|1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) – Even|
|Last Week: Beat Penn State 63-14||This Week: Saturday at Purdue (1-6, 0-3), 12pm, BTN|
Urban Meyer remained undefeated as Head Coach of the Buckeyes by dismantling Penn State 63-14 in Columbus. Behind over 400 rushing yards and almost 700 total yards, Ohio State cruised to its second straight 8-0 start and remains comfortably en route to a trip to Indianapolis in early December.
|2. Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1) – Even|
|Last Week: Bye||This Week: Saturday at Iowa (5-3, 2-2), 12pm, ABC|
Though the chances Ohio State drops two games are slim, Wisconsin remains the only squad in the Leaders Division that has any kind of chance to play in the Big Ten Championship game. Following a close loss to the Buckeyes on the road, Wisconsin has pounded both Northwestern and Illinois by a combined score of 91-38.
|3. Indiana (3-4, 1-2) – Up 1|
|Last Week: Bye||This Week: Saturday vs Minnesota (6-2, 2-2), 3:30pm, BTN|
Week nine presented the only thing that can slow down Indiana’s high-powered offense: a bye week. The Hoosiers are a top-10 team in the country offensively and need only to figure out some semblance of a defense to be competitive in conference games. Upcoming home games against Minnesota and Illinois could signal a winning streak for Indiana.
|4. Penn State (4-3, 1-2) – Down 1|
|Last Week: Lost to #4 Ohio State 63-14||This Week: Saturday vs Illinois (3-4, 0-3), 12pm, ESPN|
Apparently Bill O’Brien’s team struggles to prepare during bye weeks. Penn State visited Columbus after getting its biggest win of the season against the Wolverines in Happy Valley, but the Buckeyes proved that playing on the road is a whole different experience in the Big Ten. Without the support of a whiteout crowd, Penn State failed to put up a fight. Penn State has now lost both games following bye weeks: by 20 to Indiana and 49 to Ohio State.
|5. Purdue (1-6, 0-3) – Up 1|
|Last Week: Bye||This Week: Saturday vs #4 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0), 12pm, BTN|
The pure longevity of Illinois’ ineptitude is the only reason for Purdue’s rise to No. 5 in the Leaders Division. The Boilermakers took a much-needed week off in the midst of a five-game losing streak that will surely continue this weekend when Ohio State visits West Lafayette.
|6. Illinois (3-4, 0-3) – Down 1|
|Last Week: Lost to Michigan State 42-3||This Week: Saturday at Penn State (4-3, 1-2), 12pm, ESPN|
The Fighting Illini lost their fourth game in five tries last weekend when Michigan State pummeled Tim Beckman’s team 42-3. For Illinois, this marked the 17th straight Big Ten loss dating back to 2011. Beckman hasn’t come within 20 points of a conference win this season and the November 23rd battle at Purdue could be his only remaining opportunity in 2013.
|1. Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) – Even|
|Last Week: Beat Illinois 42-3||This Week: Saturday vs #21 Michigan (6-1, 2-1), 3:30pm, ABC|
One sure-fire way to jumpstart an offense is to play the Fighting Illini. Michigan State dropped 42 points on the 104th ranked defense in the nation and remains unbeaten in the Big Ten. Michigan’s visit to East Lansing this weekend will provide the Spartans’ toughest test yet and will determine which team controls the Legends Division.
|2. Michigan (6-1, 2-1) – Even|
|Last Week: Bye||This Week: Saturday at #22 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0), 3:30pm, ABC|
Michigan had a fortunate bye week to prepare for a trip to East Lansing against in-state rival and division-leading Michigan State. The key for Michigan will be Devin Gardner’s ability to keep the ball out of the Spartan defense’s hands and force Connor Cook to lead long drives. If Gardner can put 20 points on the board for the Wolverines then they have a good chance of grabbing first place in the division.
|3. Minnesota (6-2, 2-2) – Up 1|
|Last Week: Beat Nebraska 34-23||This Week: Saturday at Indiana (3-4, 1-2), 3:30pm, BTN|
A tough 0-2 start to the Big Ten season has turned into a magical run for the Golden Gophers following the leave of absence from Head Coach Jerry Kill. Minnesota has knocked off two teams that figured to be conference contenders in Northwestern and Nebraska since a 29-point loss in Ann Arbor.
|4. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1) – Down 1|
|Last Week: Lost to Minnesota 34-23||This Week: Saturday vs Northwestern (4-4, 0-4), 3:30pm, BTN|
Nebraska took a tough road loss in Minnesota on Saturday, but still controls its own destiny in the Legends Division. Games against Michigan and Michigan State are on the horizon and if the Cornhuskers can avoid another setback they could still win a trip to Indianapolis.
|5. Iowa (5-3, 2-2) – Down 1|
|Last Week: Beat Northwestern 17-10 OT||This Week: Saturday vs #24 Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1), 12pm, ABC|
A brutal four-game stretch continues for the Hawkeyes this weekend as they welcome the streaking Wisconsin Badgers to town. Iowa has played division leaders Ohio State and Michigan State and a desperate Northwestern team in the last three games and managed to win only one of them in overtime. The pesky Hawkeyes will have to win the four remaining games to have a shot to win the division.
|6. Northwestern (4-4, 0-4) – Even|
|Last Week: Lost to Iowa 17-10 OT||This Week: Saturday at Nebraska (5-2, 2-1), 3:30pm, BTN|
It’s hard not to feel bad for Northwestern following an overtime loss to Iowa that dropped them to 0-4 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats will have to pull an upset to avoid starting 0-7 as the top three teams in the division are next up on the schedule.
Overview: The Big Ten is clearly turning into a one-race league with Ohio State all but wrapping up the Leaders Division on Saturday night. With the tiebreaker over Wisconsin, the Buckeyes would have to lose a game to Purdue, Illinois or Indiana in addition to a loss in Ann Arbor to give away the division.
On the other hand, the Legends Division is turning into a great race. If Michigan can pull off an upset in East Lansing this weekend, there could be a three-way tie in the loss column at the top. The emergence of Iowa and Minnesota as tough outs has also given the division depth, unlike the Leaders Division, which features pushovers Illinois and Purdue. Northwestern has been the victim of this depth, losing to both Iowa and Minnesota the last two weeks. Of the top eight teams in the Big Ten, it appears six of them come from the Legends Division, with the exception of Ohio State and Wisconsin.