Week 13 B1G power rankings: 'Blowout Saturday' sets up intriguing Rivalry Week slate
That was … something.
If you entered Week 12 with high hopes, you were sadly disappointed. At least when it comes to the B1G. Six of the seven games Saturday were decided by double digits and five were decided by 18 points or more. The only one-possession game? Nebraska-Wisconsin.
All the hype for No. 7 Michigan State and No. 4 Ohio State evaporated pretty quickly in Columbus. The Buckeyes cruised to a 56-7 victory to solidify their status as one of the top teams in the nation. Maryland — who was hoping for an upset bid — suffered a 41-point loss at the hands of No. 6 Michigan.
When the day came to an end, the seven B1G games were decided by an average by 24.9 points per contest. As you can imagine, there weren’t many “must-watch” moments.
But, it does set up some really fun, interesting and meaningful games in Rivalry Week. It adds a little bit of extra meaning to those final contests.
Before we jump into rivalry week, let’s jump into the B1G power rankings this week:
14. Indiana Hoosiers (2-9, 0-8)
Last week: vs. Minnesota, 35-14
One more week and Indiana finally gets to the offseason. Can the Hoosiers somehow find a way to end the year on a positive note? Although unlikely, a win over Purdue would at least be something to talk about.
Up next: at Purdue
13. Northwestern Wildcats (3-8, 1-7)
Last week: vs. Purdue, 32-14 L
Northwestern is pretty much in the same situation as Indiana. Start looking ahead to 2022. The difference? Pat Fitzgerald has found a way to win the rivalry game even in bad years. There’s a lot of pride in the Land of Lincoln Trophy.
Up next: at Illinois
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-8, 1-7)
Last week: at #15 Wisconsin, 35-28 L
How does this keep happening? Nebraska found ways to expose the nation’s top defense and had opportunities to beat a Top 15 team on the road. Alas, the theme of the season is to lose a one-possession game, and that’s how it ended for the Huskers. This is has crossed the border into absurdity at this point. But, at least Scott Frost’s team hasn’t waved the white flag on this season. That’s a good sign.
Up next: vs. #17 Iowa
11. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-7, 3-5)
Last week: at #17 Iowa, 33-23 L
Even without Bret Bielema on the sideline, Illinois came out with its hair on fire against Iowa. The Illini couldn’t take advantage of an early 10-0 lead, though, squandering it before halftime and falling short to the Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium again. Still, Bielema had his team fighting for bowl eligibility with 2 weeks left in the regular season. Considering what he inherited, that’s quite a feat in Year 1.
Up next: vs. Northwestern
10. Maryland Terrapins (5-6, 2-6)
Last week: vs. #6 Michigan, 59-18 L
There’s no other way to put it, Maryland ran into a buzz saw on Saturday. Michigan is clicking on all cylinders and playing at a high level on both sides of the football. Mike Locksley would’ve like the performance to be a little bit better and the outcome to at least be more manageable. But this team isn’t really close to Michigan’s level right now. Next week, the Terrapins will get a final chance to lock up bowl eligibility. That would be a huge step in the right direction for the program.
Up next: at Rutgers
9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-6, 2-6)
Last week: at Penn State, 28-0 L
Rutgers’ defense showed up in a big way in Happy Valley. Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, the offense didn’t seem to catch the bus. All season, Greg Schiano’s team has been a one-sided squad that’s lacked consistency on the offensive side. That showed itself against a really good Penn State defense. Getting shut out leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, but the good news for Rutgers is it gets a chance next week to right the wrong. For additional incentive, bowl eligibility is on the line.
Up next: vs. Maryland
8. Purdue Boilermakers (7-4, 5-3)
Last week: at Northwestern, 32-14 W
Someone has to be here, right? Purdue is a winner in 3 of its last 4 games and Aidan O’Connell has been throwing the ball all over the field. You wonder if the Boilermakers might be in the hunt for a 10-win season of he had been the starter from the opening kickoff, but hindsight is 20/20. Purdue is on the verge of having its first 8-win regular season since 2006 and could land in a pretty good bowl game. It’s been a great bounce-back year after consecutive losing seasons.
