It turns out that maybe the Big Ten isn’t as terrible as we thought it might be this year! As a whole, the Big Ten finished week one with an 11-3 record with one of those losses being in a conference game.
The two other losses were Rutger (not shocking) and a narrow loss by Purdue against Louisville in a surprisingly fun game.
Michigan had probably the biggest win of the week, handling Florida with a strong second half. Maryland did also beat a ranked team, but was saw a similar story with Texas last year when they beat Notre Dame, and the Irish finished 4-8! People forget that.
While Ben is back, his return article was far too restrained so he’s been sent to anger de-management classes to bring Mad Ben back. You’re stuck with me again.
Look, the groupings are going to be the same this week with slight changes.
Rutger lost. Sure, they kinda sorta hung with Washington and kept it respectable. Good job! You didn’t embarrass the conference. That brings the total occurrences of that to.....one!
To me, needing to block a last-second FG against Ball State to hang on to a win at home is objectively worse than hanging with the Heisman trophy winner and having a chance to tie the game on your final drive.
That being said, none of these guys did enough to warrant exiting the bottom-feeders category.
6. Michigan State
Again, I’m taking the easy way out grouping half the dang conference into one category because there’s hardly anything separating them.
Maryland moves out of the bottom-feeders after beating Texas. How much weight that win will hold in December is to be determined, but for now, it’s a big win and we’ll treat it as such.
I’ll drop Indiana down to 10th after the loss, but I’m still high on them. Ohio State is an elite college football team. They have faults, but that’s a team that very much could, and probably should, be playing in 2018. Losing to them is nothing bad. I still stand by my prediction of 8-4.
Nebraska and Northwestern had some hairy wins, but wins nonetheless. The Wildcats benefited from some iffy calls to win at home while Nebraska beat Arkansas State at home by just a touchdown. Neither teams’ final score inspire much confidence.
Minnesota also had a performance that inspired lots of “meh.” A win is a win, but winning by 10 points over Buffalo at home isn’t going to get you moving up.
Michigan State and Iowa were the only two teams in the group to take care of business. The Hawkeyes silenced a Wyoming offense led by a likely first-round quarterback while Michigan State won by multiple scores at home over a bad team. It’s a low bar, but compared to these teams, it’s enough to top the group after week one.
3. Penn State
This group is boring because they did what they were supposed to. Wisconsin annihilated Utah State at home and probably ran 60 times for 400 yards. I didn’t actually look at the box score, that’s just an assumption. (Update: looked at the box score. 45 rushes for 234 yards. What a terrible performance).
Penn State destroyed Akron as expected with Saquon Barkley totaling over 220 yards and three touchdowns on offense. I’m very excited to him run for 70 yards against IU with two fumbles and the Hoosiers lose by 10.
Michigan nearly moved out of the group, but I’m not quite ready to put them in the same tier as Ohio State yet. The offense looked bad for long stretches and it’s hard to put a lot of weight into wins of preseason-ranked teams unless it’s a top five team. I could be wrong, but for now, it’s still Ohio State’s conference.
1. Ohio State
There’s been much said about Indiana after Thursday’s game, but what Ohio State did was impressive. In what very easily could be considered the biggest game in IU’s history, on the road, under the lights with College Gameday in attendance, the Buckeyes took IU’s biggest punch, adjusted at halftime and ran the Hoosiers out of their own stadium.
There’s some questions about just how good J.T. Barrett is and whether the secondary can hold up after Simmie Cobbs roasted them repeatedly for two quarters. But none of those issues will likely matter in the Big Ten this year. Through one week, this is Ohio State’s conference to lose.