The Big Ten has a nice slate of marquee non-conference opponents in week two.
USC at Ohio State is undeniably the headliner, but Notre Dame at Michigan, Iowa at Iowa State, and Purdue at Oregon all have the potential to be great opportunities for the Big Ten to make a statement.
After week one, the Power Rankings have a new look. Some preseason favorites have slipped and some have taken a nose dive, while some teams without many expectations at all impressed pollsters enough to vault them up the rankings.
The B/R Big Ten Community Roundtable Big Ten Players of the Week (9/5/09)
Offensive Player of the Week: Darryl Clark, QB Penn State
Defensive Player of the Week: Brian Rolle, LB Ohio State
Special Teams Player of the Week: Jeremiah Hunter, LB Iowa
On to the preseason rankings...
1. Penn State (6) 95 points LW: 2
Allen: Their defense sparkled and Daryll Clark was firing on all cylinders, but the
offensive line needs some retooling.
Feddern: Daryll Clark completed 29-of-40 passes for a career-high 353 yards, to go along with three touchdowns. Impressive even if it was Akron.
Jelley: The Nittany Lions dominated like they were supposed to something the other Big Ten contenders didn't, which earns them the top spot for now.
Cary: Daryll Clark needed to find some new wide receivers. Looks like he did against Akron.
2. Ohio State (3) 90 points LW: 1
Jelley: The Buckeyes struggled, but the triple option isn't easy to defend. The Buckeyes should rebound fine and have a successful season.
Feddern: Buckeye fans are feeling a little uneasy as their team heads into a game against USC after giving up 342 yards of offense to Navy and narrowly defeating the Midshipmen. Ohio State is still a very solid team, and the Navy game will be a wake-up call. I expect OSU to be back atop the Power Rankings after they smash USC.
Krumrey: Edging an average Navy team with a new QB does not speak well to the national audience. Add the fact that the outside linebacker was TERRIBLE and the D played average for an OSU defense (granted the Navy O is quite complicated to stop).
Cary: Buckeyes survived Navy, a team that doesn't get enough credit for its solid rushing attack. The true test for Ohio State looms on Saturday.
3. Michigan State 81 points LW: 5
Cary: Good solid outing by the Spartans; only thing that scares me about this team is the potential quarterback controversy.
Jelley:The Spartans looked excellent Saturday but were facing an FCS team. The Spartans could be a contender this year but need to prove it against a better team.
Feddern: Michigan State proved it doesn't need Javon Ringer to be successful. Both QBs had fun throwing to Blair White, who had nine catches for 162 yards and two TDs.
Allen:Granted their competition wasn't great but the Spartans moved the ball well. QBs Cousins and Nichol combined to complete five touchdown passes. Montana State found themselves losers 44-3.
Next week the Spartans play Central Michigan. We really will not know much about this team until they face Notre Dame, will we?
4. Michigan 64 points LW: 7
Bielik: The Forcier/Robinson era begins with a bang, but the defense stole the show, as the Wolverines' 3-4 shut down WMU and should set the stage for an exciting game against the Irish.
Jordan: Despite off-field distractions and a young team, UM still took care of business crushing WMU 31-7 on the arm of the young Tate Forcier.
Cary: Memo to Rodriguez: start Forcier, use Denard Robinson as a Michael Vick/Wildcat player off the bench. Good start in Ann Arbor.
Allen: The blowout over Central Michigan 31-7 was just what the team Doctor ordered for Big Blue. The Wolverines ability to produce this winner focused the team and their fans back on the field of play instead of on the off-field scuttlebutt that is shaking the faithful to the core.
The freshmen QBs, Forcier and Robinson, were a breath of fresh air in a stale program. The true test will come next week when Notre Dame visits Ann Arbor.
T5. Iowa 60 points LW: 3
Bielik: Could not have started worse, but they always seem to get better as the season goes on. They weren't the only team to avoid disaster, but they won't be in the top 25 much longer, if at all, if the play doesn't improve.
Allen: The Northern Iowa football team was a true test for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Some referred to this game a "wakeup call." That Iowa hung on to win this one was their miracle of the season.
Special team players saved the day and the offensive and defensive teams proved that there is a lot of work left to be done. Next week's contest in Ames should provide a true indicator of the quality of this Hawkeye football team.
Jelley: Having to block two field goals to hold on to victory against Northern Iowa isn't how the Hawkeyes planned to start, it appears losing Jewel Hampton is going to hurt more than expected.
