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BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: POST-WEEK 12

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Melvin Gordon. Melvin Gordon. Melvin Gordon. Did I mention Melvin Gordon?

I don't know about you guys, but I don't feel any more free than I did before this game.
I don't know about you guys, but I don't feel any more free than I did before this game.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With week 12 in the books, Wisconsin is now in the driver's seat in the Big Ten West thanks to the above mentioned Melvin Gordon running all over Nebraska on Saturday. Things are still open for Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska if things break right, but Wisconsin controls their own destiny.

Oh, and Ohio State has all but clinched the Big Ten East. /yawns

To the power rankings!

For a refresher of how these ratings work, see here. For a reminder of the win projections after week 12, see here.

Post-Week 12 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 6 Wisconsin 149 136 103 141 0.833 10.00 36.51 14.32 100 150
2 14 Ohio State 159 112 114 136 0.789 9.46 38.99 19.68 102 169
3 20 Michigan State 156 98 117 127 0.726 8.71 38.24 22.99 105 150
4 23 Nebraska 136 108 125 123 0.690 8.29 33.29 20.70 101 150
5 36 Maryland 107 123 125 115 0.635 7.62 26.07 17.35 110 112
6 41 Minnesota 112 111 133 112 0.613 7.36 27.15 19.95 101 131
7 51 Iowa 97 118 92 107 0.569 6.82 23.36 18.37 101 131
8 52 Michigan 80 135 87 106 0.565 6.79 19.17 14.50 105 94
9 65 Penn State 54 145 133 100 0.519 6.23 12.81 12.29 101 112
10 66 Rutgers 109 89 105 99 0.514 6.16 26.46 25.01 104 112
11 69 Purdue 99 94 111 97 0.497 5.97 24.08 23.90 109 56
12 70 Illinois 110 87 58 97 0.495 5.94 26.68 25.51 107 75
13 73 Northwestern 68 122 105 95 0.480 5.76 16.35 17.60 110 75
14 82 Indiana 95 88 71 91 0.448 5.38 22.98 25.20 106 56

1. Wisconsin #6, 141 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
12 83 151 85 118 149 36.51

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
11 132 123 107 133 136 14.32

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
62 92 3.83 114 3.69 103

This is Melvin Gordon's world, and we are all damn lucky that he allows us to inhabit it. We've acknowledged how the Big Ten is full of great running backs this year, but Melvin Gordon is in a different stratosphere right now. Week in and week out, Gordon puts up great rushing numbers. But, in week 12, he decided to put up absolute video game numbers. Seriously, 408 yards and 4 touchdowns on ONLY 25 CARRIES is bonkers. The Badger defense also played a hell of a game, keeping Ameer Abdullah in check, and putting a lot of pressure on Tommy Armstrong Jr. Melvin Gordon and a stiff defense are the reason the Badgers occupy the top spot this week.

As far as the upcoming game against Iowa this weekend, I would say the key to the game for Wisconsin is to just give this man the ball and get the hell out of the way:

Up Next: at #51 Iowa

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 65.8%

Projected Average Score: Wisconsin 26, Iowa 17

2. Ohio State #14, 136 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
4 144 120 99 109 159 38.99

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
49 142 107 139 125 112 19.68

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
40 79 3.69 149 3.43 114

Turnovers. Turnovers are what kept Ohio State from beating Minnesota by 20 points. J.T. Barrett overthrew a receiver deep for an interception, while Jalin Marshall fumbled twice -- including one that happened on the Minnesota 2 yard line. All three turnovers kept Ohio State's offense from doing their usual high-scoring thing. Despite being stricken by the turnover plague, I don't think anybody thought the Buckeyes were in any type of danger. And speaking of danger, Ohio State probably isn't any danger of losing anytime soon, considering they finish the season with home games against Indiana and Michigan. Maybe Michigan's defense can keep things interesting, but I doubt it.

Up Next: vs. #82 Indiana

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 90.3%

Projected Average Score: Ohio State 48, Indiana 17

3. Michigan State #20, 127 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
6 145 107 143 139 156 38.24
Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
68 132 105 197 134 98 22.99
Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
33 86 3.76 147 3.44 117

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't all that impressed with Michigan State's offense in this game. The normally explosive Spartan O didn't do a whole lot until later in the game when the Maryland defense was absolutely gassed from being on the field so much. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, Michigan State was up 23-7, but 7 of those points came on a pick-six by R.J. Williamson. The offense only had 16 points going into the fourth quarter, and their final 2 touchdowns came when Maryland's defense was exhausted. The Michigan State defense was very good all game, though. Maryland's offense is horrid, of course, but the Spartans forced turnovers and pressured the quarterback all game long like they normally do. Next week is Rutgers, and Dantonio's boys should put up about 50 with no problems.

