Time to decide who’s on top

Dust settles on the regular season after a wild Week 12 in the Big Ten that saw some upsets, Wisconsin with a late win in Nebraska to qualify for the Bowl and a series of crazy finishes.

Next week, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines will meet to decide things in the Big Ten East, with a Big Ten championship game berth and likely a college football playoff berth at stake.

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Rivalry week also heads to Madison, where the Badgers are looking to avenge last year’s late loss to Minnesota.

Where are the Badgers and how is it at the top? Here are our BadgersWire Big Ten Power Rankings after Week 12:


Northwest: 1-10

09/03/2021; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald reacts after a fourth quarter game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a disastrous season at Evanston, and Northwestern dropped their Week 12 matchup against Purdue. It was another embarrassing performance from the offense, scoring 9 points while struggling in every way.


Nebraska: 3-8

LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 19: Wisconsin Badgers running back Isaac Guerendo #20 catches a pass against Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Javin Wright #33 during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

How do you do that? Week after week, Nebraska finds a way to lose a tight game. It’s amazing but believable at this point. Nebraska outplayed Wisconsin for long stretches on Saturday but found a way to give Graham Mertz and his crew a game-winning drive.


Rueger: 4-7

November 6, 2021; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano walks onto the field before the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State was unsurprisingly all Rutgers on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights were lit for 55 points as they continued to battle on both sides of the ball.


State of Michigan: 5-6

10/15/2022; East Lansing, Michigan, United States; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker speaks over the headset against the Wisconsin Badgers at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State made its best impression in Nebraska in a double overtime loss to Indiana. How did they find a way to crush a 24-7 lead at home? Indiana was able to unleash its running game and lead to a win.


Indiana: 4-7

Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen walks along the sidelines during the fourth quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, October 23, 2021 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. Credit: Joshua A Bickel/Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK

It wasn’t a great season at Bloomington, but Saturday’s comeback win over Michigan State was certainly a highlight. Indiana running back Shaun Shivers rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns for the dramatic win.


Purdue: 7-4

Oct 8, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell (16) scrambles as Maryland Terrapins linebacker Jaishawn Barham (1) applies pressure in the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

A nondescript win over Northwestern defined Purdue’s Week 12. The Boilermakers were a wildly inconsistent group in 2022, showing high flashes mixed with low lows. It’s rivalry week against Indiana awaiting the Boilermakers.


Maryland: 6-5

November 5, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) is released by Wisconsin Badgers nose tackle Keeanu Benton (95) in the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we said Purdue had a nondescript win, but Maryland had arguably the most impressive loss of the group in Week 12.

Taulia Tagovailoa kept them ahead against No. 2 Ohio State, and the Terrapins even went into halftime with a 13-10 lead over the Buckeyes.


Wisconsin: 6-5

11/19/2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

How did you do that? Who knows, but they did. Wisconsin played arguably the worst half of football of the entire season in Nebraska’s first half, but prevailed thanks to Mertz’s clutch play and offense coupled with a more solid defense.


Minnesota: 7-4

09/01/2022; Minneapolis, Minn., USA; The Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) break a tackle from New Mexico State Aggies linebacker Chris Ojoh (3) in the first quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

It was another big day for Mo Ibrahim in the loss to Iowa, but the inconsistencies for Minnesota continued. It all ends in Madison with the Battle for the Ax on Saturday.


Illinois: 7-4

10/29/2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema greets linebacker Tarique Barnes (8) on the touchline during the fourth quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

The Fighting Illini have returned to earth in recent weeks but had an excellent shot at defeating Michigan on Saturday. The offense started late, but the Wolverines pulled them out in the end.


Iowa: 7-4

11/12/2022; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defenseman Riley Moss (33) and defenseman Kaevon Merriweather (26) carry the Heartland Trophy after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa continues to dictate their own destiny in the Big Ten West, and all they need is a win over Nebraska to enter the championship game. The offense is still nothing special, but Phil Parker’s defense has carried the Hawkeyes further than many thought they could go.


Pennsylvania: 9-2

Penn State players laugh as they pretend to drop the Governor’s Victory Bell trophy after beating Minnesota (45-17) in a white out game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, October 22, 2022 at the state defeated college.

Penn State ran all over Rutgers on Saturday en route to a 55-10 win. The Nittany Lions had a two-headed ground attack from Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton, who combined for over 175 yards.



April 2, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh listens as quarterback Alan Bowman (15) presses the offense together during the spring game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It was close, but Michigan avoided a monster excitement in a late home win over Illinois on Saturday. Ohio State will once again define the end of its season as the Wolverines look to defeat the Buckeyes again.


Ohio State: 11-0

09/24/2022; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud (7) falls back to throw in the first quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

This one is easy. The Buckeyes didn’t have their best day in Maryland, but Ohio State has the highest ceiling of any team in the conference and it’s not particularly close. The state’s No. 2 team hosts Michigan on Saturday.