Let’s get right to it.
14. Michigan State
Okay, so they probably aren’t the absolute worst team in the B1G, but in the middle of a dismal season in which they’ve lost 5 straight, I’m putting Sparty at the bottom of the list. At 2-5 and with games still to play against Michigan this weekend, and OSU and Penn State down the road, making it to 5 wins, let alone a bowl game, is not an easy proposition for MSU. For a team that went to the CFP last year, this decline has been steep and doesn’t show any signs of letting up.
Rutger almost had Minnesota beat, in a comeback that rivaled their one against IU last year. But the Scarlet Knights left too much time on the clock for the Gophers to come back and win. We crack jokes at Rutger all the time, but it was nice to see them not looking completely inept and actually scoring points.
Jim Harbaugh has yet to develop a grudge against Illinois, which is good for the Illini because he took it easy on them last week, unlike he did with Rutger. Jeff George Jr. started this game at QB for Illinois, which I’m sure made Jason Whitlock happy.
Actually showed some fight in the first half and had the lead going into halftime at Nebraska! The Boilers seem more inspired and are playing with nothing to lose, but they won’t have the horses to keep up with most teams during the rest of B1G play.
The Hoosiers are in free fall, having lost three straight, and a bowl game is even a question mark at this point. What’s frustrating is that the last two games were very winnable. Having Dan Feeney back helped the offense at times, but something just seems off about it overall. The efforts of the defense are being wasted, and the Hoosiers have also found themselves trailing by double digits in the past couple cames before they even get points on the board.
Also, why go for two when you’re down 12? Doesn’t it make more sense to kick the extra point there, then if you only get a field goal your next drive you can make it a one-score game?
Was the latest team on the “Big Ten teams take a turn at beating Michigan State” tour, winning 28-17 under the lights in College Park. The Terps are without star cornerback Will Likely for the rest of the season though.
Held on to beat Rutger, 34-32 at home. The win is relieving, but it doesn’t give Tracy Claeys much more additional job security.
Late in the game and down 14-6 to Wisconsin, Iowa lined up for a field goal, which they missed. When asked after the game why he didn’t go for it in that situation, Kirk Ferentz said he wanted to kick the field goal because they had to score twice.
Enjoy this coach for the next decade, Hawkeyes fans!
OF COURSE Indiana has to play this team when they’re firing on all cylinders, instead of at the beginning of the season when they were losing to FCS opponents. If you know anything about IU football, this should not surprise you at all.
Not the most impressive 7-0 start, but if they do beat Wisconsin this weekend, I may have to take that back.
Won in very Wisconsin fashion, in a 17-9 victory over Iowa. That defense hasn’t lost a step this season, and if Paul Chryst can really get the offense rolling, this team could be a force in the West for years to come.
3. Ohio State
Lost in the shuffle of the Cubs making the World Series was the fact that Ohio State lost to Penn State thanks to a blocked field goal. Not many fans get more mad online about a loss than Buckeyes fans do, so the Twitter meltdown around midnight was very fun to observe. We saw some flaws with the Buckeyes against IU, and even more so against Wisconsin, so maybe we should have expected this might happen. But because Urban Meyer has only lost 5 games in his OSU tenure, every one feels like a monumental event.
But here’s the thing. OSU still controls its own destiny this season. If they run the table and beat Michigan, they’ll most likely represent the East in the title game. Win that, and they’ll almost assuredly still make the CFP, especially if Penn State keeps playing well.
2. Penn State
James Franklin needed this one. After a season in which Penn State openly mocked their in-state rivals as inferior before losing to them, then stupidly honored Joe Paterno during a game, then lost by 39 to Michigan, then almost lost at home to Minnesota, patience was running thin for PSU fans. But the Nittany Lions have put it together, and Franklin has finally gotten the signature victory that he needed in his third year in Happy Valley.
Zoomed past Illinois, 41-8. This week the Wolverines play only their second road game of the year, and it’s in East Lansing. Since the end of last year’s game, everyone in Ann Arbor has had this one marked on their calendars, and with the way Sparty has played this season, it could be another Red Wedding for Harbaugh and company.
Three non-B1G teams I liked
Louisville - After a weird, lackluster game last Friday where the Cardinals only won by 10 against Duke, Louisville came back with a vengeance this weekend, and were up 44-0 on NC State by halftime. When Lamar Jackson is on TV, you should be watching, no matter who the opponent is.
West Virginia - The Mountaineers are quietly 6-0 and in the Top 10 after a 34-10 victory over TCU. The big difference between them and their Big 12 foes? They actually have a defense, which is a change for them. Dana Holgorsen has this team rolling, and they’ve got an decent shot of winning the conference in a down year for the Big 12.
Auburn - not only beat Arkansas, but blew Bert and company out 56-3. The Tigers looked lost earlier in the season but could be the second-best SEC team right now, and the Iron Bowl might actually be a competitive game this year.
Three non-B1G teams I didn’t like
Miami - Kyle Swick, CQ’s resident Miamiologist and alum of Miami Law School, noted that in previous seasons the Hurricanes’ fall began right after a loss to FSU. Even with a new coach, it’s been the same story this year, and the Canes have now lost three straight.
Mississippi State - lost on a last-second field goal to Kentucky. Need I say more?
Texas - On the one hand, I feel that Charlie Strong never really got a fair chance in Austin. On the other? He’s well past the point where he should be losing games like the one at K-State on Saturday. The end for Strong at UT has felt imminent for a year and a half now.