Gophers beat writer Randy Johnson ranks ’em:


1. Penn State (5-0, 2-0): So now Saquon Barkley is THROWING touchdown passes, too? This might not be fair.

2. Michigan (4-0, 1-0): Bye week came at a good time for the Wolverines, who are host to the rival Spartans on Saturday night.

3. Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0): Badgers are the team to beat in the West, and they could cement that status at Nebraska.

4. Ohio State (4-1, 2-0): Maryland can score a bit, but the Buckeyes have more than enough weapons to offset that.

5. Michigan State (3-1, 1-0): Coming off a solid win vs. Iowa, the Spartans can show that they’re back by winning at Michigan.

6. Iowa (3-2, 0-2): After back-to-back tight losses to Penn State and Michigan State, the Hawkeyes should get well with visit from Illinois.

7. Maryland (3-1, 1-0): As Gophers found out, the Terps have playmakers who’ll make opponents pay for mistakes.

8. Purdue (2-2, 0-1): Emotions will run high in West Lafayette against Gophers in first game since former coach Joe Tiller’s death.

9. Gophers (3-1, 0-1): A run-it-up-the-middle offense will have problems in the Big Ten. Gophers need some variety.

10. Nebraska (3-2, 2-0): The Rutgers/Illinois portion of the schedule is over. Now comes a visit from Wisconsin.

11. Northwestern (2-2, 0-1): The Wildcats showed moxie in hanging with Wisconsin. Can they convert that to a win against Penn State?

12. Indiana (2-2, 0-2): The Hoosiers can get halfway to bowl eligibility with a win over Charleston Southern. The other three wins won’t be so easy.

13. Illinois (2-2, 0-1): The Illini rank last in both total offense and total defense in the Big Ten. Consistency!

14. Rutgers (1-4, 0-2): Over the past two years in games against Ohio State (twice), Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan, the Scarlet Knights have been outscored 280-0.