Three weeks into the Big Ten season, I believe that we're far enough along in the year to start drawing some conclusions about teams and the conference in general. Beginning this week, I will write an article about what we've learned about the Big Ten during that weekend's games. So let's get to it.
Northwestern 16, Miami (OH) 6
In a meaningless non-conference game, Northwestern proved nothing except that they can play poorly against an awful team. I guess this is one more win for a team that probably just wants to get to a bowl game, but with this performance Northwestern shows that they can't compete in the Big Ten.
Minnesota 35, Purdue 20
After a tough loss to hated rival Wisconsin, Minnesota bounced back against Purdue and showed that they can still compete in the Big Ten. The Gophers have been inconsistent, but have tremendous offensive talent. If they can shore up their defense, Minnesota could definitely make some noise in the Big Ten.
I'm not even sure where to start with Purdue. Let's just say they're the worst team in the Big Ten and leave it at that. One or two wins in the conference would be an accomplishment for the Boilermakers.
Penn State 52, Eastern Illinois 3
What did we learn about Penn State? Absolutely nothing. Except that they can beat Eastern Illinois. Great.
Michigan State 24, Illinois 14
With their win over the Illini, the Spartans are back in the Big Ten mix after a rough start to the season. Michigan State started the season 0-1 in the Big Ten and 1-3 overall, but with wins over Michigan and Illinois, the Spartans aren't dead yet.
For Illinois, this season couldn't have started any worse. The Illini are probably the biggest disappointment in the Big Ten so far.
Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 13
Although this certainly wasn't their best-played game, Ohio State showed that they are the team to beat in the Big Ten. A consistent offense and a stout defense should lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title.
Wisconsin played a poor game as well and though this was their first loss this season, it's evident that Wisconsin still has a ways to go to be considered an elite team in the Big Ten.
Virginia 47, Indiana 7
Wow. There is no way this is the same team that almost beat Michigan in the Big House two weeks ago. I guess the Hoosier footballers are back to their old ways of getting blown out. Huh. I guess it was fun while it lasted.
Iowa 30, Michigan 28
Although Iowa now has two impressive wins against Penn State and Michigan, I'm still not convinced. There is no doubt that their defense is one of the best in the conference, but their offense—especially Ricky Stanzi—has been inconsistent. If their offense can get on the same page, Iowa will challenge Ohio State for a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Michigan has suffered two close losses the past two weeks, but the Wolverines are still developing under Rich Rodriguez. They've made great progress since last year, but they still have work to do if they want to compete for a conference title.
My Big Ten Rankings
1. Ohio State
3. Penn State
6. Michigan State