Wisconsin

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 11/24

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Ohio State.  With a big of scare against lowly Indiana, the Buckeyes get to play their hated rivals with the knowledge that a big win can only help them in the eyes of the playoff committee.  In other words – look for Urban to run it up if he gets the chance.
  2. Michigan State.  The Spartans are still the second best team in this league – although a game against the Badgers or Gophers would sure be entertaining in a Big Ten kind of way..
  3. Wisconsin.  After eliminating Iowa from contention, the Badgers get to play Minnesota for the West Division crown.  And the game is in Madison.  Have we mentioned how well Wisconsin’s schedule (both teams and locations) has played out this year?
  4. Minnesota.  The Gophers aren’tjaw-droppingly good at any position, but they error free, fundamentally sound football.  They beat you, not themselves.  If anybody is going to steal the division on the road, it’s Jerry Kill’s bunch.

    Goldy wins the Internet for this month

  5. Nebraska.  Are the wheels falling off in Lincoln?  There is a part of me that feels 5th is too high for where the Huskers are at mentally and physically.  A repeat of last year’s Iowa game (and antics) will have Bo looking for a new job.
  6. Maryland.  A win over fellow newbie Rutgers would give Maryland a very impressive 8-4 mark in their first Big Ten season, and could signify the start of something big out east.
  7. Iowa.  Iowa’s Jekyll & Hawkeye season rolls on with a tough home loss to the hated Badgers.  They will be ready and willing to take out their frustrations on a Nebraska team that is reeling.
  8. Penn State.  It is a good thing that Penn State is already bowl eligible, because I don’t think they will win against Michigan State.
  9. Michigan.  A year ago before the Michigan-Ohio State game I said “As bad as Michigan has looked this month, I don’t see them getting blasted by their rivals.  Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Wolverines pull the upset.”  That probably won’t happen, but wouldn’t be fun if Michigan wrecks Ohio State’s playoff hopes (and gets bowl eligible in the process)?
  10. Northwestern.  The stakes are high when Northwestern plays in-state rivalry Illinois this week.  The winner gets to go to a bowl game.  The loser may be conducting a coaching search.  Okay…those may not exactly be “high” stakes, but as big as a battle for 5th place in the Big Ten West can be.
  11. Illinois.  When I saw the Fighting Illini play in person back in September, I would have said it will take two or more years for that program to get to six wins.  But they can go bowling with a win over Northwestern.  Give credit for the improvement this team has shown.
  12. Rutgers.  I’m all for conference pride and having teams represent the B1G in bowl games, but I really hope Rutgers does not get an invite.  The six teams they have beaten so far are a combined 23-42.  Should they beat Maryland this weekend, it will be their only win over a team with a winning record.
  13. Purdue.  Yes, the Boilermakers have a head-to-head win over Illinois, but that is Purdue’s only conference win.  They haven’t been within 18 points of anybody since a 39-38 loss to Minnesota in mid-October.
  14. Indiana.  I was really, really hoping the Hoosiers would have held on for the upset over Ohio State (they led in the 3rd quarter) if for no other reason than to say that they beat the champs of the Big Ten East and SEC East.  Oh well.  But they’ll always have Mizzou…

Badgers, Beat-downs, and Bo-gatory

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Feit Can Write

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 11/10

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Ohio State.  After an impressive victory at Michigan State, the Buckeyes need two wins in their final three games (against Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan) to return to Indy.  In other words, start making those hotel reservations now.
  2. Michigan State.  Even after giving up 49 points at home, the Spartans are still the second best team in this league.
  3. Nebraska.  If the Huskers want to maintain their #3 ranking, they had better get it done at Wisconsin.  Hopefully Ameer Abdullah got a lot better over the bye week.
  4. Wisconsin.  Were the Badgers looking ahead when Purdue started to make a second half comeback?  Regardless, they regained focus and took care of business.
  5. Minnesota.  Minnesota went Floyd of Routsdale over Iowa.  The Gophers have a prime chance to make another statement if they can catch the Buckeyes in a Spartan hangover.
  6. Maryland.  Speaking of Spartan hangovers, if Maryland can catch Michigan State reeling, the Terps could take over second place in the East.
  7. Penn State.  An out of conference game in mid-November?  Who do you think you are, an SEC team?  Oh wait, Temple isn’tan FCS school.