Cary:If the Hawkeyes have nine lives, they've already used two of them on those UNI field goal attempts. Are Iowa fans ready to quit with that "we don't need Jewel Hampton or Shonn Greene" talk yet?
T5. Northwestern 60 points LW: 6
Bielik: Andrew Brewer and Mike Kafka could be one of the more entertaining duos in the Big Ten, and a balanced attack led to a big blowout win in their opener against Towson.
Allen: The Wildcats shot out to a 30-0 lead in the first 20 minutes of their contest with Towson...hardly a true test for the Northwestern football team led by fifth-year senior Mike Kafka. NU pulled back and played their full roster, eventually winning 47-14. We still know little about the Wildcats' full potential.
Krumrey: Played a weak Towson team but still took care of business crushing the Tigers 47-14. Kafka had a solid day but still could use some improvement (no touchdown passes, come on man).
Cary: Wildcats looked incredibly impressive. Too bad the opponent wasn't.
7. Wisconsin 37 points LW: 7
Feddern: Wisconsin may have won, but it was anything but a pretty victory. It is really hard to know what to expect from the Badgers this year.
Trahan: Still aren't very proven at quarterback and didn't look great against NIU.
Krumrey: Squeaked by NIU, even though Clay had a less than stellar running performance for Wisconsin. Tolzien, the new QB for Wisky, stepped up big time, playing with great consistency (15 of 20 for 257 yards with 1 TD).
Allen: The mighty Badgers may have a long season ahead. They managed to salvage a win against the Huskies of Northern Illinois 28-20.
But it was hardly impressive, considering the level of their competition. The Badgers' fourth quarter woes have followed them into the 2009 season.
8. Purdue 36 points LW: 10
Feddern: The Boilermakers looked impressive chalking up 52 points against Toledo. But they also gave up 31 points to another team no one has heard of.
Jelley: The Boilermakers proved they could score, but will need to vastly improve their defense if they hope to contend in the Big Ten this year.
Krumrey: Looked good on offense but MUST find an answer on defense. Allowing 423 yards passing to Toledo is unacceptable, no matter who you are. As a whole it was still a better victory than most Big 10 teams had this past weekend.
Cary: Coach Danny Hope said his team could have scored 70. Now if we can just get used to the Boilermakers cranking out yards on the ground, not through the air...
9. Minnesota 32 points LW: 9
Bielik: Won a tough road game, but could not maintain scoring output after first quarter, settling for multiple field goals. Weber had as many completions as Paulus in the latter's first college football game, and Weber threw the ball 11 more times with equal TDs and INTs.
Jelley: Needing overtime to take down Syracuse isn't what the Gophers intended, if they rebound well expect a good season if not it could be a long.
Cary: Gophers pick up a quality win on the road against a BCS opponent, and even better, may have found some wide-receiver options behind Eric Decker (they'll need them).
Allen:The Gophers, favorites in their opener against Syracuse, had to go into overtime to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Playing at Syracuse was a real test, but it should not have been for this team with returning QB Adam Weber and wideout Eric Decker, plus a host of returning starters. The Gophers hung on to win 23-20.
10. Illinois 30 points LW: 4
Trahan: The Illini have a talented, but very inconsistent offense and the defense doesn't look like they are any better than last year's horrible unit.
Allen: Their season opener against the Missouri Tigers could not have been worse. The defense was non-existent and the offense sputtered. The Illini lost 37-9. They also lost the services of Arrelious Benn in the first quarter.
The coaches say Benn will be back next week. Daniel Dufrene should also be back for next week. But that will not solve their defensive woes. Could be a disastrous year for Ron Zook.
Bielik: The Illini looked dreadful against the Tigers, and Juice just could not get his team off the ground. The only Big Ten team to lose in Week One looked bad on both sides of the ball in doing so.
Cary: Some teams have disappointing openers. Then there's the Illini, who flat out didn't show up.
11. Indiana 9 points LW: 11
Trahan: Until they beat someone who is of higher caliber than a Division II team, I can't put the Hoosiers any higher.
Feddern: Chappell may have had 320+ yards, but he also threw two interceptions and his performance wasn't enough to make up for a defense that gave up 380 yards to Eastern Kentucky.
Cary: Eastern Kentucky had an all-too-close chance at a Hail Mary on the last play, and Indiana was lucky to escape. We'll learn something about the Hoosiers against Western Michigan this weekend.
Allen: It could have been an embarrassing opener for the Hoosiers who hung on to win 19-13 over the Eastern Kentucky football team.
The defense rose to the occasion often and hard enough to save the victory. But it will be a long, long season for Indiana in this rebuilding year.