There is no shortage of drama heading into the final week of the Big Ten regular season schedule — and it begins with Rutgers and Maryland. Who would have thought?
Both teams will enter the weekend with five wins looking for that ever-important sixth victory which would give them a berth into a bowl game. Ohio State and Michigan will face off once again during rivalry week with the Buckeyes at a touchdown favorite currently.
There is plenty to watch this week before championship weekend and bowl season begins. Heading into the final week of the regular season, here is how the power rankings currently look.
1. Ohio State (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 56-7 vs. Michigan State
Next: 11/27 at Michigan
Ohio State is No. 2 in the CFP rankings. They might have the three best receivers in the nation and CJ Stroud is looking like a Heisman candidate that was expected this season. To be only a touchdown favorite over Michigan is surprising to see. This is a team that can win the national championship and will have a chance.
2. Michigan (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 59-18 at Maryland
Next: 11/27 vs. Ohio State
Jim Harbaugh and Michigan have a chance to do the unthinkable this weekend — beat Ohio State. If this happens, there might be a shrine up by the start of the 2022 season. The Wolverines’ season comes down to this game every year and this year is no different. This is the best chance that Michigan has had in many years.
3. Wisconsin (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 35-28 vs. Nebraska
Next: 11/27 at Minnesota
It was another close call for Nebraska but a win is a win for the Badgers. The leader of the Big Ten West has worked its way up to No. 3 in the rankings. Wisconsin will take its usual spot in the Big Ten title game but a date with the Buckeyes is what the Badgers have to look forward too. With that being said, this was an incredible turnaround for Wisconsin and the defense.
4. Iowa (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 33-23 vs. Illinois
Next: 11/26 at Nebraska
These next two spots could be flipped but there is no right or wrong. Iowa and Michigan State do not jump off the page. Iowa is coming off an unimpressive victory over Illinois. A one-time magical season for the Hawkeyes is dead and buried. This position is by default.
5. Michigan State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 56-7 at Ohio State
Next: 11/27 vs. Penn State
Is there a worse time for the Spartans to offer Mel Tucker a $95 million contract extension? Michigan State has to know better than to do that prior to a game against Ohio State. That seems like an offseason move. Now it just looks foolish. It is hard to put the Spartans above Iowa after a 56-7 loss where they were down 49-0 at halftime.
6. Purdue (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 32-14 vs. Northwestern
Next: 11/27 vs. Indiana
The Boilermakers will benefit from playing the worst teams in the Big Ten to finish the season. Northwestern and Indiana are the final two games for Purdue and this builds some momentum heading into bowl season. It was a wild season for Purdue with some big wins that has kept them in the top half of the rankings.
7. Minnesota (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 35-14 at Indiana
Next: 11/27 vs. Wisconsin
Minnesota was the most-recent team to take advantage of the doormat of the Big Ten last week. Wit that being said, this is a team that is hard to get behind because of inconsistencies. Can Minnesota beat Wisconsin in a Big Ten West battle? Seems unlikely but anything is possible.
8. Penn State (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten)
Last Week: W, 28-0 vs. Rutgers
Next: 11/27 at Michigan State
Christian Veilleux put up some points against Rutgers after Sean Clifford left with an injury. The defense did not allow a point but this was not a win that moves the Nittany Lions up. Maybe beat Michigan State and it could be considered. James Franklin also gets an extension after this victory. Definitely a better time than a blowout against Ohio State.
9. Nebraska (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 35-28 at Wisconsin
Next: 11/26 vs. Iowa
It is impossible to rank Nebraska this season. This is a 1-7 team in Big Ten play but they should not be in the lower tier. The Cornhuskers have their own tier this season in the power rankings. It was yet another one-score loss last week against a Wisconsin team that is trending up. Scott Frost needs to find ways to win games immediately.
10. Rutgers (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 28-0 at Penn State
Next: 11/27 vs. Maryland
Rutgers continues to be bad offensively but how bad? That is something we will find out this weekend. The Scarlet Knights are taking on a Maryland defense that has been awful looking to gain qualification to a bowl game. There is no excuse to get run off their home field once again this season. Rutgers needs a win in this game if they want the season to be considered a success.
11. Illinois (4-7, 3-5 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 33-23 at Iowa
Next: 11/27 vs. Northwestern
Illinois hung around early but there was no feel that they would ever win this game. The Illini have been down for much of the season but they have a chance to end with a win against Northwestern.
12. Maryland (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 59-18 vs. Michigan
Next: 11/27 at Rutgers
Everything that was said about Rutgers, it can be said about Maryland — except for the poor defense. Rutgers has been playing better defensively and looked good for much of the game against Penn State. Maryland should be able to hit a big play or two against a secondary that has been prone to big plays. The Terps need a victory in this game just like Rutgers.
13. Northwestern (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 32-14 vs. Purdue
Next: 11/27 at Illinois
Pat Fitzgerald needs to get to the offseason. Just one more game on the schedule before Northwestern can completely forget about the debacle that was the 2021 season.
14. Indiana (2-9, 0-8 Big Ten)
Last Week: L, 35-14 vs. Minnesota
Next: 11/27 at Purdue
Indiana going on the road this weekend is just miserable for a winless team in the Big Ten. They can't even finish the season without a trip. Purdue is a lock this week against a Hoosier team that is going through the motions.