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BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 11

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Week 10 was a week of blowouts in the Big Ten, but the only team that got blown out in week 11 was our beloved Hawkeyes. *sigh*

Joe Robbins

In week 11, Ohio State basically staked their claim to the Big Ten West; Wisconsin cruised against their most recent cupcake; Iowa got mauled by a pack of rabid gophers; and Penn State and Indiana played one of the worst games in college football history that was only overshadowed by the incompetence on display in the Northwestern/Michigan game.

To the power rankings!

For a refresher of how these ratings work, see here. For a reminder of the win projections after week 11, see here.

Post-Week 11 Power Rankings

Rank Nat'l Rank Team Offense+ Defense+ Special Teams+ THOR+ Proj. W% vs Avg. Proj. W vs Avg. Proj. PPG+ vs Avg. Proj. PPGA+ vs Avg. Schedule Win%
1 13 Ohio State 161 114 115 137 0.800 9.60 39.39 19.36 102 166
2 14 Wisconsin 135 140 102 136 0.794 9.52 33.01 13.48 99 145
3 19 Nebraska 135 124 125 129 0.741 8.89 32.88 17.13 98 166
4 21 Michigan State 162 94 105 127 0.727 8.72 39.53 23.92 104 145
5 36 Maryland 107 122 136 115 0.634 7.61 26.00 17.58 108 124
6 40 Minnesota 110 114 135 113 0.617 7.40 26.69 19.31 98 145
7 51 Iowa 95 118 93 105 0.560 6.72 22.92 18.51 101 124
8 52 Michigan 79 135 86 105 0.560 6.72 18.95 14.61 104 93
9 65 Penn State 54 144 134 99 0.514 6.16 12.68 12.55 102 104
10 67 Purdue 100 95 112 98 0.503 6.04 24.24 23.70 110 56
11 68 Illinois 112 86 52 98 0.500 6.00 27.33 25.68 107 83
12 72 Indiana 100 95 61 96 0.492 5.90 24.30 23.52 106 62
13 78 Rutgers 101 82 113 92 0.461 5.53 24.39 26.52 106 104
14 79 Northwestern 61 126 85 92 0.461 5.53 14.59 16.72 108 62

1. Ohio State #13, 137 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#6 145 117 109 106 161 39.39

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#48 136 111 140 126 114 19.36

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#39 78 3.68 153 3.40 115

If there was any question of who was the best team in the Big Ten, Ohio State left no doubt about it after Saturday night. J.T. Barrett had a monster game, throwing for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns and rushing for 2 more touchdowns on the ground. Through the air, Devin Smith was the main target, racking up 129 yards and a touchdown on 6 catches, including this 44 yard bomb. Besides Barrett, Michigan State's defense had no answer for Ohio State's run game, as Ezekiel Elliott ran for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns on only 23 carries. Even the defense had a pretty nice game for the Buckeyes in this one. Yes, they gave up 37 points, but let's get some context. First of all, Michigan State's offense is legit, so it's not surprising they put up points. Second of all, Ohio State's special teams didn't do the Buckeyes any favors when they fumbled two returns and gave the Spartans the ball inside the Ohio State 40 yard line. Only one of those instances led to points, so I'm willing to credit the defense with only allowing 30 points to a very talented offense. Urban Meyer's defense isn't elite, but they showed on Saturday that they can do enough against a top offense to help their team win. Of course, it also helps when your offense can score 49 points. Anyway, on another note, I hope Ohio State absolutely stomps on Minnesota this week.

Up Next: at #40 Minnesota

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 56.5%

Projected Average Score: Ohio State 30, Minnesota 26

2. Wisconsin #14, 136 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#22 83 143 100 114 135 33.01

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#9 125 120 81 129 140 13.48

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#66 94 3.84 110 3.72 102

Another week, another cupcake downed for the Badgers. No offense to Purdue - they've shown drastic improvement from what we were expecting before the season - but Wisconsin hasn't really been tested in weeks now. Melvin Gordon did his usual 205 rushing yards thing and even tacked on a receiving touchdown to boot, while Joel Stave actually looked like a semi-competent quarterback. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin defense was sound on the day, outside of a 79 yard mistake.  Purdue officially signifies the end of the cakewalk portion of the schedule for Wisconsin, though. Their next three games are against Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, which should be more difficult than their recent trio of Maryland, Rutgers, and Purdue. Out of the Big Ten West, Wisconsin and Iowa are the lucky ones with two home games remaining. Wisconsin is the lone lucky team that has two home games remaining and only one conference loss. They are THOR+'s current favorites to win the division, but Nebraska could change that when the potential Big Ten West championship game is played this weekend in Camp Randall.

