1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) – 33 points (all first-place votes) (LW: 1)
Ryan: Since the beginning of the Big Ten schedule, the Buckeyes have played a number of tight games, leaving many to question if they’d have any sort of impact in the National Championship picture at seasons end. Perhaps it’s been the weight of the nation’s longest winning streak, which now sits at 20, that’s kept the games close, but there was no pressure evident this past Saturday while tOSU rolled the Nittany Lions. It was 42-7 at the half, but the Buckeyes felt like making a statement so they hung another 3 TD just to drive the point home that they are clearly the best team in the Big Ten.
2. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1) – 28 points (LW: 2)
Ricky (2nd): The Badgers enjoyed a nice week off since their dominating victory over the Fighting Illini. This upcoming week, Wisconsin will travel to Iowa for a match-up with the Hawkeyes. Many might be giving the Badgers the early nod to win this game, but this will be a tough one. Iowa proved they could hang with OSU in Columbus. So why wouldn’t they be able to hang with the Badgers at home?
3. Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) – 27 points (LW: 3)
Ryan (4th): If MSU is a poor man’s Wisconsin then it pays to be poor because the Spartans showed up at Memorial Stadium on Saturday and did whatever they wanted, from the 2nd quarter on, on their way to a 42-3 Homecoming spoiling win. The Spartans were 14/16 on 3rd down, and the Illinois D made Connor Cook look like a Heisman candidate as he completed 15/16 passes for 3 TD.
The dominating victory moved MSU to 7-1 on the season and propelled them into the #24 spot in both the AP and Coaches polls.
4. Michigan (6-1, 2-1) – 26 points (LW: 5)
Ryan (3rd): The Wolverines offense will go up against a stout MSU defense this weekend on the road in its first true test against one of the top defenses in the country. Sure, they took a 4OT loss to Penn St., but the PSU defense is currently 80th in the nation and they gave up 40 points to the Wolverines. Gardner, Gallon, and company have had a bye week to prepare for the Spartan D. Will they come out with all cylinders firing, or will they be held in check like every other team that has faced MSU? One thing is certain; this matchup looks like it will go a long way towards deciding who represents the Legends division in the Big Ten Title game.
T5. Minnesota (6-2, 2-2) – 19 points (LW: T7)
Ricky (5th): The Golden Gophers were able to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the Big Ten thus far in 2013 after they beat #24 Nebraska 34-23. Minnesota took a lead into the fourth quarter and never let that lead go. With two straight wins against Northwestern and #24 Nebraska, there should be no reason why the Gophers cannot beat Indiana this weekend. Minnesota is playing with a ton of emotion this season, and that can be a scary thing for opposing teams.
T5. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1) – 19 points (LW: 4)
Ryan (6th): Every fiber of my being wants to put the Huskers ahead of the Gophers because they still seem like they should be the better team, but the facts are the facts and the Huskers took one on the chin at Minnesota this past weekend. Is it time to make the change to Tommy Armstrong, Jr. permanently? It’s certainly worth discussion.
The real question from their matchup with the Gophers is simple: If Abdullah had 165 yards on 19 carries, why did the Huskers try to throw the ball 30 times at the expense of even more carries for Abdullah?
7. Iowa (5-3, 2-2) – 16 points (LW: T7)
Ricky (7th): Just like their next Big Ten foe, the Iowa Hawkeyes enjoyed a nice bye week after a big conference victory.
After losing to OSU in Columbus, the Hawkeyes were able to beat the Northwestern Wildcats while they were down for a 17-10 overtime win. Since the Hawkeyes were able to at least hang with the Buckeyes and beat the Wildcats, why can’t they do one of those against Wisconsin at home these weekend?
T8. Indiana (3-4, 1-2) – 11 points (LW: 9)
Ricky (8th): The Hoosiers were on a much needed bye this past week as they will get ready to play one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten. Indiana has lost two staight games to MSU and Michigan, and will now come back home to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers. This could be a must win game for the Hoosiers because they might not make a bowl game if they lose against Minnesota.
T8. Penn State (4-3, 1-2) – 11 points (LW: 6)
Ricky (9th): Penn State was absolutely embrassed by the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday in Columbus. They played so hard to beat Michigan in four overtimes, but then came out flat against OSU. Good thing for Penn State that they have an abysmal Illini team in week ten. There is a good chance that the Nittany Lions will bounce back this week.
10. Northwestern (4-4, 0-4) – 6 points (LW: 10)
Ryan (10th): Cue Tom Petty because the Wildcats are Free Fallin’. What once looked like a potential Big Ten juggernaut in the making has now morphed into a .500 squad that’s winless in the conference. Things probably won’t get any better this weekend when Northwestern heads to Lincoln to take on a Husker team that will most likely be playing with a major chip on its shoulder following a tough road loss to Minnesota.
11. Illinois (3-4, 0-3) – 3 points (LW: 11)
Ryan (11th): Abysmal. I could stop with this 1 word, but it doesn’t make for good reading. The Illini were in this game right up until the 99 yard, apparently, will breaking drive at the end of the 2nd quarter that culminated with a double tipped pass falling into the hands of WR Bennie Fowler which led to a 14-3 MSU halftime lead. When the Illini returned to the field to start the 3rd quarter they were seemingly there only in body because they slept walked through the entire 2nd half while the Spartans put up 4 more TD the rest of the way. The only reason I didn’t drop them to #12 is because the Illini have actually beaten an FBS school, unlike the Boilermakers.
12. Purdue (1-6, 0-3) – 0 points (LW: 12)
Ricky (12th): Will Purdue win a single Big Ten game this season? Maybe, but it doesn’t look like that win will come this upcoming Saturday against the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes. The Boilermakers will definitely do everything they can to win their game against the Buckeyes, but will most likely come up empty handed.
The Writing Illini Big Ten power rankings are a collection of votes from our staff. Commentary is provided by Lead Editor Ricky Widmer and Co-Editor Ryan Kraemer.
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