Big Ten rankings: Michigan State, Ohio State battling for top spot

The league's game of the year is Saturday in East Lansing, when Michigan State plays host to Ohio State. That game almost certainly will determine the East Division titlist. The West Division, meanwhile, is a four-team race; two of the four teams -- Iowa and Minnesota -- get together this weekend. The other two teams are Nebraska and Wisconsin, and all four teams play each other this month.

1. Michigan State (7-1, 4-0 in Big Ten)

Up next: vs. Ohio State, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: This weekend is a season-defining game for the Spartans.

2. Ohio State (7-1, 4-0)

Up next: at Michigan State, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: QB J.T. Barrett has played superbly of late, but going against the Spartans' defense -- and in East Lansing at that -- will be the toughest test yet.

3. Nebraska (8-1, 4-1)

Up next: at Wisconsin, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: The Huskers are off this weekend, which is good; that will enable TB Ameer Abdullah to get healthy. If he's not 100 percent, the Huskers might not win again this season.

4. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1)

Up next: at Purdue, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: The Badgers play their second consecutive road game this weekend. Usually, back-to-back road games -- especially during the final month of the season -- are difficult. But Wisconsin had Rutgers last week and gets the Boilermakers this week, and that's notdifficult.

5. Iowa (6-2, 3-1)

Up next: at Minnesota, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: The Hawkeyes are coming off their best game of the season, a demolition of Northwestern, and they're hoping there is some carryover effect this week.

6. Minnesota (6-2, 3-1)

Up next: vs. Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: The Golden Gophers and Hawkeyes meet for the 108th time Saturday in a key Big Ten West Division affair. The teams play for the best trophy in all of college football, "Floyd of Rosedale," a bronze pig.

7. Maryland (6-3, 3-2)

Up next: vs. Michigan State, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: The Terps ruffled a few feathers with their pre-game antics before last week's win over Penn State. As a result, star WR Stefon Diggs has been suspended by the league for next week's game against Michigan State.

8. Northwestern (3-5, 2-3)

Up next: vs. Michigan, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: The Wildcats have won just 15 times in 72 meetings with the Wolverines, including just five times since 1959. But if ever there were a season in which Northwestern could beat Michigan, this would seem to be it.

9. Penn State (4-4, 1-4)

Up next: at Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: The offensive line has been brutal for much of the season. Good news, then, that Indiana's tissue-soft defense is up next.

10. Rutgers (5-4, 1-4)

Up next: vs. Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: The Scarlet Knights have the week off after suffering consecutive losses to Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin by a combined 135-41 (an average score of 45-14).

Check out the alternate college football uniforms worn during the 2014 season.

11. Purdue (3-6, 1-4)

Up next: vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: The Boilermakers have dropped eight in a row to the Badgers, and they haven't been close -- Wisconsin's average victory margin is 24 points.

12. Illinois (4-5, 1-4)

Up next: vs. Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: This looks as if it will be the Illini's 10th bowl-less season in the past 13.

13. Michigan (4-5, 2-3)

Up next: at Northwestern, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: The Wolverines beat Indiana last week but haven't won back-to-back games this season. The last time that happened was 2008, in Rich Rodriguez's first season. Before that, 1962 was the last time the Wolverines didn't win back-to-back games at least once in a season.

14. Indiana (3-5, 0-4)

Up next: vs. Penn State, Saturday, Nov. 8
The skinny: TB Tevin Coleman is the nation's leading rusher (162.5 yards per game). But given the state of the Hoosiers' passing attack and the toughness of Penn State's defense, that's unlikely to be the case when the weekend is over.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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