Up Next: vs. #19 Nebraska

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 74.4%

Projected Average Score: Wisconsin 29, Nebraska 17

3. Nebraska #19, 129 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#23 116 120 101 123 135 32.88

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#32 128 104 95 108 124 17.13

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#24 112 4.03 139 3.50 125

With no game to recap because Nebraska is coming off of a bye week, let's go ahead and talk about the possible Big Ten West championship game, shall we? Thanks to Wisconsin's recent drubbing of foes, they have shot up the rankings over the past few weeks. And with a seven percentage point advantage based on their THOR+ rating, Wisconsin already has the upper hand in this game. Additionally, if we add in the home field advantage, that explains what is giving Nebraska only a 26% chance at winning this game. In all reality, I wouldn't be surprised to see Nebraska keep it much closer than this. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them win, either.

First and foremost, the big question going into this game, is how healthy is Ameer Abdullah? Based on Bo Pelini's comments, I'm expecting him to play, but how healthy is he really going to be? A healthy Abdullah is a luxury because it removes the pressure of needing Tommy Armstrong Jr. to play a perfect game. Don't get me wrong, he's a very capable quarterback. But Nebraska fans still lament on how he stares down receivers and makes terrible decisions at times. As for the defensive side of the ball, the big unknown, is how Nebraska will do against Wisconsin's rushing attack? Can they limit the damage that Melvin Gordon is expected to do? If they can slow down Gordon and Corey Clement, Randy Gregory and that Husker defensive line should be able to force Joel Stave into making some mistakes. Overall, I think Nebraska stands a chance at winning this game, but I'm leaning toward Wisconsin due to being at home and because I don't know how Abdullah will look coming off an MCL sprain. This should be a fun game.

Up Next: at #14 Wisconsin

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 25.6%

Projected Average Score: Nebraska 17, Wisconsin 29

4. Michigan State #21, 127 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#5 149 107 136 136 162 39.53

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#73 128 100 189 133 94 23.92

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#59 70 3.59 140 3.50 105

Can you imagine if this year's Michigan State offense was also paired with last year's Michigan State defense? This team would be damn near unstoppable. Unfortunately, life isn't fair, and very rarely are college football teams blessed with two elite units on both sides of the ball. Last year it was a mediocre offense paired with an elite defense. This year, it's an elite offense paired with a mediocre defense (and an inconsistent special teams). That's good enough for them to dominate most teams on their schedule this season, but when they go up against the Oregons and the Ohio States of college football that can match them point for point, that's when they have trouble. Despite their Big Ten East championship dreams going up in flames on Saturday, the Spartans are still having a good season and are most likely going to be playing in a nice bowl game this year. Although, with that defense, I'm not sure I would be hoping for a matchup with Auburn if I was a Michigan State fan.

Up Next: at #36 Maryland

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 45.8%

Projected Average Score: Michigan State 22, Maryland 24

5. Maryland #36, 115 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#49 88 87 77 91 107 26.00

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#36 118 106 104 114 122 17.58

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#9 163 4.57 109 3.73 136

Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way: THOR+ does have Maryland slightly favored over Michigan State this weekend. It is all thanks to a home field advantage adjustment. And in all honesty, this is a matchup between two of my biggest conundrums this weekend: the Maryland offense and the Michigan State defense. The Terrapins' offense has low ratings in their peripheral stats (passing, rushing, etc.), but comes out a bit above average when it comes to scoring, once you adjust for their strength of schedule. Michigan State's defense is the exact opposite, as their peripherals look good, but their scoring defense has been abused at times this year, thanks to their highly effective break don't bend strategy. In other words, I think THOR+ is overrating this Maryland offense and underrating this Michigan State defense. I think I would move both of these units closer to the average-ish range if I could. That leaves what THOR+ thinks is a pretty good Maryland defense to go up against a much better Michigan State offense. Maryland has struggled to keep points off the board against the better Big Ten offenses in Ohio State and Wisconsin, and had the same problem with West Virginia earlier this year, so I don't expect that to change much this weekend. Thus, while THOR+ favors the Terps, I'm thinking Michigan State could do something similar to what Ohio State and Wisconsin did to them.

Oh, and no Stefon Diggs for the remainder of the regular season? Yeah, that's not good news for Maryland.

