Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
This was a disappointing week in Minneapolis and Bloomington, as the Gophers and the Hoosiers missed opportunities to add huge wins to their resume. Minnesota struggled to put up 13 points against a weak Northwestern defense, but MarQueis Gray was just returning to limited duty from a September injury. Meanwhile, Indiana put up 49 points against Ohio State for the first time ever in a wild Saturday night game, but still came up short against the Buckeyes.
That leaves both these teams winless in the conference and back at the bottom of the standings. However, the signs of improvement are clear in these coaches' second seasons because Minnesota and Indiana are no easy out for even the best teams in the conference.
Minnesota has done it with defense, as proven by holding a dynamic Northwestern offense to 275 yards. Minnesota is only giving up 19.8 points per game, a number which could be even better if not for a triple overtime game against UNLV to start the season. That is still good enough to rank 31st in the country.
Indiana, on the other hand, has been doing it with offense. The Hoosiers are averaging nearly 500 yards per game on offense including 313 yards per game passing. These numbers have not fallen off too much even with the loss of Tre Roberson, which is a testament to the caliber of athletes Kevin Wilson has been bringing into the program. You can also see that Indiana has the speed to keep up with teams like Ohio State, which is a great sign for the future.
Both these teams hired coaches with good track records. Despite the disadvantages present when trying to recruit against the likes of Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan, both of these programs appear to be improving. If the bottom rung of the Big Ten gets significantly better, that will help the conference move back among the elite conferences much more quickly than it would otherwise.