CFN's Five B1G Things We Learned, Post Week 4

CollegeFootballNews' Phil Harrison looks back at the Big Ten's notables after last weekend.

This story originally published on CollegeFootballNews.com

Five B1G Things We Learned - Post Week 4

5. Ohio State is lucky to have the smooth jazz of Kenny G


Raise your hand if you thought an Ohio State quarterback would lead the team in total yards from scrimmage four games into the season. Now keep it raised if you thought that guy would be Kenny Guiton instead of Heisman candidate Braxton Miller.

Back-up or not, Guiton's legend in Columbus is growing. First, he engineered a miracle comeback last year against Purdue at home, and now -- for an encore -- all the fifth-year senior has done is take the keys to the OSU offense and have no problem getting it out on the open road.

He may be keeping the seat warm for Miller to return, but without Guiton, where would this OSU team be? With the amount of hits that Miller takes on, something tells me that we might hear some more music from Kenny G before this season is in the history books.

4. Iowa appears to be much improved

Many were ready to watch the Iowa train derail again after the loss to Northern Illinois to start the season. Oh, but not so fast. Three games later and it's clear that this year's version of the Hawkeyes are a much better team than what we witnessed in 2012 (besides, there's really no shame in losing to what may be the class of the MAC).

So far this year, Iowa has been a balanced team on offense, has gotten more consistent play at the quarterback position, and is blowing less assignments and making more plays on the defensive end. Things look much, much better after a win over its bitter rival, and a public flogging of Western Michigan.

Maybe, just maybe Kirk Ferentz might be able to turn the tide of public criticism he has received over the last couple of years. Well, at least as long as the upward trajectory continues in Big Ten play that is. Now, just keep those darn tailbacks healthy and out of trouble.

3. Ditto for Minnesota

Under head coach Jerry Kill, the Golden Gophers have made a steady improvement each year. After inheriting less than pristine program from former head coach Tim Brewster, Kill has slowly changed the culture in Minneapolis. Not only has the talent been upgraded across the board, but the scheme is better, and most importantly, there appears to be more fight and camaraderie prevalent within TCF Bank Stadium now.

The result has been much more competitive squads. Now the Gophers sit at 4-0 start to this year, and hope to build on a return to their first bowl game since 2009 last year. But even with a better looking team this year, the sledding is going to be tough from here on out in 2013, because it could be argued that the Golden Gophers have the toughest conference schedule than any other Big Ten team.

It's going to be really tough to get the additional two wins needed to get bowl-eligible again this year. Still, late fall seems to be sunnier and warmer these days in the Twin Cities.

2. Michigan State's offense is still a work in progress

No matter what anyone says, you can't simply roll out a stellar defense and be championship caliber -- you have to have an offense to go with it. Want proof? Look no further than last year's bitter tasting green and white pudding if you will. Yes you remember don't you? The Spartans had the best defense in the Big Ten, but finished fourth in the Legends Division -- losing five conference games by a combined thirteen points.

And so far this year, it looks to be much of the same. Yes the defense looks to be lights out again, but the coaching staff appears to still be unsettled at quarterback, the talent at the outside skill positions are unproven, and the resulting running game is inconsistent because of the lack of threat down the field.

The prospects of an unfulfilling season, and repeat of last year are looking like more and more of a reality unless there is a come to Jesus moment for the side responsible for scoring points.

1. It may be time to pump the brakes on the Michigan love

We were all ready to anoint the Wolverines as the Legends Division favorite and even a potential league champion/national player after the dismantling of Notre Dame, but then a funny thing happened on the way to the trophy engraving ceremony. Yeah, about that -- Michigan played more football games and looked unassuming in squeaking by less than brawny Akron and Connecticut squads in back-to-back weeks.

The main culprit? Turnovers, and more specifically, costly ones at the quarterback spot. As good as Devin Gardner can be, his decision making and ball security when running bears watching. A knack for coughing the ball up all started at Ohio State last year and has begun to bite at the heels of trouble again this year the last couple of weeks.

So far Michigan has been able to channel its inner Houdini, but as the competition level rises, the magic will fade unless the turnovers disappear along with the rabbit in the hat.


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