World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten conference football teams as published in The World-Herald on Nov. 11.
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1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0)
Last week: Idle. This week: at Illinois, 11 a.m. ESPN. If Indiana can score 52 points on the Illini, how many will the Buckeyes put up while keeping an eye on the scoreboard and the BCS standings? Hide the children.
2. Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1)
Last week: beat BYU 27-17. This week: Indiana, 11 a.m. ESPN2. Controlling the game against BYU is an excellent accomplishment. The Badgers have the nation's most underrated defense, and might be the most underrated overall.
3. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0)
Last week: Idle. This week: at Nebraska, 2:30 p.m. ABC. After Michigan State's romp past Michigan, I was surprised how quickly in postgame interviews the talk turned to Nebraska. The Spartans want payback for the past two years.
4. Minnesota (8-2, 4-2)
Last week: beat Penn State 24-10. This week: Idle. Running back David Cobb, who started the season third string, has strung together four straight 100-yard games, a first for the Gophers in eight years.
5. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1)
Last week: beat Michigan 17-13. This week: Michigan St., 2:30 p.m. ABC. If NU's offensive linemen decide to go out to dinner, they should label it the Last Man's Club. Despite the injuries, the group remains more than functional.
6. Iowa (6-4, 3-3)
Last week: beat Purdue 38-14. This week: Idle. After a 4-8 season last year, bowl eligibility is something to celebrate. But the Hawkeyes would have a lot more fun if they finish the regular season by knocking off Michigan and Nebraska.
7. Indiana (4-5, 2-3)
Last week: beat Illinois 52-35. This week: at Wisconsin, 11 a.m. ESPN2. Ever heard of Tevin Coleman? He's an Indiana running back, and he's good. He leads the nation in runs over 40 yards (eight) and has scored a touchdown in every game.
8. Penn State (5-4, 2-3)
Last week: lost to Minnesota 24-10. This week: Purdue, 11 a.m. BTN. Coach Bill O'Brien banned his team from speaking to the media after losing to Minnesota. There wasn't much to say. This 61-scholarship team looks worn out.
9. Michigan (6-3, 2-3)
Last week: lost to Nebraska 17-13. This week: at Northwestern, 2:30 p.m. BTN. The word “funk'' doesn't begin to describe what's going on in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines rightfully didn't get a single vote in either poll Sunday.
10. Northwestern (4-5, 0-5)
Last week: Idle. This week: Michigan, 2:30 p.m. BTN. Can the Wildcats find two wins out of Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois in order to get to a bowl? I say yes.
11. Illinois (3-6, 0-5)
Last week: lost to Indiana 52-35. This week: at Ohio State, 11 a.m. ESPN. The Big Ten losing skid is 19. The record is 38 by Northwestern. Setback No. 20 is coming against Ohio State. Then coach Tim Beckman had better get real busy.
12. Purdue (1-8, 0-5)
Last week: lost to Iowa 38-14. This week: at Penn State, 11 a.m. BTN. The Boilermakers' lone victory was 20-14 over FBS Indiana State on Sept. 7, and that required a last-minute interception to secure it. That might be it for the season.