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Big Ten power rankings for people who have never seen the Chicago Cubs in a World Series. Or on the cover of Rolling Stone.
1. Ohio State (3-0 Big Ten, 6-0 overall): The Buckeyes have won at Oklahoma and Wisconsin and your favorite team hasn’t. Unless it’s Ohio State, of course.
2. Michigan (3-0, 6-0): The state of Michigan has 53 fewer 11-player high school football programs and 4,243 fewer high school players than it had five years ago. Jim Harbaugh will just have to have more kids.
3. Wisconsin (1-2, 4-2): The Badgers have had more games against top 10 teams than not. That’s putting pressure on the Packers to schedule up.
4. Nebraska (3-0, 6-0): Mike Riley has coached 19 games at Nebraska, and the Huskers’ only double-digit loss is to Purdue. People in the football business call that freaky.
5. The Road: The visiting team won all six of Week 7’s Big Ten games. The homefield advantage in the conference is roughly the equivalent of Ryan Lochte’s popularity in Rio police precincts and gas stations.
6. Northwestern (2-1, 3-3): If you had the Wildcats sweeping their road games against last year’s two Big Ten division champs, Iowa and Michigan State, we’ll have to quarantine you until we figure out the planet you call home.
7. Iowa (3-1, 5-2): The Hawkeyes’ nine-game road winning streak is a program-record. Without doing the research, we have reason to believe Dan Gable’s Iowa wrestling teams once won 42,956 consecutive road dual meets.
8. Penn State (2-1, 4-2): The Nittany Lions’ next two games are against Ohio State and Purdue. That’s like going to the City of Lights (Paris) and then to the Home of the World’s Largest Fish Fry (Paris, Tenn.)
9. Minnesota (1-2, 4-2): Gopher quarterback Conor Rhoda had thrown two passes in his college career before starting at Maryland Saturday. His team won, 31-10. That cemented his place as the No. 2 favorite Rhoda in Minneapolis history behind Mary Tyler Moore’s neighbor, Rhoda Morgenstern.
10. Indiana (1-2, 3-3): After the Hoosiers’ 27-22 loss to Nebraska, Indiana’s fans had a question. Namely, how does their basketball team replace point guard Yogi Ferrell?
11. Maryland (1-2, 4-2): U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas attended Sunday’s Nebraska-Maryland volleyball match. Nebraska won in straight sets. But Maryland’s lacrosse teams are still better than Nebraska’s.
12. Michigan State (0-3, 2-4): The Spartans have lost four straight games. Michigan’s four other FBS teams — Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Michigan and Western Michigan — have a combined record of 25-4.
13. Pick-6s: Players from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Nebraska returned interceptions for touchdowns Saturday. The moral of the story: Don’t throw interceptions.
14. Illinois (1-2, 2-4): The Illini beat Rutgers, 24-7. Running back Kendrick Foster scored two touchdowns, then said “We were on a losing streak and now all it takes is one win to get on a winning streak.” Illinois is at Michigan Saturday, so that “streak” will become a smudge.
15. Purdue (1-2, 3-3): Purdue fired coach Darrell Hazell Sunday. In unrelated news, sportswriters covering the Iowa-Purdue game had to park at the school’s golf course and get shuttled to Ross-Ade Stadium in a golf cart. Shanks a lot, Purdue.
16. Rutgers (0-4, 2-5): The Scarlet Knights have scored seven points in their last three games, 14 in their last four. Their coach’s name is Chris Ash, and he’s building from ashes.