12/12. Michigan State
Another week, another different team highest ranked in the Big Ten; this is the fourth week in a row that last week's poll leader lost a game. This isn't Sparty's first go-round leading the conference in the polls, but last time the Spartans celebrated the occasion by getting smoked by Nebraska. It's unlikely that MSU drops this week's contest to Indiana, but Tre Roberson is feisty and this is a classic trap game. Will the Losing Curse Of The Top-Ranked Big Ten Team Of The Week (really rolls off the tongue, that) hold up again? Hmmm...
Don't look now, but Wisconsin's one game away out in the Leaders Division standings, and PSU still has to come to Camp Randall. That said, for as wonderfully bloodthirsty as the Badgers' 62-17 throttling of Purdue was this week, they're still a team with one big win on the year, so I can't exactly get upset about such a talented team still slumming it around 15th. Illinois should roll over for Wisconsin dutifully this weekend, but everyone's looking forward to the season finale.
Perhaps it was lingering disbelief over the Week 10 home loss to Northwestern, but Nebraska sure didn't get a lot of respect from pollsters for going to Happy Valley and coming away with a win. Yeah, the Nittany Lions obviously had a lot going on off the field, to say the least, but if pollsters can't look at that game for what it was -- a giant win at a one-loss, 12th-ranked team -- then that's their fault and not Nebraska's. As it stands, Nebraska's the only Big Ten team to beat either division leader, and for that the Huskers deserve something better than 17th/16th.
Give Michigan Wisconsin's preseason hype and ranking, and the Wolverines are probably ranked about 12th right now. That would be too high, but you get a good sense of what a negative effect low preseason expectations can have on the national profile of a team, even when we're 10 games into a 12-game season. Fortunately for Michigan, there are games against Nebraska and Ohio State coming up to finish off the year; two wins, and depending on what happens above the Wolverines in the polls, and we could see a borderline Top 10 team here just yet.
21/21. Penn State
Penn State got crushed in the polls this week, which leads one to believe that pollsters had been waiting for this loss for a while now. That doesn't really seem fair (nor does the pollsters' dead-weighting of Nebraska; if they really thought Penn State was a 3-point loss to Nebraska away from being out of the Top 20, why was PSU ranked 12th after nine weeks?) The schedule doesn't get much easier, with road games against OSU and Wisconsin still yet to come. Penn State may yet salvage a Top 25 ranking by splitting the two games, but that seems like a best-case scenario regardless of whether Joe Paterno were still coaching or not; this is a tough, tough finish to the regular season.
Also receiving votes: none, not even in that infernal coaches poll