Ohio State registered a remarkable comeback win over Penn State, which finally pushes the Buckeyes past the Nittany Lions in the conference power rankings. Penn State had been at the top for most of the season, but the marquee matchup between the two settled it on the field.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, the power rankings aren’t so easy to sort out because there was a surprise loss, several close games and some teams we’re still just not sure about.
1. Ohio State (last week: 2): The Buckeyes defeated Penn State in dramatic fashion on Saturday, erasing an 18-point deficit -- and 15 points to start the fourth quarter -- to win 39-38 at home. The Buckeyes have been trending up for a few weeks now. And while you can’t go backward, it’s tough to think this current Ohio State team would still lose to Oklahoma if the two played right now.
2. Penn State (1): The final score was as close as it can get, but Ohio State shut down Penn State for most of the second half. Saquon Barkley opened the game with a kickoff return touchdown but then was corralled pretty well by the Buckeyes' defense, rushing for minus-3 yards in the second half. Penn State is still a great team but is now No. 2 in the conference.
3. Wisconsin (3): While Ohio State and Penn State duke it out in the Big Ten East and try to make it in to the finish line, Wisconsin is undefeated and should be able to find its way into the Big Ten championship game once again out of the West. There are still some challenges left on the schedule and the Badgers have dealt with injuries, but they have weathered the storm all season and are the only team in the Big Ten West without a conference loss.
4. Michigan (5): Michigan started out shaky against Rutgers on Saturday but eventually made a change at quarterback by pulling starter John O'Korn and replacing him with redshirt freshman Brandon Peters. That move seemed to give Michigan’s offense a spark and Peters led the way by going 10-for-14 for 124 yards and one touchdown. Michigan looked like a different team once Peters came in, and that could help propel the Wolverines forward the rest of the season.
5. Northwestern (6): The Wildcats keep moving up the power rankings -- and while it hasn’t exactly been pretty, here they are at No. 5. A triple-overtime win against No. 16 Michigan State has to be worth a rankings bump above the Spartans for now.
6. Michigan State (4): The Spartans lost a crazy game against the Wildcats, so this spot could be debatable. But a loss is a loss. A Brian Lewerke interception on the final play of the game sealed the Spartans' fate and handed Michigan State its second loss of the season. Now Michigan State has to take on Penn State and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks, which is daunting.
7. Iowa (7): The Hawkeyes remain at No. 7 after a seven-point win against Minnesota. It was a somewhat ho-hum game, but Iowa got star defensive player Josey Jewell back from an injury. He will be needed with Ohio State and Wisconsin next on the Hawkeyes' schedule.
8. Maryland (13): The Terps just keep fighting. Even after dealing with injuries at quarterback and setbacks throughout the season, they are sitting at 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the conference. A 42-39 win over Indiana was much needed after three losses in a row.
9. Nebraska (11): Nebraska squeaked out a 25-24 win over Purdue on Saturday with a go-ahead touchdown in the final seconds of the game. The Huskers dealt with injuries throughout the game but were able to come away with the victory.
10. Minnesota (10): The Gophers lost to Iowa to fall to 1-4 in conference play and 4-4 overall. The passing game was just not there for Minnesota, with Demry Croft completing only nine of his 29 pass attempts with no touchdowns and one interception.
11. Indiana (9): Indiana has been so close to winning several of its Big Ten games, but it just hasn’t worked out. This week's 42-39 loss to Maryland drops the Hoosiers to 0-5 in conference play, but there are still some chances left to get bowl eligible and find a few Big Ten wins.
12. Purdue (8): Purdue has been on a skid lately and drops four spots after this week's loss to Nebraska. It wasn’t a great offensive performance for the Boilermakers, who are now on a three-game losing streak. What started out as a promising season has sputtered of late.
13. Rutgers (12): Rutgers lost 35-14 to Michigan, and while the offense scored 14 points against the Wolverines' stout defense, the game was lopsided once Michigan put Peters in at quarterback. This is an improved Rutgers team compared to last season, but there is still a long way to go.
14. Illinois (14): Illinois lost 24-10 to Wisconsin and fell to 2-6 overall on the season with no conference wins -- and none in sight. This team has struggled all season, with its only wins coming over Ball State and Western Kentucky.