The Big Ten has been much-maligned in recent years. But there's a case to be made that it's the top conference in college football this season, and having five teams ranked USA Today coaches poll for Week 9 helps with that.
Michigan State is the only undefeated team left for the conference, but the Spartans move up to fifth, putting them well within range of a BCS National Championship Game appearance should the teams ahead of them slip. Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa make up a strong middle class for the conference, and Michigan keeps sneaking into the back end of polls because of a potent Denard Robinson-led offense.
It's probably a hard sell to slot the Big Ten ahead of either the SEC or Pac-10, especially when Michigan State would be a heavy underdog to Oregon or Auburn, but the Big Ten seems to be up in a down year for other traditionally stacked conferences. Maybe much-maligned is just another way of saying underrated.
And hey, next year, Nebraska joins the party.
Full Big Ten rankings are as follows:
- No. 5 Michigan State
- No. 9 Wisconsin
- No. 10 Ohio State
- No. 19 Iowa
- No. 25 Michigan