Weixlmann's Tidbits: Big Ten Rests on Ohio State's Shoulders

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer ISeptember 11, 2008

It would seem in a year when the Big East and ACC are struggling more than ever, critics would go light on the Big Ten for once. That, however, has not been the case.

In the past, reporters paid their utmost criticism to the Big Ten for being a "weak" and "soft" conference that doesn't step up in the big time.

After all, they seem to have decent evidence, as the Ohio State Buckeyes have gotten blasted by SEC opponents two years in a row in the national title game, Michigan lost to an FCS school, and Northwestern struggled to scratch out a couple weeks over a number of years.

This season, though, the Big Ten has put together a fairly reasonable resume thus far. The Buckeyes stumbled along last week but still look poised for a title run, the Wisconsin Badgers are having a solid start led by head coach Brett Bielema, and the Penn State Nittany Lions are flying under the radar under legendary Joe Pa.

In my opinion, the USC-Ohio State is more than just about national supremacy, but if the Buckeyes can pull off the upset defeat, especially with Beanie Wells limited, it will quiet the critics once and for all.

I'm not saying that everything in the Big Ten is all sorted out, but this season could be a breakout year for a number of clubs. Each year, every big-time conference inserts cupcakes into their schedule to sort out the rust, but even so, the Big Ten schools have lost only a combined three games.

Take out Illinois' loss to then-No. 5 Missouri, Michigan's first week loss at home against Utah, and Michigan State's narrow defeat at the hands of the Cal Golden Bears, and what do you get? No losses against cupcake schools.

2008 is the year for the Big Ten to finally reach the pinnacle of college football, and I truly believe it is possible, but it begins with this Saturday's "Collision at the Coliseum".

Many experts labeled the Buckeyes as the No. 1 team in the country heading into the year, so if they can live up to that preseason hype and run the table, there is a definite chance to return the Big Ten to its' rightful place in the college football ranks.

Remember the days when Penn State had Curtis Enis? During the same time, the Wolverines had Charles Woodson, the Buckeyes had David Boston, and the Badgers had Ron Dayne.

That was the last time the Big Ten sat atop the college football throne.

And if they wish to supplant themselves on such a pedestal, it all starts with a win Saturday.