Power Rankings: There's a new No. 2 team this week

Ohio State remains on top with another impressive victory, but I finally am moving Michigan State past Wisconsin and into the No. 2 spot in my power rankings. Yes, that win at Nebraska was that vital. Sorry, Wisconsin. Without a doubt, there seems to be a big drop between the top three teams and everyone else.

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1. Ohio State (10-0, 6-0). Yes, the Buckeyes let Illinois get a bit too close in the second half. Still, this was another dominating effort for the Buckeyes. I’m starting to lose count.
Last week: 1
Next: Indiana

2. Michigan State (9-1, 6-0). The win at Nebraska was the signature victory that had been missing from the Spartans’ resume. Read my game column. This team looks headed to a showdown with Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. I can’t wait.
Last week: 3
Next: at Northwestern

3. Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1). The Badger offense is very impressive. But the defense may be even more impressive this season. That effort vs. Indiana was incredible. Is Gary Andersen Big Ten Coach of the Year? Hmmmm.
Last week: 2
Next: at Minnesota

[ MORE: @BTNStatsGuys break down Badger rush attack vs. Indiana ]

4. Minnesota (8-2, 4-2). The Golden Gophers are one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, winners of four league games in a row for the first time since 1973. Will the bye week kill their mojo?
Last week: 4
Next: Wisconsin

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5. Nebraska (7-3, 4-2): If not for five turnovers, the Cornhuskers may have toppled Michigan State. Now, how will the team respond to two challenging season-ending games—at Penn State and vs. Iowa?
Last week: 5
Next: at Penn State

6. Iowa (6-4, 3-3). The Hawkeyes got bowl eligible last week. Now, they had a bye week to make a push for better postseason destination. Beat Michigan and/or Nebraska, and this suddenly becomes a pretty good season in Iowa City.
Last week: 6
Next: Michigan

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7. Penn State (6-4, 3-3). The victory over Purdue was another workmanlike effort that shows just how much Bill O’Brien is maximizing the talent on this thin roster.
Last week: 7
Next: vs. Nebraska

8. Michigan (7-3, 3-3). If ever a team needed a victory, it was the Wolverines. And, they got that needed “W” in triple overtime at Northwestern. Was it pretty? No. But it’s a positive step moving forward with two tough games left.
Last week: 8
Next: at Iowa

[ MORE: Watch Michigan’s wild last-second field goal to force overtime ]

9. Northwestern (4-6, 0-6). It’s one stunning loss after another for a Wildcats team that can’t seem to catch a break. NU has lost two overtime games, another by three points and one on a Hail Mary.
Last week: 10
Next: vs. Michigan State

[ MORE: Check out a photo gallery of Northwestern’s patriotic alternate uniform ]

10. Indiana (4-6, 2-4). Just when you thought the defense couldn’t be any worse, it is. But the offense also was muted in an ugly loss at Wisconsin in what was the Hoosiers’ worst effort of the season.
Last week: 9
Next: at Ohio State

11. Illinois (3-7, 0-6). The Big Ten losing streak has reached 20. And it’s the longest such skein in the nation now that Kansas has notched a conference win.
Last week: 11
Next: at Purdue

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12. Purdue (1-9, 0-6). That’s eight losses in a row for the Boilermakers, but the passing game is showing some life. The rest of the team? Not so much so. But the last two games will afford a chance finally to taste Big Ten victory.
Last week: 12
Next: vs. Illinois

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 (16 Comments)
Doug on 11/17/2013 @ 11:03am EDT Said:

wow Tom, I thought turnovers were part of the game. Should MSU not have taken those gifts from nebraska ?

John Kiel on 11/17/2013 @ 11:35am EDT Said:

Don’t see how you could justify Minnesota AND Nebraska being ranked ahead of Iowa. Just silly IMHO!

JoeW on 11/17/2013 @ 12:27pm EDT Said:

Looking forward to seeing if Minnesota belongs in the top tier of the conference. Looking at the top 3 teams there seems to be one thing in common…they are playing angry and looking to beat up opponents. The conferences best are all being undersold nationally and this is only fueling the anger.

De Mark on 11/17/2013 @ 2:10pm EDT Said:

How is Ohio’s win over a hapless Illinois team more impressive than the Badgers total domination of Indiana?

Truks on 11/17/2013 @ 8:45pm EDT Said:

If you look at scores against common oppenents, it’s difficult to justify Michigan State is better than Wisconsin. Against Iowa, Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana, both teams are 4-0, but Wisconsin has a 43 point advantage in margin of victory.

