What a weekend! Two games went down to the wire, and then there was Penn State-Purdue.
Barring an upset against Northwestern or some other meltdown, it looks as though Wisconsin will be representing the West in Indianapolis in a rematch against Ohio State or Michigan. Earlier in the year I was disappointed in the top-heaviness of the Big Ten, but the emergence of Penn State and Northwestern as football teams has made the whole conference look a little better.
And then there’s Iowa, a team that is looking to get its first real win of the season at Penn State this weekend.
Let’s go to the tape:
- Michigan (9-0, 5-0): Michigan State made the game closer against their rivals than most anticipated, but I don’t think there was ever any doubt that the Wolverines weren’t going to come out with a win. Michigan has a handful of cupcakes up until it plays Ohio State at the end of the year in a game that will likely decide the East.
2. Ohio State (7-1, 4-1): Northwestern played Ohio State close. Like really close. I think the play calling from the Buckeyes this year has been suspect at best, so Iowa fans aren’t the only ones who are puzzled in that department.
3. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2): Even though Wisconsin blew a two score lead to Nebraska that led to overtime, I’m still confident in saying that the Badgers are the superior team in the West. I am puzzled by that program’s history of not being able to find a functioning quarterback, however.
4. Nebraska (7-1. 4-1): Nebraska isn’t that great. The Huskers still have Ohio State and Iowa on their schedule, so three losses isn’t out of the question. You could make the argument for Penn State here, but let’s see how the Nittany Lions do against Iowa before we jump to any conclusions!
5. Penn State (6-2, 4-1): After a shaky start for Penn State, the Lions are coming together and looking pretty above-average. Barring an upset from Iowa, Penn State should finish the season without another loss. If something weird happens to Michigan, there’s an outside chance of Penn State representing the East in Indianapolis.
6. Northwestern (4-4, 3-2): The Wildcats also suffered from a slow start, but after turning things around against Iowa, Northwestern is looking pretty good. A win in Columbus yesterday would have been historic, and beating Wisconsin this week would help this team at least reach bowl eligibility.
7. Iowa (5-3, 3-2): Iowa didn’t play this week. A win against Penn State on Saturday would be pretty neat!
8. Indiana (4-4, 2-3): This is where things get a little gross. Indiana is just sort of there, and I have nothing intelligent to contribute to this conversation.
9. Minnesota (6-2, 3-2): The Gophers absolutely throttled Illinois, and hey, who knew Jeff George had a son? Minnesota plays Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin after Purdue this week, so luckily the Gophers have already reached bowl-eligibility.
10. Maryland (5-3, 2-3): You would think 36 points might be enough to beat Indiana, but nope that’s what makes the Hoosiers tick. All in all, I would call this season a step forward for Maryland football!
11. Michigan State (2-6, 0-5): Sorry Sparty. Maybe next year. If Michigan State didn’t play Rutgers, I would say there’s a very real chance it doesn’t win a Big Ten game this year.
12. Illinois (2-6, 1-4): Yeah so back to Jeff George Jr. Apparently he started out as a third-stringer this year, and now he’s the starter at Illinois? He sure looked like a backup’s backup against Minnesota yesterday. Illinois-Michigan State on Saturday is appointment TV, IMO.
13. Purdue (3-5, 1-4): Purdue is really lucky the Big Ten has Rutgers.
14. Rutgers (2-6, 0-5): Rutgers had a bye this week, and is going to lose its next four games. Really glad the Big Ten made room for the Scarlet Knights in that expansion.