Though this week may not have featured as many great games as some of the earlier weeks of the season for the Big Ten, it featured what has probably been the biggest game of the year so far; #1 Michigan vs. #3 Indiana on Saturday night. The game was a thriller and caused some real changes in this week's rankings. The Big Ten season is now halfway through its season, but things are still very much up in the air. Here are the Week 14 Big Ten Power Rankings:
Oh, how the kind of mighty have fallen!
#1 - Indiana (8-1) - (+1)
The Hoosiers regain the top spot after their win over #1 Michigan last Saturday. Though many expected them to defeat the Wolverines, they were able to stop a furious Michigan comeback in the 2nd half and snatched the win away from Michigan with a 9-0 run late in the game. Right now, Indiana only has 1 conference loss and is the clear leader in the Big Ten standings. They still have to go on the road and play OSU, MSU, Minnesota, and Michigan, but Hoosiers fans have to like their new position in the rankings. There's a decent chance they move down next week with road games at Illinois and OSU, but Michigan will need to do a lot to show why they deserve #1 again.
#2 - Michigan (7-2) - (-1)
For much of the same reason Indiana took the #1 spot this week, Michigan slides down to #2. There is nothing embarrassing about losing on the road to Indiana in a primetime night game, but it's also provides plenty of reasons for Michigan to move down this week. If the Wolverines can do well in their next three games (OSU, @WIS, @MSU), they will be well set for the rest of the season. After that stretch, Michigan will play 4 of its last 6 games at home and the only two road games are against #7 (Purdue) and #12 (Penn State) on this week's power rankings list. The Wolverines will likely stay at #2 next week unless they get some help from IU.
#3 - Michigan State (7-2) - (No Change)
The Spartans only played one game this week and avoided a near home upset against Illinois. MSU is still a decent bit back from Michigan and Indiana, but a lot of people are forgetting that the Spartans are quietly tied for 2nd place in the Big Ten standings and are 2-2 in their marquee Big Ten games, a pretty respectable record. They probably won't move up next week, but with Minnesota at home and Purdue on the road, the Spartans have a shot to move up if they get some help.
#4 - Ohio State (7-2) - (+1)
The Buckeyes continue their upward movement, sliding into #4 this week after wins over Wisconsin at home and Nebraska on the road. The Nebraska game was probably a little closer than comfortable for Buckeye fans, but the bottomline is they still won the game. Plus, they could have easily been looking ahead to their road game against arch-rival Michigan on Tuesday. This will be OSU's most challenging week so far, going on the road to face Michigan and facing Indiana at home. Odds are the Buckeyes will move down, but if they can even go 1-1 in that stretch, it should be considered a good week.
#5 - Wisconsin (6-3) - (-1)
The Badgers may have lost on the road to OSU this week, but they pulled off a solid win over Illinois over the weekend to maintain the #5 spot. They have been starting to lose some of their steam for this season and currently are 5th in the Big Ten standings, but they are only 2 games out of 1st place and have a fairly forgiving schedule the rest of the way. They don't have to play Indiana again and the only time they play Michigan they get them at home (this Saturday). Wisconsin will need to do a lot to beat Michigan over the weekend, but if so, they have a very good chance of moving up.
#6 - Minnesota (5-4) - (No Change)
No change for the Golden Gophers this week. They played Nebraska and Iowa at home and were able to beat both teams. Minnesota goes on the road to play MSU and faces Illinois at home this week, but Purdue will still probably have to do something big for the Golden Gophers to move down.
#7 - Purdue (4-5) - (No Change)
The Boilermakers narrowly hold on to the 7th spot after losing horribly to Indiana and having another bad loss to Northwestern over the weekend. If they replicate these results against Penn State and MSU this week, they are probably going to move down very soon.
#8 - Iowa (3-6) - (No Change)
The Hawkeyes went 1-1 last week, but their one win was over Penn State, which should almost never be reason to move a team up, so for this week they stay at #8. Iowa gets a rematch with Wisconsin on the road and Northwestern at home this week. The Hawkeyes have the potential to move up, but they will need to play well against challenging Badger and Wildcat squads.
The Badgers and Bo Ryan are like Michael Myers: you can't kill them.
#9 - Northwestern (4-6) - (+1)
The Wildcats have finally moved above the bottom tier in the Big Ten after beating Purdue over the weekend. Sure, the drop of Illinois had something to do with this rise in the rankings, but still, it's been a good week for Northwestern. They get two challenging road games this week so they might move back down, but Illinois will have to do something to pass them, so we'll have to wait and see.
#10- Illinois (2-7) - (-1)
If Illinois fans aren't worried about this team by now, they should start worrying. Their last three losses against Wisconsin, MSU, and Michigan aren't embarrassing, but losing 6 out of their last 7 games and 8 out of their last 11 games should be embarrassing, especially since some of those losses came against Northwestern and Purdue. The good news for Illinois is that their schedule gets easier. Unfortunately, it won't be this week with Indiana and Minnesota on the slate. The question now should be: Is there a chance Illinois drops below Nebraska or Penn State? Surely, a sad thought for once optimistic Illinois fans.
#11 - Nebraska (2-8) - (No Change)
Nebraska went 0-2 this week, but did nothing to change their spot in the standings, largely because Penn State occupies the #12 spot.
#12 - Penn State (0-9) - (No Change)
The Nittany Lions are still winless in Big Ten play halfway through the season. Yes, winless in Big Ten play. Luckily they have Nebraska on the schedule Saturday, so perhaps they can get their first Big Ten win of the season under their belts.