    Indiana, when you wear those helmets, you deserve to lose.

  8. Michigan.  Give Michigan credit for winning – even if it was a one point win over a bad Northwestern team in one of the ugliest games in years.  The Wolverines are one win away from a bowl game.
  9. Iowa.  A 37 point loss to Minnesota won’t necessarily get Kirk Ferentz fired.  But the Hawkeyes must beat Illinois to avoid the risk of losing out.
  10. Rutgers.  The good news is Rutgers did not lose this weekend (they were idle).  The bad news is they still gave up 35 points.
  11. Northwestern.  I have no issue with Pat Fitzgerald going for two and the win, instead of playing for overtime.  But his team should be stung by the lack of confidence he showed in his team to beat Michigan in OT.
  12. Purdue.  The Boilers have lost four straight, all to teams in the top half of the conference.  After a bye week, they close out with two very winnable games (Northwestern and Indiana).
  13. Illinois.  Don’t look now, but Illinois could realistically make a bowl game by winning two of their final three games (Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern).
  14. Indiana.  The Hoosiers’ offensive performance was, well, offensive.  I doubt they can beat a really bad Rutgers team.  They may not win again in 2014.  And yet, they beat the SEC East leaders on the road.

Rejected Freedom Trophies

Nebraska and Wisconsin unveiled the “Freedom Trophy” that both teams will play for on Saturday.  The bronze trophy has a football stadium (half of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, and half of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall) with a giant American flag blowing above it.  It is breathtaking in it’s generic beauty, forced patriotism, and lack of meaningful connection to the two schools.

But the current Freedom Trophy was not the only design considered by the Big Ten’s Nondescript Trophy Committee.  They also considered several other freedom-inspired trophies including:

  • A 40 pound bronze bust of Husker freshman tight end Freedom Akinmoladun.
  • Free tuition awarded to any Wisconsin or Nebraska student who can correctly spell “Akinmoladun”.
  • A slightly used cassette tape of George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” from Barry Alvarez’s glove box.
  • A bald eagle wearing an Uncle Sam top hat, clutching Hitler and Bin Laden in its talons.
  • A stuffed Bucky Badger wearing a Free LP shirt.
  • A bronze sculpture of Mount Rushmore that plays “America F__ Yeah!” when you press George Washington’s nose.
  • a 1:100 scale replica of the NYC Freedom Tower.  Measuring 17.76 feet, it is the tallest trophy in sports.
  • The Heroes Trophy (presented by Hy-Vee!) with “Iowa” and “Heroes” crossed out and replaced with “Wisconsin” and “Freedom”.
  • A football helmet filled with Freedom Fries.
  • A paper mache head painted to look like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.  If you pull the mullet, it recites the classic “Freedom” speech.

    I’d rather play for this meme than the actual Freedom Trophy.

  • A VHS copy of Rocky IV, recorded from WGN, circa 1996.
  • A statue of Abraham Lincoln (the “father of freedom”) wearing a badger head and stove-pipe hat.
  • A bumper sticker that says “Merica – Love It Or Leave It.”
  • The keys to every home and business in Freedom, Wisconsin (pop. 5,942).

