The Big Ten is looking great at the top and we are once again zeroing in on what appears to be an early College Football Playoff matchup on Saturday November 26th between Michigan and Ohio State. Both teams made big statements this past week and just when you thought the Buckeyes might be feeling the pressure after their first loss, they hang 63 points on Nebraska. Penn State is getting better and better each week and Wisconsin appears to be in the clear after getting through the death march of October. Still the biggest surprises remain with the teams that have fallen well short of expectations. What happened to Michigan State and Iowa in 2016?
Let's take a gander at this week's pecking order.
1- Michigan (9-0, 6-0)
Last week: Defeated Maryland 59-3
This week: @ Iowa
- Another week, another impressive showing by the Wolverines. How many people at the beginning of the season would have had Michigan as a 21 point favorite on the road at Iowa?
2- Ohio State (8-1, 5-1)
Last week: Defeated Nebraska 62-3
This week: @ Maryland
- Ohio State set the tone early and absolutely destroyed a confident Nebraska team. That result will renew the confidence everyone has in the Buckeyes to not only win the Big Ten but do enough to return to the CFB Playoffs.
3- Penn State (7-2, 5-1)
Last week: Defeated Iowa 41-14
This week: @ Indiana
- Penn State was very impressive against Iowa and continues to get better in every area, especially their defense. A game at Indiana will once again test how mentally tough this team is.
4- Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2)
Last week: Defeated Northwestern 21-7
This week: vs. Illinois
- The Badgers exercised the demons of Evanston and outlasted Northwestern. Wisconsin now controls their fate in the West which is remarkable considering their early conference schedule.
5- Nebraska (7-2, 4-2)
Last week: Lost to Ohio State 62-3
This week: vs. Minnesota
- Ouch. Nebraska experienced a nightmare in Columbus where everything seem to come tumbling down on the Huskers. Good news for the Big Red is they get to enjoy back-to-back games in Lincoln where they will try to get healthy both physically and mentally. NU is on the outside looking in on the division but can reach 10 regular season wins after just 5 wins in 2015.
6- Minnesota (7-2, 4-2)
Last week: Defeated Purdue 44-31
This week: @ Nebraska
- The Gophers control their own destiny in the West. They have won the games they should have and now will get a chance to play very meaningful games in November. Once again Minnesota showing everyone that counting them out can be a big mistake.
7- Northwestern (4-5, 3-3)
Last week: Lost to Wisconsin 21-7
This week: @ Purdue
- You can make an argument that the Wildcats should be further down the rankings but just watch this team. They have gotten better in the second half and still have a good shot to make a bowl game. It's another reminder of how solid a coach Pat Fitzgerald is. This is one of the tougher outs in the conference.
8- Indiana (5-4,3-3)
Last week: Defeated Rutgers 33-27
This week: vs. Penn State
- The Hoosiers had their struggles against the worst team in the conference but found a way. Trying to become bowl eligible this weekend against Penn State will be a tall task but Indiana has the team to do it.
9- Iowa (5-4, 3-3)
Last week: Lost to Penn State 41-14
This week: vs. Michigan
- Iowa came off of their bye week and seemed to hit the snooze button. One of the more uninspiring performances from a Kirk Ferentz team that still has a capable group of players. The offense is about as blah as it gets. Michigan comes in to Iowa City as a 21 point favorite. Hawkeyes better wake up or this thing could be over at halftime.
10- Maryland (5-4, 2-4)
Last week: Lost to Michigan 59-3
This week: vs. Ohio State
- Maryland just got trucked by a better football team. It doesn't appear to be better this weekend against Ohio State. Get through this relatively healthy and know Rutgers remains on the schedule in a few weeks. 6 wins is still very possible.
11- Illinois (3-6, 2-4)
Last week: Defeated Michigan State 31-27
This week: @ Wisconsin
- Illinois can say they beat Michigan State. That would have sounded amazing early in the season. Unfortunately for the Illini, everyone in the conference that played Sparty can make the same claim.
12 (T) - Michigan State (2-7, 0-6)
Last week: Lost to Illinois 31-27
This week: vs. Rutgers
- A MUST win against Rutgers? Yep, for all of the wrong reasons too.
12 (T) - Purdue (3-6, 1-5)
Last week: Lost to Minnesota 44-31
This week: vs. Northwestern
- I really wish Purdue had Michigan State on the schedule so we could settle this tie. I am also glad that matchup will not happen because it would be on TV. We already get the pleasure of Rutgers and Michigan State this weekend.
14- Rutgers (2-7, 0-6)
Last week: Lost to Indiana 33-27
This week: @ Michigan State
- The Big Ten presents to you it's version of Iowa State vs. Kansas. Enjoy!