Sep 15, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) drops back to pass against the Boston College Eagles during the third quarter at Ryan Field. Northwestern won 22-13. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE
What is going on in the Big Ten? It's not like we're a dominate football conference, but things have been gettin wacky round these parts. Wisconsin looked to be one of the powerhouse teams this season, and now they seem like a bunch of turds trying to figure out who plays what. The best team in the conference can't even compete in postseason play!
This week wasn't as crazy as last, though. Still pissed that Michigan State didn't take Notre Dame out back to the woodshed for a wippin'. God, I really hate Notre Dame, but at least that win makes Purdue look really good. I'm also jumping on the Northwestern bandwagon hard. Call me out for it if you want, but the Wildcats are a really fun team to watch and all of their games have been exciting.
Now, lets get into this week's rankings.
1. Ohio State (3-0. Week 2 ranking: 2)
Even though they are intelligible for postseason play, you have to give credit where credit is due. The Buckeyes look to be the best team in the Big Ten and Braxton Miller is thriving under head coach Urban Meyer's system. OSU's secondary has been 'Pick City' this season, but they are still giving up an average of almost 400 yards a game to opposing teams (392) and rank 9th in the Big Ten in total defense. Each game has been more of a challenge for the Buckeyes. This week they welcome the UAB Blazers for their fourth straight home game. They won't face a true challenge till they take their talents on the road to play Michigan State in week 5. At that point the team can't rely on Braxton Miller alone.
2. Michigan State (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 1)
The loss against Notre Dame was the first time the Spartans have not scored a touchdown in a game since 1991. It was also one of the most boring college football games I've watched this entire season. Nothing really happened in this game. Both teams didn't play that well and I ended up just going to bed at the start of the third quarter. MSU will need to bounce back this week when they take on Eastern Michigan at home; and they will most certainly bounce back. Notre Dame has a stingy defense with a lot of great play makers thta held MSU in check. Although this was a rather embarrassing loss at home I don't see Sparty taking very many loses, if any, the rest of the season. Le'Veon Bell and the offense will find their bearings this week and put up big numbers, while the defense gets their confidence back as they smack around Eastern Michigan to get the Spartans back on the winning track.
3. Michigan (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 5)
Denard Robinson has already scored 10 touchdowns this season; six through the air and four on the ground. In their last two games he's doing what we refer to in the biz as "going bat shit crazy". One thing he needs to do is eliminate the turnovers; he has four interceptions to go along with his six touchdowns. But with Robinson's style of play you can expect him to turn the ball over occasionally. The Wolverine's defense has started playing at a higher level as well, holding opponents to a league best 157.7 passing yards per game. However, they'll need to stop letting teams put so many points on the board as they've allowed 26.3 points per game thus far. Michigan has a big challenge ahead of them this week when they go face Notre Dame in 'The Bend'. Denard Robinson has always played well against the Irish. Hopefully this trend continues and Michigan will hand ND their first loss of the season.
4. Northwestern (3-0. Week 2 ranking: 4)
With the way this team is playing, Northwestern could easily start off the season 6-0! Their next three games are South Dakota, IU, and at Penn State. NU is the only FBS team to beat major conference opponents in its first three games. Northwestern duked it out with Boston College in a game won by kicking and defense. The Wildcats only managed to put up one touchdown, yet still found a win to win. Although these guys aren't the greatest at any lone category, they know how to win and understand what their roles are. This team looks like it will have success in the near future, but they're going to have to start scoring more touchdowns if they want to keep this winning streak alive.
5. Purdue (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 6)
Purdue dominated Eastern Michigan on both sides of the ball. Last season, Purdue scored only one touchdown of 40 yards or more; against EMU Purdue scored four 40+ yard touchdowns. Caleb TerBush showed that he can perform well when he is allowed to stay in the game and develop a rhythm and Antavian Edison is turning out to be the big play receiver we thought he would be in the preseason. Runningbacks Akeem Hunt, Akeem Shavers, Brandon Cottom, and Danny Anthrop had tremendous games where each scored a touchdown; Cottom had the longest TD run of the game at 87 yards. We had a lot of players show a lot of promise. Our defense also had three interceptions and held the Eagles to just 313 yards. Purdue is looking great thus far and is clicking on all cylinders. If Purdue keeps this up we could be a serious contender for the Leaders division title.
