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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 14 recap

The Buckeyes embarrass Michigan again, Wisconsin gets the Axe back and Sparty is bowl eligible.

Find Week 13’s rankings here.

1. (1) Ohio State (12-0), W - 56-27 at No. 13 Michigan, Next Week: vs. No. 8 Wisconsin

The Buckeyes finished with a perfect regular season after their decisive win over Michigan at the Big House. Quarterback Justin Fields added to his Heisman resume with 302 yards and four touchdowns through the air. The sophomore signal caller finished the Big Ten regular season with 37 touchdowns and only one interception. Led by Fields, stud running back J.K. Dobbins, and a ferocious defense, the Buckeyes look almost unbeatable heading into this weekend’s Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis.

2. (4) Wisconsin (10-2), W - 38-17 at No. 8 Minnesota, Next Week: vs. No. 1 Ohio State

The Badgers punched their ticket to the Big Ten Championship game with an impressive road win over No. 8 Minnesota on Saturday. Quarterback Jack Coan threw a pair of 25-plus yard touchdowns and running back Jonathan Taylor added three total scores (two rushing, one receiving) in the win. Wisconsin’s defense forced two turnovers and came up with a crucial fourth down stop inside the five yard line as the Gophers were looking to make it a one score game. Paul Chryst’s team has responded nicely after their upset loss to Illinois back in October but will have their hands full in Indy against a juggernaut Ohio State team.

3. (2) Minnesota (10-2), L - 38-17 vs. No. 12 Wisconsin

Paul Bunyan’s Axe is going back to Madison after Minnesota fell 38-17 to the Badgers in Minneapolis. Wide receiver Rashod Bateman was one of the few bright spots for the Gophers, and finished with six catches, 147 yards, and a touchdown. Quarterback Tanner Morgan did his best to keep Minnesota in the game, but the defense allowed four straight touchdown drives in the second half as the Badgers pulled away. Despite the loss, Minnesota fans have to be happy with how their season went. The Gophers finished with 10-plus wins for the first time since 2003 and with a young, motivated head coach in P.J. Fleck at the helm, the future is bright.

4. (3) Penn State (10-2), W - 27-6 vs. Rutgers

The Nittany Lions were without starting quarterback Sean Clifford, but still managed to defeat a dreadful Rutgers team on Saturday. Believe it or not, this was actually a six-point game in the fourth quarter until Jahon Dotson’s 44-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Will Levis. Running back Journey Brown rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns to lead Penn State’s offense sans Clifford. Although it wasn’t pretty, this win kept the Nittany Lions in the hunt for a New Years Six Bowl.

5. (5) Michigan (9-3), L - 56-27 vs. No. 1 Ohio State

For the eighth straight season the Wolverines lost to their bitter rival Ohio State. Head coach Jim Harbaugh fell to 0-5 in his career against the Buckeyes and will need to recruit and develop better defensive players if Michigan wants any shot at making this rivalry game competitive again. Michigan’s defense simply had no answers for the Buckeyes’ explosive offense and allowed 28 points in the second half. At 9-3, the Wolverines had a great season, but their lack of success against Ohio State is a real problem for the program right now.

6. (6) Iowa (9-3), W - 27-24 at Nebraska

The Hawkeyes made a 48-yard field goal with one second left to escape Lincoln with a 27-24 win on Friday. Running back Tyler Goodson had a huge game, finishing with 116 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. Future first round draft pick and defensive end A.J. Epenesa had 14 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks in a dominating performance. The Hawkeyes had another solid season under Kirk Ferentz, finishing with nine wins for the second consecutive year, and will likely face off against an SEC team in one of the Florida bowls (Gator, Outback, Citrus).

7. (7) Indiana (8-4), W - 44-41 2OT at Purdue

Indiana clinched it’s first eight-win season since 1993, with a thrilling double overtime victory over in-state rival Purdue. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey had a monster game, throwing for 337 yards and scoring five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing). The Hoosiers were without star running back Stevie Scott due to injury, but Sampson James filled in admirably, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown in the win. This has been a breakthrough year for the Indiana program and they’ll look to tie the school record for wins in a season with a bowl victory.

8. (8) Illinois (6-6), L - 29-10 vs. Northwestern

The Illini suffered a disappointing 29-10 home loss to Northwestern on Saturday. The good news was Illinois had already clinched a bowl berth, but it was an all-around disheartening effort in the season finale. The Illini could only muster 160 total yards in the loss. Lovie Smith’s team is likely headed to the Redbox Bowl or Pinstripe Bowl next month.

9. (9) Michigan State (6-6), W - 19-16 vs. Maryland

In a low-scoring, sloppy affair, the Spartans toppled Maryland 19-16 in East Lansing. Quarterback Brian Lewerke had a season-high 342 passing yards but also threw two interceptions in the game. Despite an overall disappointing season, Michigan State became bowl eligible with the win.

10. (10) Nebraska (5-7), L - 27-24 vs. No. 17 Iowa

The Cornhuskers will miss out on a bowl game for the third straight year, after losing at home to Iowa on Friday. Quarterback Adrian Martinez was largely ineffective, throwing for only 50 yards and an interception and rushing for 44 yards on 21 carries. Next year will be a do or die season for head coach Scott Frost, who fell to 0-6 against ranked opponents while at Nebraska with Saturday’s loss.

11. (11) Purdue (4-8), L - 44-41 2OT vs. Indiana

In West Lafayette, the Boilermakers lost a double overtime thriller against Indiana to fall to 4-8 on the year. Purdue put up 589 total yards on the Hoosiers, but it wasn’t enough. In a year that was derailed by injuries to a number of key players, the Boilermakers were actually fairly competitive the last month of season, winning two of their final four games and nearly beating an 8-win Indiana team. With a large number of freshman and sophomores having seen playing time this year, Purdue should be much improved in 2020.

12. (13) Northwestern (3-9), W - 29-10 at Illinois

The Wildcats won their first Big Ten game of the season against Illinois on Saturday. Northwestern caught the Illini sleeping and ran for 378 yards on the ground in the win. The Wildcats had three different players rush for over 87 yards in a game that was completed dominated by Northwestern’s offensive line. Even with the win over their in-state rival, the Wildcats finished the season at 3-9, the worst record in 14 seasons head coach Pat Fitzgerald has been in charge.

13. (12) Maryland (3-9), L - 19-16 at Michigan State

Maryland ended the season on a seven game losing streak, after falling 19-16 at Michigan State. Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. rushed for 134 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown run, to keep the Terrapins close in the game. Credit to Maryland for being competitive in a game that meant almost nothing to them, but head coach Mike Locksley will have plenty to work as he heads into his second year at the helm in 2020.

14. (14) Rutgers (2-10), L - 27-6 at No. 10 Penn State

The Scarlet Knights had perhaps their best performance of the season, despite losing 27-6 at Penn State on Saturday. Rutgers out-gained the Nittany Lions 383-333 but wasn’t able to get in the end zone in the game. The 19-point loss was their smallest margin of defeat all season. The Scarlet Knights hired former head coach Greg Schiano over the weekend, who returns to New Jersey to try and turn around a program that has lost 21 straight Big Ten games. Good luck.