Week 12 B1G Power Rankings
It seems like a lifetime ago that we were talking about the B1G’s rocky start.
The first week of the season was troubling. Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin all fell in non-conference games against solid teams. Just three B1G teams were ranked while eight SEC teams filled the top 25.
Oh, how things have changed.
Just like when everybody dismissed the B1G after Week 2 in 2014, much of the conference showed significant improvement and is now arguably tops in the country. Six top-25 teams prove that. Three top-10 teams prove that.
The B1G has four teams — still including a Michigan squad that would need a TON of help — that still have a shot at a playoff berth. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC all still have two and the Pac-12 eliminated itself this weekend.
With all the craziness in college football this year, the B1G is in as favorable a position as any to land a playoff spot right now. The question is, who will it be? And will the top four shift dramatically in the last two weeks of the regular season?
Biggest riser: Nebraska +2
Biggest faller: Illinois, Minnesota, Rutgers -1
14. Rutgers (prev. 13)
I tried giving the Scarlet Knights the benefit of the doubt playing without Leonte Carroo. Even though he was back — though not at 100 percent — Rutgers still looked inept for the fourth straight game. Kyle Flood’s days in New Jersey are numbered.
13. Purdue (prev. 14)
The best way to get out of the last spot — temporarily at least — is to look like a B1G team. The Boilers didn’t lay down against a solid Northwestern team. Surprisingly enough, Purdue actually lost by an average of single digits in road tilts against Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin.
12. Maryland (prev. 12)
This was a really bad year to be rebuilding in the B1G East. It was also a really bad year to lead the country in turnovers. Just like any year.
11. Indiana (prev. 11)
It’s hard to know what to do with Indiana. On one hand, the Hoosiers have lost every B1G game. But they’ve given scares to Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State (if you don’t think MSU was a scare go back to the midway point of the fourth quarter). If IU had just pulled out one of those games, this would be a banner year in Bloomington. Instead, Kevin Wilson’s future could come down to two must-win games.
10. Illinois (prev. 9)
The Illini didn’t score a touchdown against Ohio State or Penn State. Outside of last week against Purdue, the Illinois offense has been one of the bigger letdowns in B1G play. Part of that is not being able to have two healthy tailbacks. Illinois’ room for error is small, which we saw on Saturday when Ke’Shawn Vaughn went down.
9. Minnesota (prev 8)
In games against Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State, the Gophers, like Indiana, have been within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. They could’ve used that Mitch Leidner-KJ Maye combo a little earlier in the season, too. Finally somewhat healthy, Minnesota is still plenty capable of taking down Illinois and Wisconsin to clinch a bowl berth.
8. Nebraska (prev. 10)
A winning streak! It took 11 weeks, but it finally happened! Mike Riley’s team could’ve mailed it in after the Purdue loss. Since then, the Huskers spoiled Michigan State’s perfect start and rolled against Rutgers, despite the fact that Tommy Armstrong threw three picks. Nebraska now has two weeks to prepare for a high stakes showdown — no sarcasm — against Iowa.
7. Penn State (prev. 7)
The Lions were idle, but they did suffer a costly lost. Captain Jordan Lucas will be missed against the likes of Jake Rudock and Connor Cook. Even if the Lions could split their final two headliner matchups, they would still be in position for their first nine-win season the Paterno era.
6. Northwestern (prev. 6)
A one-touchdown win at home to Purdue is not what top-20 teams are supposed to do in November. Still, the Cats have won three in a row by a touchdown or less since the bye week. Double-digit wins are certainly within reach for Pat Fitzgerald’s group.
5. Wisconsin (prev. 5)
How badly do the Badgers wish they had that Iowa game back? The Badgers are in a rare situation where they could potentially rattle off a seven-game winning streak to end the season and not win the division. Unless Iowa loses to Purdue and Nebraska, that’s the frustrating reality.
4. Michigan (prev. 4)
Remember when people were calling for Jake Rudock to lose his job? Give Rudock credit, give Jim Harbaugh credit and give the Michigan pass-catchers credit for turning things around after a slow start. But if Michigan’s defense repeats Saturday’s performance against Penn State, that regular-season finale won’t have near the implications it could.
3. Michigan State (prev. 3)
The most encouraging sign from Saturday was seeing the Michigan State defense bounce back after it looked lifeless down the stretch in Lincoln. It’s also good to know that Tyler O’Connor — though he isn’t anywhere near the talent Connor Cook is — is serviceable and likely won’t lose MSU any games if he’s needed.
2. Iowa (prev. 2)
There are two weeks of the regular season left and Iowa still has a shot at a national title. This is not a drill. There’s something to be said for a team that can win games in a variety of ways, which Iowa has done all year. But unless somebody can beat the Hawkeyes at the line of scrimmage, the result will be the same.
1. Ohio State (prev. 1)
You know what’s great about MSU-OSU week? We finally don’t have to hear any more about whether or not the Buckeyes are for real. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee, the SEC fans that bashed the Buckeyes’ schedule and the rest of the world will all get to see if the defending national champs are up for another run. Things get a lot clearer on Saturday. It’s about time.