Big Ten Power Rankings Week 11: Hot Diggity Dog for Northwestern in Lincoln

Lake CruiseAnalyst INovember 6, 2011

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 11: Hot Diggity Dog for Northwestern in Lincoln

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    Will the Blackshirts be going back into the hamper for good this season in the wake of Nebraska's loss to Northwestern last Saturday?

    According to multiple sources, the Cornhuskers had 21 Blackshirts handed out this week by coach Bo Pelini. He could decide to take them back for good this year as a motivational device in the aftermath of the huge upset suffered by his team in Lincoln.

    Can the Wildcats, though, keep up their upsetting ways in the Big Ten? And what to make of the Leaders Division front runners stationed at not so Happy Valley considering Penn State's situation?

    Meanwhile, Michigan State took control of first place as the Huskers and Wolverines went down in upsets. Can the Spartans remain there? These and other burning thoughts will be answered in this week's edition of the Big Ten Power Rankings courtesy of yours truly.

12. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Thoughtfully, basketball season soon commences in Bloomington. Bobby Knight and former Hoosiers are unspeakably relieved, I'd imagine, after witnessing the football season this year.

    Yes, you guessed it, Indiana remains the only winless team in the Big Ten this season. The good news is Michigan State is next on the schedule. A chance for an upset of huge ramifications in East Lansing is the Hoosiers' only hope for football legitimacy in 2011.

    Don't go Hoosiers, however, digging for gold in Michigan.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Keep smiling, Minnesota, for Groundhog Day is around the bend. The Golden Gophers basketball team could grind a few top Big Ten hoops teams into the hardwood.

    After starting off with a promising look against Michigan State, though, Gophers football dug their way into another hold that they couldn't climb out of. Oh, well, such is Big Ten football life.

10. Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Illinois squeaked by Northwestern in Evanston, 38-35, on October 1. Since then, the Illini have beaten Indiana and lost to Ohio State, Purdue and Penn State in successive weeks.

    Smile cheerleader, the good news is that the Fighting Illini faces Michigan this week in what might be bubbly Champagne, Ill.

    The Wolverines, though, have their backs to the wall after losing to Iowa and should be inspired to claw their way to an impressive victory. God bless both teams and cheerleading squads.

9. Purdue Boilermakers

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    The Boilermakers' cheering squad is always bubbly, but I can't blame them if they feel suspended on the shoulders of giants who've allowed them to tumble.

    Purdue has lost, in their last two games, to Michigan and Wisconsin. Those losses aren't to be ashamed of. Keep your heads and shoulders high, Boilermakers.

    Shout for joy, even if you lose to Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana in the weeks to come. At least you all are fighting to be bowl eligible as opposed to losing six in a row to end last season.

8. Michigan Wolverines

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    The seasoned X-Men could possibly leave Illinois with smiling faces. It will be a very interesting battle between outstanding quarterbacks. The rest of both teams will show up as well.

    I'd pay to see the cheerleader battle at halftime, that is, if there is one. If not, then the football game will suffice. The Wolverines will come in with their claws sharpened and their helmets polished with intentions to shine in Champagne.

    Michigan is in second place behind their Paul Bunyan Trophy rivals in East Lansing. Too bad the battle of Michigan has already taken place. I'll be cheering for the Wolverines, though, but I cheer for every team.

    There isn't any partiality in Lake's blood.

7. Iowa Hawkeyes

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    The Hawkeyes partially bloodied the Wolverines last Saturday in a nail-biter that went down to the final gun. Iowa survived to try capturing Spartan prey from the Paul Bunyan State.

    The grass is always greener on the other side, so I've heard. I'll be watching to see if the birds or the Bunyans come away with the most green. Stay tuned. Money (Lake) will bring you the cash count after the victor is announced.

6. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    The Cornhuskers always seem to lose when they commit more than one turnover. Their offense, hasn't been pass-oriented enough to overcome putting the ball on the proverbial turf.

    That truism held true last Saturday after the Wildcats took advantage of two turnovers in the first quarter to eventually upset the Huskers at Memorial Stadium.

    Who knows what to make of the Nebraska team this season? I don't. They got blown away in Madison, fought back to beat Ohio State in Lincoln and lost the other NU under Big Red Nation's noses.

    Last week stinks, but I believe the trash from that game will be thrown out. Going down the stretch, therefore, the Huskers will bounce back to challenge for the Legends Division title.

5. Northwestern Wildcats

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    Although the Big Ten title is out of the question for Northwestern as 17-point underdogs, they saw and conquered the Cornhuskers.

    The defense was gift-wrapping 400 yards-plus for their opponents' offense per game. The Wildcats defense stepped up in limiting the juggernaut running game of the Nebraska Huskers.

    Devoted fans in Lincoln couldn't believe their eyes as the Cats continued to stun them throughout the game. From kickoff to click-clacking final gun, the Wildcats remained in control.

    The final was 28-25. It was the third straight time a top 10 team fell at the hands of an unranked team. Clemson and Oklahoma fell victim to Georgia Tech last week and Texas Tech two weeks ago, respectively.

    The Wildcats pulled off the biggest upset of them all, and Michigan State is thankful. I believe, however, that the Cats could upset MSU on November 26.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    As expected, the Buckeyes didn't get upset by Indiana. The Ohio State University football team instead ran wild against the basketball-oriented Hoosiers.

    Braxton Miller looked like Michael Vick while setting the OSU school record for longest touchdown run by a quarterback.

    Back-to-back-to-back wins for the Buckeyes made them bowl eligible and still in the hunt for first place in the Leaders Division behind second place Wisconsin and first place Penn State.

    Ohio State faces the Nittany Lions on November 19. If OSU keeps chopping trees, then they could end up in the Big Ten Championship Game. Yes, you heard me.

3. Wisconsin Badgers

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    If you haven't heard, then Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2) pounded Purdue to Boilermaker oblivion by a score of 62-17. It was one of the most impressive victories in the Big Ten season.

    Although the Boilers struggled against Michigan last week, Purdue was competitive against Penn State in Happy Valley. The Makers lost to the Nittany Lions, but beat Illinois on October 22.

    Purdue came in a very distant second, however, to the Badgers last week in Madison. The Boilermakers may have helped Wisconsin right the ship.

2. Michigan State Spartans

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    The Spartans took control of the Legends Division cruise liner with their victory over Minnesota. The Golden Gophers gave them a run for their money, though.

    Watching the first quarter, I was almost convinced that an upset was in the making. The Spartans, however, showed their fighting spirit and grounded the Gophers in East Lansing.

    Shame on Minnesota for trying to hog the spotlight. Michigan State is now in the strobe of Legends Division supremacy, even though they lost to Nebraska.

1. Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Rocked by the strobe light of scandal surrounding former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, will the Nittany Lions be able to overcome the distraction? With Joe Paterno at the helm, there is a good chance they will.

    Penn State (8-1, 5-0) had a bye week and thus remained No. 1 on my power list. The team from Happy Valley will need to put on smiling faces and think positive for the next three weeks.

    Paterno's squad faces Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin to end the regular season. They could still lose the Leaders Division to either Wisconsin or Ohio State.

    Being a statesman via the written word is my specialty. Catch me next week on another special edition of Lake's Big Ten Tumult Report.

    Contact Lake Cruise: Lakecruise@att.net