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December 3, 2013

Big Ten Power Poll: Week 14





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 (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) - 48 points (4 1st place votes)
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Michigan 42-41

The Big Ten Championship Game should be a pretty good game. The Buckeyes would have gone to Indianapolis even if they didn't survive their scare against Michigan, but there's a lot more on the line now that the Buckeyes have moved up to No. 2 in the BCS. A win likely gives them a shot at redeeming the Big Ten on the national stage.

2. Michigan State (11-1, 8-0) - 44 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Minnesota 14-3

It wasn't a blowout, but the Spartans did what they needed to do against a tough Minnesota team and, and now it looks like they'll be heading out to Pasadena no matter the result of the Big Ten Championship Game. A win gives them a Big Ten title and an automatic berth, but a loss probably propels OSU to the national title game, with the Spartans playing in the Rose Bowl as the replacement team.

3. Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2) - 40 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: lost to Penn State 31-24

That wasn't how the Badgers wanted to end their regular season. Penn State outplayed the Badgers in almost every way on Saturday, and it cost the Badgers dearly. Now they're likely headed to the Capital One bowl, instead of taking a trip back to Pasadena or to Miami for the Orange Bowl.

4. Iowa (8-4, 5-3) - 36 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Nebraska 38-17

At this point I think it's safe to say that Iowa is back from the brink. They had a pretty rough stretch over their last two seasons, but they scored a tough road win over Nebraska that should take the pressure off of Kirk Ferentz. Iowa really outperformed expectations this year, and for the first time in a while they've got some momentum going for them.

5. Penn State (7-5, 4-4) - 32 points
Weekly change: +2
Last game: defeated Wisconsin 31-24

Hey, Big Ten West: watch out for Christian Hackenberg. The Nittany Lions outplayed the Badgers on the road behind a stellar performance from the true freshman, who threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns against a stingy Wisconsin defense. The Badgers aren't scheduled to play him again during his career, but I would doubt Dave Aranda is too upset about that.

T-6. Minnesota (8-4, 4-4) - 25 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Michigan State 14-3

The Gophers hung tough with the Spartans for most of the game, but ultimately their offense just isn't good enough yet to really compete with the Big Ten's top tier. They've now gone two straight games without an offensive touchdown, but the Minnesota staff and fan base will still take their eight-win season as a sign of some serious forward momentum.

T-6. Nebraska (8-4, 5-3) - 25 points
Weekly change: -2
Last game: lost to Iowa 38-17

Bo Pelini will be back for another season in Lincoln, but the Nebraska fan base is torn on whether he's the right man for the job at this point. On the one hand it's hard to fire a coach who won only eight games, but Pelini hasn't exactly conducted himself well over the last year. I think keeping him is the right move, but only because I don't think there are any obvious candidates out there who could do much better.

8. Michigan (7-5, 3-5) - 22 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Ohio State 41-40

I loved the call to go for two and the win against Ohio State, but ultimately the Wolverines came up just short against their archrivals. It was a disappointing season for the Wolverines, and Brady Hoke will have to show signs of progress in year four if he wants to keep coaching in Ann Arbor. Recruiting well is one thing, winning is another.

9. Indiana (5-7, 4-5) - 16 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Purdue 56-36

Indiana falls just one game short of a bowl berth, but they were at least able to beat in-state rival Purdue and hold on to the Old Oaken Bucket. The Hoosiers have a lot of work to do on defense, though: giving up 36 points to a listless Purdue offense isn't a great sign of progress on that side of the ball for the Hoosiers.

10. Northwestern (5-7, 1-7) - 12 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Illinois 37-34

Northwestern won a Big Ten game! The problem was that they were hoping their first conference win would have come in early October, as opposed to their final game of the season. That was a rough season for the Wildcats, who will have to wait and look to take advantage of their spot in the Big Ten West next season if they want to get back to a bowl game.

11. Illinois (4-8, 1-7) - 8 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Northwestern 37-34

Apart from Purdue, Illinois' game against Northwestern was their best chance for another Big Ten win, and they almost got it. Instead, Tim Beckman will survive to coach in Champaign for another season. Whether or not that's a good thing for the program long-term remains to be seen.

12. Purdue (1-11, 0-8) - 4 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Indiana 56-36

The nightmare is over for Purdue. They can go in to their offseason looking for ways to improve on a disastrous first season for Darrell Hazell, but even a win over an FBS team would be an improvement.

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



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