Up Next: vs. #66 Rutgers

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 82.3%

Projected Average Score: Michigan State 47, Rutgers 24

4. Nebraska #23, 123 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
22 107 115 80 120 136 33.29

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
55 130 86 110 107 108 20.70

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
22 110 4.02 140 3.49 125

Ummmm... what the hell, Nebraska? I know Melvin Gordon isn't human, but even Illinois' sieve of a defense held the ENTIRE BADGER TEAM to 401 rushing yards in one game. The Nebraska defense was absolutely putrid in this one. Missed tackles were an issue all game long, but Wisconsin seems to have Nebraska's number in recent years and it seems like it could stem from the fact that Nebraska just doesn't have a defense that is physical enough to go up against a Wisconsin team that wants to run opponents into the ground. Of course, I will try not overreact to one game. Nebraska is still a good team, and it seems like just about every Big Ten team outside of Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin have been sand-blasted at least once this year. The Cornhuskers were actually tied with Wisconsin 17-17 in the second quarter before things snowballed. It happens. But still, Blackshirts LOLOL.

Moving on, the Huskers get a chippy Minnesota team this week. Luckily for them, this game is at home. But it would be funny to see them end the season by losing to Minnesota and Iowa. After all, there are few certainties in life outside of death, taxes, and a Bo Pelini-coached Nebraska team losing 4 games.

Up Next: vs. #41 Minnesota

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 71.8%

Projected Average Score: Nebraska 33, Minnesota 22

5. Maryland #36, 115 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
49 84 84 63 92 107 26.07

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
30 117 107 93 112 123 17.35

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
24 148 4.42 101 3.79 125

First thing's first, give the Terps' defense major props. They did their best to keep their team in the game. Unfortunately, this Maryland offense just isn't very good. Not having Stefon Diggs clearly left this unit without a major weapon, but C.J. Brown against a Michigan State defense that likes to pressure the quarterback was just not a fair fight. Things probably won't get any easier for Maryland's offense in week 13, as they go up against a stiff Michigan defense. As a result, THOR+ is expecting a similar game to the one the Terps played in Happy Valley a few weeks back. Maybe Brad Craddock will be the difference-maker again?

Up Next: at #52 Michigan

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 43.8%

Projected Average Score: Maryland 14, Michigan 17

6. Minnesota #41, 112 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
43 86 101 92 106 112 27.15

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
50 127 99 153 104 111 19.95

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
13 123 4.16 143 3.47 133

Like I said above, turnovers were the main reason why Minnesota stuck around against Ohio State. Mitch Leidner wasn't able to carry over his success from the Iowa game to this week, but David Cobb did have a nice day going for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 carries. The Gopher defense was able to force some turnovers, but Ohio State's talent advantage proved too much for the pesky rodents in the end. This Saturday, Minnesota looks to bounce back on the road against what should be a pissed off Nebraska team. With Nebraska this weekend and Wisconsin next weekend, will the Gophers get another regular season win?

Minnesota Frozen Treat Bonus:

Up Next: at #23 Nebraska

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 28.2%

Projected Average Score: Minnesota 22, Nebraska 33

7. Iowa #51, 107 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
67 108 88 111 111 97 23.36

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
43 123 106 84 102 118 18.37

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
84 83 3.73 101 3.79 92

I don't think we learned anything at all about this Iowa team in week 12. Sure, it's great to walk out of Illinois with a double-digit victory away from home, but what do we take away from it? The offense is ridiculously inconsistent? Well, we already knew that. The defense can shut down (with the exception of a few breakdowns) an inferior opponent? We already knew that, too. Iowa's special teams are pretty questionable? Again, not exactly a secret. I'm glad the Hawkeyes came away with a 16-point win on the road, but the fact that they should have won by 40 is basically this season in a nutshell.

Up Next: vs. #6 Wisconsin

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 34.2%

Projected Average Score: Iowa 17, Wisconsin 26

8. Michigan #52, 106 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
96 57 100 34 97 80 19.17

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
12 110 128 65 135 135 14.50

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
92 118 4.09 56 4.13 87

It wasn't a quiet bye week for the Wolverines, as Frank Clark was arrested for domestic abuse and promptly found himself booted from the team. With that legal issue and Michigan basketball up and going again, there doesn't seem to be much chatter from Wolverine fans about the upcoming game with Maryland. And since Michigan fans don't seem too interested in discussing it, I'm perfectly fine with ignoring it, too.

Up Next: vs. #36 Maryland

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 56.2%

Projected Average Score: Michigan 17, Maryland 14

9. Penn State #65, 100 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
120 65 77 75 72 54 12.81

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
4 146 133 132 125 145 12.29

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
12 158 4.51 109 3.73 133

Penn State vs. Temple started out just the way THOR+ figured it would. THOR+ projected a 10-8 Penn State victory, and we had ourselves a 6-3 with the Nittany Lions ahead at halftime. However, all good things must come to an end, and Penn State's running game with Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch had to ruin my dream of offensive incompetence. Penn State went on to score 24 points in the second half, thanks to the aforementioned Lynch and Belton who ran for 130 and 92 yards, respectively. Not to mention, Penn State's defense scored on a pick-six. Because duh. But while Temple's defense broke down in the second half, they still made Christian Hackenberg look absolutely awful all day long. Hackenberg threw the pigskin 26 times, but only put up 112 yards and no touchdowns. Did I mention he threw 2 interceptions? Because he threw 2 interceptions. More importantly, though, Penn State is now bowl eligible, ya'll!

