Power Rankings: Surging Spartans move on up

If you somehow had any doubts prior to Saturday about who was the best team in the Big Ten, Ohio State surely cleared those up with its dominating effort vs. Penn State. Iowa and Minnesota were big risers. But Saturday wasn’t so good for Nebraska and Penn State. Here are my post-Week Nine Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal.

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1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0). It was pure domination for the Buckeyes vs. Penn State. I’m guessing Ohio State wanted to send a message to the BCS and score some style points with this annihilation. Impressive. This offense is clicking.
Last week: 1
Next: at Purdue

2. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1). The Badgers were off on Saturday. They are playing about as well as any team in the Big Ten. Let’s hope the time off doesn’t disrupt the mojo of the team. Will Wisconsin lose again?
Last week: 2
Next: at Iowa

3. Michigan State (7-1, 4-0). The Spartans sent a big statement to the rest of the Legends Division with a blowout victory at Illinois. The defense dominated—again. Even better: Connor Cook looked like an All-Big Ten quarterback after a spotty effort the week before.
Last week: 4
Next: Michigan

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4. Michigan (6-1, 2-1). The Wolverines are coming off a bye. How will the defense look? It was shredded the last time out vs. Indiana. The trip to Michigan State will be the ultimate test for the Wolverine offense that went wild vs. the Hoosiers.
Last week: 5
Next: at Michigan State

5. Iowa (5-3, 2-2). The win over Northwestern allowed the Hawkeyes to take a big step toward bowl eligibility. Even better—Iowa has surpassed last season’s win total. Yes, Kirk Ferentz still has it. But the rush defense and passing offense need to improve.
Last week: 7
Next: Wisconsin

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6. Minnesota (6-2, 2-2). The Golden Gophers got physical with the Cornhuskers in a program-defining victory that could push Minnesota to heights no one anticipated. This is a tough and driven team that keeps improving.
Last week: 8
Next: at Indiana

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7. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1). Any feel-good vibe generated by that three-game winning streak evaporated in the sobering 34-23 loss at Minnesota. There are more questions than answers—and that’s not a good think with the calendar about to turn to November.
Last week: 3
Next: Northwestern

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8. Penn State (4-3, 1-2). The Nittany Lions weren’t ready for what they encountered at Ohio State. No shame in that. The Buckeyes are really good. I think winning on the road anywhere will be difficult for Penn State in 2013. The Nittany Lions have played two true road games and lost both by an aggregate 107-38.
Last week: 6
Next: Illinois

9. Indiana (3-4, 1-2). No doubt, the Hoosiers have one of the top offenses in the Big Ten. But the defense? Did I mention that IU has one of the top offenses in the Big Ten? This is a must-win game vs. the Golden Gophers if Indiana wants to go bowling.
Last week: 9
Next: vs. Minnesota

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10. Northwestern (4-4, 0-4). The misery continues for the Wildcats, whose 4-0 start has melted into a 4-4 reality that has Northwestern’s season on the edge. But there were things to build on in the second half of the Iowa game. Still, will NU make it to a bowl?
Last week: 10
Next: at Nebraska

11. Illinois (3-4, 0-3). The Big Ten losing skein is now at 17 after the Illini were drubbed in a Homecoming clash with Michigan State. The defense has been an issue all season. And the offense was muted by a stellar Spartan defense. Let’s chalk up Saturday to growing pains.
Last week: 11
Next: at Penn State

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12. Purdue (1-6, 0-3). Unlike their last bye week, the Boilermakers haven’t made any major scheme and personnel changes. It’s all about continuing to develop young talent and to improve. More rough times are ahead, but Darrell Hazell has a plan and is driven to carry it out.
Last week: 12
Next: vs. Ohio 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.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (21 Comments)
Gator on 10/27/2013 @ 1:04pm EDT Said:

MSU is #1 in the Legends division and has the #1 defense in the Nation! MSU is going to play OSU in the B1G championship game! GO GREEN!!

JoeW on 10/27/2013 @ 1:44pm EDT Said:

Would love to see MSU v OSU in B10 CG! If both teams win out it would likely be a top 10 matchup…what the conference needs in its championship game.

