Sep 28, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes team hold up the Floyd of Rosedale trophy after beating the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 23-7. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Only six Big Ten teams were in action and there were only two conference games. One of the games wasn’t particularly competitive, as Iowa handed it to Minnesota 23-7.
Northern Illinois made Purdue their second Big Ten victim in 2013, crushing the Purdue Boilermakers 55-24. Illinois made quick work of Miami (OH) 50-14, proving why the Illini may be the most improved team in the conference.
Ohio State was firmly in control of Wisconsin 31-14 after three quarters, before giving up 10 points to the Badgers in the fourth quarter and making the game look a little more competitive. The Buckeyes won, 31-24.
1. Ohio State: I was a little disappointed in Ohio State’s performance on Saturday night. I expect an Urban Meyer coached team to keep their boot on the throat of an inferior opponent. That didn’t happen against the Badgers. Does this mean Wisconsin is better than I thought? Maybe. Or maybe it means that Ohio State has some warts.
2. Northwestern: The stage has been set in Evanston. The top two teams in the conference. Game Day will be there. The best thing about next week’s game against Ohio State will be the bowl game type atmosphere, with a likely 50/50 split in fans at Ryan Field. That neutral field will provide a Big Ten championship game atmosphere. Should be a good one.
3. Wisconsin: Joel Stave played well in the Shoe on Saturday night. Stave threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. The Badgers only rushed for 104 yards and kept it close with the Buckeyes on the road. That is an encouraging sign for the Badgers. Wisconsin is a better football team than I thought they were, despite a 3-2 record.
4. Michigan: Last week, the Wolverines escaped Storrs, Conn. with a 24-21 victory over a horrendous UConn team. That UConn team by the way, lost to Buffalo 41-12 this week. Look for the Wolverines to be plenty salty heading into the Big Ten opener against Minnesota in the Big House.
5. Nebraska: The Huskers’ defense didn’t give up any points this week so I guess Coach Bo Pelini gets to keep his money.
6. Michigan State: The Spartans have one of the best defenses in the country and if their offense can be respectable at some point this year they will have a chance to compete in the wide open Legends division.
7. Iowa: I thought the Hawkeyes would be one of the most improved teams in the Big Ten and I was dead wrong. They are THE most improved team in the conference. They are stout on both lines of scrimmage and very well coached.
8. Penn State: The Nittany Lions are truly a wild card in the Big Ten. They could continue to get better as the season progresses like they did last year, or their lack of depth could take its toll and the Nitts could end up being one of the worst teams in the league. In my opinion, Bill O’Brien is a good coach and I will go with the former, rather than the latter.
9. Illinois: Illinois’ only loss this year was to Washington, who may be one of the best teams in the country. The Illini have been impressive in every other game this year and are 3-1 heading into Big Ten play. Nathan Scheelhaase continues to impress after throwing for 278 yards and five touchdowns Saturday against Miami (OH).
10. Minnesota: I was extremely disappointed in the Gophers’ performance on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd at TCF Bank Stadium (on Homecoming). They got their tails whipped on both lines of scrimmage and Philip Nelson had zero business being the quarterback. Now they have to go to the Big House and face a testy Michigan team. Pack a lunch.
11. Indiana: Not much difference between this Indiana team and any other Indiana team in the past 20 years. They can move the ball, but they can’t stop anyone. It’s that simple.
12. Purdue: The Boilermakers got blown out by the Northern Illinois Huskies 55-24, at home. Ouch! I would be surprised if Purdue wins another game this year.