World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht rates the Big Ten. Published in The World-Herald on Nov. 19.
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1. Ohio State (11-0, 7-0)
Last week: beat Wisconsin 21-14 in OT. Up next: Michigan, 11 a.m., ABC. The man known as Urban Legend will get even more recognition if he can finish an undefeated season in his first year after taking over a 6-7 team.
2. Nebraska (9-2, 6-1)
Last week: beat Minnesota 38-14. Up next: Friday at Iowa, 11 a.m., ABC. The only two losses have been on the road to undefeated Ohio State and to Pac-12 South Division champion UCLA.
3. Michigan (8-3, 6-1)
Last week: beat Iowa 42-17. Up next: at Ohio State, 11 a.m., ABC. The Wolverines have found their quarterback for next year in Devin Gardner. Too bad he wasn't in the game plan for Nebraska. That's become a very costly mistake.
4. Northwestern (8-3, 4-3)
Last week: beat Michigan State 23-20. Up next: Illinois, 11 a.m., BTN. Gutty showing at MSU. Despite losing Venric Mark and Kain Colter to injury, the Wildcats slammed the door late.
5. Penn State (7-4, 5-2)
Last week: beat Indiana 45-22. Up next: Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m., ABC. The saddest story of the weekend is that linebacker Michael Mauti — PSU's biggest heart-and-soul guy — suffered the third major knee injury of his career.
6. Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3)
Last week: lost to Ohio State 21-14 in OT. Up next: at Penn State, 2:30 p.m., ABC. The asterisk is official. The Badgers can't share the Leaders Division title, but still go to Indianapolis for the title game.
7. Michigan State (5-6, 2-5)
Last week: lost to Northwestern 23-20. Up next: at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m., BTN. The Spartans entered the season with a 14-game home winning streak. They end it with five home losses in six games.
8. Minnesota (6-5, 2-5)
Last week: lost to Nebraska 38-14. Up next: Michigan State, 2:30 p.m., BTN. What happened in Lincoln on Saturday was the result of a second-year program with a depth chart riddled with injuries. No contest.
9. Indiana (4-7, 2-5)
Last week: lost to Penn State 45-22. Up next: at Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN. The Hoosiers will sit out the bowl season for the fifth straight year. But they can ruin rival Purdue's bowl hopes with a win Saturday.
10. Purdue (5-6, 2-5)
Last week: beat Illinois 20-17. Up next: Indiana, 11 a.m., BTN. Do back-to-back wins against the Big Ten's worst teams give Danny Hope reason to believe he'll keep his job? Probably not.
11. Iowa (4-7, 2-5)
Last week: lost to Michigan 42-17. Up next: Nebraska on Friday, 11 a.m., ABC. Hawkeye message board posters are arguing about whether to boo QB James Vandenberg in his final home game. If you want to boo, boo OC Greg Davis.
12. Illinois (2-9, 0-7)
Last week: lost to Purdue 20-17. Up next: at Northwestern, 11 a.m., BTN. A fifth straight Senior Day loss for Illinois, largely because of an offense ranked 119th nationally in yards and 121st in points.