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Big Ten Week 2 in review

Right now the Big Ten does not have a good national perception and I tend to agree with that assessment. When we are being considered one of the best teams in the conference right now that is not a good sign, because while I believe we are a good team, I don't think we are near being on the level of the best in the country and that is where the best teams in the conference should be. Considering that one of the conference favorites is in dead last place at 0-2 and now is facing questions of whether or not it will even get to a bowl game when a few weeks ago they were thinking about winning a national championship it has so far not been a good year for the conference as a whole. This is the week where some of the conference powers can make a statement before conference play begins, but I fear that we are being set up for another bowl season where every team gets exposed.

Michigan is obviously out of the race. Even though they have not started conference play very team on their schedule is chomping at the bit to get a shot at them while they are down. Now they have to go to an inexperienced freshman quarterback and face the rest of their schedule with a banged up Mike Hart. Wisconsin just struggled to beat UNLV, one of the worst teams in the country. Penn State has looked pretty good so far, but they have yet to face a defense with a pulse. Ohio State certainly has the defense, but the offense is questionable.

At least it means some other teams will get some press at the top instead of Michigan and Ohio State.

Week 2 Big Ten Power Rankings:

  1. (2) Penn State (2-0)

So far the Nittany Lions have been the total package, outscoring their opponents 80-10. Defensively they have surrendered just a field goal to Notre Dame, and the offense has been able to move the ball well against two inferior defenses. They still have another tune up this week in what should be a laugher against Buffalo, and they may come into the conference season having not surrendered a defensive touchdown. Against Notre Dame they were also able to get the running game going. Suddenly the road trip to Michigan in two weeks doesn't look nearly as dangerous. That means Penn State's most difficult games are all at home with Ohio State and Wisconsin coming to Happy Valley.

Penn State will need to stay focused, but right now they should be 6-0 going into the Wisconsin game. The week before that game they have a very interesting trip to Iowa, who is playing some good defense of its own at the moment. If Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw can keep the running game going for Penn State they will keep the Nittany Lions at the top all season long. Of course this team gets a ton of bonus points with me for owning Notre Dame this week.

  1. (3) Ohio State (2-0)

The defense is certainly there as they have only allowed six points so far, and they wouldn't allow Akron to do anything. The offense still struggled to get anything going though and Akron was in the game until the fourth quarter. That's all good and well against the Akrons of the world, but better teams would have been able to take advantage of this largesse and score some points to put them behind. We'll find out a lot more this week after Ohio State goes to Washington for a game that suddenly will be a very tough test. I'm not fully convinced that Ohio State can win from behind yet, but give them the lead and it's like seeing Mariano Rivera coming out of the bullpen in the playoffs before 2001.

Chris Wells also hasn't gotten totally on track yet, as he only has 189 yards and a touchdown through two games. Brian Robiskie has been playing very well at wide receiver so far as well. Ohio State is beginning to look like the 2002 team that kept pulling out close game after close game, but if they get past Washington this week they should have only Purdue standing in the way of an 8-0 record going into Happy Valley.

  1. (1) Wisconsin (2-0)

They didn't look like the best team in the Big Ten this week and that is why I am bringing them down. In fact they looked like they spent too much time partying in Vegas and showed up just enough to win a football game. This week if they have the same trouble I am dropping them even further as they will be playing The Citadel, another 1-AA cream puff.

They will go as far as Tyler Donovan and P.J. Hill will carry them, and this week's game is a good chance to work on things before opening with Iowa. Since the Hawkeyes are suddenly playing very stout on defense that game will probably be the best of the first week of conference games. Until that game I will reserve my full judgment of the Badgers.

  1. (4) Purdue (2-0)

There's still a major drop off between spots three and four on this list, but the Boilermakers can jump into the top spots simply because they don't play Wisconsin and they get Ohio State at home. Ohio State has struggled in West Lafayette of late, so it is far from a guaranteed win, and the offense should be tuned up quite nicely with three more poor defenses to face before that game. It also helps that Purdue's defense has learned to stop someone, even if it is Eastern Illinois and Toledo. People don't think that is a big deal, but after seeing every game for the past two seasons it is a big deal because they weren't even able to do that. I'll take improvement where I can get it.

Central Michigan will be an interesting game this week because they will have the best offense Purdue has faced so far, and probably will face in the first half of the season. They have already given up a ton of points in their two games though and can't afford to get in a shootout. Purdue should have scored in bunches by the time they play Ohio State, and I am even gaining some confidence about getting a win in the Big House for the first time in 40 years. First things first though, and that is the Chippewas. Last year they were the MAC's best and they already got a good jump on repeating that feat by beating Toledo. Another plus for Purdue is the fact Curtis Painter is spreading the ball around to everyone. I think I even had a reception on Saturday against Eastern Illinois.

  1. (7) Iowa (2-0)

Iowa has only given up a field goal so far, and that is the best effort points-wise of any team in the conference. Northern Illinois and Syracuse aren't exactly the greatest shows on turf either. Another easy opponent awaits this week in Iowa State, the same Cyclones team that lost to 1-AA Northern Iowa last week. This means Iowa won't face a real team until the Wisconsin game, and it is hard to know what to think about them until then.

