What is the state of the Big Ten?
In what has largely been a disappointing year all-around in the Big Ten conference, a few teams have finally begun to take to the forefront and into the BCS rankings.
Even idle, however, no team could touch the postseason-banned but undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes.
What went down with the teams behind OSU as quarterback Braxton Miller healed up and watched from the comfort of his own home?
12. Illinois (Last Week: 12)
They mustered just three points against a team giving up on average more than three touchdowns a game. This of course with an offense that has a veteran qb and a coach who was known for his offense while coaching in the MAC. Not good.
11. Iowa (Last Week: 10)
Stick a fork in ‘em. They’re done. Iowa forced three turnovers but was out-gained by 230 yards in a losing effort against lowly Purdue.
The Hawkeyes offense is flat out horrible and its defense can no longer be counted on for giving 60 whole minutes of sound effort.
Oh, Purdue also had 10 penalties for 100 yards to just 2-for-18 for Iowa. How did the Hawkeyes lose again? Oh that’s right, Greg Davis is the worst offensive coordinator in the league. That’s why. If Ferentz doesn’t want any more heat directed at him, he will boot Davis the second the Nebraska game is done.
10. Indiana (Last Week: 8)
Now, I’m not saying everything they had built over the last month had been torn down by Wisconsin, but the unmitigated disaster at least put things back in perspective for the traditional cellar-dweller.
This was IU’s first meaningful football game in a long time and they were about as flat as a Pepsi sitting outside on a July day for 10 hours. The loss all but ended any bowl hopes (they are now at six losses and still have PSU on the slate) and what is so humiliating about it is UW attempted just seven passes all day.
Everyone and their brother knew what was coming and the Hoosiers just took it, like a (insert inappropriate comment here).
9. Purdue (Last Week: 11)
Still a lot of work left to do to make the postseason but they finally looked something like the team that went toe-to-toe with Notre Dame and Ohio State and had harbored such lofty expectations.
Three turnovers and a million penalties won’t cut it against decent teams, but guess what -- the Boilermakers' remaining schedule is at Illinois and Indiana. A bowl looks a lot more likely now than it did just a few days ago.
8. Michigan State (Last Week: 7)
This has more to do with awarding Minnesota for taking care of business against woeful Illinois and making a bowl than punishment for Michigan State. Sparty still has a chance to make a bowl but with Northwestern and a road trip up to Minneapolis, nothing is set in stone.
7. Minnesota (Last Week: 9)
Offensively, it wasn’t the greatest day (especially passing) but Donnell Kirkwood got rolling and put the team on his back. The Gophers' defense completely shut down Illinois, holding them under 300 yards, a wretched third down percentage and just 13 first downs all day. It wasn’t flashy, but it got the job done and got Minnesota to six wins.
They probably can’t beat Nebraska, but if they play like that in two weeks against MSU, there’s a chance to get to 7-5 which is somewhere between two and four wins more than most Big Ten observers would have predicted for the Golden Gophers.
6. Northwestern (Last Week: 4)
Obviously the Wildcats played well enough to win, but if you want to be an upper-echelon team, or even an elite team in this league, you can’t let leads slip away.
In Week 1 they let Syracuse storm back and were fortunate enough to win. Guess what, Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State aren’t Syracuse. The fourth quarter naps cost Northwestern a chance at going to Indy, a real shot at double digit wins and ultimately a trip to Pasadena. They were good enough for the Rose Bowl -- if football was a three period sport.
5. Wisconsin (Last Week: 6)
Let’s just hold on to our hats for a second. Yes, UW drubbed Indiana in what was their most complete game all year -- but it was against one of the league’s worst defenses and Curt Phillips attempted just seven passes. We haven’t seen him against anyone yet. If the Badgers can hold their own with Phillips against Ohio State (or even steals one since it is in Camp Randall) then we put the Badgers farther up.
4. Michigan (Last Week: 4)
Considering the Wolverines' "improved" defense got shredded, and a lucky pass setting up a field goal was needed to force OT - all of this at home - I’m not sure how many Michigan fans are too thrilled about Saturday’s win.
Backup quarterback Devin Gardner played well, but this team needs its heart and soul back in Denard Robinson ASAP. They can get by those sorry Hawks without him, but if they want to make the title game, Robinson needs to play at OSU.
3. Penn State (Last Week: 2)
If not for a horrible call on a lost fumble, PSU would have gotten a lead late in the fourth. The Nittany Lions had other missed opportunities, but that one was the worst. The entire officiating crew should be suspended the remainder of the year and have their pay from that game withheld, in this exceedingly humble writer's opinion. Until these guys have something to lose, shoddy officiating will continue to plague the game. Had the correct call been made and had PSU held on, 7-3 (5-1) with a win in Lincoln would be a lot more impressive than where they currently sit.
2. Nebraska (Last Week: 3)
It takes a special team to play like total you-know-whats in the first half and still find a way to win. Indianapolis isn’t 100-percent sewn up but with Minnesota at home and a road trip to Iowa, it pretty much is.
1. Ohio State (Last Week 1)
In a sorry year for the league, did anyone do anything on Saturday to lead you to believe OSU would be dropped?
Latest from around the Big Ten >> Wisco’s Montee Ball passes Ricky Williams for second-most touchdowns all-time