Big Ten Football Rankings: Teams Ranked in AP Top 25

The Big Ten season, perhaps this year more than any in recent memory, feels like only one game matters, Michigan versus Ohio State. The rest are just tune-ups for those two squads and jockeying for position behind them for everyone else. That narrative was nearly flipped on its head by the Penn State Nittany Lions as they fought valiantly before falling in the fourth quarter to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Nonetheless, it remains the “Big Two” and everyone else. 

This weekly article will highlight the conference teams in the Associated Press poll each week.

T2. Ohio State – 8-0 (Last Week – No. 2)

Ohio State is now in a tie with Tennessee for the second spot after the Volunteers clobbered Kentucky. That tie won’t last long as the Vols play number one Georgia and will either ascend to the top spot or drop a bit with a loss. Ohio State had to dig deep in State College as Penn State did an excellent job limiting the Ohio State run game and forcing the Buckeyes to kick field goals instead of cashing in for touchdowns. PSU led in the second half, but the performance of defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau saved the day as he wreaked havoc on the Nittany Lions and was a big part of the four turnovers OSU forced. The Buckeyes now play at Northwestern before hosting Indiana, so they’ll get a chance to rest up before the closing stretch against Maryland and Michigan.

4. Michigan – 8-0 (Last Week – No. 4)

Michigan stays at No. 4, one spot ahead of unbeaten Clemson. This seems to be the pecking order until the Wolverines play Ohio State. If they win, they move up. If they lose, Clemson (if still unbeaten) takes Michigan’s spot in the top four. The Wolverines started slowly against in-state rival Michigan State but ultimately won comfortably, 29-7. They ran for 5.3 yards per rush while limiting MSU to just 1.6 and outgained the Spartans by almost 200 yards. Michigan hits the road this week for a game against offensively-challenged Rutgers.

14. Illinois – 7-1 (Last Week – 17)

Bret Bielema has the Fighting Illini playing a whole lot like his best Wisconsin teams. In short, they should remind you of an old-school professional wrestler that riles up the crowd and then sits on his smaller opponent until the match is over. Chase Brown had 149 yards and a score, Tommy DeVito was 20-22 on a very efficient afternoon, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers were forced into four turnovers as Illinois cruised to a 26-9 victory. The Illini now return home for a home game against Michigan State before hosting Purdue in the game that will probably determine the Big Ten West.

16. Penn State – 6-2 (Last Week – No. 13)

Penn State has been up and down in the poll, and they yo-yo a bit more after a loss to Ohio State. James Franklin’s Nittany Lions performed admirably in a very entertaining game, but the Buckeyes pulled away late, and the four turnovers for PSU were too much to overcome. They now face being firmly behind the monsters of the East. They travel to Bloomington to face Indiana this Saturday.

Others Receiving Votes

Only one Big Ten team is now receiving votes: the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps had a bye week and sit at 6-2. They play the Wisconsin Badgers this coming Saturday.