Up Next: at #70 Illinois

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 39.7%

Projected Average Score: Penn State 12, Illinois 17

10. Rutgers #66, 99 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
47 118 89 98 96 109 26.46

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
80 103 76 87 116 89 25.01

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
58 91 3.82 118 3.66 105

The Scarlet Knights got their second Big Ten win of the year, and are now bowl-eligible after beating Indiana in week 12. Gary Nova wasn't necessarily great in this one, but he did have a heyday finding Leonte Caroo 5 times for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns. Josh Hicks and Robert Martin also combined for just about 200 yards on 31 carries for the day. The defense was it's usual suspect self, as Tevin Coleman went HAM and Zander Diamont looked decent when he was throwing to Shane Wynn. Overall, though, Rutgers' offense was too much for a Nate Sudfeld-less Indiana. Next week is Michigan State, and that probably won't be pretty.

Up Next: at #20 Michigan State

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 17.8%

Projected Average Score: Rutgers 24, Michigan State 47

11. Purdue #69, 97 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
62 66 109 104 109 99 24.08

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
76 103 106 86 92 94 23.90

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
48 111 4.03 110 3.72 111

Outside of the actual games that have Big Ten West championship implications, I'm actually kind of intrigued by this Purdue and Northwestern match up. Purdue's speedy offensive attack has been responsible for them looking like a better team this year, and they get a chance to show how improved the may be against a pretty good (outside of the Iowa game) Northwestern defense. On the other side of the ball, Purdue still has some work to do. They've made many a Big Ten quarterback -- a position stocked with lower caliber talent than the running back crop this year -- look much better than they actually are. Thankfully, the Boilermaker defense gets to face a Northwestern offense that has struggled to put points on the board this year (outside of the Notre Dame game, of course). I would imagine this should be a close, competitive game.

Up Next: vs. #73 Northwestern

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 64.4%

Projected Average Score: Purdue 22, Northwestern 15

12. Illinois #70, 97 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
46 99 87 73 75 110 26.68

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
88 76 91 65 101 87 25.51

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
119 17 3.04 99 3.81 58

Tim Beckman is not a good coach. I didn't think the Illini could do much worse than Ron Zook, but holy hell, was I wrong. This Illinois team is just bad. I have no idea how they beat Minnesota. Despite Iowa politely declining to take control of the game early on no matter how hard Illinois tried to give it to them, the Illini still lost by 16 points. In reality, they should have lost by much, much more. There is no possible way that Tim Beckman can survive this season. Even if he finds a way to beat Penn State and Northwestern, you would have to think he is a dead man walking. At least that's what Illinois fans are hoping.

Up Next: vs. #65 Penn State

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 60.4%

Projected Average Score: Illinois 17, Penn State 12

13. Northwestern #73, 95 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
107 64 82 110 105 68 16.35

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
34 117 116 124 99 122 17.60

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
57 109 4.01 100 3.79 105

Northwestern beat Notre Dame? Wait, what? The same Northwestern team with the terrible offense that hasn't eclipsed 17 points in a Big Ten game this year? The same Northwestern team whose previous high in points scored this season was 24? They scored 43 points? Holy crap. The Wildcats were actually down 29-40 with 11:00 left in this game. They even had a field goal blocked with a little less than 9:00 remaining. Somehow, though, the offense mustered a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a field goal in that little bit of time and forced the Irish into overtime. Once in OT, Notre Dame missed a 42 yard field goal, while the Wildcats went all conservative, but were still able to nail a 41 yard field goal for the win. It felt extremely odd watching the end of this game and cheering for Northwestern, but any time Notre Dame loses, it's a very good day in my book.

Up Next: at #69 Purdue

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 35.6%

Projected Average Score: Northwestern 15, Purdue 22

14. Indiana #82, 91 THOR+

Offense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Blocking+ Offense+ PPG vs. Avg.
74 63 125 102 90 95 22.98

Defense Rank Passing+ Rushing+ Turnovers Pressure+ Defense+ PPGA vs. Avg
84 96 101 57 104 88 25.20

Special Teams Rank ST Off.+ PPG vs. Avg. ST Def.+ PPGA vs. Avg Special Teams+
108 63 3.52 79 3.95 71

In week 11 Indiana and Penn State played an amazingly horrible game that was only overshadowed by the incompetence on display in the Michigan and Northwestern game. This week, Tevin Coleman's brilliance was overshadowed by Melvin Gordon's ridiculousness and the fact that his team lost to Rutgers. Coleman ran for an amazing 307 yards on only 32 carries against the Scarlet Knights, but his ultimate downfall was that he only got in the end zone once. Last week I said Indiana's only chance was for Coleman to single-handedly outscore Rutgers all by himself. Unfortunately, he was not able to do that and the Hoosiers lost. Since they travel to Ohio State this Saturday, the final game against Indiana at home remains Indiana's best shot at actually winning a Big Ten game this year.

But keep your chin up, Indiana fans. At least you can take pride in rooting for the best team in the SEC.

Up Next: at #14 Ohio State

THOR+ Projected Chances of Winning: 9.7%

Projected Average Score: Indiana 17, Ohio State 48