Monday Quarterback: The Big Ten

This past weekend was not kind to the Big Ten Conference after teams finished 6-6 over the weekend. We look deeper into this past weekend to see if it was really as bad as some may want you to believe.

Cheer Cheer….to Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern. You six kept the Big Ten Conference from having what may have been the worst weekend in conference history. However, we also must give out some shame to Penn State, Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Is it really this bad? On paper things don't look good for the conference as a whole. Here is a look at each team in the conference and to see if this was fluke or a sign of what is ahead in 2012.

STARTING WITH WHAT WAS GOOD

Right now fans of the Big Ten have to feel good about the Spartans and Buckeyes as both teams moved to 2-0 on the year. These two teams did what was expected in beating Central Florida and Central Michigan over the weekend and could prove to be the cream at the top. However, do not be surprised if each team has a loss or two before the season is over. Big test for both programs this weekend as Cal and Notre Dame look to shame the two programs sitting at the top.

THANK YOU WE'LL TAKE THAT

The Northwestern 23-13 victory over Vanderbilt was solid for the conference as Vandy was a bowl team last season and looks to have turned the corner. The Wildcats could be sitting with a 4-0 record when the head into conference play in week five of the season against Indiana with match-ups with Boston College and South Dakota ahead of them.

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

Purdue went down to the wire with Notre Dame before falling 20-17. Head coach Danny Hope looked like a coach on a hot seat this time a year ago. Now, it looks as if he's got the program headed in the right direction as the Boilermakers played the Irish tough. Games with Eastern Michigan and Marshall should prove to be wins giving Hope a team with a 3-1 record before playing Michigan.

AT A BOY

Indiana had no problem taking care of business against Massachusetts as should be expected. The Hoosiers have not posted two wins on the season. However, both came against programs a Big Ten program should have no problem beating. Will it continue as they'll play Ball State, Northwestern and Michigan State in their next three games? No!!! There is still a long way to go in Bloomington.

Minnesota has posted two wins on the season and will look for number three against Mid American Conference program Western Michigan this weekend. Does Jerry Kill have the program turned around? Not yet, but things are encouraging to say the least.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED

Some had talked about Iowa being a team that could get back into the hunt this fall. But a 9-6 loss to Iowa State even fooled a monkey who picked the Hawkeyes to win. Back-to-back losses to Iowa State is not a good sign the program is headed in the right direction and could start some talk by Hawkeye fans that a change is needed at the top.

Wisconsin was to be the "Top Dog" in the Big Ten this fall but fell 10-7 to Oregon State on the road. Yes, there was a questionable call during the game, but the Badgers are to be one of the conference best with a proven running back. Some questioned in the offseason why so many coaches made lateral moves to Pittsburgh after last season. Now we know things might not have been as good as many were led to believe. The Badgers are already shaking things up as offensive line coach Mike Markuson was fired late Sunday night. Are the wheels falling off the Badgers bus driven by head coach Bret Bielema? It kind of looks that way. Was the past two weeks really the fault of the offensive line coach?

GIVE THEM A PASS

No matter what Penn State does this fall they'll be given a pass. It's too bad because all the Nittany Lions needed to do was hit a couple of field goals and pick up their first win under new head coach Bill O'Brien.

Did anyone outside of Illinois expect a win over Arizona State? This was a toss-up game with two new head coaches and the Illini on the road. Tim Beckman is the right guy for the job and will get things going soon.

NOT AS BAD AS IT LOOKS

Let's be honest, Michigan getting blown out by Alabama was a great possibility when you looked at the schedule. Then having to come back and play Air Force with one week of prep is not for the faint of heart. The Falcons can cause any program on any given Saturday fits. Brady Hoke still has the program headed in the right direction and better days are ahead for fans in the Big House.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Nebraska… So the Huskers loss to a UCLA team under a first year head coach. Husker Nation is starting to wonder if Bo Pelini can direct the program back to the glory days of old. Pelini built his reputation as a defensive coach and Saturday nights performance wondering if the Black Shirts are a thing of the past as the Bruins posted 653 total yards of offense on the night. The next two weeks should see the Huskers of old as two state programs, Arkansas and Idaho State should be what the doctor orders.

So is the Big Ten as bad as it seems? That question will continued to be answered in the coming weeks leading up to conference play. However, it should be an interesting ride.


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