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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 12 Recap

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Ohio State embarrasses Sparty, Wisconsin sneaks past Nebraska and Penn State shuts out Rutgers.

Find Week 11’s rankings here.

1. (Last Week: 1) Ohio State (10-1) W - 56-7 vs Michigan State, Next Week: at No. 5 Michigan

The Buckeyes made it look easy against the Spartans on Saturday, scoring touchdowns on their first seven drives to cruise to a 56-7 win. Quarterback C.J. Stroud added to his Heisman resume by throwing for 432 yards, six touchdowns and zero picks in the blowout win. The Spartans simply had no answers for Ohio State’s three-headed monster at wide receiver, as Chris Olave (140 yards, two TDs), Garrett Wilson (126 yards, two TDs), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (105 yards, one TD) all had huge games.

With Stroud gaining more confidence with every start, I’m not sure there’s a team in the country that can slow down this Ohio State offense right now. The Buckeyes will travel to face No. 5 Michigan this upcoming Saturday for the game of the year in the Big Ten.

2. (3) Michigan (10-1), W - 59-18 at Maryland, Next Week: vs. No. 2 Ohio State

Michigan took care of business on Saturday and put up over 500 yards of total offense in an easy win over Maryland. Quarterback Cade McNamara threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the Wolverines. Michigan poured it on in the second half with the help of a kickoff return touchdown and a pick six. Led by All-Big Ten pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, Michigan’s defense continues to play great and held Taulia Tagovailoa to just 178 passing yards. The Wolverines will have their biggest test of the season against Ohio State and their high octane offense this upcoming weekend.

3. (4) Wisconsin (8-3), W - 35-28 vs. Nebraska, Next Week: at Minnesota

True freshman Braelon Allen rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yard go-head touchdown late in the fourth quarter, to keep the Badgers atop in the Big Ten West. On a day where Wisconsin’s defense was a little shaky, Allen stepped up huge for the Badgers. The Badgers allowed 351 passing yards and touchdown drives of 75, 74, 68, and 48 yards, in a game where the Cornhuskers moved the ball pretty consistently. However, two interceptions in the second half and a turnover on downs on Nebraska’s final drive was just enough for the Badgers to pull out the win. Wisconsin can clinch a trip to their fourth Big Ten championship game in six years with a win at Minnesota this weekend.

4. (2) Michigan State (9-2), L - 56-7 at Ohio State, Next Week: vs. Penn State

The Spartans were completely overmatched against the Buckeyes’ elite passing attack and allowed 449 yards and six touchdowns through the air in a blowout loss in Columbus. Mel Tucker’s team didn’t even have a chance in this game, as they allowed touchdowns to the Buckeyes on every drive in the first half. Not even running back Kenneth Walker III could save the Spartans, as the Heisman contender finished with just 25 rushing yards in the loss. This has been a breakthrough season for Sparty, but a loss like this is a good reminder just how far away the rest of the conference is from Ohio State. The Spartans will look to get to ten wins on the year with a win over Penn State this weekend.

5. (5) Iowa (9-2), W - 33-23 vs. Illinois, Next Week: at Nebraska

The Hawkeyes fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter but used a kickoff touchdown and some timely defensive stops to come away with the home win. Charlie Jones returned a kickoff 100 yards to get the Hawkeyes on the board in the first quarter and swung momentum of the game. Iowa made four field goals in the win and relied on their defense to pull away in the second half. The Hawkeyes can still make it to the Big Ten championship game with a win this weekend against Nebraska and a Wisconsin loss.

6. (6) Penn State (7-4), W - 28-0 vs. Rutgers, Next Week: at No. 12 Michigan State

Freshman quarterback Christian Veilleux filled in for an ailing Sean Clifford and lead the Nittany Lions to a shutout home win over Rutgers this past weekend. Clifford started the game but was forced to leave in the first quarter due to flu-like symptoms. In his first career game, Veilleux threw for 235 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks in relief. Penn State’s defense suffocated the Scarlet Knights and allowed just 160 total yards in the win. The Nittany Lions will look to end the regular season on a high note when they travel to East Lansing to take on No. 12 Michigan State on Saturday.

