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Big Ten power rankings: Where is Penn State after the win over Wisconsin?

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Penn State’s Miles Sanders pulls away from Wisconsin defenders in State College, Pa., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.

Every week here at the Centre Daily Times, we release our Big Ten power rankings.

We had a handful of movers and shakers this weekend — hello, Minnesota — so let’s get straight to it. Did Penn State’s position change? How much did Wisconsin fall? Take a look.

1. Michigan Wolverines (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten)

Game result: W, at Rutgers, 42-7

Movement from last poll: None

Michigan is the most complete and consistent team in the Big Ten. The East title may still come down to the regular-season finale against Ohio State but, if there’s one conference squad that can do damage in the College Football Playoff, it’s this one.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1)

Game result: W, at Michigan State, 26-6

Movement from last poll: None

Ohio State hasn’t always been the most impressive. It played incredibly sloppy against Michigan State and dropped a spot in the AP Poll, and it lost to Purdue by four touchdowns. But, more often than not, the Buckeyes still find a way to win. They may not be racking up a lot of style points this season, but they’ve still been effective when it matters.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-3, 4-3)

Game result: W, vs. Wisconsin, 22-10

Movement from last poll: None

Most preseason predictions pegged Penn State between nine and 10 wins but, in a lot of ways, this year is still a disappointment. The defense, which lost eight starters and was a question mark, has been just fine while the offense — which many thought would take a step forward with an improved OL — has struggled with a stone-fingered receiving corps and a coordinator not named Joe Moorhead. This is a good team, but it should’ve been better.

4. Northwestern Wildcats (6-4, 6-1)

Game result: W, at Iowa, 14-10

Movement from last poll: None

Say hello to the Big Ten West champs. Northwestern clinched a spot in the Big Ten championship on Saturday with a win and a Purdue loss. (Just like we all predicted; the West title ran through West Lafayette.) The Wildcats are one of the hardest Power Five teams to figure out but, overall, they’ve still played well from Week 5 and on.

5. Michigan State Spartans (6-4, 4-3)

Game result: L, vs. Ohio State, 26-6

Movement from last poll: None

Sparty hasn’t eclipsed 24 points since Sept. 29 against Central Michigan, so there are definitely some shades of 2015 Penn State here. See if this sounds familiar: The defense is dominant, but it can’t make up for a quarterback who received a lot of preseason hype but can’t produce. At any rate, an injured LJ Scott will now return next season after redshirting this year.

6. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-4, 3-4)

Game result: L, vs. Northwestern, 14-10

Movement from last poll: Up (1 spot)

If we had to choose the most disappointing Big Ten season, it’d be Iowa’s. Three of the Hawkeyes’ four losses were decided by one score, and that other loss — a 28-17 hiccup against Wisconsin — was essentially a one-score game that was decided by a special-teams miscue. The Hawkeyes are a good, multi-dimensional team. But they just couldn’t pull it out when it counted most.

7. Purdue Boilermakers (5-5, 4-3)

Game result: L, at Minnesota, 41-10

Movement from last poll: Down (1 spot)

Jeff Brohm’s squad beat the Buckeyes by four touchdowns but lost to Minnesota by 31 points. Makes total sense, right? After the loss, Brohm said, “Too many people … have patted themselves on the back too much.” The Boilermakers have the most impressive win of the teams ranked from here on down, but they also have some of the most puzzling losses. Still, it’s not exactly a banner year for the Big Ten. We’re keeping them here until another team makes a statement.

8. Wisconsin Badgers (6-4, 4-3)

Game result: L, at Penn State, 22-10

Movement from last poll: None

Luckily for Wisconsin, we don’t just rank based on the eye test from the most recent game. Because Jack Coan and the Badgers’ passing game was one of the worst offensive performances we’ve ever seen. Jonathan Taylor can’t do everything himself, and the defense just isn’t as good as years past.

9. Indiana Hoosiers (5-5, 2-5)

Game result: W, vs. Maryland, 34-32

Movement from last poll: Up (1 spot)

Ranking Nos. 9-11 isn’t easy: Indiana beat Maryland, who beat Minnesota, who beat Indiana. But the Hoosiers are the most well-rounded team of the three, and they’ve been blown out less than their counterparts. It’s close, but we believe the Hoosiers are the best of the rest.

10. Maryland Terrapins (5-5, 3-4)

Game result: L, at Indiana, 34-32

Movement from last poll: Down (1 spot)

This is essentially a poor man’s Wisconsin. Great running game, no passing offense, solid defense. Their top running backs, Anthony McFarland and Ty Johnson, are both averaging at least 7 yards per carry — but, like Wisconsin, if you shut down the run game, this team doesn’t really stand a chance.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-5, 2-5)

Game result: W, vs. Purdue, 41-10

Movement from last poll: Up (2 spots)

Apparently, Minnesota should’ve fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith weeks ago. After allowing 646 yards to Illinois, the Gophers made a change — and then made their most impressive turnaround of the season in demolishing Purdue. Minnesota next faces Northwestern and Wisconsin, and a win in either game could really help change the narrative of this season.

12. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-7, 2-5)

Game result: W, vs. Illinois, 34-25

Movement from last poll: Down (1 spot)

Nebraska isn’t as bad as its record suggests. Four of its losses have been decided by a single score, and Scott Frost’s team has won three of the last four. A bowl may be out of reach, but the Huskers can show in the next two weeks — against Iowa and Michigan State — that they’ll be near full strength in 2019.

13. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-6, 2-5)

Game result: L, at Nebraska, 54-35

Movement from last poll: Down (1 spot)

Illinois’ marquee win this season? Minnesota. It’s mostly beaten up on the cupcakes — Rutgers, Western Illinois, Kent State — and hasn’t really remained competitive in other Big Ten games. Their average Big Ten loss has been by more than 31 points.

14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-9, 0-7)

Game result: L, vs. Michigan, 42-7

Movement from last poll: None

We thought we’d skip piling it on Rutgers this week since Jim Harbaugh already beat us to it. The Michigan Man just plumb forgot who the Scarlet Knights’ coach was, referring to head coach Chris Ash as “Rob” during a postgame press conference. If it’s any consolation, Jim, you probably won’t need to commit his name to memory much longer.

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