World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams as published in The World-Herald on Sept. 30.
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1. Ohio State (5-0, 1-0)
Last week: beat Wisconsin 31-24. This week: at Northwestern, 7 p.m., ABC. After the Northwestern game, coach Urban Meyer's biggest challenge might be avoiding boredom with his team until the Nov. 30 game at Michigan.
2. Northwestern (4-0)
Last week: Idle. This week: Ohio State, 7 p.m., ABC. With ESPN's “College GameDay” on hand, it will be the Wildcats' biggest stage since their Rose Bowl year in 1995. Tailback-returner Venric Mark (leg) must get healthy in time for this one.
3. Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1)
Last week: lost to Ohio State 31-24. This week: Idle. The Badgers fell out of the coaches Top 25 while Nebraska moved in. Do any coaches stay up past 7 p.m. to watch games Saturday nights?
4. Michigan (4-0)
Last week: Idle. This week: Minnesota, 2:30 p.m., ABC. The Wolverines need to show significant progress after squeaking out lackluster wins against Akron and Connecticut. UConn got drilled by Buffalo 41-12 Saturday.
5. Michigan State (3-1)
Last week: Idle. This week: at Iowa, 11 a.m., ESPN2. It still isn't known if, during the off week, coach Mark Dantonio obtained a copy of “Offensive Football for Dummies.” MSU has 10 offensive TDs in four games.
6. Penn State (3-1)
Last week: Idle. This week: at Indiana, 11 a.m., BTN. If you let the Nittany Lions into the red zone, you'll likely pay. They have scored in all 15 trips inside the 20-yard line: 12 touchdowns and three field goals.
7. Iowa (4-1, 1-0)
Last week: beat Minnesota 23-7. This week: Michigan State, 11 a.m., ESPN2. With the Hawkeyes, it's what's up front that counts. Rushing for 246 yards against Minnesota and holding the Gophers to 30 led to a big U of I victory.
8. Nebraska (3-1)
Last week: Idle. This week: Illinois, 11 a.m., ESPNU. How do you drop in the rankings when idle? Wyoming lost by 21 to Texas State. Southern Miss lost by 53 to Boise State. South Dakota State got shut out by North Dakota State.
9. Illinois (3-1)
Last week: beat Miami of Ohio 50-14. This week: at Nebraska, 11 a.m., ESPNU. The top quarterback rating in the Big Ten belongs to senior Nathan Scheelhaase. He has 12 TD passes, three picks and a 67.2 percent completion rate.
10. Minnesota (4-1, 0-1)
Last week: lost to Iowa 23-7. This week: at Michigan, 2:30 p.m., ABC. For a team trying to build its identity on line play and power football, the Gophers got manhandled at their own game against Iowa.
11. Indiana (2-2)
Last week: Idle. This week: Penn State, 11 a.m., BTN. The Hoosiers are 106th nationally in total defense, one spot ahead of Nebraska. The 632 yards allowed to Missouri were the most ever at home.
12. Purdue (1-4, 0-1)
Last week: lost to Northern Illinois 55-24. This week: Idle. Never has a program been more in need of a week off than the Boilermakers. Any chance to regroup can't hurt, especially with a true freshman now the No. 1 quarterback.