B1G Week 11 power rankings: Wisconsin is on cruise control, Purdue notches another Top 3 upset
You didn’t think the craziness would end, did you? We’re in the month of November, when the college football roller coaster takes all kinds of unexpected twists and turns.
That was the case on Saturday in the B1G. Illinois and Purdue scored upsets over ranked opponents No. 20 Minnesota and No. 3 Michigan State, respectively. It will undoubtedly cause some sort of tilt in the College Football Playoff rankings, with the second rendition set to come out on Tuesday.
Along with the two upsets, two other ranked teams found themselves fighting for their lives over the weekend. No, 5 Ohio State got all it can handle from Nebraska and Northwestern took No. 22 Iowa down to the wire in Evanston.
It made for a really fun day in the B1G.
Now that another hectic and chaotic weekend is behind us, let’s jump into the power rankings as we head into Week 11:
14. Indiana Hoosiers (2-7, 0-6)
Last week: at #7 Michigan, 29-7 L
What more is there to say, really? Indiana’s offense was immobile once again, gaining just 195 yards against Michigan. The defense played well enough, but wore down after spending a good portion of the game on the field. The Hoosiers’ best shot to move up will come next week. If they can’t beat Rutgers, it’s a 2-10 year for Tom Allen.
Next up: vs. Rutgers
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-5, 1-5)
Last week: vs. #21 Wisconsin, 52-3 L
Absolutely nothing was working against Wisconsin’s defense on Saturday. Rutgers’ defense couldn’t stop Graham Mertz through the air or the potent rushing attack of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi, either. There’s still a pretty clear talent gap between Greg Schiano’s team and the upper echelon in the B1G. The Scarlet Knights have struggled to stay competitive against the league’s better teams.
Next up: at Indiana
12. Northwestern Wildcats (3-6, 1-5)
Last week: vs. #22 Iowa, 17-12 L
Northwestern was much more competitive this week against Iowa, especially on the defensive side of the football. Uncharacteristic mistakes hindered the Wildcats, turning the ball over 3 times and being penalized 8 times in the loss. Much like the previous two teams, Northwestern just lacks the offensive firepower necessary to put more tallies in the win column this season. Maybe Pat Fitzgerald found some positives after playing the Hawkeyes well, though.
Up next: at #21 Wisconsin
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-7, 1-6)
Last week: vs. #5 Ohio State, 26-17 L
Once again, Nebraska continues to scratch, claw and fight, even against the best team in the B1G. It still didn’t result in a win, with the Huskers falling out of bowl contention with a seventh loss. The defense is playing fantastic and the offense hit some explosive plays against the Buckeyes. Missed field goals and poor punting proved to be costly in another close loss for the Huskers. Those “little things” continue to surface, regardless of opponent.
Up next: OFF
10. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-6, 3-4)
Last week: at #20 Minnesota, 14-6 W
Is the key to Illinois’ success simply playing ranked opponent? It sure feels that way. For the second time in three weeks, the Fighting Illini knocked off a Top 25 foe and are still working toward bowl eligibility. Bret Bielema seems to have found a formula that works in running Chase Brown, throwing the ball 8-to-10 times per game and shutting down the opponents’ rushing attack. Simple enough, right?
Up next: OFF
9. Maryland Terrapins (5-4, 2-4)
Last week: vs. Penn State, 31-14 L
Maryland continues to struggle against the better teams in the B1G. A lagging rushing attack and average defense will do that. There are some positive signs in College Park, most notably Taulia Tagovailoa throwing for over 350 yards again and hanging within a touchdown of Penn State for a majority of the game. The Terps just don’t have the depth on either side of the football to grind out a victory against the talented teams in the B1G. Having said that, Maryland should provide some challenges to each of its final 3 opponents on the schedule.
Up next: at #3 Michigan State
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-3, 4-2)
Last week: vs. Illinois, 14-6 L
Ugly, ugly, ugly. That’s the best word to describe Minnesota’s performance against Illinois. That looked like the same team that showed up in a home loss to Bowling Green, which isn’t good. It appears that the lack of depth at the running back position might be catching up to the Gophers. Plus, Tanner Morgan and the passing attack just isn’t good enough to win games. There’s a large enough sample size to form that opinion. The last time Minnesota played this poorly, it won 4 straight games. Does it have any of that kind of magic left as it pushes for a division title?
