World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football conference as published in The World-Herald on Nov. 4.
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1. Ohio St. (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten)
Last week: beat Purdue 56-0. This week: Idle. The victory train keeps rolling along at Ohio State. All that's left for a second straight perfect regular season are wins at Illinois, at home against Indiana and at Michigan.
2. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0)
Last week: beat Michigan 29-6. This week: Idle. This team is loaded with confidence. The defense is operating at peak efficiency. The offense has found a running threat and can make plays. And the kicking game is very strong.
3. Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1)
Last week: beat Iowa 28-9. This week: BYU, 2:30 p.m., ESPN. Stepping out of conference this late in the season is rare. Doing it against a first-rate opponent is almost unheard of. The Badgers had better not let down.
4. Minnesota (7-2, 3-2)
Last week: beat Indiana 42-39. This week: Penn State, 11 a.m., ESPN2. It's mind-boggling to see the Gophers No. 4, but it's well-deserved. Two straight road wins and an upset of Nebraska have spawned rare enthusiasm in the Twin Cities.
5. Nebraska (6-2, 3-1)
Last week: beat Northwestern 27-24. This week: at Michigan, 2:30 p.m., ABC. Hail to the Huskers. Or, more appropriately, Hail Mary to the Huskers. All wins are worth celebrating. The sobering thought is Nebraska's league victories are against teams 0-13 in Big Ten play.
6. Michigan (6-2, 2-2)
Last week: lost to Michigan State 29-6. This week: Nebraska, 2:30 p.m., ABC. QB Devin Gardner took a brutal beating against Michigan State. The training staff will need a good week of practice to fix his bumps and bruises.
7. Iowa (5-4, 2-3)
Last week: lost to Wisconsin 28-9. This week: at Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN. Whatever progress Iowa thought it made on offense earlier this season disappeared. In the second halves of the Hawkeyes' past four Big Ten games, they have racked up a whole 10 points.
8. Penn State (5-3, 2-2)
Last week: beat Illinois 24-17 in OT. This week: at Minnesota, 11 a.m., ESPN2. Bill O'Brien needs two more victories for a second straight winning season under terrible circumstances. The opponents: at Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska, at Wisconsin.
9. Indiana (3-5, 1-3)
Last week: lost to Minnesota 42-39. This week: Illinois, 2:30 p.m., BTN. Can the Hoosiers find three wins in the final four games (Illinois, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State, Purdue) in order to become bowl eligible? Nope.
10. Northwestern (4-5, 0-5)
Last week: lost to Nebraska 27-24. This week: Idle. Funny, isn't it, how all the chatter about Pat Fitzgerald being a hot commodity has vanished. Fitz, who has faced criticism for in-game decisions before, will get it double this week.
11. Illinois (3-5, 0-4)
Last week: lost to Penn State 24-17 in OT. This week: at Indiana, 2:30 p.m., BTN. When you have lost 18 Big Ten games in a row, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory becomes a habit. That's how a win at Penn State slipped away.
12. Purdue (1-7, 0-4)
Last week: lost to Ohio State 56-0. This week: Iowa, 11 a.m., BTN. Since installing true freshman Danny Etling as the starting quarterback three games ago, the Boilermakers have scored exactly one touchdown.