Jay on 11/17/2013 @ 9:40pm EDT Said:

I don’t understand the move of MSU over Wisconsin in a week when the same Indiana O that scored 28 on MSU gets shut down to 3 points by the Badger D. Nevermind how many yards and points Nebraska scored this week against that “vaunted D.” Badgers would beat MSU on a neutral field as the D is right there with MSU and the Badger offense is much more potent.

Randy Nodorft on 11/17/2013 @ 10:07pm EDT Said:

Michigan St. won’t be so impressive after the Buckeyes work them over in Indianapolis. Beating Nebraska is that big a feat. Does anyone remember that the Badgers dropped 70 on basically the same team last year?

matt on 11/17/2013 @ 10:17pm EDT Said:

I eont complain about wisconsin falling to #3 in this week’s rankings, but if they destroy minnesota next week, they deserve to reclaim the #2 spot.

Not Iowa on 11/18/2013 @ 12:20am EDT Said:

John Kiel, Minnesota is ranked higher because they have won 4 in a row and are 8-2 overall. Iowa is 6-4. It’s called the power rankings, not the “how good were you back in September” rankings.

Steven on 11/18/2013 @ 12:44am EDT Said:

Nebraska had 5 turnovers total again Michigan State Spartans
3 turnovers in the 1st quarter alone:

1st bad pitch by Nebraska with MSU recovering
2nd MSU defense intercepts Nebraska pass
3rd MSU special teams tackles Nebraska player so hard that Nebraska funbles the ball and MSU recovers.
4th Nebraska self inflicted fumble with MSU defense again recovering
5th MSU defense knocks ball out of Nebraks QB hands and MSU defense recovers a turnover for the 5th time.

MSU offense had zero, zip, nada, no turnovers.
Sorry Nebraska fans. You guys have been crying way to much. You lost this game and if it were played 5 times this year you would lose every single time. You couldnt even beat an MSU offense that honestly isnt that good.
The MSU defense stopped you guys and you dont like it. Take the licking and move on.

muscleman on 11/18/2013 @ 1:09am EDT Said:

Iowa is better than Minnesota. Who has Minnesota played? Minnesota barely beat Indiana and has not played Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Iowa beat Minnesota and its losses are to Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.

John on 11/18/2013 @ 6:42am EDT Said:

Any win at Nebraska is a big deal, and enough of the transitive property crap. Shocker that the weather turns for the worse and a spread team like IU struggles.

Also, Mark Dantonio absolutely deserves BIG coach of the year over Gary Anderson. Few expected a division championship from MSU, and what team has shown more growth since September?

I think the Minny coaches deserve COY though, they’ve improved the most since early October. Great story with that team, and they still have a shot at the Legends. They have a chance against Wiscy, they are built to win in the cold.

Big Bill on 11/18/2013 @ 10:09am EDT Said:

I think it’s funny that people get all up in arms about their team’s spot in these rankings. It’s one guy’s opinion and has no bearing on anything. The bowl officials aren’t looking at Dienhart’s rankings and using them to select one team over another. He does them because the Big Ten bosses want him to in order to drive traffic to the website. Settle down everybody.

Big Stan on 11/18/2013 @ 10:36am EDT Said:

No coach deserves COY more than Urban Meyer. Two (so far) undefeated seasons in a row should get trumped by a 8-4 Penn State, and a streaking Minnesota team who hasn’t played the 3 toughest teams in the league? I agree that Michigan State’s Dantonio should be in the conversation, but even they have not played the top 2 teams in the league.

If OSU doesn’t bring home the trophy this year, it’s not possible for an OSU coach to ever win it. Seriously, Penn State’s 2012 8-4 coaching job is better than OSU’s 12-0 after a 6-7 season?

CFSaturday on 11/19/2013 @ 10:54am EDT Said:

Steven, hold on a second, MSU may have won the game but to make the statement Nebraska was stopped by the MSU D is idiotic. The MSU D gave up more yards to Nebraska than any other team this season. FYI turnovers may be apart of the game but if you believe they didn’t effect the final score you are mistaken.

Rick Ford on 11/20/2013 @ 10:10am EDT Said:

Again….How can you not have Urban Myer as Coach of the year when he is headed for a posible 26 game winning streak after taking over a team with a loosing record the year before? It must be a Buckeye thing as Coach Tressel never got COY and all he did was dominate the conference for a decade.