Power Rankings: Ohio State starts No. 1, ends No. 1

My final Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal, remain relatively unchanged after the final week of regular-season action. There are some potential debates. Like, should Minnesota be ahead of Nebraska? Still, there is no arguing about who the top two teams are.

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1. Ohio State (12-0, 8-0). The Buckeyes didn’t score any style points, but they won a thriller with Michigan to finish 12-0 and push their winning streak to 24-0. The offense is tremendous. Few teams in the nation are playing better, as Ohio State appears to control its BCS title game destiny.
Last week: 1
Next: vs. Michigan State in Big Ten title game

2. Michigan State (11-1, 8-0). The defense continues to impress, allowing six or fewer points in five of eight Big Ten games this season. This is MSU’s third double-digit win season in four years. And it appears headed to its first BCS bowl ever.
Last week: 2
Next: vs. Ohio State in Big Ten title game

3. Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2). A defensive meltdown resulted in the Badgers losing to visiting Penn State in one of the biggest upsets of the Big Ten season. The defeat will cost Wisconsin a BCS at-large spot. Still, this was a good season.
Last week: 3
Next: bowl

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4Iowa (8-4, 5-3). From 4-8 to 8-4, Iowa enjoyed one of the greatest turnarounds in the nation. Credit the defense and the emergence of quarterback Jake Rudock. The Hawkeyes basically beat who they were supposed to and lost to who they were supposed to.
Last week: 5
Next: bowl

5Nebraska (8-4, 5-3). The Cornhuskers ended the season on a down note with a home loss to Iowa. Just too many injuries on offense for Nebraska to be effective. Bo Pelini is expected to be back with big things expected in 2014. Can he deliver the school’s first league title since 1999?
Last week: 4
Next: bowl

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6Minnesota (8-4, 4-4). Yes, the Golden Gophers lost their last two games. And the offense needs lots of work. Still, nothing will take the shine off this surprisingly successful season. Take a bow, Goldy.
Last week: 6
Next: bowl

7. Penn State (7-5, 4-4). To finish with a winning record in two very trying seasons of scholarship sanctions under Bill O’Brien is impressive. Think of where Penn State was two years ago. This program has a bright future, ending with one of the biggest upset wins in the Big Ten in 2013.
Last week: 7
Next: season over

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8. Michigan (7-5, 3-5). The Wolverines gave a valiant effort in the loss vs. Ohio State. Where was this offense all season? Regardless, Michigan was a team that was a year away in 2013. There’s plenty to build on for what should be an improved squad next season. Big things will be expected.
Last week: 8
Next: bowl

9. Indiana (5-7, 3-5). The Hoosiers have improved their win total in each of Kevin Wilson’s three seasons in Bloomington. And IU won the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2010. Still, the Hoosiers appeared capable of earning a bowl this season, and they failed.
Last week: 9
Next: season over

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10. Northwestern (5-7, 1-7). The Wildcats endured plenty of misery during a seven-game losing skid that followed a 4-0 start. But NU was able to end the season on a winning note in what was a disappointing year that saw a five-season bowl streak end.
Last week: 10
Next: season over

11. Illinois (4-8, 1-7). After ending that 20-game Big Ten losing streak last week, the Fighting Illini were back on the losing end with a season-ending loss to Northwestern. Illinois has lost four of five and eight of 11 to the Wildcats. Oh, and the Illini haven’t won a Big Ten game at home since Oct. 1, 2011, losing 11 in a row in Memorial Stadium.
Last week: 11
Next: season over

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12. Purdue (1-11, 0-8). Mercifully, the worst season in school history is finished. And, it ended fittingly with a beat-down at Indiana. This is a massive rebuilding project. How much progress can be expected in 2014? Two wins? Maybe three?
Last week: 12
Next: season over

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 (8 Comments)
Jon B on 12/1/2013 @ 11:25am EDT Said:

Nebraska over Minn?

78lion on 12/1/2013 @ 11:39am EDT Said:

Nebraska over Minn? Doesn’t head-to-head mean something?

schawk on 12/1/2013 @ 12:09pm EDT Said:

Jon B…Can’t agree with you more about this. Sent him a comment yesterday and told him to finally man up and put Nebraska were they need to be. I will never be able to figure out the media love for the Huskers. They have shown absolutely nothing all year.

Ryan on 12/1/2013 @ 12:18pm EDT Said:

Lol, Nebrasky at 5

budgerfan on 12/1/2013 @ 3:34pm EDT Said:

Media love for the Huskers? What programs have you been watching? Obviously not the same ones as me. The one in the rankings I’m trying to figure out is the Wisconsin. They should be number 5 at the highest.

Todd Taylor on 12/1/2013 @ 5:30pm EDT Said:

As a Michigan fan, I’ll gratefully take whatever bowl game we can get in to. I was proud of the boys on Saturday vs Ohio. Now, I say do something I normally don’t do: GO GREEN

Mike on 12/1/2013 @ 10:02pm EDT Said:

For the answer to how the power ranking was put together, look at the conference w-l column, just basic math and then deciding which team with the same w-l ratio did better. IE: tOSU over MSU, then Wisky with one fewer losses than Iowa or Nebraska, Iowa over Nebraska, Minny under with one more loss, etc.

MarkD on 12/2/2013 @ 2:43pm EDT Said:

OSU still belongs at #1 but not based on the egg their defense laid on Saturday and they are not playing like a top ranked team right now. Remember MSU gave up only 6 points to UM with 3 coming on the first drive of the game. That was on the heels of UM putting up a program record number of offensive yards against IU the week before.
If OSU plays this Saturday in the Varsity game against MSU the way they played in the JV game last Saturday, they are toast. I think their defense will step it up this week but I still like MSU if the refs do not take this game over in wanting to get OSU/BT to the Championship game. Too bad the Big Ten refs from ND game cost MSU a chance to be undefeated and having a chance at Florida St in the BCS Chamionship like OSU might get. I hope the Big Ten refs that did that MSU-ND Pass Interference happy game are reminded of that by Delaney and company at the end of the year or whenever if ever the BT refs get their Annual review.
Those refs cost the Big Ten dearly just as much as the refs that cost Wisconsin a big win early down at ASU.