6. Nebraska (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 3)
Nebraska didn't do anything wrong to drop three spots in this week's ranking. They dominated Arkansas State at home and Taylor Martinez bounced back from a poor show the week before. I had to put Northwestern and Purdue ahead of Nebraska just because of their loss against UCLA the week before that. But with that being said, this is still a scary team when they are hot. They'll need to work on not turning over the ball as they gave it away with four fumbles to a mediocre, at best, Arkansas State team. Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell are started to emerge as offensive threats for this team as well. It will be interesting to see how Nebraska looks going forward. Their defense can be a little shaky at times, but the firepower behind this offense makes up for it.
7. Minnesota (3-0. Week 2 ranking: 7)
Fact: Minnesota has the second best pass defense in the Big Ten behind Michigan. They are tied at second for most interceptions this season with Purdue and are third in total yards allowed with 293.3 per game. This team has been deceptively good on defense. However, the Gophers lost starting quarterback MarQueis Gray to an ankle injury that will keep him out 2-4 weeks. Sophomore back up Max Shortell stepped up and led the Gophers to a victory with his three touchdowns and 188 yards. Shortell showed that he can take over for Gray while he recovers from the injury. Syracuse is coming to town this week and it will be the test for this defense. Minnesota will need to score early and often to walk away from this one.
8. Illinois (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 7)
The Illini blew out a win-less Big South team on Saturday. There's really not a lot to go on this. Illinois played a really terrible team and looked really good while doing it. Look at this game as a confidence builder for the Illini going forward. Illinois should be getting starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase back this week, which is great news for them. The Illini have showed they can be dominate at home, but still have that terrible loss at Arizona State hanging over their heads. This team is hard to gauge, but I think we'll have a better idea about them in their next three games against Louisiana Tech, Penn State, and Wisconsin.
9. Wisconsin (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 8)
This is the second week in a row that the Badgers have made me look like a douche for saying they would win the Big Ten title. Wisconsin almost blew a home victory against a WAC team. The good news is that Montee Ball had a huge game where he rushed for 139 yards and touchdown, yet it took him 37 carries to do so. The Badgers are going through a huge identity crisis right now. Outside of Ball, no one on this team looks that good. Bret Bielema and Wisconsin should be in a full out panic mode right now. UTEP is coming to town this Saturday. Normally I'd say this is a guaranteed win, but due to recent events, I'm not sure if I can say that it will be. Needless to say, I think Wisconsin walks away with a W here and starts to get themselves back on track.
10. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 10)
Walk-on fullback Mark Weisman helped the Hawkeyes remember what scoring touchdowns at home was like as Iowa defeated UNI 27-16. Weisman was a nice surprise for the game as he rushed for 3 touchdowns and 113 yards. Senior quarterback James Vandenberg has still not thrown a touchdown this season, and red-flags should start to be raised about that. This team has good depth at running back, though, and that could lead them to success down the road. That, and their solid defense.
11. Penn State (1-2. Week 2 ranking: 12)
It looks like Bill O'Brien and the Nittany Lions are starting to figure things out. Matt McGloin had a stellar game with 4 touchdowns and 231 yards passing. The defense looked sharp and upbeat as they held Navy to a lone, garbage touchdown while also forcing 4 turnovers. Allen Robinson is turning into McGloin's favorite target and this game showed that they had some good chemistry going. Penn State will look to get its first home win of the season this Saturday against the Temple Owls. If this team starts clicking, it has the talent to finish in the middle of the pack.
12. Indiana (2-1. Week 2 ranking: 11)
Indiana quarterbacks Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld booth looked good against this Ball State team. Actually, the offense as a whole didn't look too terrible as the Hoosiers mustered up 558 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. However, that was to a poor Ball State team. The Hoosiers gave BSU 440 total yards of offense five touchdowns and the game. If IU is giving up 440 yards to a MAC team, Hoosier fans should be terrified of what will happen when Big Ten teams come to play. IU's quarterback situation may be solved, but the defense is something that will struggle for the rest of the season.