Up next: at #22 Iowa
7. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2, 5-2)
Last week: at Northwestern, 17-12 W
The opportunistic defense we saw during Iowa’s 6-0 start returned in Evanston, propelling the Hawkeyes to a victory. Kirk Ferentz was willing to make a change at quarterback, too, and that seemed to spark the offense. Iowa still only put 17 points on the board, but it did look better when Alex Padilla took over. It’ll be interesting to see how the offense runs if Padilla gets the No. 1 reps for a full week of practice. Still a lot of concerns about that side of the ball, so the Hawkeyes need to continue to create turnovers to win games.
Up next: vs. #20 Minnesota
6. Purdue Boilermakers (6-3, 4-2)
Last week: vs. #3 Michigan State, 40-29 W
Is there a team in the country with two more impressive wins than Purdue? The Boilers defeated No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State. Saturday’s victory clinched a bowl berth for Jeff Brohm’s team for the first time since 2018. When Purdue is throwing the ball all over the field and diving into the trick plays, it’s at its best. We’ve seen that for a good portion of the season. This has developed into a fun team to watch this season, one capable of beating anyone on the schedule. The Boilermakers are knocking on the door of a Top 5 spot in the power rankings.
Up next: at #5 Ohio State
5. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3)
Last week: at Maryland 31-14 W
A must-win game for Penn State after dropping 3 straight contests. Maybe getting back in the win column will get this team headed back in the right direction. The defense continued to stand strong against a potent Maryland passing attack, surrendering plenty of yards but only 14 points. Jahan Dotson had an incredible 242-yard, 3-touchdown performance and Sean Clifford racked up 363 yards through the air. The Nittany Lions needed the boost on both sides of the football for a tough 3-game stretch upcoming to close the year.
Up next: vs. #7 Michigan
4. Wisconsin Badgers (6-3, 4-2)
Last week: at Rutgers, 52-3 W
How did Wisconsin start the year 1-3? The Badgers are up to 5 straight victories and just continue to pick up steam with each week. The defense is lethal, holding Rutgers to just 207 yards in a blowout victory. The Badgers forced 4 turnovers and the offense was clicking in every facet. When even the passing game is working, you know Wisconsin is having a good afternoon. Not many teams in the B1G are playing at a higher level than Wisconsin. It’ll be interesting to see if this team can cruise in its final 3 games and punch its ticket to Indianapolis.
Up next: vs. Northwestern
3. Michigan Wolverines (8-1, 5-1)
Last week: vs. Indiana, 29-7 W
Great bounce-back victory for Michigan after a disappointing result in East Lansing. The Wolverines had trouble putting the Hoosiers away, but the game was also never really in question. Michigan’s defense held the Hoosiers to under 200 total yards for the contest and Hassan Haskins ran wild on a solid IU defense. Jim Harbaugh’s team still has a ton of talent and a lot of weapons on both sides of the football. There’s still plenty that can be accomplished with Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State all still ahead on the schedule. We’ll find out just how good the Wolverines are in this final stretch.
Up next: at Penn State
2. Michigan State Spartans (8-1, 5-1)
Last week: at Purdue, 40-29 L
Does it seem weird to have a team that just lost in the No. 2 spot? A little. That’s what an entire season of chaos will do, though. Even though Mel Tucker attempted to downplay the significance of a “trap game” situation, that was clearly the case against Purdue on Saturday. Plus, the Boilers are pretty good. Michigan State’s defense — particularly the secondary — still needs a lot of work, especially if it wants to make a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium. But as long as Kenneth Walker III is running the ball and Jayden Reed is at receiver, the Spartans are going to have a chance. It just didn’t work out in West Lafayette.
Up next: vs. Maryland
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1, 6-0)
Last week: at Nebraska, 26-17 W
Everyone wondered how Ohio State would respond when it got punched in the mouth. Well, that’s been the case in consecutive weeks against Penn State and Nebraska. The Buckeyes persevered both times. Against the Nittany Lions, Ohio State hit some explosive plays late to seal a 33-24 victory. This week, it was the Buckeye defense that pulled through in the clutch moments. It’s been far from pretty, but Ryan Day’s squad is finding ways to win games. At this point in the year, that’s all that really matters. The tests are about to get a lot tougher, with Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan all lurking and owning a combined 22-5 record on the year.
Up next: vs. Purdue