1. Ohio State. The beat goes on for the Buckeyes, who moved to 11-0 with a 21-14 overtime win at Wisconsin. And what really was impressive was the fact Ohio State escaped Madison despite not playing well on offense.
Last week: 1
2. Nebraska. The 38-14 win over Minnesota makes it five wins in a row for the Cornhuskers since the 63-38 loss at Ohio State. With a victory next week at Iowa, Nebraska will punch its ticket to the Big Ten championship game.
Last week: 2
Next: at Iowa
3. Michigan. The Wolverines have gone on a roll ever since Devin Gardner has taken over at quarterback three games ago. This is a dangerous team that’s as hot as any in the Big Ten, as Michigan is 14-0 at home under Brady Hoke following a 42-17 win vs. Iowa.
Last week: 3
Up next: at Ohio State
4. Penn State. Matt McGloin continues to cement his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in school history after a 45-22 victory vs. Indiana. The Nittany Lions look to finish the season on a roll vs. Wisconsin at home next week.
Last week: 5
5. Wisconsin. The Badgers’ hopes of forging a share of the Leaders Division title are over following the 21-14 overtime loss to Ohio State. But Wisconsin can take solace in knowing it still is headed to the Big Ten title game.
Last week: 4
Next: at Penn State
6. Northwestern. The Wildcats showed they can hang on to a second-half lead by winning at Michigan State, 23-20. With a victory next week vs. Illinois, Northwestern may be in line for a New Year’s Day bowl berth.
Last week: 6
Up next: Illinois
7. Michigan State. The beat goes on for a team that can’t win the close game. The Spartans’ five Big Ten defeats have come by a combined 13 points, the latest close defeat being a 23-20 home loss to Northwestern. Michigan State must win at Minnesota to go to a bowl.
Last week: 7
Up next: Minnesota
8. Minnesota. The Gophers aren’t ready to trade punches with a program like Nebraska. (Witness the 38-14 loss in Lincoln.) That day will come. For now, it’s all a building process for the program in its second year under Jerry Kill.
Last week: 8
Up next: Michigan State
9. Purdue. Not long ago, things looked bleak during a five-game losing skid that threatened to derail the season. Now, two wins later—the latest a 20-17 victory at Illinois–the Boilermakers have bowl dreams dancing in their heads. Beat the Hoosiers, and Purdue is in a bowl for a second season in a row.
Last week: 9
[RELATED: Dienhart: 5 things I learned in Week 12]
10. Indiana. The Hoosiers put up more fight this week at Penn State but still fell, 45-22. And the loss means that Indiana can’t go to a bowl for a fifth season in a row. But a win next week at Purdue would cure a lot of ills and make people smile in Bloomington.
Last week: 10
Up next: at Purdue
11. Iowa. The Hawkeyes continues to sink, having now lost five games in a row after a 42-17 setback at Michigan. And the loss in Ann Arbor guarantees that Iowa won’t go to a bowl this season, ending a five-year postseason run.
Last week: 11
Up next: Nebraska
[RELATED: How did we do? Week 12 picks revisited]
12. Illinois. The tough times continue, as the latest setback is a 20-17 loss to Purdue. That’s eight losses in a row—and 13 Big Ten defeats in succession—with no end in sight with a trip to Northwestern next.
Last week: 12
Up next: at Northwestern
|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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