Fortunately, Michigan upheld the honor of the Big Ten with a prime time comeback from behind win over Notre Dame otherwise this past weekend that could have been a disaster for the conference.
Two Big Ten teams lost to FBS schools as New Mexico State defeated Minnesota 28-21 and Rice beat Purdue 24-22. Adding insult to injury, Rice led Purdue for the entire second half and the Aggies took the lead from the Gophers in the second quarter and never looked back.
Iowa’s loss to Iowa State was disappointing and Penn State could not mount much of a fight against Alabama.
Of course at the top of the conference not all of the news in the Big Ten is bad, Michigan State and Wisconsin continue to look impressive.
No. 6 Minnesota (0-2) Too many Gopher fans are overly concerned over the question of whether Max Shortell should replace MarQueis Gray at quarterback. The real issue to be concerned about is how lowly New Mexico State accumulated 421 yards against the Gopher defense. Next up: A loss to Miami (OH) at home and the Gophers are officially in free fall.
Who is at the bottom of the heap in the Big Ten?
No. 5 Iowa (1-1) Yes, the loss was to a bitter rival on the road but the Hawkeyes shouldn’t have lost to Iowa State. Quarterback James Vandenberg looked completely lost from the start of the second quarter until the very end of the game. He is going to have to step up his game if the Hawks are going to finish in the top half of the Legends Division.
Next up: Iowa seeks to right their ship by hosting Pittsburgh which struggled to put away Maine.
No. 4 Northwestern (2-0) The Wildcats took care of business by easily dispatching Eastern Illinois 42-21. Quarterback Kain Colter continues to fill in nicely for Dan Persa; Colter racked up 213 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Next up: The Wildcats should move to 3-0 as they travel to play Army which is still in search of its first victory of the season.
No. 3 Michigan (2-0) The Wolverines had no business beating the Fighting Irish after being down 17 points to begin the fourth quarter and subsequently being down three points with only 30 seconds to play. Irish fans have to be sick over the thought of one more year of Quarterback Denard Robinson. Next up: Wolverines should move to 3-0 after hosting Eastern Michigan this week.
No. 2 Nebraska (2-0) The Cornhuskers beat Fresno State 42-29 but the score is deceiving as the Bulldogs tallied 444 yards against the Blackshirts and led 20-14 late into the third quarter. Next up: Nebraska hosts Washington. If the Cornhuskers start slow against Washington they will suffer their first loss of the season.
No. 1 Michigan State (2-0) The Spartans played about as well as they could in defeating overmatched Florida Atlantic 44-0. Michigan State had 434 yards of offense and no turnovers. The Spartans defense held the Owls to just 48 yards and only one first down. Next week: Michigan State travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.
We will see if the Spartans have a defense that is worthy of a top 10 ranking.
No. 6 Indiana (0-2) The Hoosiers played well but squandered an eight point lead with only 6:34 to play in the fourth quarter. Of course, the Hoosiers might have been spent after having to rally to take the lead after falling behind 20 points in the first half. Next up: Indiana hosts South Carolina State in a game the Hoosiers should win.
No. 5 Purdue (1-1) If the Boilermakers fail to become bowl eligible, they will look to last week’s 24-22 lost to Rice as a missed opportunity. Purdue had the ball at the Rice 18 in the final minute and proceeded to played it safe by calling only one passing play and going for a field goal which Rice subsequently blocked. Next up: Purdue seeks to get healthy by hosting Southeast Missouri State.
No. 4 Penn State (1-1) If there is any doubt that Alabama has one of the best defensive units in college football, those doubts should have been answered on Saturday as the Nittany Lions were limited to only 251 yards of offense and turned the ball over three times in their 27-11 loss to the Crimson Tide. Next up: The battle for Pennsylvania gets interesting as the Nittany Lions take on 2-0 Temple who gave Coach Joe Paterno all he could handle last year.
No. 3 Ohio State (2-0) Yes, the Buckeyes are ranked higher than the Illini in both the AP and USA Today polls but Ohio State struggled to put away Toledo 27-22. The Rockets engineered a 55 yard drive with 3:08 to go in the game and had the ball on the Ohio State 17 yard line. Next up: The Buckeyes host the Miami (FL) Hurricanes in a game some are referring to as the Probation Bowl.
No. 2 Illinois (2-0) The Illini dominated South Dakota State 56-3 and Coach Ron Zook appears to finally have a squad that knows how to enjoy success. Next up: The Illini host No. 22 Arizona State. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will get a chance to put himself in the conversation of the emerging young elite quarterbacks in the country with a big game.
No. 1 Wisconsin (2-0) The Badgers appear to be focused on making it to the BCS Championship game as they completed destroyed Oregon State 35-0. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns and is starting to put himself squarely into the Heisman Trophy race. Next up: Wisconsin takes on Northern Illinois at a neutral site.