1. Ohio State (6-0, 3-0)
Last week: beat Wisconsin 30-23, OT. This week: at Penn State, 8 p.m. (ABC)
This is the second straight game Ohio State will play on the road at night against an opponent with an extra week to prepare. But Whatever the challenge, the young Buckeyes — they started two seniors against Wisconsin — seem to figure it out.
2. Michigan (6-0, 3-0)
Last week: Idle. This week: Illinois, 3:30 p.m. (BTN)
Coach Jim Harbaugh must have been drooling over the Wisconsin plan to run the ball on Ohio State.
3. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-2)
Last week: lost to Ohio State 30-23, OT. This week: at Iowa, Noon (ESPN)
Rushing for 236 yards on Ohio State is proof you have fixed your running game woes.
4. Nebraska (6-0, 3-0)
Last week: beat Indiana 27-22. This week: Purdue, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
What you’re seeing in Lincoln is much improved toughness and accountability — something missing from the previous regime. That makes Nebraska worth talking about on the national pundit circuit.
5. Northwestern (3-3, 2-1)
Last week: beat Michigan State 54-40. This week: Indiana, Noon (BTN)
It appears the outcry to fire Northwestern offensive coordinator Mick McCall has calmed down. The last time the Wildcats scored 54 points in a road game, dinosaurs roamed Earth.
6. Iowa (5-2, 3-1)
Last week: beat Purdue 49-35. This week: Wisconsin, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
The Hawkeyes had about as many players hobble off the field injured as they had touchdowns against Purdue — which was a lot. Cobbling together an offensive line with Wisconsin coming to town is far from ideal.
7. Indiana (3-3, 1-2)
Last week: lost to Nebraska 27-22. This week: at Northwestern, Noon (BTN)
The Hoosiers’ three losses are to teams with a combined record of 17-2. Nobody likes the label but IU is arguably the best .500 team in the country.
8. Penn State (4-2, 2-1)
Last week: Idle. This week: Ohio State, 8 p.m. (ABC)
New offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has had more success than first-year defensive coordinator Brent Pry at the midseason break. Injuries and inexperience on defense are keeping the Nittany Lions from making much progress.
9. Minnesota (4-2, 1-2)
Last week: beat Maryland 31-10. This week: Rutgers, Noon (ESPNU)
Fourth-year junior Conor Rhoda, who had played in three games in his career, managed the offense smartly and functioned without a turnover in his first college start. So what happens when starter Mitch Leidner (concussion) comes back?
10. Maryland (4-2, 1-2)
Last week: lost to Minnesota 31-10. This week: Michigan State, 7:30 p.m. (BTN)
The Terrapins’ 4-0 start has quickly been forgotten after they got introduced to “ground-and-pound” ball by Penn State (372 yards rushing) and Minnesota (229).
11. Michigan State (2-4, 0-3)
Last week: lost to Northwestern 54-40. This week: at Maryland, 7:30 p.m. (BTN)
Michigan State is giving up 33.4 points a game to FBS opponents. It looks like “Gang Green” could use a new nickname. No team coached by Mark Dantonio had ever allowed 50 points.
12. Purdue (3-3, 1-2)
Last week: lost to Iowa 49-35. This week: at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Darrell Hazell beat Nebraska last year, but he won’t get the chance to do it again after getting fired Sunday. Unfortunately for him, that win was among just nine in 42 games. We’ll see if the Boilers pick someone besides the usual MAC coach or Big Ten assistant.
13. Illinois (2-4, 1-2)
Last week: beat Rutgers 24-7. This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m. (BTN)
Backup quarterback Chayce Crouch might find himself starting after playing well in relief against Purdue and as a starter against Rutgers in place of injured senior Wes Lunt.
14. Rutgers (2-5, 0-4)
Last week: lost to Illinois 24-7. This week: at Minnesota, Noon (ESPNU)
The good news is Rutgers broke a 12-quarter scoreless streak with a fourth-quarter touchdown. The bad news is five games remain on the schedule.
— Lee Barfknecht, Omaha World-Herald