Doug on 10/27/2013 @ 1:48pm EDT Said:

OSU’s offense vs the # 1 defense, can’t wait ! Go Green !

reality check on 10/27/2013 @ 5:33pm EDT Said:

OSU big rival is Michigan not little brother Doug

Born_Green on 10/27/2013 @ 5:35pm EDT Said:

and the good news is if Ohio state wins out every game and go undefeated they would play in the National Championship, and that means the loser of the B1G championship would go to the rose bowl in its place! hmmm looks like the Spartans!

Bucky on 10/27/2013 @ 8:16pm EDT Said:

not exactly…..loser of the B1G championship will slide……..if wisconsin wins out, they would be a more likely participant in the Rose Bowl!

Big Brother on 10/27/2013 @ 8:54pm EDT Said:

Born Green, OSU’s schedule is joke. they will not go to the National Championship Game with how Alabama, Oregon and even Florida State have been playing

Dave Dorn on 10/27/2013 @ 9:56pm EDT Said:

MSU by far most improved team in B10, if Wis vs OSU was 2nd last game then Mich, OSU may deserve BCS Game, otherwise Oregon until beaten is still imo a tad bit better than any B10 Team, On Wisconsin,

Doug on 10/27/2013 @ 10:45pm EDT Said:

Mark, M has gotten spanked 9 out of last 10 times by “big” rival and 4 of last 5 by MSU, times are bad and are getting worse in A2…..

Eric on 10/27/2013 @ 11:29pm EDT Said:

Too bad OSU is not going to the national championship. The last half of their schedule is so weak.

muscleman on 10/27/2013 @ 11:53pm EDT Said:

The only way Michigan State goes to the Rose Bowl is if they finish higher than Wisconsin in the BCS rankings. More than likely, Ohio State will go to the Rose Bowl and Wisconsin will get an at-large BCS bid. Ohio State and Wisconsin are the two best teams in the Big Ten this year. End of story!

Cory on 10/28/2013 @ 8:07am EDT Said:

be sure the bcs will find a way to keep MSU out again this year with its politics which is why its going bye-bye in place of a playoff.

Doug on 10/28/2013 @ 10:34am EDT Said:

have to agree with most people on here, OSU will not play in the champ. game, they need 2 of the 3 teams ahead of them to lose, not impossible, but it’s improbable. muscleman, MSU is ahead of Wis right now in the BCS rankings, and with games against Mich and Neb, still looming, MSU wins those games, they will remain ahead of Wis.

Firstinline on 10/28/2013 @ 11:42am EDT Said:

Well I think the entire BIG10 bloggers owe a big thank you to the Gophers for showing Nebraska that no matter who you play in the BIG10, you had better come ready to play and not overlook anyone!! So where does the Big RED stand in the rankings today? Reputation will get you know where Big RED in the BIG10. Thanks Minnesota, ON WISCONSIN!!

roger anstey on 10/28/2013 @ 12:49pm EDT Said:

Let’s see who is talking after next weekend….once MSU falls to there big brother that will be the end of their pipe dream…oh wait..the games is at MSU…maybe they will find another way to cheat their way to a victory…. GO BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LJ on 10/28/2013 @ 2:10pm EDT Said:

Reality Check-

Very fitting name. It’s exactly what Michigan fans need. To be considered a rival you need to win once in a while. Ohio State has owned you in recent years. Akron is probably a more fitting rival at this point. At least that game was competitive.

Tim on 10/28/2013 @ 2:28pm EDT Said:

Don’t count your chickens to fast-Wisconsin needs to get out of Iowa City alive! GO HAWKS! The Hawkeyes 3 loses have come against teams that have a combined record of 23-1.

squeekeron on 10/28/2013 @ 4:11pm EDT Said:

Go Green, crush the Blue!

RWW on 10/28/2013 @ 4:33pm EDT Said:

I saw somewhere that MSU had not allowed a 100 yard rusher in a game. I’m not sure OSU has either – Go Bucks!

matt on 10/28/2013 @ 6:26pm EDT Said:

wisconsin is still the 2nd best team in the conference right now, but the next 3 weeks will work that out in a hurry…… neither MSU nor UW has won a game against a quality opponent this year. That will change in the final few weeks. the eye test tells me right now wisconsin is better, having watched both teams play.

Jeff Hoard on 10/29/2013 @ 7:20am EDT Said:

Roger, A True Walmart Wolverine!!! Go State!!