Big Ten power rankings: Buckeyes hang tough through COVID-19 turmoil

Rob Oller
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State takes it as a pretty good sign that it can win by 40 points on the road at Michigan State despite missing 23 players to COVID-19 concerns or injury.

1. Ohio State (5-0): The Game or The Shame? The Buckeyes opened as 30.5-point favorites against Michigan, the biggest spread in modern history of the series. (Last week: 1)

2. Indiana (6-1): Tom Allen deserves national coach of the year consideration for turning Hoosiers into a top-10 team. IU just needs to close it out against rival Purdue. (LW: 2)

3. Iowa (5-2): The Hawkeyes have quietly worked their way into becoming the best in the West, ahead of Northwestern, which they lost to by one point in week 2. (LW: 3)

4. Northwestern (5-1): The biggest concern in Evanston this week should not be Illinois but not losing coach Pat Fitzgerald to the Chicago Bears. (LW: 4)

5. Wisconsin (2-2): Even at .500 the Badgers are better than most of the Big Ten dreck. Quarterback Graham Mertz has cooled but still gives the Dub reason to look forward to the future. (LW: 5)

6. Maryland (2-2): The Terrapins have figured out the best way to hold their place in the rankings is by not playing. Half a season has turned into half of that. (LW: 6)

7. Illinois (2-4): Coming off a loss to Iowa, the Illini can sweeten their season with an upset of Northwestern, which may be looking ahead to the Big Ten championship game. (LW: 10)

8. Nebraska (2-4): The Huskers can sorta salvage their sad-sack season with a win against Minnesota. If that sounds like a low bar, well, that tells you how it’s been going in Lincoln. (LW: 12)

9. Penn State (2-5): Don’t look now but the Nittany Lions have gained some of their growl back. Sure, it still sounds like a purring kitten, but at this point Happy Valley will take it. (LW: 13)

10. Michigan State (2-4): A quarterback controversy is brewing in East Lansing. Why has Rocky Lombardi been starting over Payton Thorne, who was more effective against Ohio State? (LW: 8)

11. Rutgers (2-5): Maybe we got fooled into thinking the Scarlet Knights were … decent? They look the part at times, but in a weaker Big Ten East looks can be deceiving. (LW: 7)

12. Minnesota (2-3): Hard to tell how good or bad the Golden Gophers are at this point, having not played the past two weeks. Best guess? Nebraska clocks them on Saturday. (LW: 9)

13. Purdue (2-4): This is what skydiving without a parachute looks like. The Boilermakers are coming off back-to-back losses to Rutgers and Nebraska and now face Indiana. Splat. (LW: 11)

14. Michigan (2-4): The Wolverines and Jim Harbaugh are still recovering from COVID-19 and a sickeningly pitiful season. It may only get worse from here. (LW: 14).

roller@dispatch.com

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