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October 16, 2013

Big Ten Power Poll: Week 7

It's time to update the BadgerBlitz.com Big Ten Power Poll, where Jon McNamara, Jon Gorman, Zack Miller and I will rank the Big Ten teams from 1 to 12 every week.

I complied the list in a traditional power poll style- a first place vote was good for 12 points, a second place one for 11, and so on.

1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) - 48 points (4 1st place votes)
Weekly change: None
Last game: BYE

The Buckeyes had a bye last week, but there's no reason for us to drop them in our power poll. Ohio State has won every first place vote in our poll so far this season, and there isn't much reason to think they'll drop a game any time soon. The Buckeyes' next three games are home tilts against Iowa and Penn State, and a road trip to Purdue. They could stumble, but I don't think it's particularly likely.

2. Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1) - 44 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Northwestern 35-6

The Badgers have moved up and are our unanimous choice for the No. 2 spot in our power poll. They thumped Northwestern after a shaky start to the game on offense, but their defense was firing on all cylinders and made it a tough day for the Wildcats' offense. If the Badgers can keep playing like that on the defensive end and make big plays on offense they could still wind up in a BCS bowl.

3. Michigan State (4-1, 2-0) - 35 points
Weekly change: +2
Last game: defeated Indiana 42-28

The normally stingy Spartans gave up 28 points to a high-flying Indiana spread attack, but I was more impressed with their offense. Indiana's defense isn't stellar, but Connor Cook still threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the game. If the Spartans can keep scoring they'll be on a good track to make their second Big Ten Championship Game in three years.

4. Northwestern (4-2, 0-2) 34 points
Weekly change: -2
Last game: lost to Wisconsin 35-6

We didn't penalize the Wildcats too much after their loss to Wisconsin. Personally I was never all-in on them, but I don't think they're as bad as they were last Saturday. They're probably not going to win their division like some anticipated, but they have a good chance to bounce back this week against Minnesota.

5. Nebraska (4-1, 2-0) - 34 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Purdue 44-7

To their credit the Cornhuskers haven't imploded on defense since their tough loss to UCLA a few weeks ago, and they all but shut out Purdue this weekend on the road. They need to get Taylor Martinez back to be more effective on offense against better teams, but they're still in the hunt for a second straight division title. A home showdown next month with Michigan State looms large over the rest of their schedule.

6. Michigan (4-2, 1-1) - 30 points
Weekly change: -2
Last game: lost to Penn State 43-40 (4OT)

That's the sound of the other shoe dropping. We've been waiting for it for a while now, after shaky wins over UConn and Akron suggested that the Wolverines were masking some serious problems. Against Penn State their conservative play calling and lack of a running game cost them big. They probably would have been lower in our poll, save for a third-place vote from Jon Gorman. The Wolverines will host Indiana this weekend.

7. Penn State (4-2, 1-1) - 25 points
Weekly change: +2
Last game: defeated Michigan 43-40 (4OT)

The Nittany Lions needed that one badly. Christian Hackenberg led a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter to send the game in to overtime, and the Lions gutted it out for four extra periods and matched the Wolverines field goal for field goal. The Lions have a bye week coming up and can't go to a bowl game, but they have to feel good about the future of their team after a win like that.

8. Iowa (4-2, 1-1) - 21 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: BYE

The Hawkeyes had the week off and they'll need it- they travel to Ohio State this week before hosting Northwestern and Wisconsin. Those are tough games for a team that's still looking to establish and identity, but strange things can happen in Iowa City. They'll need to start really excelling at something if they want to win one of those games, which they probably need to if they want to make a bowl game.

9. Indiana (3-3, 1-1) - 14 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: lost to Michigan State 42-28

Indiana looked good early on against the Spartans, and putting up 28 points on a defense is an accomplishment in and of itself. But after beating Penn State for the first time ever last week, giving up 42 points to a usually underwhelming Spartan offense is disappointing. The Hoosiers aren't licked yet- they can still make a bowl game if they beat Purdue and Illinois this year.

10. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2) - 12 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: BYE

The Gophers have a much-needed off week under their belts, but they'll have a big test this week when they travel to Northwestern. The Wildcats will be licking their wounds and will want to take advantage of a Minnesota team that will probably still be without head coach Jerry Kill- it'll be up to the Gophers to get themselves on track with their running game.

11. Illinois (3-2, 0-1) - 10 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: BYE

Illinois gets to host the Badgers off a bye week, and will look to get their offense back on track after they blew the doors off some inferior non-conference competition. Illinois isn't as bad as people expected this season, so the Badgers would be wise to not take them lightly on the road in a night game.

12. Purdue (1-4, 0-2) - 4 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Nebraska 44-7

Purdue was barely able to score against a Nebraska defense that had played well below their usual standards at times over the last few seasons. I'd be surprised if they won another game this season.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.

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