Big Ten power rankings: Buckeyes rule; into the championship game they go

Rob Oller
Buckeye Xtra

1. Ohio State (5-0): A Big Ten rule change allowed the Buckeyes to slip their way into the conference championship game. Now it's time to prove they belong there. (Last week: 1)

2. Indiana (6-1): After feeling slighted by the Big Ten, the Hoosiers go from licking their wounds to licking their chops in anticipation of playing rival Purdue. (LW: 2) 

3. Iowa (6-2): When combining their six-game winning streak with the ability to avoid COVID-19 cancellations, the Hawkeyes are having the conferences’ most successful season. (LW: 3)

4. Northwestern (6-1): Not to poor-mouth a one-loss record, but the Wildcats are about to rediscover what losing by three touchdowns feels like. (LW: 4)

5. Penn State (3-5): Just when it appeared the Nittany Lions would hide in their cave for the rest of the season, they clawed out three straight wins to avoid a total meltdown. (LW: 9) 

6. Minnesota (3-3): After rowing the boat in circles using one paddle, the Golden Gophers again appear to be heading in a positive forward direction. (LW: 12)

Can Northwestern prevent Ohio State from winning a fourth consecutive Big Ten football title? This week's power rankings suggest not.

7. Wisconsin (2-3): The Badgers’ offense over their past three games — seven, six and seven points — has gone into hibernation. No reason to think it wakes up this week. (LW: 5)

8. Rutgers (3-5): Three wins in conference play after collecting that many over the previous three seasons combined? Scarlet Knights found the right coach in Greg Schiano. (LW: 11)

9. Michigan State (2-5): Glass half-full: Spartans were not expected to do much this season, anyway. Half-empty: Losing to Rutgers and Illinois is never expected. (LW: 10) 

10. Maryland (2-3): Three cancellations and two losses over the past five weeks is no way to celebrate the holidays. Terps have had a tough time of it. (LW: 6)

11. Illinois (2-5): After five uneventful and largely unsuccessful seasons, the axe fell on Lovie Smith. Can the Illini rally at Penn State? Doubtful. (LW: 7)

12. Nebraska (2-5): A stat no one wants to recite in Lincoln: Scott Frost is 11-20 in three seasons. Predecessor Mike Riley was 18-13 through his first 31 games. (LW: 8) 

13. Purdue (2-4): Four losses sandwiched between two cancellations. Enough said. (LW: 13)

14. Michigan (2-4): The Wolverines’ coaching situation with Jim Harbaugh is as up in the air as their virus testing positivity rate. (LW: 14)

roller@dispatch.com

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