Breaking down Michigan State's meltdown loss vs. Illinois, 37-34, as the Spartans were outscored 27-3 in the 4th quarter, Nov. 9, 2019. Detroit Free Press
Minnesota is still undefeated. Illinois is bowl eligible. Indiana is ranked.
What is going on in the Big Ten?
As Week 12 approaches, this season has turned crazy.
The latest edition of the conference power rankings reflects the zaniness of it all. The Golden Gophers sit above the likes of Iowa, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin. Nebraska, that powerhouse from a bygone era, sits below Indiana and Purdue.
Check out the order below:
1. Ohio State (9-0)
Last week: 1. Even without Chase Young zipping around the edge and piling up sacks, the Buckeyes continued their rampage through the Big Ten last weekend, wrecking Maryland in a 59-point victory. Ohio State has now outscored conference opponents, 296-51. This weekend, Rutgers may want to go into hiding.
Next up: at Rutgers, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, BTN.
2. Minnesota (9-0)
Last week: 3. P.J. Fleck signed a contract extension last week, then gave Minnesota a huge return on its investment. The Golden Gophers defeated Penn State, earning their first home victory over a top-five opponent since 1977. They are 9-0 for the first time since 1904 and have an 11-game winning streak that started in November 2018. In summary, there is a lot of mojo in Minny.
Next up: at Iowa, 3 p.m. Saturday, Fox.
3. Penn State (8-1)
Last week: 2. The Nittany Lions had been sitting pretty. They were slated to make their first College Football Playoff appearance after securing the No. 4 spot in the first release of the rankings. But a loss to Minnesota in a game they had an opportunity to win will prove costly for a team that remains in a tier below the elite.
Next up: vs. Indiana, 11 a.m. Saturday, ABC.
4. Michigan (7-2)
Last week: 4. After winning five of its previous six games, U-M went dark for a week, slipping out of the spotlight during a bye. But the Wolverines will be back under the glare when Michigan State goes to Ann Arbor. Since Jim Harbaugh was hired, Michigan is 2-2 against the Spartans. A victory Saturday would offer more evidence the pendulum in this rivalry has swung back in the Wolverines’ favor. A loss, and well …
Next up: vs. Michigan State, 11 a.m. Saturday, Fox.
5. Wisconsin (7-2)
Last week: 5. It was close. But the Badgers prevailed over Iowa last Saturday. They leaned on Jonathan Taylor to power past the Hawkeyes as the Big Ten’s premier running back gained 250 rushing yards. The victory allowed Wisconsin to hit the reset button after consecutive road losses. Next up are the reeling Cornhuskers, who are allowing 174 yards rushing per game.
Next up: at Nebraska, 11 a.m. Saturday, BTN.
6. Iowa (6-3)
Last week: 6. The Hawkeyes have shown they can hang with some of the Big Ten’s best teams. They just can’t find a way to beat them. The problem for Kirk Ferentz’s squad is that its schedule has been loaded with quality conference opponents. U-M, Penn State and Wisconsin have already vanquished Iowa. No. 7 Minnesota is next.
Next up: vs. Minnesota, 3 p.m. Saturday, Fox.
7. Indiana (7-2)
Last week: 7. For the first time since Sept. 20, 1994, the Hoosiers are ranked. It’s quite an accomplishment for a school that usually fast-forwards through the fall to get to basketball season. But Indiana looks legit, with a scoring offense that ranks fifth in the Big Ten. Now they have a chance to move on up if they can upset Penn State.
Next up: at Penn State, 11 a.m. Saturday, ABC.
8. Illinois (6-4)
Last week: 8. Lovie Smith has some serious juju working. The Illini have won four straight, pulled off the Big Ten’s biggest upset since 1982 in a victory over Wisconsin and made the biggest comeback in school history, erasing a 25-point deficit to defeat Michigan State on Saturday. They are now bowl eligible and have emerged as one of college football’s most fascinating teams.
Next up: Bye
9. Michigan State (4-5)
Last week: 9. It can’t seem to get worse. But it does. Every week, something bad happens in East Lansing. Players leave the program to enter the transfer portal. A team captain is ruled ineligible after he tests positive for a performance-enhancing substance. And those losses on the field — they have either been resounding or simply brutal, like last weekend, when the Spartans blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter against Illinois.
Next up: at Michigan, 11 a.m. Saturday, Fox.
More from Graham Couch: MSU has no hope at Michigan
10. Purdue (4-6)
Last week: 10. Jeff Brohm isn’t likely to win any awards at the end of the season. But name a coach who has done more with less. The Boilermakers have stayed competitive despite missing their best receiver since September and having to play their third-string quarterback after injuries knocked out the starter and backup. A win over Northwestern last weekend was Brohm’s latest feat.
Next up: Bye
11. Nebraska (4-5)
Last week: 11. Since a blowout loss to Ohio State in September, Scott Frost has been playing defense. The former Nebraska quarterback and current Cornhuskers coach has faced criticism for the program’s continued struggles. Things aren’t likely to get better Saturday against Wisconsin, or after that. Nebraska’s 2020 class is ranked 32nd in 247Sports.com's recruiting rankings, below seven other Big Ten schools, including, welp, Northwestern.
Next up: vs. Wisconsin, 11 a.m. Saturday, BTN.
12. Maryland (3-7)
Last week: 12. There was a time not long ago when Mike Locksley was on the other side of a blowout. That was when he was at Alabama, dialing up plays for Nick Saban. But Locksley now calls all the shots at Maryland, where life isn’t as grand. The Terrapins have lost seven of their past eight games and have suffered three straight defeats by an average of 44 points.
Next up: Bye
13. Northwestern (1-8)
Last week: 13. The Wildcats scored more points Saturday than they did in their previous four games combined — and they still didn’t win. The 24-22 loss to Purdue and its third-string quarterback was another shot to the gut for a program that won the Big Ten West last season. A loss this weekend to UMass would be ruinous. The Minutemen, who are 1-9, are allowing — get this — 53.1 points per game.
Next up: vs. UMass, 11 a.m. Saturday, BTN.
14. Rutgers (2-7)
Last week: 14. The worst team in the Big Ten vs. the best — what could go wrong? Rutgers is in for a painful experience when the Buckeyes visit Piscataway. Even with the extra week to prepare, the Scarlet Knights won’t be able to escape the wrath of Ohio State.
Next up: vs. Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, BTN.