Nov. 28, 2016
Big Ten Power Rankings Released
Welcome to the . Take a deep breath and rejoice in what the conference matchups brought over the weekend.
Naturally, the Nebraska Cornhuskers didn't appear in their biggest game of the season. The Huskers had an opportunity and failed to show up in a road contest. Their lack of competitiveness is disappointing, but it was time for Nebraska's season to end. Meanwhile, the rest of the conference played with a sense of urgency. It was evident in the game of the week.
Unless you’re the Michigan Wolverines, the Big Ten regular season couldn’t have ended on a better note. Despite dominating the Ohio State Buckeyes for three quarters, the Wolverines were unable to secure a controversial win. Instead, the Buckeyes’ stellar fourth quarter comeback led to a double-overtime victory on Saturday evening. Curtis Samuel ended the game with a 15-yard touchdown run.
Although the Buckeyes finished the regular season with an 11-1 record, they won’t represent the Big Ten East in the conference championship game. The Penn State Nittany Lions continued their torrid play with another decisive victory over Michigan State. Currently, the Nittany Lions have the longest winning streak in the conference and will have one more game to state their case to the College Football Playoff selection committee.
However, the Big Ten Championship game won’t be easy. The Wisconsin Badgers didn’t need to play to win the Big Ten West on Saturday. During the first half, the Badgers performed like nothing was at stake. They were trailing by 10 points at halftime to Minnesota. Fortunately, the Badgers stormed back with a thrilling second half. Their dominant performance sets up a huge matchup with the Nittany Lions. Yet, the winner of the game is not guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Big Ten also earned 10 bowl bids on Saturday. Northwestern, Indiana, and Maryland all needed to win a game. They all protected the home turf to reach .500.
The team with the most to gain showed the least amount of heart. The were throttled for the second time this season. Many people were quiet after their 59-point loss to the Buckeyes. Due to Tommy Armstrong‘s injury, focus was taken off of the anemic display of football. Well, Iowa smacked the Huskers right in the face on Friday. It was more proof that the Huskers aren’t ready for the limelight.
Big Ten Power Rankings
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1)
Due to the Buckeyes’ complete regular season, they have a long wait to see if they make the College Football Playoff. They gave up 169 points this season. In addition, the Buckeyes are on a five-game winning streak. With wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Ohio State may be the first non conference champion to earn a spot in the Final Four.
2. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2, 7-2)
The Badgers have earned this spot in the Big Ten Power rankings. Their only two losses came by seven points apiece to Ohio State and Michigan. The Badgers have won six straight games. They’ll have an opportunity to impress the selection committee next weekend. Next game vs. Penn State
3. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, 8-1)
The Penn State Nittany Lions still don’t get respect from anybody. They’ve won eight straight games and the Big Ten East. Furthermore, the Nittany Lions are one victory away from becoming conference champions. So, why are they not loved? Because their name is Penn State and they weren’t supposed to be good. Next game vs. Wisconsin.
4. Michigan Wolverines (10-2, 7-2)
Michigan let one slip away. They dominated the Buckeyes in the first half. They also threw a pair of ugly interceptions that led to two Ohio State touchdowns. The Wolverines will need a miracle to earn a College Football Playoff berth. Therefore, they had to drop in the Big Ten Power Rankings.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4, 6-3)
If the Hawkeyes were able to pull out some earlier victories, they may have been in their rightful place. Akrum Wadley and Leshun Daniels Jr. really are a dynamic duo at running back. They imposed their physicality on Michigan and Nebraska in the final weeks. Iowa won three straight games to end the season.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3, 6-3)
Nebraska didn’t even show up in their season finale. When things go bad, the Huskers rarely display the will to fight back. That’s why they were blown out twice in November. It’s also embarrassing to watch Iowa run the ball straight at the Huskers’ defense.
7. Minnesota Gophers (8-4, 5-4)
Minnesota looked like they were going to force a four-way tie in the Big Ten West. Unfortunately, the Gophers got pass happy and lost all momentum in the second half against Wisconsin. Mitch Leidner finished with seven touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.
8. Northwestern Wildcats (6-6, 5-4)
Northwestern seemed to be better than their .500 record. Early losses really disrupted a promising season. Remember, they were inches away from having a late lead against Western Michigan. Whether it was a fumble, missed field goal, or a huge run by J.T. Barrett, the Wildcats fell short plenty of times.
9. Indiana Hoosiers (6-6, 4-5)
Despite not having a winning season, the Indiana Hoosiers should get everybody’s respect. Their defense played much better this season. However, the Hoosiers didn’t have their familiar offensive output. Richard Lagow had a few too many interceptions. Otherwise, the Hoosiers may have upset a couple of teams.
10. Maryland Terrapins (6-6, 3-6)
Maryland needed this final win to earn a bowl berth. The Terrapins beat the teams they were supposed to. However, they were unable to pull off any real upsets. Therefore, the record speaks for itself. D.J. Durkin had a nice first season with the Terrapins. Now he must build on the momentum of bowl week.
11. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-9, 2-7)
Illinois finished the season on a three-game losing streak. Their 42-21 loss to Northwestern was indicative of their season-long struggles. The Fighting Illini gave up the first 21 points of the game. They were also outscored by 14 points in the second half.
12. Michigan State Spartans (3-9, 1-8)
If you thought Michigan State was going to knock off the Nittany Lions, you were wrong. The Spartans had an early lead, but then the lions roared. Michigan State gave up 35 points in the second half. They didn’t score any and lost 45-12 in the season finale.
13. Purdue Boilermakers (3-9, 1-8)
Once Purdue fired Darrell Hazell, the Boilermakers didn’t win another game. They lost seven straight games to end the season. The Boilermakers may have a new coach by the end of the MAC Championship game. Therefore, Purdue does have shining light in the future.
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-10, 0-9)
Rutgers was unable to get a conference win during Chris Ash’s first season. They were competitive in some games, however, injuries doomed the season after the Iowa loss. The Scarlet Knights gave up 450 points this season. Meanwhile, they only scored 188 points.