Up next: vs. Indiana
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 5-3)
Last week: at Indiana, 35-14 W
Control the clock, don’t make any critical mistakes and escape with a victory. That’s essentially been Minnesota’s model for success all year and Saturday’s win over Indiana was no exception. Despite losing almost an entire backfield to injury and transfer, the Gophers have managed to crank out 7 wins this season and are still technically in the B1G West race, although its an incredible longshot at this point. At the very least, Minnesota could play spoiler to Wisconsin’s division title hopes next week.
Up next: vs. #15 Wisconsin
6. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-4)
Last week: vs. Rutgers, 28-0 W
A ho-hum performance that resulted in a win. Penn State’s offense needed an entire half to get rolling, partly because Sean Clifford left the game in the first quarter. The defense was outstanding again, though, holding Rutgers to just 160 yards and 10 first downs. There’s really not much left to say. This wasn’t the most entertaining game, but it was still a shutout victory for James Franklin’s squad.
Up next: at #7 Michigan State
5. Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2, 6-2)
Last week: vs. Illinois, 33-23 W
Iowa doesn’t exactly control its own destiny, but Saturday’s win over Illinois gives it a chance to claim a division crown and make the trip to Lucas Oil Stadium in a few weeks. The Hawkeyes overcame a 10-0 deficit to the Fighting Illini to keep their B1G West hopes alive and a 10-win regular season on the table. Kirk Ferentz and Co. would need to beat Nebraska and then hope Minnesota upsets Wisconsin. Stranger things have happened this season. Even if the Hawkeyes don’t get to Indy, this has been a really impressive year from this program.
Up next: at Nebraska
4. Michigan State Spartans (9-2, 6-2)
Last week: at #4 Ohio State, 56-7 L
Well, maybe Mel Tucker didn’t transform that 2-5 team from 2020 into a national title contender overnight. Michigan State has had a magical season, but it’s still nowhere close to Ohio State’s level. The talent disparity was noticeable from the opening kickoff. A trip to the B1G Championship Game might be off the table, but a 10-win regular season and a high-profile bowl game is still at stake. Let’s see how the Spartans respond next week against Penn State.
Up next: vs. Penn State
3. Wisconsin Badgers (8-3, 6-2)
Last week: vs. Nebraska, 35-28 W
The Badgers ran into the same scare that every team has encountered when playing Nebraska this season. The important thing? Wisconsin survived with a win. The defense didn’t look like it’s typical, suffocating self, but Braelon Allen and Graham Mertz stepped up to provide a spark offensively. That’s a good sign. Now the Badgers enter the final week of the regular season needing a win over Minnesota to play for another B1G title.
Up next: at Minnesota
2. Michigan Wolverines (10-1, 7-1)
Last week: at Maryland, 59-18 W
Jim Harbaugh doesn’t know the meaning of the term “trap game” apparently. Michigan was not caught looking ahead and took care of Maryland on the road with relative ease. The rushing attack hit 150 yards on the ground. Cade McNamara threw for over 250 yards and the Wolverines scored at will, all while shutting down a high-powered Maryland passing attack. Michigan wanted to be in position to win a championship this year, and that’s exactly where it stands.
Up next: vs. #4 Ohio State
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1, 8-0)
Last week: vs. #7 Michigan State, 56-7 W
Message sent. Ohio State didn’t just beat Michigan State, it smashed the Spartans into smithereens. From the opening kickoff until the final second ran off the clock, the Buckeyes dominated the No. 7 team in the country. There’s no doubt that, right now, this team is capable of winning a national title. It sets up an incredibly fun season finale in Ann Arbor next Saturday. After seeing Ohio State score 59 points against Purdue and 56 against Michigan State, it makes you wonder if anyone can score at the same rate of speed as the Buckeyes.
Up next: at #6 Michigan