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Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 12

The Badgers rolled while the Buckeyes bounced back.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

1. Wisconsin Badgers: 10–0 (7–0 Big Ten)

For the first time since its inception, the Wisconsin Badgers are serious contenders for the College Football Playoff with less than a month to go until the final rankings. Even more impressive: the Badgers are in the thick of playing their best ball of the season, and it ain’t close. Alongside maybe the top defensive unit in the country, Paul Chryst has himself a capable offense that can move the ball on the ground and through the air. With that said, there’s truly only one glaring flaw that has been consistent all season: an abundance of turnovers. If the offense can simply limit them, even if they don’t turn in a dynamic performance on that side of the ball, that could very well get the Badgers to 12–0 heading into Indianapolis. Get ready for the biggest game in Camp Randall history when Michigan rolls into town this Saturday; as Wisconsin approaches uncharted territory, it’s clear the Badgers are the No. 1 team in the conference, at least for now.

Last week: Win vs. No. 20 Iowa (38–14)

Up next: vs. No. 19 Michigan

2. Ohio State Buckeyes: 8–2 (6–1)

We should have known that an Urban Meyer embarrassment would not go unpunished. The Buckeyes rebound in a big way after being shocked by Iowa the week before, obliterating a good Michigan State team, propelling themselves directly behind the top-ranked team in the conference.

Last week: Win vs. No. 12 Michigan State (48–3)

Up next: vs. Illinois

3. Penn State Nittany Lions: 8-2 (5-2)

The Nittany Lions have found themselves in quite the predicament. Their recent loses will most likely keep them out of the conference championship game, while Saquon Barkley’s stats continue to dwindle, essentially eliminating him from Heisman contention. The season hasn’t gone as planned for James Franklin, but let’s not forget that this team can really play. It’ll need help from others to climb in this poll.

Last week: Win vs. Rutgers (35–10)

Up next: at Nebraska

4. Michigan Wolverines: 8–2 (5–2)

Jim Harbaugh has stabilized his team in recent weeks, roasting some of the bottom-feeders in the conference after a tumultuous four-game start to the Big Ten schedule. Brandon Peters appears to be the guy under center for the Wolverines, yet he hasn’t faced a good defense to date. That will change in a big way when they arrive in Madison this week.

Last week: Win vs. Maryland (35–10)

Up next: at No. 5 Wisconsin

5. Michigan State Spartans: 7–3 (5–2)

2017 has been quite the rollercoaster of the year for the Spartans, and given initial expectations, this is a solid spot for them. Michigan State’s offense goes as far as its intriguing sophomore QB will take them; Brian Lewerke been fabulous at times, but quite the opposite was the case in the lopsided loss to the Buckeyes last week.

Last week: Loss at Ohio State (48–3)

Up next: vs. Maryland

6. Northwestern Wildcats: 7–3 (5–2)

Pat Fitzgerald continues to do a remarkable job turning Northwestern’s season around. The Wildcats took care of business against lesser competition once again.

Last week: Win vs. Purdue (23–13)

Up next: vs. Minnesota

7. Iowa Hawkeyes: 6–4 (3–4)

The Hawks produced a massive letdown in Madison, as their offense produced zero points and only mustered an embarrassing 66 yards. Credit the defense of Wisconsin, but this appears to be just another year for a once-promising Iowa bunch.

Last week: Loss at Wisconsin (38–14)

Up next: vs. Purdue

8. Indiana Hoosiers: 4–6 (1–6)

The competitive divide in the conference lies here, as Indiana is the beginning of the bottom half. The Hoosiers’ impressive individual talent sets them apart.

Last week: Win at Illinois (24–14)

Up next: vs. Rutgers

9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights: 4–6 (3–4)

Relatively speaking—and this is Rutgers football we’re talking about—this has been quite the season for Chris Ash and the program. Three Big Ten wins with two weeks to go is good stuff for the Scarlet Knights.

Last week: Loss at No. 14 Penn State (35-6)

Up next: at Indiana

10. Maryland Terrapins: 4–6 (2–5)

D.J. Durkin and co., deserve credit for what they’ve done despite all the injuries to their QB, and their back-up, and their back-up’s back-up.

Last week: Loss vs. Michigan (35–10)

Up next: at No. 17 Michigan State

11. Purdue Boilermakers: 4–6 (2–5)

The Boilers have struggled late in conference play, evening out their impressive start.

Last week: Loss at No. 25 Northwestern (23–13)

Up next: at Iowa

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers: 5–5 (2–5)

The Gophers got a nice boost to their season after blowing out Nebraska, which says more about their opponent than it does about the Minnesota program.

Last week: Win vs. Nebraska (54–21)

Up next: at No. 23 Northwestern

13. Nebraska Cornhuskers: 4–6 (3–4)

It appears rock-bottom knows no bounds in Lincoln, as Mike Riley’s tenure appears to be coming to a close.

Last week: Loss at Minnesota (54–21)

Up next: at No. 10 Penn State

14. Illinois Fighting Illini: 2–8 (0–7)

Another week in the Big Ten means another loss for Lovie Smith and his youngsters. This is the worst team in the conference.

Last week: Loss vs. Indiana 24–14

Up next: at No. 9 Ohio State