1) Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) – 33 points (all first-place votes) (LW: 1)
Ryan: Until they lose, Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten Conference. That said, when the perceived best team in the conference is only leading the lowly Illini by 12 points in the 4th quarter of its most recent game, it might be time to reassess what it really means to be the best team in the Big Ten. The Buckeye team I saw this past Saturday has no business in the National Title game. Of course, I would be willing to reconsider this stance if they face Michigan State in the Big Ten Title game and completely demolish them.
2) Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) – 29 points (LW: 2)
Ricky (2nd): Unless both Indiana and Michigan can get the best of the Buckeyes this season, it looks as if the Badgers will be one loss shy of defending their 2012 Big Ten Title. Wisconsin completely manhandled the Hoosiers last week, but this week will see a very surprisingly ranked Minnesota team. Usually, I would give the Badgers an automatic win in a game against the Gophers, but this year’s Gophers are ranked and the game is in Minnesota. Both of Wisconsin’s losses in 2013 have come away from Camp Randall Stadium.
3) Michigan State (9-1, 6-0) – 28 points (LW: 3)
Ryan (3rd): The Spartans are making a very strong case to be taken seriously as the best team in the Big Ten. After beating Nebraska in Lincoln this past weekend, the Spartans will look to kick Northwestern while they are down. By doing so, Jeremy Langford, and the vaunted Spartan defense will secure their place in the Big Ten Title game to most likely face conference powerhouse Ohio State in a showdown that all Big Ten fans should want to watch.
4) Minnesota (8-2, 4-2) – 24 points (LW: 4)
Ryan (4th): The Gophers need a miracle if they want to keep their title game dreams alive this weekend. First, they will have to beat a Wisconsin team that just dropped 554 yards rushing on Indiana, and then they will have to hope that Northwestern somehow wakes up from its Big Ten funk and upends the powerful MSU Spartans. Honestly, neither of these scenarios seems probable so the dream appears to be nearly over at this point. Minnesota has nothing to hang its head about, though, as they have turned in a fine season despite facing a ton of adversity.
T5) Iowa (6-4, 3-3) – 19 points (LW: 6)
Ricky (5th): After having the bye last week, the Hawkeyes will play their last home game of 2013 against the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines are coming off of their second multi-overtime game of the season after beating Northwestern in three overtimes last week. Iowa might have three losses coming into this game, but those losses are from OSU, Wisconsin, and MSU.
T5) Nebraska (7-3, 4-2) – 19 points (LW: 5)
Ricky (7th): When this season is all said and done, I will not be able to help but see the 2013 Nebraska Cornhuskers as a disappointment. After having Big Ten Title hopes to start the season, the Huskers suffered their third loss of the season last week against Michigan State. However, there is a bright spot for Nebraska moving forward and that is their young freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. Armstrong came in for senior Taylor Martinez midway through the season and has never looked back.
7) Michigan (7-3, 3-3) – 16 points (LW: 7)
Ryan (7th): Giving credit where it’s due is what matters, and the Wolverines special teams unit deserves some major credit after their fire drill field goal attempt to send their game to overtime this past weekend sailed through the uprights. In the end, Michigan rode the momentum from that game saving kick and took care of business in the overtime period, keeping Northwestern winless during their Big Ten campaign. Now the Wolverines turn their attention to Iowa, who should provide a much stiffer road test than the winless Wildcats.
8) Penn State (6-4, 3-3) – 12 points (LW: 9)
Ricky (8th): Despite not being able to play in a bowl game from the second straight season, the Nittany Lions found themselves winning six games for the second season in a row. PSU earned their sixth win against Purdue last week and will look to end their 2013 season strong. This week, they host the Cornhuskers for their last home game before traveling to Wisconsin for a showdown with the Badgers.
9) Indiana (4-6, 2-4) – 9 points (LW: 8)
Ryan (9th): The Hoosiers are about to blow a golden opportunity to reach a bowl game. They had eight home games on this year’s schedule, and they are almost surely going to miss the postseason as they have to travel to Ohio State this weekend. Going 4-3 at home is nice, but the Hoosiers are going to look back at both the Minnesota and Navy games and realize how big of an opportunity they have squandered this season. If Indiana had even a middling defense they would be bowling this season for sure, but they are going to be sitting at home during bowl season because they rank dead last in the Big Ten in scoring defense while surrendering 35.2 ppg.
10) Northwestern (4-6, 0-6) – 6 points (LW: 10)
Ricky (10th): Although I said that Nebraska will be a disappointment when 2013 is all said and done, at least they can say, “we aren’t as bad as the Wildcats.” Talk about a team that had the wheels fall off their season. Ever since the first Big Ten loss to OSU, the Wildcats have looked terrible and cannot seem to buy a conference win in 2013. They play MSU this weekend and I’m going to pick Sparty in this one. Unless Illinois can be last place Purdue, expect the NW/Illinois game to be for who can win a single conference game this season.
11) Illinois (3-7, 0-6) – 3 points (LW: 11)
Ryan (11th): This is it. It’s do or die. Illinois’ big chance to end the 20 game Big Ten losing streak is upon us as the Illini travel to West Lafayette to face the lowly Boilermakers this weekend. Will the Illini start fast against Purdue and try to pressure the Boilermakers into submission by unleashing the offensive barrage that Illinois has shown it possesses? Head Coach Tim Beckman better hope so. A loss in this game could spell the beginning of the end for Beckman’s tenure in the orange and blue.
12) Purdue (1-9, 0-6) – 0 points (LW: 12)
Ricky (12th): Purdue has been last on our rankings ever since the preseason. That can all change this week if they can get a win over a struggling Illinois squad. The Boilermakers have not been good this season, but it’s hard to pick them as the “loser” in a game where they will be playing a team that hasn’t won a conference game in almost over two years.
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.
Topics: Football, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes. Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers