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October 29, 2013

Big Ten Power Poll: Week 9





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 (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) - 48 points (4 1st place votes)
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Penn State 63-14

The Buckeyes are going to need some help if they want to play in the national title game, even if they run the table for a second straight season. They'll likely need two of Alabama, Oregon and Florida State to lose a game before the end of the season, but they made a good case for themselves this weekend. The BCS doesn't respect the Big Ten, so the best thing the Buckeyes can do is blow out the rest of their opponents like they did against Penn State.

2. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1) - 44 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: BYE

The Badgers moved up to No. 24 in the BCS rankings this week, despite remaining inactive on their second bye week of the season. They could still use a little more help if they want to have a chance at moving up to No. 14 or higher before the end of the season, but first they need to take care of business on the road against a hungry Iowa team.

3. Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) - 40 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Illinois 42-3

That's what happens when the Spartans can move the ball. They dominated Illinois over the weekend, and are now our unanimous pick for third in the power poll. They have a major game against in-state rival Michigan this weekend, with the winner a pretty safe bet to play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

4. Michigan (6-1, 2-1) - 35 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: BYE

Michigan moves back up a spot in the power poll and has a big game against Michigan State on the road this week. The Wolverines have looked shaky for most of this season, but to their credit they've lost just one game on the road to Penn State. Wins are wins, and another one over the Spartans would put them in a great spot for the postseason.

5. Iowa (5-3, 2-2) - 33 points
Weekly change: +2
Last game: defeated Northwestern 17-10 (OT)

The Hawkeyes are up to No. 5 in our poll this week, because really who else is there at this point? The middle-tier of Big Ten teams are largely interchangeable, but to Iowa's credit their two conference losses came against the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in our poll. They have a big chance to move up this week with a game against Wisconsin.

T-6. Minnesota (6-2, 2-2) - 26 points
Weekly change: +3
Last game: defeated Nebraska 34-23

Minnesota takes a big step up in our poll after knocking off No. 24 Nebraska at home. They took advantage of a soft rushing defense and scored a big win for their program, but my gut says they've hit their ceiling for this season. They have a tougher-than-it-seems road game against Indiana this week, and they'll need to throw the ball sometime this season.

T-6. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1) - 26 points
Weekly change: -3
Last game: lost to Minnesota 34-23

The Cornhuskers drop three spots after losing to the Gophers on the road. It was a pretty poor matchup for them in hindsight- the Cornhuskers have been relatively terrible against the run for a while now, and that's all Minnesota wants to do. Losing to the Gophers isn't going to make Bo Pelini's seat any colder, though, even if it was a bad matchup on the road.

8. Penn State (4-3, 1-2) - 19 points
Weekly change: -2
Last game: lost to Ohio State 63-14

Penn State got thumped by the Buckeyes on the road- there's really no other way around it. And with Christian Hackenberg injured during the game, it's hard for me to see a lot of positives for the rest of their season. They have a chance to bounce back this week against Illinois at home, but I wouldn't say they have any 'gimme' wins from here on out.

9. Northwestern (4-4, 0-4) - 17 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: lost to Iowa 17-10

It's not going to get much worse for Northwestern in our poll, only because I can't see them challenging Purdue or Illinois for the bottom spots. Northwestern lost another game they probably should have won, and are now 0-4 in conference and struggling to qualify for a bowl game. With games against Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois left on the schedule, I have a hard time seeing two more wins for them.

10. Indiana (3-4, 1-2) - 14 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: BYE

I'm much higher on Indiana than the other three voters in this poll, simply because I think they get to a bowl game and I think they're better than Penn State and Northwestern. They have a crucial game against Minnesota this week at home, though. They need to beat the Gophers if they want to make a bowl game, or else they'll have to upset one of Wisconsin or Ohio State on the road, in addition to beating Illinois and Purdue at home.

11. Illinois (3-4, 0-3) - 8 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Michigan State 42-3

It doesn't get much uglier than that- at least against the Badgers the Illini showed some offensive firepower. Michigan State smothered them for most of the game, and now they need to head out on the road for two games against Penn State and Indiana, both of whom are ranked higher in our poll.

12. Purdue (1-6, 0-3) - 4 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: BYE

I hope Purdue enjoyed their bye week, because now they have consecutive games against Ohio State, Iowa and Penn State before hosting Illinois and traveling to Indiana. I have a hard time seeing them winning any of those games.

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



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