Power Rankings: Wisconsin makes big leap

Another week, more changes to my power rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State were the big winners, as the Badgers went from No. 4 to No. 2, the Cornhuskers from No. 5 to No. 3 and the Spartans from No. 6 to No. 4. Penn State is also up. Week Seven wasn’t so kind to Northwestern, which dropped from No. 2 to No. 6.

[ MORE: Dienhart: Penn State-Michigan game was one for the ages ]


1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0). The Buckeyes are riding an 18-game winning streak, the longest in the nation, as they come out of a bye. And with Michigan’s loss, OSU is the only unbeaten Big Ten left. Too bad the Buckeyes don’t play Michigan State; maybe they will in the Big Ten title game. Hmmm.
Last week: 1
Up next: Iowa

2. Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1). The Badgers are playing well and are a very good team that easily could be 5-1—and perhaps even 6-0. Offense, defense, Wisconsin has it going on both sides of the ball and has a very favorable schedule. Will this team lose again?
Last week: 4
Up next: at Illinois

3. Nebraska (5-1, 2-0). The Cornhuskers have proven to be resilient, already encountering a season’s worth of adversity with a tough start (UCLA loss, more shaky defensive performances) and the release of the “Pelini tapes.” Still, the Huskers appear to be rounding into form and have a sweet schedule.
Last week: 5
Up next: off; at Minnesota

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4. Michigan State (5-1, 2-0). The Spartans continue to improve on offense. The defense? It has been in a groove all season. This is a very dangerous MSU team. Fear the Spartans, people.
Last week: 6
Up next: Purdue

5. Michigan (5-1, 1-1). The Wolverines suffered their first loss of the season in gut-wrenching style. (It easily could have been their third defeat.) And issues remain along the offensive line, as Michigan’s running game is stagnant. I’m still not sure how good this team is.
Last week: 3
Up next: Indiana

6. Northwestern (4-2, 0-2). That’s back-to-back losses for the Wildcats, whose viability as a Legends contender has taken a big hit. In the last two games, Northwestern has allowed a combined 75 points. How will the Wildcats rebound?
Last week: 2
Up next: Minnesota

[ MORE: What did Tom Dienhart learn in Week 7? Here’s what! ]

7. Penn State (4-2, 1-1). The Nittany Lions were questioned coming off the loss at Indiana—and rightly so. But Penn State responded with a gutsy effort vs. Michigan, showing resiliency in losing a lead, coming back and winning.
Last week: 9
Up next: off; at Ohio State

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8. Iowa (4-2, 1-1). The Hawkeyes were idle on Saturday, prepping for a huge game at Ohio State. Is this Iowa team ready for this challenge coming off that home loss to Michigan State?
Last week: 7
Up next: at Ohio State

9. Indiana (3-3, 1-1). The Hoosiers gave the Spartans a run for their money but were outmanned. But no team may win in East Lansing all season. Still, Indiana is on the rise and still on track to become bowl eligible. There is undeniable progress in Bloomington.
Last week: 8
Up next: at Michigan

[ MORE: How did we do? Week 7 Big Ten predictions revisited ]

10. Illinois (3-2, 0-1). The Fighting Illini are coming off their second bye of the season. A visit from a hot Wisconsin team will show us if the Illini defense has improved, as Illinois looks to end a 15-game Big Ten losing skid that dates to Oct. 8, 2011.
Last week: 10
Up next: Wisconsin

11. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2). The Gophers didn’t play this week but still made headlines with news that Jerry Kill would be on an indefinite leave as he tends to his health. How will this impact Minnesota, if at all?
Last week: 11
Up next: at Northwestern

[ MORE: Tom’s Take: My Week 7 honors, grades, top 10 & more ]

12. Purdue (1-5, 0-2). Another week, another blowout. And an unrelenting schedule won’t provide any relief for a Purdue program that’s suffering major growing pains. Can the season end now?
Last week: 12
Up next:
at Michigan State

About Tom Dienhart 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)
Joseph on 10/13/2013 @ 5:47pm EDT Said:

How could Wisconsin be 6-0? Ohio State was up 17 in the 4th and went conservative. They weren’t in position to win the game.

