The Ohio State Buckeyes team in Gray and red uniforms celebarting in the endzone post-game facing the fans

Big Ten Football Power Rankings Going into Week 12

There are only two weeks left in the 2023 college football season. The Big Ten conference has two different stories. The first story is the Big Ten East division, headlined by the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings (the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines).

It’s a different story in the Big Ten West, defined by low-scoring, defensive and smashmouth football. The No. 22 Iowa Hawkeyes are atop the division with a 5-2 record in the conference. Now, there is a five-way tie for second place for the rest of the division.

Here are the Big Ten football power rankings going into Week 12.

Big Ten Football Power Rankings Going into Week 12

14. Michigan State Spartans

Record: 3-7 (1-6 B1G)

Last Week: Ohio State 3-38

This Week: @ Indiana

After getting a massive home victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers to start November, the Michigan State Spartans had to travel to the No. 1 Buckeyes. The Spartans were thrashed by Ohio State, allowing 530 yards by the Buckeyes while only gaining 182 total yards. The loss officially eliminates them from getting an automatic bid for a bowl game (They can still make one if there aren’t enough bowl-eligible teams).

Now, Michigan State has to go on the road to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. They still get a chance to show some improvement with the season’s final two games, especially playing the Penn State Nittany Lions to end the season.

13. Indiana Hoosiers

Record: 3-7 (1-6 B1G)

Last Week: Illinois 45-48 OT

This Week: Michigan State

The Hoosiers fell short to the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday, 45-48 overtime. Indiana had their best offensive showing of the year, putting up 451 total offensive yards against the Illini. Despite that, Illinois put up 662 total yards on the Hoosiers’ defense, and they fell in overtime.

Like the Spartans, the loss eliminates them from having an automatic bid into bowl season. Indiana still has a chance to end on a high note by facing Michigan State at home this week and possibly beat their main rival, the Purdue Boilermakers.

12. Purdue Boilermakers

Record: 3-7 (2-5 B1G)

Last Week: Minnesota 49-30

This Week: @ Northwestern

The Boilermakers got a huge upset this past week, defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers by 19 points. The Purdue offense had a field day, gaining 604 yards against the Gophers’ defense. Granted, being 3-7 with two weeks left is a regression compared to last season, where the Boilermakers made the Big Ten title game. They have improved throughout the season after starting with a loss to the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Purdue has a chance to finish 5-7 on the year, but they have to get through the Northwestern Wildcats before facing off against the Hoosiers in the final week.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Record: 5-5 (3-4 B1G)

Last Week: Purdue 30-49

This Week: @ Ohio State

The Gophers had a rough showing against Purdue this past weekend, being down 49-23 in the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers dealt a brutal blow to Minnesota’s Big Ten West hopes as the loss puts them two games back from the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Gophers are in the middle of a five-way tie for second in the division, with a trip to Columbus, Ohio next. Things may get worse for the Gophers.

10. Wisconsin Badgers

Record: 5-5 (3-4 B1G)

Last Week: Northwestern 10-24

This Week: Nebraska

The Wisconsin Badgers are amid a rough stretch, losing three straight, starting back against Ohio State in the final week of October. Unfortunately for the Badgers, the season’s last two games will not be easy. They start by hosting the Nebraska Cornhuskers for a primetime matchup before finishing off on the road against the Gophers. They still have a shot at the Big Ten West division title if things go right.

9. Illinois Fighting Illini

Record: 5-5 (3-4 B1G)

Last Week: Indiana 48-45 OT

This Week: @ Iowa

The Illini have indeed turned around their season. They started the season 2-4, losing games to the Huskers, Boilermakers, Nittany Lions, and Kansas Jayhawks. Despite that, Illinois has won its last three games, including a win over division rival Minnesota.

Their four-week run has made them in contention for the Big Ten West, especially with a massive game against Iowa this weekend. If they can pull off the win, the Illini will get closer to possibly getting to Indianapolis.

8. Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 5-5 (3-4 B1G)

Last Week: Wisconsin 24-10

This Week: Purdue

Talk about a surprising season thus far. If you were to say that Northwestern would be in contention for the West and be one win away from being in a bowl game with two weeks left, people would say you are crazy. Interim Head Coach David Braun has done an incredible job and will certainly be up for the full-time position this offseason.

As mentioned, the Wildcats are only one game away from making a bowl game, with two winnable games left. This weekend, Northwestern has Purdue before going on the road to Illinois to finish off the season.

7. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Record: 5-5 (3-4 B1G)

Last Week: Maryland 10-13

This Week: @ Wisconsin

The Cornhuskers are one game away from making a bowl game for the first time since 2016, but they have yet to get there in the last two weeks. Despite having five turnovers, Nebraska only lost by three points to the Maryland Terrapins. If not for those turnovers, Nebraska would be second in the division.

However, that’s not the case and they have another “Whoever wins, makes a bowl game” type of game. If they don’t get a win in Madison on Saturday, the Huskers have another chance, but that’s against their Hero’s Game rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

6. Maryland Terrapins

Record: 6-4 (3-4 B1G)

Last Week: Nebraska 13-10

This Week: Michigan

The Terrapins survived a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, overcoming three turnovers with a walk-off field goal to knock off the Huskers. Now they can host a red-hot Wolverines team going through the sign-stealing investigation saga.

Now, being bowl eligible, they can improve upon that, with two games left: this week against Michigan and next week at Rutgers. Both games will be challenging, but they have a chance to make some noise despite not being up for the East division.

5. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Record: 6-4 (3-4 B1G)

Last Week: Iowa 0-22

This Week: @ Penn State

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights started the season with a bang, winning their first four of five games. Since then, they have only won two of the last five games, including a two-game losing streak going into this week. The Hawkeyes shut out the Scarlet Knights, shutting down any offense that Rutgers tried to have. Rutgers has another chance to win, but that’s against Penn State on the road before hosting Maryland to close the season.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes

Record: 8-2 (5-2 B1G)

Last Week: Rutgers 22-0

This Week: Illinois

With their win over the Scarlet Knights, the Hawkeyes have asserted themselves as the top dog in the West. With a two-game lead over second place, Iowa has a chance to secure the division outright with a win over Illinois or Nebraska. It won’t be easy, but the Hawkeyes are definitely the frontrunners for the division and will likely be on top two weeks from now.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 8-2 (5-2 B1G)

Last Week: Michigan 15-24

This Week: Rutgers

The Nittany Lions once again have lost to both the Buckeyes and Wolverines, being eliminated from the Big Ten East title. Head Coach James Franklin has had difficulty winning the big games and will need to win big games as the Big Ten expands to 18 teams this summer. Penn State gets a chance to improve on the record with a game against Rutgers before heading to Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, to take on the Spartans.

2. Michigan Wolverines

Record: 10-0 (7-0 B1G)

Last Week: Penn State 24-15

This Week: @ Maryland

Michigan proved many people wrong as their run game dominated the Nittany Lion’s defense, winning 24-15 in State College. Now the Wolverines have a game against the Terrapins on the road, which they can’t overlook as The Game is next week. The entire country is waiting for the battle of the juggernauts, Ohio State and Michigan. They will have to do it without head coach John Harbaugh, as he was suspended for the rest of the regular season due to the ongoing sign-stealing investigation by the Big Ten and NCAA.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 10-0 (7-0 B1G)

Last Week: Michigan State 38-3

This Week: Minnesota

If I could tie the Buckeyes and Wolverines, I would, but Ohio State has played better opponents than Michigan, and it will not matter when they play in two weeks. Last week, Ohio State kept its undefeated season alive with a dominating performance against Michigan State. However, the Buckeyes must recognize their game against the Gophers. If Ohio State takes care of Minnesota, it will be a winner-take-all game against the Wolverines.

Main Image: © Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

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