able to finish games after hanging around in so many this year, so it makes NEB win over MSU not as impressive, esp. when the officials had a hand in that last drive…Also, it’s like M fans rushing the field after needing a last second FG, at the big outhouse no less, to beat a .500 MSU team. I’ll be the first to admit MSU’s offense has stalled, but it’s not like they’ve not been close in every game, and the refs had a hand in the NEB and OSU games, MSU was it’s own worst enemy vs Iowa and Mich. Congrats to NEB for winning the Legends and I can tell you I enjoyed the beating NEB gave Michigan…..