Ranking The Big Ten


October 20, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Dennis Norfleet (26) celebrates with Michigan student body after a game at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 12-10. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

1. Michigan, 5-2 (3-0 Big Ten). No. 20 AP Poll/No. 20 Coaches/No. 22 BCS. Last Week: W 12-10 over Michigan State. Next: at Nebraska, 7 p.m. Paul Bunyan returned to Ann Arbor as Michigan notched win 900. Quarterback Denard Robinson was able to run the ball for 96 yards and had no meaningful interceptions in a game that featured only one touchdown. The Wolverines look to silence the crowd at Memorial Stadium as they travel to Nebraska for a night game. Nebraska’s turnover ratio is horrendous. This could get ugly.

2. Ohio State, 8-0 (4-0). No. 9/Ineligible for Coaches and BCS Polls. Last Week: W 29-22, OT over Purdue. Next: at Penn State, 4:30 p.m. The Buckeyes were pressing to keep up with Purdue in this one. Quarterback Braxton Miller was horse-collared down after a long run and went full bobble-head into the turf. He was helped off the field and was apparently having trouble standing upright before he was brought to the hospital. Senior backup Kenny Guiton took the reigns and led OSU to victory. Miller is expected to play this week as the Buckeyes take on a much improved Penn State team.

3. Penn State, 5-2 (3-0). Last Week: W 38-14 over Iowa. Next: vs. Ohio State, 4:30 p.m. Penn State won in Iowa City for the first time in 13 years. The Nittany Lions pulverized the Hawkeyes. Iowa’s scores came in garbage time at the end of the game. Running back Bill Belton ran the ball 16 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Penn State’s first true test of the season comes this week as they take on fellow probationary, Ohio State.

4. Wisconsin, 6-2 (3-1). Unranked/No. 25/No. 25. Last Week: W 38-13 over Minnesota. Next: vs. Michigan State, 2:30 p.m. Wisconsin’s ground game took over this one. RB James White owned Minnesota with 15 carries for 175 yards and three scores. Montee Ball has shed any doubt that he’s recovered from his earlier injury as he added 24 carries for 166 yards and two TDs. There could be a record amount of total rushing yards when Michigan State travels to Madison.

5. Michigan State, 4-4 (1-3). Last Week: L 12-10 to Michigan. Next: at Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m. Shaky quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw a critical interception in the fourth quarter. Running back Le’Veon Bell was held to 68 yards with no gains greater than 8 yards as the Wolverines keyed on him. The loss all but ends Sparty’s hopes of a repeat division title. Wisconsin presents a ground game running on all cylinders to challenge the Spartan defense.

6. Purdue, 3-4 (0-3). Last Week: L 29-22, OT to Ohio State. Next: at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m. Where did this game come from? This must be the Purdue team everyone saw when they were a Top 25 team earlier in the season. Big plays had the Buckeyes reeling. QB Caleb TerBush led the Boilermakers, going 19-of-30 passing for 230 yards, two scores and an INT. The Boilermakers could win out with the games left on their schedule.

7. Nebraska, 5-2 (2-1). Last Week: W 29-28 over Northwestern. Next: vs. Michigan, 7 p.m. The Cornhuskers would have lost this game by three touchdowns if they were playing a better team. Miscues, sloppy play and stupid penalties showed Husker fans that the team apparently did nothing to improve over the bye week. Rex Burkhead left the game early with his lingering MCL injury and his season may be in jeopardy. QB Taylor Martinez did finish 27-of-39 passing with 343 yards and three TDs, and ran for 65 yards and another score. Impressive numbers, but Martinez was fortunate that he wasn’t picked off several times late in the game. On the bright side, Nebraska’s defense did stifle the Wildcats for the most part. Michigan will provide a much tougher test on both sides of the ball. If Nebraska comes out undisciplined on Saturday the Wolverines will annihilate them.

8. Northwestern, 6-2 (2-2). Last Week: L 29-28 to Nebraska. Next: vs. Iowa, noon. The Wildcats were unable to take control of a game filled with Nebraska miscues. Running back Venric Mark ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run, finishing with 118 yards on 16 carries. The Wildcats struggled on offense for the majority of the game. Iowa’s defense may keep this game interesting.

9. Iowa, 4-3 (2-1). Last Week: L 38-14 to Penn State. Next: at Northwestern, noon. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicates. Iowa was overwhelmed by Penn State. Mark Weisman was hobbled with an ankle injury, finishing the game with just five carries for nine yards. The Hawkeyes may not win another game this year without Weisman.

10. Indiana, 2-5 (0-3). Last Week: L 31-30 to Navy (4-3). Next: at Illinois, 11 a.m. Indiana lost some style points with their fifth-straight loss. Crushing Illinois would be a great way to start off a winning streak.

11. Minnesota, 4-3 (0-3). Last Week: L 38-13 to Wisconsin. Next: vs. Purdue, 2:30 p.m. The Golden Gopher offense is anemic, averaging only 14 points per game over the last four games. The defense has been struggling against the run. Purdue might be a bit beat up after going toe-to-toe with Ohio State. Minnesota’s best hope is for a Purdue letdown game.

12. Illinois, 2-5 (0-3). Last Week: Bye. Next: vs. Indiana, 11 a.m. Illinois is flatlining. A bye week to prepare for Indiana after the Hoosiers had to practice for Navy’s rushing offense may be the best shot the Illini have at winning a conference game.

By Steve Siedlik