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 11/3

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  With a week to get ready (and home field advantage) you really have to like Sparty’s chances to wrap up the division over Ohio State.
  2. Ohio State.  The Buckeye offense is hitting on all cylinders, scoring 50+ in five of their last six games.  That makes the match-up against Michigan State even more appealing.
  3. Nebraska.  After some rather uninspired efforts against Rutgers and Purdue, the Huskers are in need of a challenge.  They’ll get it against Wisconsin, but they have to take the weekend off first.
  4. Wisconsin.  Yes, it was Rutgers, but Wisconsin’s 37-0 win was the definition of domination.  A tune-up against Purdue stands between the Badgers and the Huskers.
  5. Maryland.  Between the pregame antics, the handshake snub, and a one point win, the Terps probably didn’t make too many friends in Happy Valley.  Maryland gets a week off before they take a tour of Michigan teams.
  6. Minnesota.  Minnesota has had the bad taste of the Illinois loss in their mouth for two weeks.  The Gophers will look to bounce back against Iowa.
  7. Iowa.  Like almost everybody else in the West, the Hawks control their own destiny.  That means they need to take care of Minnesota.
  8. Northwestern.  The Wildcats are a yo-yo of a team.  They either beat a top flite team like Wisconsin, or they get blown out by Iowa.  Who knows what will happen against Michigan?
  9. Penn State.  I wonder what Penn State thinks of Jim Delaney’s expansion plans?  Both Rutgers and Maryland have gone out of their way to poke the Nitany Lions.
  10. Purdue.  Purdue has been a much-improved offense in 2014, but they sure didn’t show it against Nebraska.  Now they get to face one of the nation’s best defenses.
  11. Rutgers.  Think Rutgers is rethinking that decision to join the Big Ten yet?  The last three weeks have been rough (a combined 135-31), but the Knights can spend the bye week counting their money.
  12. Michigan.  Michigan gets boosted out of the cellar for beating the Hoosiers – and for not being quite as bad as the Illini.  They could continue to climb with a win over the Wildcats.
  13. Illinois.  So much for a Big Ten winning streak as Ohio State put Illinois back in their place.  An off-week awaits.
  14. Indiana.  Congrats Indiana!  You are the only winless team in what is widely believe to be the worst of the Power 5 conferences!  And yet, they beat Mizzou….

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 10/27

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  With big brother soundly thumped, the Spartans can all but wrap up the East with a win over Ohio State.
  2. Ohio State.  The Buckeyes were up comfortably at Penn State.  So how did they end up squeaking out an overtime win?  Did they fall asleep at the wheel or were they looking ahead to Michigan State?
  3. Nebraska.  If not for a late touchdown by Rutgers, a case could be made that Ameer Abdullah beat the Scarlet Knights all by himself.  The Huskers need to avoid the temptation to look ahead to their bye week (or Wisconsin) with Purdue coming to town.
  4. Wisconsin.  Hello Wisconsin!  The Badger beatdown of Maryland drew a clear line between the top four teams and the rest of the conference.
  5. Maryland.  I’m not sure the Terps are the best of the rest – especially after getting waxed by Wisconsin.  But how can I put Iowa (lost to Maryland) or Minnesota (lost to Illinois) ahead of them?  The Terrapins need a strong victory over Penn State to keep this spot.
  6. Minnesota.  What the hell was that?  I knew that the Gophers weren’t likely to maintain their winning ways all season, but I figured they’d make it another two or even three weeks before they lost.
  7. Iowa.  The Hawkeyes start their stretch run primed to climb back up the rankings.  Or they could continue to be inconsistent…

    Alex, I’ll take “Horrible Ideas” for $1,000.

  8. Northwestern.  Technically, the Wildcats could still win the West by winning out (and Minnesota and Nebraska each picking up two losses).  Northwestern has a pillow soft schedule the rest of the way – Iowa is by far their toughest remaining conference game.
  9. Penn State.  I like the resiliency shown by Penn State in battling back against the Buckeyes (and overcoming some horrible calls).  They have the front line talent to beat Maryland, but depth will be an issue for the rest of the season.
  10. Rutgers.  The Scarlet Knights got whipped by Ohio State, thumped by Nebraska, and are a week away from a much-needed bye.  But first, they have to face the red-hot Badgers who must be licking their chops at Rutgers’s paper-thin run defense.
  11. Purdue.  The Boilers have shown they can score some points.  If they can play some defense too, they may be able to give Husker Nation a quality scare.
  12. Illinois.  The best I can figure, Illinois put on their alternative “grey ghost” uniforms, forgot they were Illinois, and managed to beat a superior Minnesota team.  I’m guessing Ohio State will remind the Illini who they really are.
  13. Michigan.  Memo to the Wolverines:  If you drive a literal stake into the heart of Spartan’s field, do it in a year where you have the talent (and coaching) to back it up.  Otherwise, it will end badly.
  14. Indiana.  Bad news:  An Illinois upset win means the Hoosiers fall into the cellar.  Good news:  Indiana’s next game is against Michigan, so they could dump the maize and blue into the basement.

