|Wisconsin RB Montee Ball rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns as the Badgers punched their second consecutive ticket to the Big Ten championship game. (US Presswire)|
1. Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten): The Buckeyes were idle last weekend but will face their final remaining road test Saturday in an effort to go undefeated. Fortunately for Ohio State, LB Etienne Sabino, who has missed the past four games with a broken fibula, practiced during the team's bye week and is expected to return vs. the Badgers. Against Wisconsin's powerful rushing attack, the Buckeyes will likely be in their base package with three linebackers -- Ryan Shazier, converted FB Zach Boren, and Sabino. Last week's ranking: 1. Next up: at Wisconsin, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
2. Nebraska (8-2, 5-1): The Huskers came back from their fourth double-digit, second-half deficit of the season on Saturday to beat Penn State, 32-23. The fourth such victory marks a school record for Nebraska, even if the past two weeks (at Michigan State, vs. Penn State), the program has been aided by generous officiating. Regardless of the manner, Nebraska overcame its toughest remaining test by far and is now on course to face Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Last week's ranking: 2. Next up: vs. Minnesota, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
3. Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2): The Badgers headed to Bloomington and throttled an inexperienced Indiana team 62-14. Wisconsin set a program record with 564 rushing yards and punched its ticket to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game. With a spot already secured, technically, the only thing Wisconsin is playing for is a share of the Leaders Division crown, which Ohio State already partially owns. But a rivalry has been brewing between these two perennial conference powers for the last few years that should only heighten the importance of Saturday's game. Last week's ranking: 6. Next up: vs. Ohio State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
4. Michigan (7-3, 5-1): QB Denard Robinson sat for the second consecutive game, but wideout-turned-QB Devin Gardner outperformed expectations again and led Michigan to a thrilling, 38-31, overtime victory over Northwestern. Gardner accounted for 333 yards and four touchdowns, but his biggest play was a fourth-quarter, 53-yard heave to Roy Roundtree that set up the game-tying field goal. Michigan can't win the division unless Nebraska loses one of its last two games. Last week's ranking: 4. Next up: vs. Iowa, Saturday, noon ET (ESPN).
5. Penn State (6-4, 4-2): Who knows if Penn State would've been able to hold onto the lead if TE Matt Lehman's fourth-quarter end-zone dive would've been ruled a touchdown instead of a fumble? As it stands, the Nittany Lions' defeat was their first conference road loss of the season. “Losing is a terrible feeling, miserable,” coach Bill O'Brien said. “It's like a part of you dies, to be honest with you.” Last week's ranking: 3. Next up: vs. Indiana, Saturday, noon ET (Big Ten Network).
6. Northwestern (7-3, 3-3): The Wildcats blew their third double-digit lead of the season and this time it cost them a chance to beat Michigan in the Big House. Northwestern rushed for 248 yards but on the game's decisive play -- the 53-yard pass to Michigan's Roundtree -- the Wildcats were in single coverage instead of a prevent defense that should've anticipated a Hail Mary. Last week's ranking: 5. Next up: at Michigan State, Saturday, noon ET (ESPN2).
7. Michigan State (5-5, 2-4): The Spartans were idle this week, coming off of a difficult loss at home to Nebraska on Nov. 3. Last week's ranking: 8. Next up: vs. Northwestern, Saturday, noon ET (ESPN2).
8. Minnesota (6-4, 2-4): The Gophers achieved bowl-eligibility for the first time since 2009 with Saturday's 17-3 win over the lowly Illini. Donnell Kirkwood rushed for a career-high 152 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota could play the role of conference spoiler if it were to somehow upset Nebraska in Lincoln this Saturday. Last week's ranking: 9. Next up: at Nebraska, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
9. Indiana (4-6, 2-4): In the biggest game in recent memory, the Hoosiers got pummeled by Wisconsin's ground attack and conceded seven rushing touchdowns to four different rushers. Indiana had three turnovers, rushed for just 61 yards and maintained possession for just 20:33 seconds of Saturday's game. The Hoosiers need to win their last two games, both on the road, to become bowl eligible. Last week's ranking: 7. Next up: at Penn State, Saturday, noon ET (Big Ten Network).
10. Purdue (4-6, 1-5): Give credit to the Boilermakers for not quitting on coach Danny Hope even after a grueling five-game losing streak. Purdue QB Robert Marve completed 75 percent of his passes for 266 yards and two scores and K Paul Griggs nailed a 46-yard FG as time expired to give the Boilermakers their first win in Iowa City in 20 years. Last week's ranking: 11. Next up: at Illinois, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
11. Iowa (4-6, 2-4): With Saturday's stunning 27-24 loss to Purdue, it doesn't look like the Hawkeyes are going to become bowl-eligible with remaining games at Michigan and at home vs. Nebraska. “Nobody is going to throw us a life raft or anything like that,” coach Kirk Ferentz said after the team's fourth straight loss. Last week's ranking: 11. Next up: at Michigan, Saturday, noon ET (ESPN).
12. Illinois (2-8, 0-6): Coach Tim Beckman should try telling his players whatever Purdue's Danny Hope told his players about ending a losing streak. Saturday's 17-3 loss to Minnesota marked the Illini's seventh consecutive loss this year. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter which sealed the Gophers' victory. Last week's ranking: 12. Next up: vs. Purdue, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.