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Howe: Big Ten Football Power Rankings After Week 10

November 4, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Six Big Ten teams enjoyed a bye last week. Some programs that played looked like they could have used one.

Rutgers, Maryland, Northwestern and Nebraska continued stumbling toward the offseason. That foursome has compiled a combined 3-15 record since Oct. 1 with two of those wins coming against each other.

Don’t worry, folks, good football is coming around the corner. It starts on Saturday with a few critical matchups involving West Division contenders.

No. 5 Penn State (8-0) crosses over from the East Division to play at No. 13 Minnesota, 8-0 and first in the West. No. 18 Iowa travels to No. 16 Wisconsin, the loser out of the West race for all intents and purposes.

Plenty of intrigue remains in the league for the homestretch. Here’s how the Big ten teams stack up for me after 10 weeks:

1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes are coming off a bye and basically get the next two weeks off with games against Maryland and Rutgers. They finish up by hosting Penn State and traveling to Michigan. Ohio State looks poised to end the Big Ten’s two-year College Football Playoff drought.

2. Penn State – The Nittany Lions embark on one of the Big Ten’s longest road trips coming off this past weekend’s bye. They head to Minneapolis for the first time since ’13 and just the second time this decade. It’s a tricky spot for Penn State as it tries to get to Columbus undefeated.

3. Wisconsin – You rarely, if ever, hear teams tell you the bye week came at a bad time. For the Badgers, they would be lying if they said that. After rolling through their first six games, they’ve lost two in a row, including an embarrassment at Illinois.

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4. Michigan – The Wolverines blasted Maryland, 38-7, Saturday in College Park a week after pummeling Notre Dame. Michigan looks like it’s improving. It must keep doing that if it hopes to save its season when playing host to Ohio State on Nov. 30.

5. Minnesota – Welp, College Game Day left Minnesota hanging. Instead of hitting up Minneapolis for the first time ever, the popular pregame show is heading to see No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama. Tough break, Gophers, but maybe that will take some pressure off.

6. Iowa – The Hawkeyes’ last trip to Madison delivered an epically inept performance on offense. That unit has struggled against good defenses this season. It’s time for coordinator Brian Ferentz and senior quarterback Nate Stanley to win a big conference road game.

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7. Indiana – The Hoosiers destroyed listless Northwestern, 34-3, Saturday in Bloomington. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and running back Stevie Scott are two of the best kept secrets in the league. Indiana has a bye before traveling to Penn State.

8. Michigan State – Like Wisconsin, Sparty needed a bye, really badly. It lost three games in a row by a combined score of 100-17. Upstart Illinois comes to East Lansing this week needing a win for bowl eligibility. MSU needs two victories for a postseason berth.

9. Illinois – Three Big Ten wins in a row for the surging Illini. They won easily at Purdue two weeks ago, something Nebraska couldn’t do.

10. Purdue – The Boilermakers were down to their third-string quarterback late against Nebraska on Saturday. And they won.

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11. Nebraska – You hate to see it. Well, maybe you don’t. A once proud program has lost three in a row and four of five.

12. Northwestern – The Wildcats’ offense is beyond dreadful. Northwestern has scored a combined 16 points in its last four games. Opponents have totaled 119.

13. Maryland – The Terrapins have dropped four games in a row and been outscored 90-17 in the last two. Woof.

14. Rutgers – The Scarlet Knights hung around for awhile at Illinois before realizing who they were. They lost, 38-10.

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