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 10/20

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  Another week, another convincing win.  It will be interesting to see if the Spartans overlook “big brother” Michigan for Ohio State.
  2. Ohio State.  For those keeping score at home, in Ohio State’s first games against Rutgers and Maryland, the Buckeyes won by a combined 108 – 41.  Welcome to the neighborhood!
  3. Minnesota.  The Gophers needed a late field goal to survive the game with Purdue.  Husker fans would probably like to see me punish Minnesota for that, but let’s wait and see what Nebraska does with Purdue first.
  4. Nebraska.  So much for the history of close games in the Battle for NU.  The red NU (wearing all white) overcame a slow first half to completely dominate the purple NU (wearing all black) in the second half.
  5. Wisconsin.  I was tempted to put Maryland in the #5 spot, but I can’t punish the Badgers for being idle.  That said, Wisconsin will need to take care of the Terps to keep this post (or more higher).
  6. Maryland.  The Terps beat Iowa in a classic “not as close as the final score indicates” game.  I’m not sure they’re the sixth best team in this league, but I’m also not sure they’re worse than anybody below them.
  7. English: Big Ten Conference logo since 2010.

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Iowa.  Are the Hawkeyes a contender for the West title?  They’re off this week before starting a five week tour of the West where 5-0 (or possibly 4-1) could get them to Indy.

  8. Northwestern.  As the second half of the Nebraska game proved, Northwestern doesn’t have upper tier talent.  But as the first half showed, the Wildcats can play good against anybody.  Their remaining conference road is probably the easiest of any West school.
  9. Rutgers.  After getting smacked around by Ohio State, Rutgers faces Nebraska for the first time since the 1920’s.  Clearly revenge will be on the Scarlet Knights’ minds when they roll into Lincoln.
  10. Purdue.  Their 1-3 conference record doesn’t show it, but the Boilermakers are likely the most improved team in the conference.  After playing 3-0 Minnesota to a one point loss, it will be interesting to see what they do with an extra week to prepare for Nebraska.
  11. Penn State.  Ohio State is putting up big points against everybody in October.  Can Penn State avoid the blowout – or possibly pull off a home upset?  Probably not, but I’ve been wrong before.
  12. Michigan.  Can the wounded Wolverines regain some lost pride and upset their little brother?  This is one of the two games left on the schedule that can save Brady Hoke’s job.
  13. Indiana.  Can the Hoosiers get to a bowl game?  They need to find three wins against a schedule of Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State, and Purdue.  It’s doable, they’ll need to get hot.
  14. Illinois.  The best sign that you’re the bottom of the league?  It’s October and speculation on your next coach has already started.

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 10/13

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  The Spartans did what the top team is supposed to do:  win.  I’m not real sure what to make of Purdue hanging 31 on Michigan State, but we’ll let that slide.
  2. Ohio State.  It’s really too bad that Ohio State was off this week.  If they would have traded bye weeks with Penn State, the weekend’s Big Ten schedule would have been composed only of “original” Big Ten teams as Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers were all off.  But since the conference struggles with scheduling, I’m not that surprised.
  3. Minnesota.  By knocking off the Wildcats, Minnesota has claimed the title of “Surprise team in the West”.  I expect the Gophers to hold that title for the rest of the month (Purdue this week and at Illinois), before a grueling November schedule hits.  Until then, let’s reward the Gophers with the #3 spot.
  4. Nebraska.  This is a critical game in Nebraska’s season.  Coming off of a loss and a bye week, Nebraska needs to beat Northwestern to stay in the hunt for the division title.  But this series is known for close, competitive games (a cumulative difference of 1 point in the last three meetings).  The edge might be if Nebraska has home field advantage in Evanston like they did in 2012.
  5. Wisconsin.  The Badgers took care of Illinois and are rewarded with a week off before welcoming both of the new schools to the league.  This is about the time where Wisconsin really starts to hit stride.

    English: Big Ten Conference logo since 2010.

