Power Rankings: MSU, UW still chasing perfect OSU

Power Rankings: MSU, UW still chasing perfect OSU

Things held steady at the top of my Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal, though I’m sure debate will continue to rage on if Michigan State should be ranked ahead of Wisconsin. Debate on, America. This week’s fast-riser: Iowa. See my latest list in this post.

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1. Ohio State (11-0, 7-0). The winning streak has reached a school-record 23 in a row, as OSU clinched the Leaders Division. Even better—the Buckeyes are playing their best football of the season at the right time. Now, if only Alabama or Florida State would lose.
Last week: 1
Next: at Michigan

2. Michigan State (10-1, 7-0). The Spartans wrapped up the Legends Division title and will play in the Big Ten title game for a second time in three seasons. This team is hitting on all cylinders, as the offense continues to get better and better.
Last week: 2
Next: vs. Minnesota

3. Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1). The Badgers defense is playing as well as any in the league—if not the nation—as it allowed no offensive TDs vs. Minnesota. The offense? It’s as physical and effective as ever. It’s just too bad Wisconsin lost that game at Arizona State.
Last week: 3
Next: vs. Penn State

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4. Nebraska  (8-3, 5-2). This team showed great toughness and resilience in winning in overtime at Penn State coming off an emotional loss to Michigan State. The Cornhuskers are on track for a sixth season with nine or more victories under Bo Pelini. Don’t you wonder if NU would have won a few more games with Ron Kellogg III as starting quarterback?
Last week: 5
Next: vs. Iowa, Friday

5. Iowa (7-4, 4-3). For the first time ever, the Hawkeyes have toppled Michigan three times in a row in Kinnick Stadium. Better yet, Iowa earned a signature win for the 2013 season and is poised for a big finish. Take a bow, Herky.
Last week: 6
Next: at Nebraska, Friday

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6Minnesota (8-3, 4-3). That magical four-game winning streak is over. But, no shame in losing to Wisconsin; the Gophers just need more oomph on offense. Where are the playmakers? Still, this is an ascending program with a bright future.
Last week: 4
Next: at Michigan State

7. Penn State (6-5, 3-4). The Nittany Lions have now played three overtime games in Big Ten action. They won the first two; this time, they lost. Is Penn State out of gas? It looks that way. But it has been a great effort once again by Bill O’Brien and Co.
Last week: 7
Next: at Wisconsin

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8. Michigan (7-4, 3-4). The offensive issues persist, as the Wolverines blew a 21-7 lead at Iowa. That’s four losses in the last six games. And the wins were vs. Indiana in a shootout and in triple overtime at Northwestern. Yes, the wheels are officially off. But a win vs. Ohio State would wash away a lot of these bad feelings.
Last week: 8
Next: vs. Ohio State

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9. Indiana (4-7, 2-5). The blowout loss at Ohio State officially eliminated the Hoosiers from bowl contention. The defense has been horrid all season. Now, the offense is struggling, scoring just an aggregate 17 points the last two games. Playing Wisconsin and Ohio State will do that to an offense.
Last week: 10
Next: Purdue

10. Northwestern (4-7, 0-7). That’s seven losses in a row. And, get this: The Wildcats have gone eight quarters in regulation without a touchdown. Injuries have proven to be ruinous for Northwestern in what has gone from a season of promise to one to forget.
Last week: 9
Next: at Illinois

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11. Illinois (4-7, 1-6). The Fighting Illini can exhale, as they ended a 20-game Big Ten losing streak. It also was Tim Beckman’s first league triumph. With a visit from Northwestern next, maybe Illinois can finish with two wins in a row.
Last week: 11
Next: vs. Northwestern

12. Purdue (1-10, 0-7). It’s nine losses in a row for the Boilermakers. There really isn’t anything else to say other than: The year can’t end soon enough.
Last week: 12
Next: at Indiana

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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