Michigan State: Still the class of the Big Ten, the Spartans are the only team with a legitimate shot at the playoff at this point. Dantonio got out coached against Oregon two weeks ago and they had a bye week last week. Their next real test is when Nebraska visits on the first weekend of October.
Good, Not Great Tier:
Wisconsin. Their only lose was to LSU, who is currently ranked in the top 10. They are coming off a bye week. The Badgers will be favored in the rest of their games, except maybe Nebraska. Another 10-win season is very realistic for Wisconsin.
Nebraska: The Huskers are one of only two undefeated teams left in the Big Ten. They had a close call against McNeese State and slaughtered their two other under matched opponents. There is reason for Husker fans to be optimistic. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong has some of the best numbers in the conference and their special teams is finally not a debilitating weakness. We will see how for real this team is when a young, but talented Miami visits Lincoln this week.
Ohio State: J.T. Barrett threw for six touchdowns and OSU did exactly what they were supposed to against Kent State. The sky is not falling on the Buckeyes. They have a good defense and one of the best coaches in all of college football is still on the sideline.
Pretty Good Tier:
Penn State: PSU is the only other team still undefeated in the Big Ten, after watching their games this is clearly the tier they belong in. Credit the Nittany Lions with toughing out wins and having a lot of fight in them, but don’t mistake that for them being great. They have snuck past several mediocre teams. The future is really bright here, but they are a year away from taking the next step.
Michigan: The defense is pretty good and they move the ball well most of the time. The Wolverines issue is self-inflicted injuries, primarily in the form of turnovers. This explains the Mize and Blue outgaining the Irish, yet losing 31-0. This week they have Utah coming to town and will probably be earning the Big Ten another victory against a Power 5 opponent.
Rutgers: It looked like the Scarlet Knights were going to win their first ever Big Ten game. They led most of the way, but Penn State squeaked out the win. Rutgers has some pieces to work with, but they should have been able to score more at home against a thin PSU defense.
Maryland: The Terrapins were on their way to another Big Ten blow out at the hands of the Mountaineers. Finally, they turned it around and started looking like the talented offense they are. The problem was it was too little too late and they lost a very winnable game. This theme is becoming nauseating for the conference.
Minnesota: They might have been the most disappointing team of the conference this week. TCU welcomed them into their home and then proceeded to annihilate them. It was an embarrassing 30-7 beat down for the Golden Gophers.
Iowa: It was easy to credit Iowa’s first couple weeks to their normal slow starts. Well, when you lose to an awful Iowa State team at home you just have to swallow the reality that the Hawkeyes stink. Their front seven is shaky, despite everyone thinking the defensive line would be a strength. Coach Ferentz needs to turn this around quickly.
Illinois: To be fair to the Fighting Illini, they had a really tough game playing at Washington. It is very difficult to go out to the West Coast and get a win. The Huskies were more talented and with Chris Peterson as the new head coach, Illinois head coach Tim Beckman was outcoached as well.
Indiana: It was a very disappointing week for the Hoosiers. They lost to a bad Bowling Green team that probably ended any chance to finally make a bowl game. The no bowl game streak is a monkey they need to get off their back, but their pursuit of it took a huge blow. It should be noted that Indiana also had two weeks to prepare for this game.
Northwestern: The Wildcats had their best week of the season, it was a bye.
*** Posted by Josh Harvey ***