The Big Ten West is going out in perfect fashion.
Things actually looked promising with Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska all playing well and contending for the crown. Then the last two Saturdays happened…
Wisconsin has lost two straight including one at Indiana, Nebraska just lost to a terrible Michigan State team and Minnesota lost to Illinois. Somehow Iowa is the only team still winning.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten East picture looks the same its looked for months. Michigan is dominant, Ohio State keeps winning but is the clear No. 2 and Penn State is really good but not quite good enough to win the division.
November was created to settle all these races and battles. As we enter the best month of the year, here are our Big Ten Power Rankings after Week 10:
Purdue (2-7, 1-5 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 41-13 loss to Michigan
Previous Rank: 12 (down 2 spots)
A loss to Michigan was expected for Purdue. But while the other cellar-dwellers in the Big Ten find wins, the Boilermakers continued their massive slide. A 2-7 overall record and 1-5 in the Big Ten at least gives Ryan Walter a pretty easy bar to improve upon in Year 2.
Michigan State (3-6, 1-5 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 20-17 win over Nebraska
Previous Rank: 14 (up 1)
Saturday’s game was more about Nebraska not having an offense than about anything Michigan State did. But credit to the Spartans, who finally found their first conference win of the season.
Indiana (3-6, 1-5 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 20-14 win over Wisconsin
Previous Rank: 13 (up 1)
Indiana has now beaten Indiana State, Akron and Wisconsin. Which of those teams sticks out from the other three?
This Indiana team was well on its way to a winless season in Big Ten play. So credit to them, and a big ‘what the hell’ to the Badgers that let it happen.
Maryland (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 51-15 loss to Penn State
Previous Rank: 10 (down 1)
Maryland’s remarkable slide continues after starting the season 5-0. The last four weeks: loss to Ohio State, loss to Illinois, loss to Northwestern and now a loss to Penn State. With Nebraska, Michigan and Rutgers on tap, the Terps might not win another game this season.
Northwestern (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 10-7 loss to Iowa
Previous Rank: 9 (down 1)
Iowa vs Northwestern at Wrigley Field was incredible. Zero first-half points and a walk-off field goal to cap off a 10-7 win.
Iowa vs Northwestern but it’s a Silent Film pic.twitter.com/tmEGbSMyrY
— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthew_CFB) November 4, 2023
The Wildcats have done terrific work to approach .500 on the season.
Wisconsin (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 20-14 loss to Indiana
Previous Rank: 7 (down 2)
I have yet to run the numbers. But Wisconsin losing to an Indiana team that barely cracks the nation’s top-100 is likely the program’s worst loss in the last two decades. Other losses have been worse with context (2019 Illinois, 2022 Illinois, 2018 BYU, etc), but none have been to a worse team.
Wisconsin has yet to do anything against good teams and now has lost to bad teams. Luke Fickell has already wasted a golden opportunity with the team’s schedule, but there are now some real questions about the program’s long-term outlook.
Illinois (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 27-26 win over Minnesota
Previous Rank: 8 (up 3)
Bret Bielema is now 10-0 all-time against Minnesota. His Illini did it in classic fashion Saturday, squandering a big lead with terrible turnovers before the backup was forced into the game and led a late game-winning drive.
Illinois is somehow still alive in the Big Ten West, by the way.
Nebraska (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 20-17 loss to Michigan State
Previous Rank: 6 (down 1)
Giving Michigan State its first conference win of the season is bad news for Matt Rhule’s team. But the Cornhuskers are still alive in the Big Ten West and clearly improving upon a disastrous few years before Rhule’s arrival.
All it needs now is an offense.
Rutgers (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 35-16 loss to Ohio State
Previous Rank: 8 (up 2)
Losing to Ohio State is no big deal. And the Scarlet Knights were actually in the game before the Buckeyes pulled away late. However it must be noted: head coach Greg Schiano kicked three field goals within the OSU 5 yard-line. He played to keep the game close, not to win.
Rutgers had a legitimately good defense this season. And everyone around it continues to lose, hence the rise in the ranking.
Minnesota (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 27-26 loss to Illinois
Previous Rank: 5 (no change)
Minnesota would’ve dropped after the last-minute loss to Illinois. But every other team not named Iowa also lost this weekend.
If the Hawkeyes squander their 1-game lead in the division, it will likely be Minnesota representing the Big Ten West in Indianapolis.
Iowa (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 10-7 win over Northwestern
Previous Rank: 4 (no change)
Iowa leads the Big Ten West, it has also scored the fewest points in the Big Ten. And it won a game on Saturday during which the team totaled 169 total yards, and 65 passing yards.
It’s hideous, it’s disgusting, it’s wrong, it’s a lot of things. But Iowa keeps winning football games.
Penn State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 51-15 win over Maryland
Previous Rank: 3 (no change)
Huge wins over Maryland are necessary for Penn State, but don’t really matter. What defines this team, and the program, are the division games against Ohio State and Michigan.
The Nittany Lions already lost to the Buckeyes a few weeks ago, and they host the Wolverines next Saturday. A Penn State win in that contest and the entire national picture gets turned on its head.
Ohio State (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 35-16 win over Rutgers
Previous Rank: 2 (no change)
Ohio State is 9-0 and yet again poised to face Michigan in a winner-take-all contest in Week 13. But this Buckeye team is different…the defense is one of the nation’s best, yet the offense with quarterback Kyle McCord continues to look pedestrian.
It’s a great defense, and WR Marvin Harrison Jr. and RB TreVeyon Henderson winning football games. We’ll see if it works against Michigan.
Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten)
Week 10 Result: 41-13 win over Purdue
Previous Rank: 1 (no change)
A swirling sign-stealing scandal, whatever. Michigan is still playing like the best team in the nation.
But the Wolverines are still yet to play a really tough team. That chance comes next weekend in a tough road trip to Penn State.