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Reaching the College Football Playoff is the ultimate goal for top-tier programs across the country, but with a loss here or there, that dream can evaporate in a hurry. However, for four representatives of the Big Ten in 2016, there is still hope, and that adds another layer of intrigue when it comes to competing for the conference championship.

Five teams remain in contention to reach Indianapolis to play for the Big Ten title and, non-coincidentally in this banner year for the conference, four of them have legitimate CFP chances. Michigan is in with a win over Ohio State (on the road) this week, Penn State must take care of business against Michigan State and root hard for the Buckeyes, and Ohio State needs a lot of help but owns the top ranking at this current moment.

In the West, it is a two-team race, with Wisconsin needing only to knock off Minnesota at home to reach Indy. However, the door is open for Nebraska is the Badgers fall, and given the way the Golden Gophers looked in dismantling Northwestern, that possibility seems to exist to some degree.

We have reached the stretch run, folks. Let’s be careful out there. Here are this week’s Big Ten power rankings.

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 12 (last week’s rank in parentheses)

  1. Ohio State (↔)
  2. Michigan (↔)
  3. Wisconsin (↔)
  4. Penn State (↔)
  5. Minnesota (↑ 2)
  6. Nebraska (↔)
  7. Iowa (↓ 2)
  8. Indiana (↑ 1)
  9. Northwestern (↓ 1)
  10. Michigan State (↑ 3)
  11. Maryland (↓ 1)
  12. Purdue (↓ 1)
  13. Illinois (↓ 1)
  14. Rutgers (↔)
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