Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 1, 2013

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 senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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