Up Next: vs. #21 Michigan State

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 54.2%

Projected Average Score: Maryland 24, Michigan State 22

6. Minnesota #40, 113 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#42 100 100 94 105 110 26.69

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#47 131 104 149 104 114 19.31

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#10 124 4.17 145 3.46 135

Gopher fans are happy, and rightfully so. They absolutely laid waste to Iowa on Saturday, and have swapped spots with the Hawkeyes in the power rankings, as a result. You have to give Minnesota credit because they executed a marvelous game plan against the Hawkeyes. Load the box and make Jake Rudock beat you with his arm? Check. Gash the defense on the ground with outside run after outside run? Check. I mean, the Gophers hit all of Iowa's weaknesses in this one, and Iowa was unable to capitalize on any of Minnesota's weaknesses. Mitch Leidner only had to throw the ball 13 times because they were running the ball so well on jet sweep after jet sweep. And because the run game was going so swimmingly, Leidner found receivers down the field for big plays. In the end, Minnesota is not 37 points better than Iowa, but they certainly were this weekend. Needless to say, they face a much bigger challenge this week when Ohio State comes to Dinky Town.

Up Next: vs. #13 Ohio State

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 43.5%

Projected Average Score: Minnesota 26, Ohio State 30

7. Iowa #51, 105 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#72 98 85 106 106 95 22.92

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#42 125 104 93 100 118 18.51

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#79 92 3.82 94 3.84 93

Thesis: College football is crazy! This was just one of those games that happens from time to time. Iowa was the abuser the weekend before and they were the abusee this weekend. Things went bad for Iowa early, and they just snowballed out of control as the game went on. If these two teams played again, the result would be much closer, and Iowa might even win. Who knows? This type of loss just doesn't happen to Iowa under Kirk Ferentz very often, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Iowa play their final three opponents close.

Antithesis: The offense still sucks. If I hear one more person quote "Iowa averaged 37 points per game in their first four Big Ten games" I will scream. First of all, not all of those points were scored by the offense. Second of all, scoring that much on Purdue and Indiana is like breathing independently; Yeah, on some level we are all proud that you are a fully functioning human being, but we don't need to praise you for something so basic. In other words, that stat needs context, and the context is that two of those performances came against horrible defenses. And speaking of defense, Iowa continues to have a glaring outside run problem. The Hawkeyes sorely miss their linebacking trio from hell that stopped this kind of thing from happening last year. Iowa better get something figured out on this front because Minnesota was nothing compared to what Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah are capable of.

Synthesis: This was a crazy game. Iowa is still an above average team that has some pretty good-sized holes. This type of blowout probably* won't happen again, but they shouldn't take Wisconsin and Nebraska lightly. Overall, Iowa is most likely a 7-5 team this year.

*Knocks on every piece of wood imaginable.

Up Next: at #68 Illinois

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 43.1%

Projected Average Score: Iowa 23, Illinois 26

8. Michigan #52, 105 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#95 57 100 33 96 79 18.95

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#15 109 128 65 134 135 14.61

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#93 117 4.09 54 4.14 86

/stands up and gives a rousing ovation

Bravo! Bellissimo!

Michigan and Northwestern participated in my favorite college football game of the week. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Ohio State and Michigan State was pretty cool too, but the Wolverines and the Wildcats played one of the most epic games I have witnessed in quite some time. And by "epic" I mean hilariously awful. Michigan won this game, but that's being generous. Nobody really deserved to win this game. Michigan just happened to make the fewer mistakes than Northwestern. But let me tell you, they still made some hilarious mistakes. Take for instance, this fumble:

Or this Devin Gardner gem:

Or this usual Devin Gardner special:

On the bright side, Michigan didn't lose! On the dark side, Michigan's offense is still really, really terrible.

Bonus Michigan Fact of the Week:

Up Next: Bye Week

9. Penn State #65, 99 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#121 69 72 80 68 54 12.68

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#5 141 133 109 128 144 12.55

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#11 153 4.46 115 3.68 134

Speaking of terrible offenses, hi there, Penn State! If for some crazy you reason thought that Penn State's offense wasn't awful, only managing to score 13 points on Indiana's "defense" should be all the evidence needed to seek out psychiatric treatment. Honestly, in any other week, this Penn State and Indiana game would have been the crown jewel of sucktitude in the Big Ten's crown, but thanks to Michigan and Northwestern, this game feels a bit overshadowed. Christian Hackenberg didn't look like a future NFL quarterback in this one, throwing 2 interceptions, including a pick six that was responsible for Indiana's only score on the day. Penn State's lone great offensive play was a 92 yard touchdown run by Bill Belton that accounted for almost a third of their offensive yards and over half of their rushing yards on the day. The defense took care of business, though, and shut down Tevin Coleman all day with little issue. Looking ahead to this week, Temple comes to town which is awesome for a couple of reasons. First, THOR+ actually has Temple ranked higher than Penn State. Second, Temple essentially has the same terrible offense, really good defense and special teams profile that the Nittany Lions have, only Penn State's offense is much more horrid. So expect absolutely no offense at all from these teams in week 12. Finally, Penn State is favored in this game only because it's being played in Happy Valley. THOR+ likes Penn State 10-8, and, honestly, I can totally see that happening.

