The Big Ten conference wants to be the premier college football conference in all the land. With its own network, long traditions of excellence, and $50 million per school payouts each year, this should be doable.
However, once again it’s an early weekend in the college football season and here we are, discussing a whole bunch of Big Ten schools losing to inferior opponents. While some of these can be explained (Rutger is still rutger, Mizzou has a great QB in Drew Lock), others are hard to fathom three days later (such as Wisconsin losing to a BYU team that went 4-9 last year). But hey, guess who came out unscathed? That’s right, yourrrrrr Indiana Hoosiers! For once, we’re the ones not screwing things up for everyone else!
Let’s get to the rankings:
14. Rutger (1-2)
Lost to Kansas, a team that hadn’t won back to back games against FBS opponents since 2009. Kansas lost to FCS Nicholls State in week 1 of this season.
Rutger is too high on this list and shouldn’t be on it at all.
How does anybody, anywhere, anytime give up 55 points to KANSAS! Rutgers has to be mortified.— Mike Francesa (@MikeFrancesa) September 15, 2018
13. Illinois (2-1)
Had a great chance to pick up a huge victory and morale booster, but blew a 19-7 fourth-quarter lead against USF and lost by six. Now, they get Penn State to come to town on a Friday night.
12. Purdue (0-3)
“But it’s a good 0-3” will be the common refrain from West Lafayette this week. That’s fair, and the three losses have been by a total of 8 points, but the loss at home to Mizzou came just one year after beating them 35-3 in Columbia. All three losses have been mistake-filled games, and things won’t get any easier when top-25 Boston College comes to town this weekend.
11. Northwestern (1-2)
Northwestern had a 21-3 lead on Akron at the half. They lost this game, 39-34, thanks in part to two pick-sixes and a a fumble returned for a touchdown. Before Saturday, Akron hadn’t won a game against a B1G opponent since the 19th century. Pat Fitzgerald has turned things around in Evanston before, but with a veteran QB leading the way, a loss to the Akron Zips was completely unexpected.
10. Nebraska (0-2)
For the second straight year, Troy came into a Power 5 opponent’s house and was the dominant team all game. Scott Frost will probably get it together soon. But for now, Nebraska has to deal with its first 0-2 start in over 60 years (ironically their opening game, which was cancelled, was supposed to be against against the Akron Zips).
9. Maryland (2-1)
Crushed by a Temple team that lost to FCS Villanova in the first week of the season. Once again, the Terps have been unpredictable to start the season, and it may take a few weeks of conference play to sort out how good they really are.
8. Minnesota (3-0)
An easy win over Miami-Ohio is just what the Gophers needed after a last-second win over Fresno State last week. They’re undefeated and have a great shot at going 4-0 against Maryland this weekend.
7. Indiana (3-0)
Your Hoosiers are 3-0, thanks to an easy 38-10 victory over Ball State. Easy victories over MAC teams! Top 25 S&P+ rankings! These are rarely-charted territories for IU football, and I think we need to enjoy the ride while it lasts. Peyton Ramsey is consistent. Stevie Scott is the answer at RB. The defense continues to impress. And now, MSU at home seems winnable on Saturday night. Could this team actually be 5-0 heading into Columbus on Oct. 6? It’s all very exciting even for the longtime pessimists like myself.
6. Michigan State (1-1)
Didn’t play over the weekend, which considering the outcomes of the rest of the conference, was probably a wise move.
5. Michigan (2-1)
Won 45-20 against winless SMU. Cool. Nice. Anyway, Michigan plays Nebraska on Saturday, and with Scott Frost back, this will once and for all decide the national champion of college football in... 1997. (Michigan played the harder schedule that year in my opinion and Nebraska was gifted a win against Mizzou, but it was Tom Osborne’s final season as coach and I guess the coaches poll wanted to give him a parting gift of a title share.)
4. Wisconsin (2-1)
BYU figured out that the key to beating Wisconsin is to limit their strengths and play to your own team’s strengths without trying anything too fancy. Penn State won the B1G title two years ago over them with the deep bomb. OSU won it last year but out-talenting the Badgers. And this year, BYU used its ground-and-pound game with RB Squally Canada to out-Wisconsin Wisconsin in Camp Randall. For a team that was nabbed to be a CFP contender, Wisconsin fans have to be disappointed in this result.
3. Iowa (3-0)
The Hawkeyes kept up their steady play for an easy win over the weekend against Northern Iowa. Saturday night they get Wisconsin in town in a game that could decide the Big Ten West.
2. Penn State (3-0)
The App State scare must have lit a spark under this team’s butt, because they destroyed Kent State 63-10 over the weekend. A weird Friday night game at Illinois is next, but the Nittany Lions should avoid the letdown spot.
1. Ohio State (3-0)
Beat Little Sisters of the Poor 40-28 in the Jerrydome in front of an OSU-partisan crowd. It’s a huge win for the Buckeyes, but something was evident in that game that I haven’t seen in the past couple years: the offense didn’t seem as micromanaged, and they actually let Dwayne Haskins throw downfield!
Which begs the question: Does Ohio State even need Urban Meyer back? It’s pretty clear that they can manage their talent and beat top-15 teams without him, and his presence has already caused more division, as he’s decided to continue being ignorant without showing any remorse for Courtney Smith.