Nate on 10/13/2013 @ 8:16pm EDT Said:

Down 7 closing minutes with the ball and they weren’t in position to win?

Luke on 10/13/2013 @ 9:14pm EDT Said:


Nebraska’s shaky non-conference win was the opener over Wyoming (37-34). We beat Southern Miss and SDSU by 43 and 39 points, respectively.

muscleman on 10/13/2013 @ 11:01pm EDT Said:

Wisconsin could be EASILY 6-0!

muscleman on 10/13/2013 @ 11:06pm EDT Said:

In the Wisconsin-Ohio State game, a bogus penalty for facemask that never happened in the first half after the ball was stripped from the quarterback’s hand and recovered by the Badgers, inside the OSU 20 yard line.
Wisconsin beat themselves in that game. It was also the Big Ten Conference Championship Game as well. Nobody else even comes close to UW or OSU this year in football.

Jim on 10/14/2013 @ 11:59am EDT Said:

To those thinking Wisconsin could be 6-0 you are correct, except they had to play Ohio State and now they aren’t 6-0

Mark Luebbe on 10/14/2013 @ 1:31pm EDT Said:

*The PSU/OSU game in a couple weeks could be very interesting.
*The winner of the Legends division will have two conference losses.
*Neb will not win division if All American lineman Long injury will keep him out for the season.

James on 10/14/2013 @ 3:57pm EDT Said:

Finally michigan is exposed for their poor offense..Fitz Toussaint had 27 carries for 27 yards..that was their best performance by a running back (Gardner led the team)..this team stills shows they can’t survive without a running qb..I think they could lose another 4-5 games before the season is out..hope they don’t sleep on Indiana..And for anyone who thinks Wisconsin could or even should be 6-0, they were down 17 entering the 4th..OSU coaches went so soft in the second half..sure they had the ball, but there wasn’t a bad call or dropped pass in the end zone that could have led to a wisconsin win..OSU controlled that game,,

Huskers? on 10/14/2013 @ 4:20pm EDT Said:

Huskers should win out without much problem despite injuries. Only to be blown out by 30+ in the Big 10 championship game and 20+ in a bowl.

budgerfan on 10/14/2013 @ 5:39pm EDT Said:

Dienhart you have stiffie for Wiscy don’t you? Northwestern was without Coulter and Mark if I’m not mistaken.

Dennis Stanley on 10/15/2013 @ 2:38am EDT Said:

Wisconsin was never in position to win at OSU, they could never have been 6-0, unless you flip all kinds of plays around, and say “if only this”, or “only that”. Guess what? The Buckeyes would have still won. OSU wins the close games the other B1G schools don’t, consistently. That’s why OSU dominates the Big 10, That’s why OSU has won 123 games since 2002 and Wisconsin is second best and a far distant second in wins during that time with 106. OSU 7 B1G championships during that time period (not including last year 12-0), Wisconsin is second with 3 (including last year).

dan on 10/15/2013 @ 3:28am EDT Said:

Huskers win out without much problem despite injuries? Not sure what Nebraska team you’ve been watching, They have only played one away game, and have only played one real team (and got their asses handed to them). They’ll have a rough November and not win the division, which is probably best. That way they won’t have to worry about getting blown out on National TV……..again.

matt on 10/15/2013 @ 3:49pm EDT Said:

to those who go on and on about OSU going conservative in the 4th and that being the only reason UW got close, I say this, NO team shuts it down with a mere 3 possession advantage with an entire quarter to go. OSU did what it should have done, milk the clock. which is, btw , why they won. you dont “go conservative” on defense, ever. that defense let UW back in the game in the 4th. on the same token, UW couldnt get past its own mistakes either to complete the comeback. The game turned out as it did because wisconsin could not get past its own mistakes AND the OSU defense could not stop UW when it executed. everything else is a BS excuse.