Big Ten Football Rankings – Week 11

Big Ten football rankings entering Week 11 of the 2016 season. Ohio State looked much better while handing Nebraska its second consecutive defeat.

There’s the Ohio State everyone has been looking for. The Buckeyes made a statement after two lackluster games, crushing Nebraska, 62-3, at home Saturday night. That should put them right back in the College Football Playoff picture.

Michigan will hold its spot among the CFP’s top four after trouncing Maryland, and Penn State certainly will move up from No. 12 after dominating Iowa.

With another weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the Big Ten stacks up heading into Week 11 of the season.

Week 11 Big Ten Football Rankings

14. Rutgers (Last Week – 14)

Rutgers is threatening to move up out of this spot despite the fact that it keeps losing. The Scarlet Knights have shown improvement over the last two games, first falling by two at Minnesota before this week’s 33-27 loss to Indiana coming out of their bye. All first-year coach Chris Ash wants to see is a steady incline, and his squad is at least showing signs of life.

13. Michigan State (11)

The Spartans are 2-7 for the first time in 25 years. They’re 0-6 in the Big Ten and officially ineligible for a bowl game for the first time since 2006 – the season before Mark Dantonio arrived in East Lansing. If there’s a more disappointing team in the country, show me. Michigan State went to the College Football Playoff last season and now is experiencing one of the most significant drop-offs in recent memory. Tyler O’Connor might’ve suffered a concussion in Saturday’s loss to Illinois to go along with the season-ending injury to Brian Lewerke and numerous other issues plaguing a team that is just flat-out bad.

12. Purdue (12)

Purdue was looking good Saturday against Minnesota as it tried to give interim coach Gerad Parker his first victory, taking a five-point lead into the half. Then it was outscored 21-3 the rest of the way in 44-31 loss. The Boilermakers have dropped four in a row, but they’re looking a little better since Darrell Hazell was fired.

11. Illinois (13)

A win over Michigan State doesn’t mean what it used to, but coach Lovie Smith has to be ecstatic. Jeff George Jr. threw two touchdown passes to give him some confidence after plenty of struggles, and Kendrick Foster’s 146 yards and two scores came on 8.6 yards per carry. The Fighting Illini aren’t very good, but it’s a quality win for a program in major rebuilding mode.

10. Maryland (10)

D.J. Durkin has a long way to go in order to build as strong of a defense at Maryland as helped do at Michigan. The Wolverines crushed their former defensive coordinator, 59-3, at the Big House on Saturday and had the game put away early. The Terps still can become bowl-eligible with one more victory, but Ohio State and Nebraska await the next two weeks before the finale against Rutgers.

9. Northwestern (9)

Close losses against quality competition are nice and all, but moral victories aren’t enough for coach Pat Fitzgerald, who continues trying to build a winner in Evanston. Northwestern had Wisconsin on the ropes all day a week after its narrow defeat at Ohio State. The Wildcats came up short in the talent department again, though, and got only 42 yards rushing from Justin Jackson against the stout Wisconsin defense.

8. Indiana (8)

Saturday’s win over Rutgers wasn’t pretty by any means as Indiana fumbled four times and lost two. while also throwing two picks. But Richard Lagow made up for those mistakes with three touchdown passes and completed 70 percent of his 40 attempts. The Hoosiers are a victory away from becoming bowl eligible for the second straight year under coach Kevin Wilson. Penn State and Michigan await the next two weeks, but there’s always the finale against rival Purdue if they can’t pull off an upset.

7. Iowa (7)

None of Iowa’s first three losses came by more than eight points. Penn State made sure the fourth wouldn’t be as close. The Hawkeyes were overmatched from the start and lost, 41-14, having no answers for Saquon Barkley. Remember when Iowa and Michigan State played in last year’s Big Ten championship game for a berth in the College Football Playoff. My, how things have changed.

6. Minnesota (6)

Are the Golden Gophers the quietest 7-2 team in the country? Granted, their winning streak hasn’t exactly come against impressive competition with victories over Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue, but they’re victories nonetheless. Minnesota can easily legitimize its success by winning the Big Ten West, something it likely would accomplish with victories at Nebraska (next week) and at Wisconsin (Nov. 26).

5. Nebraska (5)

The Cornhuskers now are tied with Wisconsin and Minnesota at 4-2 in the Big Ten West after losing big at Ohio State, and the Badgers hold the tiebreaker after beating them last week. But the real concern is the health of their starting quarterback. Tommy Armstrong Jr. was taken to a hospital after a hit in the second quarter, and the extent of his injuries still aren’t clear. Losing Armstrong would be a big blow for the Huskers’ chances of going to the Big Ten title game.

4. Penn State (4)

Who’s going to stop Saquon Barkley? The sophomore finished with 167 yards and a touchdown against Iowa giving him at least 99 in four straight, including a pair of 200-yard efforts. His breakout has helped the Nittany Lions win five straight games, and they could be in the top 10 of the new CFP rankings when they’re released Tuesday.

3. Wisconsin (3)

It’s no secret that Wisconsin is in this position because of its defense. After all, the Badgers only outgained Northwestern by 17 yards in Saturday’s 21-7 win. When there is a sign of offensive life, it comes from the running game. Corey Clement had another 100-yard effort, and receiver Jazz Peavy’s end-around went for 46 yards and a touchdown. But the defense held the Wildcats to 39 yards rushing and recovered a fumble. As long as the offense scores enough points – no matter if Alex Hornibrook or Bart Houston is on the field – there won’t be many complaints from coach Paul Chryst.

2. Ohio State (2)

Some wrote off the Buckeyes when they lost to Penn State. More did so when they struggled to beat Northwestern at home last week. But Ohio State made sure people didn’t forget about it with Saturday’s beat-down of Nebraska. J.T. Barrett and Curtis Samuel showed why they are two of the best players in the conference, and the defense stood tall. The Buckeyes are back.

1. Michigan (1)

The arguments against Michigan being one of the best teams in the country is that its only beaten one ranked foe – Wisconsin, in a tough 14-7 victory Oct. 1 at home. But what about the fact that the Wolverines have proven to be head and shoulders above the rest of the competition? Michigan has beaten everyone on its schedule – unlike Ohio State – and has looked great doing it. Of course, just as it was assumed at the beginning of the year, Michigan’s CFP hopes hinge on beating the Buckeyes in Columbus on Nov. 26.