|Penn State, led by coach Bill O'Brien, takes over as the top team in our Big Ten power ranking. (US Presswire)|
Here's CBSSports.com's RapidReports Big Ten power ranking:
1. Penn State (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten): It's been a long year in Happy Valley and no amount of wins can denote what's already been a successful year for the Nittany Lions. But after stumbling to an 0-2 record, Penn State has reeled off five straight wins, outscoring opponents 170-69 over that span. Last Saturday night's 38-14 pounding against the Hawkeyes was the Nittany Lions' first victory in Iowa City since 1999. No team is hotter than Penn State right now, and for those Ohio State fans clamoring that an 8-0 record beats a 5-2 record, relax. The Buckeyes will get a chance to re-take the top spot this weekend. Last week's ranking: 3. Next up: vs. Ohio State, Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).
2. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0): RapidReports gave the Buckeyes a pass last weekend for nearly blowing an 18-point lead to Indiana in under two minutes. This week's Houdini-esque escape from a home upset to the Boilermakers was too much to justify keeping Ohio State atop the rankings. The Buckeyes gave up 347 total yards and allowed a 100-yard kickoff return to the Boilermakers, who came into the game averaging 232.5 yards per game in their last two contests. A 72nd-ranked defense in the country (27.7 points allowed per game) isn't what Ohio State is accustomed to. Last week's ranking: 1. Next up: at Penn State, Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).
3. Michigan (5-2, 3-0): The Wolverines exercised their Spartan demons last Saturday, beating Michigan State for the first time in their last five tries. What once started out as a questionable defense has morphed into the 16th-best scoring defense in the country (16.43 ppg) and hasn't allowed more than 13 points in the last five games. Last week's ranking: 2. Next up: at Nebraska, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
4. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1): The Badgers' schedule is back-loaded with difficult teams but barring a major collapse, Wisconsin should be in Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game. In the first three games, Wisconsin's offense averaged just 16.3 points but in the last five games, it has averaged more than double that at 34.2 ppg. There might not be a better 1-2 running back duo in the country than Montee Ball and James White. Last week's ranking: 4. Next up: vs. Michigan State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
5. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1): QB Taylor Martinez earned Big Ten offensive player of the week honors after he accounted for 407 yards (342 passing) in Nebraska's comeback victory on the road against Northwestern on Saturday. He's the leading passer in the Big Ten and has completed 67 percent of his passes this season. Last week's ranking: 5. Next up: vs. Michigan, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
6. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2): Normally a loss would drop the Wildcats in the power rankings, but given that all the other Big Ten teams lost or were idle, Northwestern is staying put at No. 6. The Wildcats will look back at this as a contest they should've won after forcing three turnovers and holding Nebraska's potent offense to just 3 for 14 on third-down conversions. Last week's ranking: 6. Next up: vs. Iowa, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
7. Michigan State (4-4, 1-3): No Big Ten team has been a bigger disappointment than the Spartans this season. They squeaked out their lone conference victory against Indiana and have yet to face Wisconsin and Nebraska. Indicative of the state of their offense, punter Mike Sadler, accounted for 23 percent of their rushing attack when he scrambled 26 yards on a fourth-quarter fake. The best Michigan State can do this season is derail Nebraska's Legends Division aspirations. Last week's ranking: 8. Next up: at Wisconsin, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
8. Purdue (3-4, 0-3): Who can figure out the Boilermakers? One week, they allow 467 rushing yards to Wisconsin and the next they force four turnovers and take the Buckeyes to overtime. At 0-3 in conference play, at least Purdue's schedule lightens up towards the end. Last week's ranking: 9. Next up: at Minnesota, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
9. Iowa (4-3, 2-1): For the first night game of the season, the Hawkeyes fell flat on their face against Penn State on Saturday. Iowa didn't score until 14:14 left in the fourth quarter and were outgained by almost 300 yards. Last week's ranking: 7. Next up: at Northwestern, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
10. Indiana (2-5, 0-3): Even though the Hoosiers have lost five in a row, their average margin of defeat has been by five points. A bad interception from freshman QB Cameron Coffman cost them a chance to beat Navy, but keep in mind Indiana is extremely young. By now though, Hoosier nation has turned its focus towards basketball. Last week's ranking: 11. Next up: at Illinois, 12 p.m. ET (Big Ten network).
11. Minnesota (4-3, 0-3): Injuries have taken their toll on the Gophers and they could only manage 12 first downs against Wisconsin while allowing 24. On the bright side, freshman QB Philip Nelson looked good in his collegiate debut, passing for 149 yards and rushing for 67 more. Last week's ranking: 10. Next up: vs. Purdue, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
12. Illinois (2-5, 0-3): The Fighting Illini were idle this past week and host the Hoosiers this weekend. Last week's ranking: 12. Next up: Indiana, 12 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.