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Howe: Big Ten Football Power Rankings After Week 11

November 10, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Many outsiders predicted a sinking boat when Minnesota played host to Penn State on Saturday. Instead, the Golden Gophers continued rowing.

In a battle of unbeatens, No. 17 Minnesota dumped the 4th-ranked Nittany Lions, 31-26, in Minneapolis. It quieted talk about playing a soft schedule by nailing down a signature win against a blue blood.

The Gophers hold a two-game lead in the West Division with three games remaining. They play at Iowa and Northwestern the next two weeks before returning home for a matchup with second-place Wisconsin.

Despite the absence of menacing defensive end Chase Young, No. 1 Ohio State continued ripping through conference competition Saturday. The Buckeyes throttled visiting Maryland, 73-14.

The picture is clearing up with two thirds of the league season behind us. Here’s how the Big ten teams stack up for me after 11 weeks:

1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes could have beaten Maryland with their backups. They could do the same this week at Rutgers. Maybe Penn State or Michigan upends them in the final weeks, but that just seems unlikely. It’s hard to remember a team in this conference being so far ahead of the other league members.

2. Minnesota – The Gophers’ victory on Saturday wasn’t a fluke. We knew it was loaded at the skill positions, but we learned Tanner Morgan can do more than manage the game and that the offensive line is light years ahead of where it started the season. Now they are faced with overcoming an Iowa program that’s beaten them four times in a row and in six of the last seven meetings.

3. Penn State – The Nittany Lions were on course for a showdown at Ohio State in a few weeks. Instead, they tripped up against a West team. Seems appropriate after coach James Franklin chirped about the East’s superiority this summer and called for realignment. Karma is a bitch.

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4. Wisconsin – The Badgers emerged victorious from the de facto elimination game with West rival Iowa Saturday. Running back Jonathan Taylor tore up the Hawkeyes as Wisconsin ran its win streak in the series to four.

5. Michigan – The Wolverines enjoyed a bye week after winning two games in a row and five of their last six. They play host to reeling Michigan State Saturday and then travel to Indiana. Navigate those two contests, and they can revive the season against Ohio State in the season finale.

6. Iowa – The Hawkeyes showed again that they can compete with some of the conference’s top teams. They just can’t knocked them off. They get another shot on Saturday when they play host to unbeaten Minnesota.

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7. Indiana – The surprising Hoosiers were on bye last week following a 7-2 start that included a 4-2 mark in the Big Ten. Now they travel to Penn State before playing host to Michigan. We’ll know a lot more about them after that.

8. Illinois – The Illini trailed 28-3 at Michigan State before pulling out a 37-34 victory. Illinois has won four in a row and has a week off before traveling to Iowa. It finishes up with a home game against Northwestern.

9. Michigan State – The Spartans have lost four games in a row. During those contests, they have yielded an average of 34.3 points.

10. Purdue – The Boilermakers kept their postseason hopes alive with a 24-22 win at Northwestern Saturday. They have a bye before visiting Wisconsin.

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11. Nebraska – The Huskers were on a bye after losing three in a row. They play host to Wisconsin Saturday. More heartache is likely on the way in Lincoln.

12. Northwestern – The Wildcats showed heart and a pulse on offense Saturday. In the end, it didn’t matter.

13. Maryland – The Terrapins have dropped five games in a row and been outscored 163-31 in the last three. Yikes.

14. Rutgers – The Scarlet Knights were on a bye week. Did anyone notice?

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