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Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst claps on the sidelines during Saturday's game against Iowa in Madison, Wis. The Badgers have locked up a spot in the Big Ten Championship.

1. WISCONSIN (10-0, 7-0)

Last week: W, 38-14 vs. Iowa. Previous: 1.

The No. 5 Badgers moved another step closer to looking like a legitimate contender in the College Football Playoff race. Imagine how much more impressive Saturday’s win against Iowa would have been if UW didn't still have lingering questions at quarterback. Iowa’s 14 points came off two Alex Hornibrook interceptions returned for touchdowns; the sophomore's got nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in league play. Concerning. On the other hand, UW held Iowa to 66 yards of offense. Now that is a statement. Paul Chryst’s team officially punched its ticket to Indianapolis with the win, as well.

2. OHIO STATE (8-2, 6-1)

Last week: W, 48-3 vs. Michigan State. Previous: 3.

The No. 9 Buckeyes are back in control of the East after decimating the Spartans and look primed to return to the title game after a two-year absence. They host Illinois — duck and cover — next weekend as a tuneup before The Game. Unless OSU has a meltdown of epic proportions against the Illini, Urban Meyer’s team could clinch a title-game berth this weekend. A scarring weekend in the CFP top 10 — Nos. 1, 3, 6 and 9 lost — certainly doesn’t hurt the Buckeyes’ spirits.

3. MICHIGAN STATE (7-3, 5-2)

Last week: L, 48-3 at Ohio State. Previous: 2.

The No. 17 Spartans’ momentum came to a screeching halt, and now Mark Dantonio’s team has lost two of its last three. MSU has beaten Michigan and Penn State this season, but fell to Northwestern and now got stomped by OSU. That’s the brutal part about playing in the East. One (or two) tough crossover games turn a tough schedule into a monster. The Spartans have a chance to close strong against Maryland and Rutgers.

4. PENN STATE (8-2, 5-2)

Last week: W, 35-6 vs. Rutgers. Previous: 4.

The No. 10 Nittany Lions cruised against the Scarlet Knights to rebound from last week’s three-point loss to Michigan State. James Franklin’s team is right in the mix, but head-to-head losses to both OSU and MSU make the path to the title game a tough, winding one. They’re essentially two games behind the Buckeyes. PSU next faces Nebraska in the friendly confines of Beaver Stadium.

5. MICHIGAN (8-2, 5-2)

Last week: W, 35-10 at Maryland. Previous: 5.

The No. 24 Wolverines led the Terps 28-0 at halftime and cruised. They’ve got a competitive record, but also head-to-head losses to MSU and PSU. Nobody in the league has a tougher finish than Jim Harbaugh’s team: at Wisconsin and then home against Ohio State.

6. NORTHWESTERN (7-3, 5-2)

Last week: W, 23-13 vs. Purdue. Previous: 6.

The No. 23 Wildcats won their fifth straight by rolling past Purdue. UW’s officially sewn up the West title, but Pat Fitzgerald’s team is the No. 2 option from that side and looks to be putting itself in position for a good bowl destination. They close with Minnesota and Illinois, and could get to 9-3 (7-2). Who would have thought that when they got destroyed by Duke in September?

7. IOWA (6-4, 3-4)

Last week: L, 38-14 at Wisconsin. Previous: 7.

For as impressive as the Hawkeyes were in dismantling Ohio State, they got dismantled against the Badgers. Nate Stanley: 8-of-24 for 41 yards. The running game: 26 carries for 25 yards. They just had no offense. A couple of West Division games remain — at home against Purdue and then at Nebraska.

8. MINNESOTA (5-5, 2-5)

Last week: W, 54-21 vs. Nebraska Previous: 12.

P.J. Fleck’s team earned easily the most eye-popping win of his young tenure, racking it up on the Huskers. The Gophers rushed for 400-plus yards for the first time since 2005 and throttled NU in the process. It won’t go down as UM’s best season by any stretch, but boy, the team was able to have some fun on Saturday.

9. NEBRASKA (4-6, 3-4)

Last week: L, 54-21 at Minnesota. Previous: 8.

The Huskers got embarrassed in Minneapolis. It’s as simple as that. The Gophers hadn’t scored more than 27 in a Big Ten game before Saturday but doubled that number against NU. Imagine what Trace McSorely and Saquon Barkley will do … or maybe don’t.

10. RUTGERS (4-6, 3-4)

Last week: L, 35-6 at Penn State. Previous: 9.

The Scarlet Knights’ winning streak ended in Happy Valley, as expected. Still impressed with what Chris Ash has done in New Jersey. They’ll try to pick up a fourth Big Ten win Saturday against Indiana.

11. PURDUE (4-6, 2-5)

Last week: L, 23-13 at Northwestern Previous: 10.

The Boilermakers fell to 2-5 in league play and must beat Iowa and Indiana in order to qualify for a bowl game under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm.

12. MARYLAND (4-6, 2-5)

Last week: L, 35-10 vs. Michigan. Previous: 11.

The Terps, like most teams so far this year, struggled to do much against the Wolverines. It’s not getting any easier for Maryland, which closes out the season against Michigan State and Penn State.

13. INDIANA (4-6, 1-6)

Last week: W, 24-14 at Illinois. Previous: 13.

The Hoosiers got their first win of the Big Ten season. They’re not done with chances for more either, finishing out with Rutgers and Purdue. A pair of wins could send Indiana to a bowl game.

14. ILLINOIS (2-8, 0-7)

Last week: L, 24-14 vs. Indiana. Previous: 14.

The Hoosiers became the fourth team to get their first Big Ten win against Illinois this season. Also turning that trick: Iowa, Minnesota and Rutgers. The Illini are the unquestioned doormat of the league this fall.

Contact the writer at or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.


Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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