Ohio State is the last unbeaten team standing in the Big Ten at 6-0 after Michigan suffered its first loss in a 43-40, four-overtime thriller at Penn State on Saturday in the game of the day and possibly the season.
The Buckeyes, who were idle, remained No. 4 in the Associated Press poll released Sunday. But they could improve their national championship hopes and move up a notch next week with a win at home over Iowa and a loss by No. 3 Clemson to No. 5 Florida State.
With only two teams among the Top 25, the Big Ten isn’t getting much respect from poll voters. Consider that the SEC has eight teams in the AP rankings and the ACC has three in the top 10.
Michigan fell back to join Michigan State and Nebraska as the conference’s one-loss teams. All three are just outside the AP Top 25 this week.
Michigan State cranked up its offense in a 42-28 victory over Indiana and Nebraska had no problem at lowly Purdue in a 44-7 rout. The Old Brass Spittoon trophy stayed with Michigan State after the Spartans won their fifth straight over Indiana.
Wisconsin staked a claim for the second-best team in the Big Ten. The Badgers moved back into the poll at No. 25 after a 33-6 victory at home over Northwestern while the Wildcats and Michigan disappeared from the rankings after their losses.
Northwestern was riding high two weeks ago before running into Ohio State and Wisconsin. Back-to-back losses, including the shellacking in Madison on Saturday, sent the Wildcats to the bottom of the Legends Division standings with an 0-2 record in Big Ten play.
Penn State rebounded from a resounding loss at Indiana with the dramatic victory at home over Michigan. The Nittany Lions’ personnel might be thinned because of scholarship limitations from NCAA sanctions, but their pride and determination have not diminished.
Michigan, meanwhile, remains an enigma. After surviving close calls in nonconference games against Akron and Connecticut, the Wolverines played another tight game, but this one went against them at Penn State after rallying to take the lead and then losing it.