Up Next: vs. #49 Temple

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 56.8%

Projected Average Score: Penn State 10, Temple 8

10. Purdue #67, 98 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#62 65 110 103 111 100 24.24

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#72 104 107 87 93 95 23.70

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#49 113 4.04 111 3.72 112

I must admit that I didn't watch a minute of the Purdue/Wisconsin game this past weekend. And outside of Akeem Hunt's 79 yard touchdown reception, most of what I have seen in highlights were just my weekly sitting down and watching Melvin Gordon make FBS-level players look like fools. So, in looking at this box score, I am not seeing a whole lot of positive things for Purdue from this past Saturday. Yes, Hunt made a nice play, but he only had 2 receiving yards on his other 4 catches, and Austin Appleby's stat line is propped up by that long touchdown reception, too. The Boiler run game went absolutely nowhere against Wisconsin, and the defense made Joel Stave look like a semi-competent quarterback (and that's quite the feat). I won't ding them for Melvin Gordon's performance, because he will most likely do that to my favorite team in a few weeks, but the run defense wasn't anything to write home about. It is times like these where I turn to team blogs to help me do more than just make judgments from looking at a box score. And Purdue fans clearly saw some positive things in this 18-point loss. They clearly know Purdue football more than I do, so who am I to argue with them? Give it a read.

Up Next: Bye Week

11. Illinois #68, 98 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#39 100 88 60 76 112 27.33

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#91 85 91 67 106 86 25.68

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#121 18 3.05 87 3.90 52

Thanks to Iowa allowing three games-worth of points last Saturday, THOR+ demoted the Hawkeyes to #51 this week, and now has Illinois favored at home this weekend. This is where I should just type the emoticon of the dude shrugging his shoulders. Iowa should win this game. They are the better team. There is really no reason why Iowa should not win this game. But who knows? However, in Illinois' favor, Wes Lunt will be back for this game. I don't know how healthy he will be, but the offense should be better than it was under Reilly O'Toole. Even with Lunt back, though, there should be no possible way for Illinois' porous defense to stop Mark Weisman and company. Of course, there are few certainties in life, and this applies to Iowa football. So I'll just stop at that.

Up Next: vs. #51 Iowa

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 56.9%

Projected Average Score: Illinois 26, Iowa 23

12. Indiana #72, 96 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#61 66 123 109 95 100 24.30

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#70 100 101 57 105 95 23.52

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#119 49 3.37 73 4.00 61

Indiana's season sunk with Nate Sudfeld's shoulder injury. This team is literally Tevin Coleman and a bunch of other less-talented guys right now. I mean, there is some talent on this team (mostly on offense), but a lot of that talent is young and in need of more experience. Right now, though, this team sucks. And they only have three remaining games to avoid laying a goose egg in conference play.

Up Next: at #78 Rutgers

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 40.2%

Projected Average Score: Indiana 25, Rutgers 29

13. Rutgers #78, 92 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#59 113 88 93 95 101 24.39

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#95 99 80 79 113 82 26.52

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#45 95 3.86 130 3.57 113

Rutgers is favored in an actual Big Ten game! Hooray! Gary Nova should have himself a nice day against this Hoosier defense, but can Rutgers' shoddy defensive unit keep Tevin Coleman from single-handedly outscoring their entire offense? Tune in and find out, ya'll. Big Ten football: Catch the fever!

Up Next: vs. #72 Indiana

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 59.8%

Projected Average Score: Rutgers 29, Indiana 25

14. Northwestern #79, 92 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
#114 64 77 122 101 61 14.59

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
#27 120 116 114 99 126 16.72

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
#96 83 3.73 88 3.89 85

I'm going to try really hard not to pour it on Northwestern here. I'm not a big fan of kicking teams when they are down. I make exceptions for the Ohio States and Michigans of the world, and I'd probably make an exception for Minnesota right about now, but most of the time I do have a heart. So, I'm just going to leave this here with no comment.

Up Next: at #26 Notre Dame

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 17.8%

Projected Average Score: Northwestern 11, Notre Dame 27