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  6. Northwestern.  Admittedly, I am probably punishing Northwestern a little too much for a seven point loss to Minnesota, but I’m just not sure what to make of Northwestern.  The “Battle for NU” should be a close, competitive game.
  7. Rutgers.  Rutgers enters into the hazing portion of their Big Ten initiation tour with their next three games at Ohio State, at Nebraska, and against Wisconsin.  This is where Rutgers can validate this relatively high ranking or watch it plummet.
  8. Iowa.  I still maintain that Iowa v. Maryland sounds more like a December 30th bowl game than a Big Ten Conference clash.  The Hawkeyes are in need of a good challenge, and I think the Terps could provide it.
  9. Maryland.  Let’s see how Maryland reacts to their first conference smack down as they host Iowa.  This is one of those games that helps provide clarity in the middle of the pack.
  10. Purdue.  It may seem strange to promote the Boilermakers after giving up 45 in a loss, but in a head-to-head match up with any of the schools below, I’d probably pick Purdue.
  11. Penn State.  A loss to Michigan really hurts.  Yeah, Penn State probably got screwed by the refs on another call.  (That sound you hear is Husker fans still bitter over 1982 muttering “karma”).  Regardless, these are the games that Penn State needs to win.
  12. Indiana.  Bad news: the Hoosiers get beat up by Iowa.  Worse news:  they play Michigan State this weekend.  Worst news:  on Monday, they lost their starting QB for the season.  How long until basketball season?
  13. Michigan.  A much-needed win should calm the fires over the bye week (until Sparty drops gasoline over everything).  Although I’m not a fan of the show, I appreciated Michigan’s QB corps showing their excitement for the return of “The Walking Dead”, by limping around for three hours Saturday night.
  14. Illinois.  Simply put, the Illini are the worst team in this league.  For my money, it’s not even close.


B1G Power Rankings – Week of 10/6

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  The Spartans had an excellent game plan against Nebraska and executed it very well for two or three quarters before they got bored and almost lost the game.  Still, I didn’t any reason to knock them from the top spot.  Sparty probably won’t be challenged for the rest of the month.
  2. Ohio State.  Hello, Maryland.  To welcome you to the league, we’d like to light up your scoreboard with 52 points.  The Bucks get a week off to prepare for the other B1G newbies.
  3. Nebraska.  It seems odd to move a team up in the rankings when they a) lost and b) looked poor for most of the game in doing so.  In theory, I agree, but it helps that the team in front of them (Wisconsin) lost to a team that is not as good at Michigan State.  The Huskers also get a week off to prepare for the NU-NU grudge match.
  4. Minnesota.  Minnesota’s lone loss (a 30-7 beating at TCU) looks a lot better after TCU knocked off Oklahoma.  The game with Northwestern should provide some clarity as to which West division upstart is a legitimate threat.
  5. Northwestern.  So let’s get this straight:  the Wildcats allow Melvin Gordon to rush for 259 and a touchdown, and they still win?  If Northwestern is going to contend for the West title, they’ll earn it in their next three games (at Minnesota, Nebraska, at Iowa).  Get past those and they can coast to Indy.
  6. Rutgers.  I’m still not real sure what to make of Rutgers.  Four of their six games have been decided by a touchdown or less, which means they are a few bounces away from 6-0 or 2-4.  The game with Ohio State in two weeks should provide some answers.
  7. Maryland.  TheTerps got thumpedgood by Ohio State – probably out of anger inspired by Maryland’s ugly uniforms.  They get to lick their wounds for a week before taking on the Hawkeyes.

    Maryland, the Big Ten has a strict dress code. These things are clearly in violation. (image via Washington Post)

  8. Wisconsin.  So let’s get this straight:  Melvin Gordon rushes for 259 yards and a touchdown and they lose?  Look for the Badgers to take out some frustrations against Illinois.  And considering how bad the Illini rush defense is, don’t be surprised to see Gordon put up 300 yards.
  9. Iowa.  Having successfully defeated the bye week, Iowa turns their attention towards the Hoosiers.  The loser will definitely find themselves in the double digits of these rankings.
  10. Penn State.  For a team with the depth issues that Penn State has, a bye week is a welcome chance to rest and heal.  Unfortunately, their schedule has them off, at Michigan, and off again before six straight games to end the season.  That is rough.
  11. Purdue.  Look at you, Purdue!  Last year you had to wait until late November before you won a conference game.  If you could play Illinois every week you’d make the Rose Bowl!
  12. Indiana.  It’s Hoosiers v. Hawkeyes in the battle of “which team is a potential cellar dweller”.
  13. Michigan.  I’m not sure what is more surprising:  that Michigan almost won, that Brady Hoke is still employed, or that the Wolverines made it through a game without any scandals.
  14. Illinois.  Having lost to Purdue, Illinois’ best chance for a conference win will be hoping that Penn State is so beat up on Nov. 22 that they can steal a W.  Until then, I’m not seeing much hope for the Illini.

