There are just two games left on the regular-season schedule for Big Ten teams.
Some have their eye on the College Football Playoff while other are trying to clinch a bowl berth — specifically Rutgers and Maryland. The Buckeyes continue to be the top team in the conference and proved it with a blowout against Purdue.
At this point, the rankings have worked themselves out into three tiers. After 11 weeks of play, here is what they look like in the conference.
1. Ohio State (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 59-31 vs. Purdue
Next: 11/20 vs. Michigan State
Ohio State nearly put up 60 against Purdue and this will keep any team at the top of the rankings. The same thing can be said week in and week out for the Buckeyes. That is that they are the class of the conference and when they are clicking, it is dangerous. Unfortunately for the Spartans, Ohio State seems to be playing its best ball.
2. Michigan (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 21-17 at Penn State
Next: 11/20 at Maryland
It was a rather unimpressive victory for the Wolverines but a road win is a road win in the Big Ten. By default, Michigan lands at No. 2 but its season comes down to the Ohio State matchup — like it does every year. This should be another case where Michigan struggles to compete.
3. Wisconsin (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 35-7 vs. Northwestern
Next: 11/20 vs. Nebraska
After a roller coaster season, Wisconsin is back in the top three of the rankings. The Badgers are playing better on the defensive side of the ball than anyone, not just in the Big Ten, but around the country. This has led them to six straight victories. When looking at the schedule, Wisconsin should be able to win out and take its usual spot in the conference title game.
4. Michigan State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 40-21 vs. Maryland
Next: 11/20 at Ohio State
Michigan State scored 40 on Maryland. That should not be looked at as an accomplishment when looking at the Terrapins. There is a potential season-saving game on tap this weekend but Michigan State will struggle in Columbus. Whatever the results is this weekend, the Spartans took a huge step and Mel Tucker should be credited.
5. Iowa (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 27-22 vs. Minnesota
Next: 11/20 vs. Illinois
Speaking of unimpressive victories, enter Iowa. It seems as though this has been their standard this season. It was a quick decline for a team ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation this season. A five-point win at home against Minnesota will not make anyone take you seriously.
6. Purdue (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 59-31 at Ohio State
Next: 11/20 at Northwestern
The question of the year might be — is Purdue a good team? Some of their wins say yes but they have suffered some awful losses. The Boilermakers have proven to be in the top half of the Big Ten but are hard to depend on. With that being said, they should not struggle with Northwestern this week.
7. Minnesota (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 27-22 at Iowa
Next: 11/20 at Indiana
Minnesota could have two wins on the schedule. With Indiana up next, it should at least be one victory before taking on Wisconsin, who is trending upward. Minnesota had plenty of chances to grab the game from Iowa this weekend but let it get away on its home field. The Golden Gophers will have to finish if they want to shake things up in the Big Ten West.
8. Penn State (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 21-17 vs. Michigan
Next: 11/20 vs. Rutgers
A once-promising season for the Nittany Lions has them with a 3-4 record in conference play to this point. The offensive line was bad against Michigan and it was the reason the team scored just 17 points. Sean Clifford could not do much more than he was already being asked. They’ll look to salvage the season down the stretch before moving onto 2022 where they will lose plenty of weapons.
9. Nebraska (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: BYE
Next: 11/20 at Wisconsin
Nebraska continues to be the hardest team to rank in conference. Coming off a bye, it is only fair that the Cornhuskers do not move in the rankings. Nebraska finishes the season with a trip to Wisconsin before squaring off with Iowa. It is amazing that a team that has a chance to finish 1-8 in conference play is hard to figure out. Scott Frost has his team competing but they are unable to finish a game.
10. Rutgers (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 38-3 at Indiana
Next: 11/20 at Penn State
Rutgers was finally able to turn the tables and deliver a beatdown that they have received plenty of times this season. The Scarlet Knights are well in business for a bowl berth now, needing just one more victory to clinch. It is unlikely to come this weekend against Penn State but anything can happen in the final game against the Terrapins.
11. Illinois (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten)
Last Week: BYE
Next: 11/20 at Iowa
Illinois didn't play this week. Did anyone notice? The Illini will hang their hats on a road victory against the Nittany Lions but there is not much else to be excited about.
12. Maryland (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 40-21 at Michigan State
Next: 11/20 vs. Michigan
Maryland has now lost five of its last six games. While the final score against the Spartans might not tell the entire story, the Terrapins still allowed 40 points once again and the offense was uninspiring. Maryland will take on Michigan before traveling to Rutgers to end the season, where both teams will be fighting for a bowl berth.
13. Northwestern (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 35-7 at Wisconsin
Next: 11/20 vs. Purdue
Northwestern continues to struggle on offense and is having a hard time stopping anyone. This is not a good combination. Graham Mertz looked like an All-American on Saturday while Andrew Marty threw three interceptions. This season has been chalked up for weeks now and the Wildcats are onto next year.
14. Indiana (2-8, 0-7 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 38-3 vs. Rutgers
Next: 11/20 vs. Minnesota
Indiana is really, really bad. Rutgers got a chance to see this firsthand on Saturday. They don't play well on either side of the ball and this is concerning. The season has gotten away from the former top-15 team in the nation and ugly does not begin to describe it.