World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams. Published in The World-Herald on Oct. 8.
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1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0)
Last week: beat Nebraska 63-38.
Up next: at Indiana, 7 p.m., BTN. Everyone who emailed me last week saying I was nuts for thinking the Buckeyes could go 12-0, what about now? OSU is on a mission.
2. Penn State (4-2, 2-0)
Last week: beat Northwestern, 39-28.
Up next: idle. The transformation in quarterback Matt McGloin has been remarkable. He has gone from fighting for his job in 2011 to being indispensable in 2012.
3. Michigan (3-2, 1-0)
Last week: beat Purdue 44-13.
Up next: Illinois, 2:30 p.m., ABC. That's how you use an open date. Get sharp and hammer the next opponent. The Wolverines are back in it. Their two losses are to top 10 teams.
4. Northwestern (5-1, 1-1)
Last week: lost to Penn State 39-28.
Up next: at Minnesota, 11 a.m., ESPN2. Giving up 22 points in the final 10 minutes at Penn State was one of those ugly episodes the Wildcats thought they were past.
5. Michigan State (4-2, 1-1)
Last week: beat Indiana 31-27.
Up next: Iowa, 11 a.m., ESPN. The plus for the Spartans is they haven't played to but 50 percent of expectations, but are still in the title race. But the wake-up call needs to come now.
6. Nebraska (4-2, 1-1)
Last week: lost to Ohio State 63-38.
Up next: idle. Nothing like a week off after an ugly loss to allow the anger to fester even longer. Some changes are needed on defense with spread foes Northwestern and Michigan next.
7. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1)
Last week: beat Illinois 31-14.
Up next: at Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN. As one of only four Leaders teams eligible to go to Indy on Dec. 1, all wins are good wins — even the ugly ones the Badgers have been posting.
8. Purdue (3-2, 0-1)
Last week: lost to Michigan 44-13.
Up next: Wisconsin, 11 a.m., BTN. The Boilermakers aren't out of the Leaders race — no one is — but they didn't act like they were much interested with a tired home effort against Michigan.
9. Iowa (3-2, 1-0)
Last week: idle.
Up next: at Michigan State, 11 a.m., ESPN. The off week was no week off for coach Kirk Ferentz. He saw three more Hawkeyes rung up on alcohol-related charges, including senior captain Micah Hyde. Sigh.
10. Minnesota (4-1, 0-1)
Last week: idle.
Up next: Northwestern, 11 a.m., ESPN2. The Gophers' rejuvenated defense fell apart the previous game. No doubt the week off was spent hitting and getting it back on track.
11. Indiana (2-3, 0-2)
Last week: lost to Michigan State 31-27.
Up next: Ohio State, 7 p.m., BTN. Too bad the Hoosiers don't get an easier foe this week in order to build on the momentum from taking Michigan State deep into the fourth quarter.
12. Illinois (2-4, 0-2)
Last week: lost to Wisconsin 31-14.
Up next: at Michigan, 2:30 p.m., ABC. This is a ship that has little chance to turn around. The not-so-Fighting Illini have lost 10 of their past 12 games against FBS opponents.