|Coach Urban Meyer can relax after his team completed just the sixth undefeated and untied season in Ohio State history. |
Here's CBSSports.com Rapid Reports Big Ten power ranking:
1. Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten): Michigan teams had spoiled five different Ohio State undefeated seasons in their 108-year history heading into last Saturday's rivalry game, but this year's Buckeyes, under first-year coach Urban Meyer, wouldn't be denied. The Buckeyes capped a flawless, 12-0 season behind the power rushing game of Carlos Hyde (146 yards) and an opportunistic defense that forced three second-half turnovers. The postseason ban leaves numerous “what if” scenarios, but with its season done, Ohio State can only hope that Notre Dame -- also 12-0 -- loses in the BCS Championship Game so that the Buckeyes could potentially finish atop the AP poll. Regardless, next season holds an immense amount of promise for Ohio State. Last week's ranking: 1. Next up: Season over.
2. Nebraska (10-2, 7-1): Following a loss to Ohio State on Oct. 6, coach Bo Pelini told his team it needed to win out to control its own destiny. On Friday, the Huskers completed the six-game win streak and prevailed in a defensive battle over the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. Oft-injured RB Rex Burkhead played his first game in five weeks and scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter. The win claimed the Legends Division title for Nebraska and earned it a spot in Saturday's Big Ten title game vs. the Badgers with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. Last week's ranking: 2. Next up: vs. Wisconsin (at Indianapolis), Saturday, 8:17 p.m. ET, (Fox).
3. Penn State (8-4, 6-2): On Senior Day, the Nittany Lions ended their season in impressive style, capping one of the most unique and trying seasons any college football team has ever faced. In front of a raucous Beaver Stadium crowd, Penn State upended Wisconsin, 24-21, in overtime behind a career-high 179 rushing yards from Zack Zwinak and three field goals from Sam Ficken. Most pundits didn't see the Lions finishing with a winning record, let alone second place in the division ahead of potential Big Ten champion Wisconsin. Last week's ranking: 5. Next up: Season over.
4. Michigan (8-4, 6-2): The Wolverines' 26-21 loss to Ohio State last Saturday eliminated any chance Michigan had of going to a BCS bowl game. Denard Robinson put his final stamp on “The Game” with an unbelievable 67-yard touchdown run just before halftime where he stayed on his feet despite getting crunched by two Buckeyes cornerbacks. CBSSports.com predicts the Wolverines will face Georgia in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1. Last week's ranking: 3. Next up: TBD.
5. Northwestern (9-3, 5-3): The Wildcats destroyed in-state rival Illinois 50-14 on Saturday, securing nine wins which ties the most ever under coach Pat Fitzgerald. They're slated to play South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, according to CBSSports.com's predictions. Last week's ranking: 6. Next up: TBD.
6. Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4): Backing into the Big Ten championship with two straight losses isn't ideal for Wisconsin. The Badgers have now lost three of their last four games in overtime and head to Indianapolis against a Nebraska team, which beat them 30-27 earlier this year in Lincoln. Montee Ball did set the NCAA's all-time touchdown record (79) last week against Penn State, though. Last week's ranking: 4. Next up: vs. Nebraska (at Indianapolis), Saturday, 8:17 p.m. ET, (Fox).
7. Purdue (6-6, 3-5): Despite winning its final three games and becoming bowl eligible after starting off conference play with five straight losses, the Boilermakers fired coach Danny Hope on Sunday. In what was supposed to be a promising year for Purdue given the bowl bans for Ohio State and Penn State, the Boilermakers got stomped in back-to-back weeks against Michigan and Wisconsin earlier this year, games that likely sealed Hope's fate. The Boilermakers are projected to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Iowa State. Last week's ranking: 7. Next up: TBD.
8. Michigan State (6-6, 3-5): The Spartans salvaged an otherwise miserable year by beating Minnesota last Saturday and earning bowl eligibility. Le'Veon Bell carried Michigan State with a career-high 266 yards on 35 attempts. Bell led the Big Ten during the regular season with 1,648 yards and 350 carries, 39 more than the second-place Montee Ball. The Spartans may meet Oklahoma State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Arizona on Dec. 29. Last week's ranking: 9. Next up: TBD.
9. Minnesota (6-6, 2-6): The Gophers clinched bowl eligibility three weeks ago with a win over Illinois but have since lost consecutive games to Nebraska and Michigan State. The offense collected just 96 total yards, turned the ball over four times, and recorded just seven first downs against the Spartans. Minnesota could meet Baylor in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 28. Last week's ranking: 8. Next up: TBD.
10. Indiana (4-8, 2-6): The Hoosiers lost their second straight Old Oaken Bucket rivalry game to Purdue last Saturday and finished the season with three straight losses. Indiana has a promising future with offensive standouts Cameron Coffman and Stephen Houston. Coffman finished second in the Big Ten with 2,734 yards passing while Houston scored 16 touchdowns, the third-most in the conference. Last week's ranking: 10. Next up: Season over.
11. Iowa (4-8, 2-6): Rarely does Iowa really have a down year but 2012 certainly qualifies as one. The Hawkeyes lost their final six games in what was supposed to be QB James Vandenberg's triumphant senior year. Vandenberg finished with just eight interceptions and seven touchdowns and the disastrous season should at least compel AD Gary Barta to reevaluate Kirk Ferentz's status. Last week's ranking: 11. Next up: season over.
12. Illinois (2-10, 0-8): Things have gone about as bad as they possible could've gone in Champaign. Tim Beckman got penalized for sideline interference in Saturday's loss to Northwestern in a play symbolizing how things have gone for the Fighting Illini. Northwestern had just intercepted a pass and the 15-yard penalty set up a Wildcats touchdown on the next play. Some fans are clamoring for Beckman to be fired, but no move had been made as of Monday. Last week's ranking: 12. Next up: Season over.
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.