They have a good running game with Damian Sims and Albert Young, but they have yet to be tested by absolutely needing a passing game with their top two receivers still suspended. Jake Christiensen has played well throwing for 411 yards and five TD's, but four of those were against a terrible Syracuse team. If they can beat Wisconsin Iowa will make a big jump.

  1. (5) Michigan State (2-0)

It wasn't quite as easy as the UAB game, but Michigan State got the job done against Bowling Green when Minnesota couldn't. As long as the running game can keep churning out yards they will be much better than I originally expected. A home game against Pittsburgh this week is now the biggest obstacle to a 4-0 start, and that would likely mean a bowl game for this crew. How will Michigan State react though when the first loss comes, as it likely will in at least game five at Wisconsin?

Devin Thomas has been a pleasant surprise so far in being the number one target of Brian Hoyer, and if the defense can continue to play well it will be an even better sign. They can certainly control the clock with the ground game, and that will make the defense look even better. Other teams can't score if they don't have the ball, and this ground game can keep it for a long time.

  1. (8) Indiana (2-0)

The Hoosiers took a step back by stepping off the gas against Western Michigan, and a better team would have made them pay for it. The win though give Indiana a great chance at a 4-0 non-conference record, and that will all but assure a bowl game as their offense is good enough to simply outscore a couple of teams in conference play. The defense isn't quite there yet, but it is better.

Really this is a good story if they can make a bowl game, as I am hoping they do so to honor coach Hep. Honestly if they can't get to a bowl game this year they probably won't for a long time because it is all but set for them. Akron is next, and the Zips will find the Indiana defense a bit more inviting that Ohio State's

  1. (9) Northwestern (2-0)

They're the weakest of the eight unbeaten teams so far, but don't dare play them in a close game. It took all they had to beat Nevada, but with Duke and Eastern Michigan left on the schedule it all but assured the Wildcats of a perfect non-conference record. Since they also still have a game against Indiana another win is guaranteed for at least one of the two, and the winner will got o a bowl game plain and simple.

Surprisingly enough Tyrell Sutton is not the leading rusher on this team, as Brandon Roberson is now since Sutton missed the Nevada game with an ankle injury. If Sutton is healthy though he gives Northwestern a very valuable weapon, and they need him if they are going to do anything special this year.

  1. (6) Michigan (0-2)

Michigan has too much talent to be this bad, and that shows this is a coaching problem. Now they have injuries to their best players to compound their issues and the defense hasn't shown any interest in wanting to stop anyone. This week's game against Notre Dame is the biggest game in a long time for the Wolverines, and I know I am repeating myself from last week. If they can't beat the Irish, then Michigan will start the season 0-4 losing all four games at home.

Mike hart can only do so much, and soon teams will be lining up to stop him and daring their freshman quarterback to beat them with his arm. The litmus test will be this week against a Notre Dame team that can't stop anyone and has forgotten that you're allowed to move the ball past the line of scrimmage without passing it. If Michigan cannot beat them their season is effectively over and they will probably not even make a bowl game.

  1. (9) Illinois (1-1)

It took a shutout of a 1-AA team, but Illinois finally got another win. They only won 21-0 and Western Illinois was in the game far too long. Juice Williams will always be ineffective until he figures out you're not supposed to give the ball to the other team when you have it. At least they get the cure-all elixir with a trip to Syracuse this week. Illinois has to win to have any shot of making a bowl. At least the defense is playing better.

  1. (11) Minnesota (1-1)

Through two games Minnesota has played three overtimes against a pair of MAC teams at home. At least Michigan lost to a good Oregon team this week. The only reason Minnesota didn't lose to Miami (OH) was because the Redhawks blew multiple chance to win the game. They didn't even have that good of an offense and Minnesota let them back into the game. There is trouble in Gopherland and it looks like even with Amir Pinnix it is going to be a long year. This week they get to have a nice week in sunny South Florida as they will face Florida Atlantic.


I will admit I was wrong, dead wrong in fact, about Miami, but right now there are some ungodly good teams out there. Here is my first Top 25 of the season:

  1. LSU (2-0)

  2. USC (1-0)

  3. Oklahoma (2-0)

  4. Florida (2-0)

  5. West Virginia (2-0)

  6. California (2-0)

  7. Texas (2-0)

  8. Penn State (2-0)

  9. Ohio State (2-0)

  10. Louisville (2-0)

  11. Wisconsin (2-0)

  12. UCLA (2-0)

  13. Rutgers (2-0)

  14. Nebraska (2-0)

  15. Arkansas (1-0)

  16. South Carolina (2-0)

  17. Georgia Tech (2-0)

  18. Oregon (2-0)

  19. Clemson (2-0)

  20. Tennessee (1-1)

  21. Boston College (2-0)

  22. Hawaii (2-0)

  23. Texas A&M (2-0)

  24. South Florida (2-0)

  25. Missouri (2-0)