7. (7) Purdue (7-4), W - 32-14 at Northwestern, Next Week: vs. Indiana

Quarterback Aidan O’Connell had another huge day passing to lead the Boilermakers past Northwestern at Wrigley Field on Saturday. The senior threw for 423 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the win. Wide receiver Milton Wright was the main beneficiary of O’Connell’s big day, finishing with a career-high 213 receiving yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Purdue notched four sacks and had one interception against a subpar Northwestern offense. The Boilermakers will look to secure their first eight-win season since 2007 with a victory over in-state rival Indiana this upcoming weekend.

8. (8) Minnesota (7-4), W - 35-14 at Indiana, Next Week: vs. No. 14 Wisconsin

The Golden Gophers beat a reeling Indiana team this past weekend behind Tanner Morgan’s best performance of the season. The senior signal caller completed 70% of his passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the win. Freshman running back Ky Thomas rushed for 100+ yards for the second straight week, as the Gophers continued to have success running the ball. Minnesota’s defense forced two interceptions and held a horrid Hoosiers passing offense to just 77 yards through the air. The Gophers will look to cap off a resilient season with a win over rival Wisconsin on Saturday.

9. (9) Rutgers (5-6), L - 28-0 at Penn State, Next Week: vs. Maryland

Rutgers was shutout this past weekend in a loss to Penn State in Happy Valley. The Scarlet Knights mustered only 93 passing yards and finished with just 2.1 yards per carry on the ground. Greg Schiano’s team went into the break down just 7-0, but their offense woes continued in the second half, while Penn State strung together three touchdown drives. The Scarlet Knights still sit one win away from bowl eligibility heading into their home game against Maryland in the regular season finale.

10. (10) Maryland (5-6), L - 59-18 vs. Michigan, Next Week: at Rutgers

The Terps scored just three points in the first half and never threatened Michigan in a blowout home loss on Saturday. Maryland allowed 352 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and 12.1 yards per completion through the air in the loss. The Terps also surrendered a kickoff return touchdown and shot themselves in the foot with eight penalties. The loss sets up a showdown at Rutgers this weekend, wherein the winner will become bowl eligible on the season.

11. (11) Illinois (4-7), L - 33-23 at Iowa, Next Week: vs. Northwestern

Playing without head coach Bret Bielema, who missed the game due to a positive COVID test, the Illini jumped out to a 10-0 lead but couldn’t hang on for the win in Iowa City. The Illini allowed a back-breaking kickoff return touchdown immediately following a field goal in the first quarter. Illinois actually outgained Iowa 312 to 255 in the game, but couldn’t capitalize on their drives and had three field goals. Despite a 4-7 record, the Illini are clearly moving in the right direction in Bielema’s first year at the helm and are no longer the doormat team in the conference.

12. (12) Nebraska (3-8), L - 35-28 at Wisconsin, Next Week: vs. No. 16 Iowa

Another week, another one-score Nebraska loss. The Cornhuskers moved the ball well against an elite Wisconsin defense, but two interceptions in the second half proved costly. Tight end Austin Allen had his best game of the season against the Badgers, hauling in seven catches for 143 yards in the loss. On defense, Nebraska had no answer for Braelon Allen, who rushed for 228 yards and 10.4 yards per carry in the game. Nebraska has now lost five straight, as they head into their season finale against Iowa on Friday.

13. (13) Northwestern (3-8), L - 32-14 vs. Purdue, Next Week: at Illinois

Northwestern lost their fifth straight game this past weekend, as their defense once again had a rough day. The Wildcats allowed 423 passing yards, including touchdowns of 53, 45, and 17 yards, and forced no turnovers. Both Andrew Marty and Ryan Hilinksi saw action under center, with Marty having the better game of the two (10-of-14, 93 yards, one TD). Running back Evan Hull was once again the lone bright spot on offense, and needs 92 rushing yards in the season finale to finish the year with 1,000. The Wildcats will look to end a disappointing season on high note with a win over Illinois on Saturday.

14. (14) Indiana (2-9), L - 35-14 vs. Minnesota, Next Week: at Purdue

Indiana’s nightmare season continued on Saturday with a home loss to Minnesota. After a 92-yard touchdown drive on their opening possession, the Hoosiers were shutout the rest of the way. Freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown, but was putrid through the air, completing just three passes for 17 yards and two interceptions. Heading into the final week of the season, the Hoosiers are the only Big Ten team without a conference win this year.