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Big Ten rankings: Michigan State remains class of conference

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The league has six one-loss teams, but Michigan State appears to be the only league team with a shot at earning a playoff bid. The West Division title chase is going to be an entertaining one, and Nebraska's visit to Northwestern this week could end up having a big bearing on the race.

1. Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 in Big Ten)

Up next: at Indiana, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: Michigan State is the most complete team in the league, but the Spartans had better learn how to finish off opponents before it comes back to bite them.

2. Ohio State (4-1, 1-0)

Up next: vs. Rutgers, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: The Buckeyes have won 17 consecutive Big Ten regular-season games, three shy of the record set from 2005-07 by the Jim Tressel-coached Buckeyes.

3. Nebraska (5-1, 1-1)

Up next: at Northwestern, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: Expect to see a steady diet of Ameer Abdullah against Northwestern. He continues to be underappreciated nationally despite ranking fourth in rushing (146.3 yards per game).

4. Iowa (5-1, 2-0)

Up next: at Maryland, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: If Iowa has any designs on winning the West Division, it needs to win on the road this weekend.

5. Minnesota (5-1, 2-0)

Up next: vs. Purdue, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: Purdue (this week) and Illinois (next week) back-to-back? The Big Ten scheduling gods sure were kind to the Golden Gophers.

6. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1)

Up next: vs. Maryland, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Maybe the Badgers can use their off week to improve their passing attack from atrocious to merely bad.

7. Northwestern (3-3, 2-1)

Up next: vs. Nebraska, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: The past three games between the Wildcats and Huskers have been decided by a total of seven points, and each of the past two have come down to the final play.

8. Maryland (4-2, 1-1)

Up next: vs. Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: The defense has been a disappointment. The good news is that there aren't many high-powered offenses left on the schedule.

9. Rutgers (5-1, 1-1)

Up next: at Ohio State, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: There's nothing like heading to Columbus to play your first-ever Big Ten road game.

10. Penn State (4-2, 1-2)

Up next: vs. Ohio State, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: The Nittany Lions' offense is in shambles, even with stud QB Christian Hackenberg.

11. Michigan (3-4, 1-2)

Up next: at Michigan State, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Brady Hoke is enjoying a brief respite this week, but he cannot be looking forward to playing "Little Brother" next week.

12. Indiana (3-3, 0-2)

Up next: vs, Michigan State, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: With QB Nate Sudfeld out for the season, the Hoosiers will have to turn to a true freshman quarterback to start this week. Yeah, that should turn out well.

13. Purdue (3-4, 1-2)

Up next: at Minnesota, Saturday, Oct. 18
The skinny: Purdue this weekend will be trying to score at least 31 points for the third game in a row for the first time since 2009.

14. Illinois (3-4, 0-3)

Up next: vs. Minnesota, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Illinois is last in the league in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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