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 9/29

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  In case you missed my pre-conference season predictions, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  The Spartans crushed three inferior non-conference opponents and lost to a top 5 team by 19 points.  That really doesn’t tell me how good they are, but I still think they are the class of the conference.
  2. Ohio State.  I’ll admit that the Buckeyes are ranked this high partially based on reputation.  Another part is the sweet take down of a fan by their strength coach.  But since that former Buckeye linebacker has exhausted his eligibility, we should learn a lot about this team when they travel to Maryland to officially welcome the Terps to the league.
  3. Wisconsin.  Much like Michigan State, we really don’t know too much about the Badgers.  They too have beaten up the non-con opponents they should beat and barely lost to a top 15 team.  But with Wisconsin, they may not be tested until the end of October.
  4. Nebraska.  Yeah, the Huskers are probably too low, but I’ve been underwhelmed with the teams they have played.  Don’t worry, the Huskers will have every opportunity to make a big jump Saturday night in East Lansing.
  5. Maryland.  Kudos to the Terrapins on being the first B1G expansion team to win their debut since Penn State.  Granted, it was against Indiana, but it still counts.  To go 2-0, they’ll need to beat Ohio State at home.
  6. Minnesota.  A lot of attention has been paid to Michigan practically giving away tickets to watch the Gophers, as well as the tire fire surround that program.  Meanwhile, few are giving credit to Minnesota for going into Ann Arbor and taking care of business.  That is what teams in the upper half of the conference are supposed to do.

    “You are looking live at the Big House in Ann Arbor, MI”

  7. Iowa.  Like the Gophers, Iowa faced a struggling team on the road in a stadium that was below capacity.  But beating Purdue by two touchdowns is not as impressive to me.
  8. Northwestern.  Raise your hand if you saw the 29-6 win over Penn State coming.  No, seriously.  Are the Wildcats going to rally from a 1-2 start to put together a strong season?  Well…let’s wait until after they play Wisconsin before making any declarations.
  9. Penn State.  Bad news:  with a bye week coming up, the Nitany Lions have to chew on that Northwestern loss for two weeks.  Good news:  Penn State’s next opponent is Michigan, so they probably can take most of this week off.
  10. Rutgers.  I feel like I have Rutgers too low as their only loss was by three points at Penn State in their conference debut.  We probably won’t learn too much until October 18 (at Ohio State) as the Scarlet Knights do not play anybody the next two weeks.  Oops…my bad.  Rutgers hosts Michigan this week.  Same difference.
  11. Indiana.  Who is this team?  Are they the ones who beat a ranked SEC team (even if it was Missouri)?  Or are they the ones who lost their conference opener by three touchdowns?
  12. Purdue.  Once again, the Boilermakers again find themselves in their familiar 12th place slot.  The good news is there are now 14 teams in the conference.  So they’ve got that going for them.  Of course, losing to Illinois next week will change that in a hurry.
  13. Michigan.  What a rough week for the Wolverines.  First the buy two Cokes, get two tickets promotion made the program a national laughingstock.  Then, they look bad at home against Minnesota.  Now, there are big questions about Brady Hoke putting his players in risk.  If Hoke is still employed on November 1, (they host Michigan State on 10/25) it will be a minor miracle.
  14. Illinois.  With all that said, why aren’t the Wolverines in last place?  Like Michigan, Illinois is a bad team with a coach unlikely to be employed in 2015.  But here is the key difference:  Michigan has enough talent on their roster to squeak out a win on athleticism alone.  Illinois is rather devoid of talent – especially at the skill positions – and their defense is giving up an average of 35 points a game.
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