Power Rankings: Gophers keep jumping up poll

Power Rankings: Gophers keep jumping up poll

A thrilling Saturday of action went a long way in shaking up my weekly Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. But, in the end, the trio at the top–Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State–reframed its top-billing status with impressive wins. After that trio, it’s surprising Minnesota checking in at No. 4. See my latest list in this post.

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1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0). The Buckeyes have been absolutely dominating the last two weeks, beating Penn State, 63-14, and crushing Purdue, 56-0. Ohio State is playing its best as it enters a bye week.
Last week: 1
Next: Off; at Illinois

2. Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1). This team continues to fly under the radar on a national level. No problem. If the Badgers win out, they’ll get plenty of attention by late-November.
Last week: 2
Next: BYU

3. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0). The Spartans nasty defense gives them a chance in any game. And when the offense plays well, Michigan State is almost impossible to beat. Ask Michigan.
Last week: 3
Next: Off; at Nebraska

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4. Minnesota (7-2, 3-2). That’s three wins in a row for the Golden Gophers, who aren’t just thinking about a bowl game; they are thinking about a good bowl game. Dream on, Goldy!
Last week: 6
Next: Penn State

5. Nebraska (6-2, 3-1). Nebraska never really established control vs. Northwestern and had four turnovers. Still, all of that was washed away by the Hail Mary victory.
Last week: 7
Next: at Michigan

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6. Penn State (5-3, 2-2). The offense had trouble getting on track vs. a bad Illinois defense. Regardless, the defense played well after three tough weeks and the offense delivered when it needed to late in the game.
Last week: 8
Next: at Minnesota

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7. Michigan (6-2, 2-2). The Wolverines got bullied by the Spartans—Taylor Lewan’s words, not mine. But I won’t argue with that. This Michigan team is still searching for an offensive identity—and it’s November.
Last week: 4
Next: Nebraska

8. Iowa (5-4, 2-3). The Hawkeyes beat average-to-bad teams and lose to good teams. Bottom line: Iowa is just an average team likely headed to a 6-6 record.
Last week: 5
Next: at Purdue

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9. Indiana (3-5, 1-3). Same story, different Saturday. The offense posted big numbers, but the defense couldn’t make key stops. A bowl game now looks like a pipe dream.
Last week: 9
Next: vs. Illinois

10. Northwestern (4-5, 0-5). That’s five losses in a row for the Wildcats. But this one was the worst of all, coming on a Hail Mary pass. Will this team even get bowl eligible?
Last week: 10
Next: Off; vs. Michigan

11. Illinois (3-5, 0-4). Make it 18 Big Ten losses in a row for the Fighting Illini. But, this team is getting better—really. The defense had one of its best games of 2013 at Penn State.
Last week: 11
Next: at Indiana

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12. Purdue (1-7, 0-4). The lows keep getting lower in West Lafayette. It will be a major surprise if the Boilermakers win another game in 2013. A big question: Will QB Danny Etling survive these beatings?
Last week: 12
Next: vs. Iowa

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.