If AP and coaches poll rankings are your metric of choice, it's hard to argue that any conference is as good as the Big Ten right now.
Four Big Ten teams landed in the top 10 of both the AP and coaches polls when the new sets of rankings were released Sunday afternoon.
It's important to keep in mind, of course, that these polls have no impact on which teams will compete for a national championship. The rankings that do make their debut Tuesday, when the College Football Playoff selection committee release their first rankings of the season.
Michigan, which scored a hard-fought but still dominant win over in-state rival Michigan State on Saturday, kept its No. 2 spot in both polls. The Wolverines are the Big Ten's lone remaining undefeated team, at 8-0 as they appear to be barnstorming toward a Big Ten East Division title, a spot in the conference title game and a berth in the College Football Playoff. Of course, the regular-season finale with Ohio State will be a determining factor in all of those quests, but right now few teams in the country are playing better than Michigan, which ranks No. 1 in college football in scoring defense and No. 3 in scoring offense.
Aforementioned Ohio State improved to 7-1 with a narrow win over Northwestern on Saturday and ranked No. 6 in both polls Sunday, maintaining its spot in the AP and moving up two slots in the coaches. The Buckeyes are not looking like the dominant force they appeared to be through the season's first few games, clearly needing every last drop to get through the last three games against Wisconsin, Penn State and Northwestern — two wins by a total of 11 points and a loss in Happy Valley. Another huge test awaits next weekend against Nebraska.
Wisconsin, which scored its third win of the season over a top-10 opponent Saturday by beating Nebraska, 23-17, in overtime, moved up three spots from No. 11 to No. 8 in both sets of rankings. The Badgers' defense continues to wow, ranking third in the country in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. Wisconsin has another challenge coming up next weekend, on the road at Northwestern. The Badgers will still need some help from the Huskers to make the Big Ten title game, as the Huskers have just one conference loss compared to the Badgers' two. But Wisconsin should feel good about its College Football Playoff resume, with its lone losses coming to top-six teams in Michigan and Ohio State.
Nebraska is still in the driver's seat of the Big Ten West Division standings despite losing its undefeated season Saturday in Madison. The Huskers dropped in both polls Sunday, down from No. 7 to No. 9 in the AP poll and down from No. 6 to No. 10 in the coaches. If the season ended today, Nebraska would be heading to Indy, but next weekend's trip to Columbus could change all that. Still, the Huskers proved Saturday they're playing championship-caliber football and are definitely still in the running for a Playoff berth.
Penn State was the fifth Big Ten team in the top-25 rankings this week, up from No. 24 to No. 20 in the AP poll and into the coaches poll at No. 23. The Nittany Lions, thanks to a tiebreaker after that win over Ohio State, still sit in second place in the Big Ten East Division standings.
Northwestern and Minnesota both received votes in this week's coaches poll.