Blog Entry

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

Posted on: October 2, 2011 4:26 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:07 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Wisconsin should probably go undefeated this year. Seventh-ranked Wisconsin faced its first stiff test of the season, as No. 8 Nebraska came to town for a night game at Camp Randall in the Big Ten opener for both schools. Wisconsin treated Nebraska like just another speed bump, crushing the Huskers 48-17 in a game that saw the Badgers outscore Nebraska 41-3 in the last 33 minutes of play. It was equal parts savage, brilliant, and awe-inspiring -- the type of game that only great teams play.

Wisconsin's slate from here on out is heavy on intriguing road games, but if Nebraska can't even keep the game within 30 points, what hope would Ohio State or Illinois or anybody else left on the schedule have of winning a game against the Badgers? Russell Wilson can basically do whatever he wants on offense, and with a duo of tailbacks like Montee Ball and James White behind him, the Wisconsin attack is basically as complete as offenses can get.

So yes, Wisconsin should go undefeated this year. That would be quite welcome, especially if it ends in a game against whoever takes the SEC between LSU and Alabama. Would the SEC team win? Possibly. Plausibly. Probably. I'd sure like to see that determined on the field of play, and doubtless so would Wisconsin fans.

2. That team that just got wrecked by 31 points is still probably going to win its division. I don't know what's more infuriating -- that Nebraska has underperformed so badly in every game this season that they're probably just plain average as a whole, or that this average Nebraska team is still a favorite to win the Legends Division. Michigan's on a roll but has a nasty back half of the schedule, Michigan State has a brutal schedule and only managed 10 points against the Ohio State defense, Northwestern has major defensive issues to work out, Iowa struggles mightily against mobile quarterbacks while playing in a division full of them, and Minnesota... no.

Of course, the actual most likely result of this traffic jam of mediocrity is five teams tied at 4-4 and Minnesota eating paste at 0-8. This is the result I will be openly rooting for. because nothing would be funnier than Jim Delany taking a look at that situation, taking a look at Wisconsin, and then just canceling the First Ever Big Ten Championship Game and just handing the Rose Bowl to Wisconsin. And nobody would think that was the wrong thing to do.

3. Whatever you thought about the quarterback situation at Ohio State, I assure you, it's actually worse. Joe Bauserman was Ohio State's leading passer on Saturday, and if that doesn't sound troubling, please consider that Bauserman didn't enter the game until early in the fourth quarter, and he threw for all of 87 yards. Starter Braxton Miller, meanwhile, passed for 56 yards (not just on one drive, for the entire game), lost 27 on the ground, and led the OSU offense to all of six first downs in the first three quarters. The Buckeye faithful were booing early and often in this game, and while they generally weren't booing Miller himself, it certainly stands to reason that the mood at the 'Shoe would have been far more jovial if Terrelle Pryor had still been under center.

It didn't help that the Michigan State defensive front was teeing off on Miller, and generally overwhelming the Buckeye offensive line in the process, but it's just shocking that Ohio State could have such a dearth of production at the quarterback position like this. Miller's got talent, but is in no way game-ready, whereas Bauserman looks like someone who just doesn't belong on a two-deep of a BCS-level team. This is a personnel problem for Luke Fickell and Ohio State, and personnel problems like these don't generally solve themselves mid-season.

4. At this rate, Illinois might actually enjoy endgame pressure. Illinois is 5-0 for the first time in 60 years, and it's doing so at the expense of the cardiac health of Ron Zook and all the Illini fans. For the third straight week, Illinois won a game by three points, and for the third straight week, it needed to take the lead late in the fourth quarter and hang on for dear life. This week's victim was Northwestern, who capitalized on a Jason Ford fumble and drove for a go-ahead score with 75 seconds left ... only to see Nathan Scheelhaase and A.J. Jenkins drive the ball down the field with ease and punch the ball in for the game-winning score with 13 seconds left. 

It's too early to start making assumptions about Illinois' postseason fate as yet, because if the Illini keep getting into these 50-50 late-game situations, the odds are pretty low that they'll keep winning them consistently. And with games like home dates with Ohio State and Michigan -- not to mention a road match at Penn State -- still on the schedule, Illinois probably isn't even near done with the close contests yet this season. But perhaps it does, and perhaps the games won't be close, and perhaps Ron Zook -- he of the hottest seat in the Big Ten six weeks ago -- has another 10-win season up his sleeve just yet. Perhaps. We're at least on the right road for that to happen, at least.

5. Pssst... Michigan might be legitimate. Maybe. As long as Minnesota keeps proving itself to be far more MAC-worthy than BCS conference-caliber, it's going to be useless to read much into a team's performance beating the Gophers -- even the final score is 58-0. And yes, Michigan started 5-0 last year too and that season still ended with Rich Rodriguez fired. That's all true. The problem, though, is that Michigan started 5-0 in 1997 and it just so happened to finish 12-0 and win a national championship, and most teams that start 5-0 don't end up giving up the most points in program history and firing their coach.

So while it's easy to just say "But 2010" whenever someone mentions the fact that Michigan is still undefeated, there's one difference that's crucial to point out: the defense is showing up too. Last season, Michigan gave up over 25 points per game in its first five games. This year? 10.2. Yes, it's relevant that 31 points came against Notre Dame in a game the Wolverines had zero business winning and 20 came against tomato cans like Eastern Michigan and Minnesota, but consider that Michigan also spanked Western Michigan 34-10, and that's a Broncos team that came up just shy in a 23-20 loss at Illinois and just took a 38-31 win at Connecticut. So yes, given the context we've got, Michigan is not just pulling a 2010.

I still don't think Michigan survives that brutal November that awaits, and it's possible that with Dan Persa and Kirk Cousins looming as opposing quarterbacks in the next two games, Michigan might take a 5-2 (1-2) record into its bye week. But 6-1 (2-1) is more likely now, and being undefeated through seven games is definitely on the table. That's good news in Ann Arbor, especially when everyone else in the Legends division is staring at major problems that need fixing. But that's a topic best left for November; for now, Michigan would do well to focus on the next game in front of it.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:47 pm

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

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Since: Oct 3, 2011
Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:38 pm

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

@Spartans Rule - He did write Mich. St.

Since: Oct 12, 2007
Posted on: October 3, 2011 1:01 pm

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

MSU came out of the the Horseshoe with a victory.  The OSU fans are now almost civil thanks to cell phones with cameras everywhere.  I had a great time in Columbus and am looking forward to a week off before hosting shoeless and the Maize n blew.  I love to see all the haters blogging in.  October will be rough for everyone even teams that have only 4 road games. (Mich, Wis)  I will be on the banks of the Red Cedar in two weeks.  I think it will be close and we'll see how legitimate MSU and/or U of M are.  6 and 2 may in conference may win a trip to Indy and Bucky will not go undefeated.  SPARTY ON!

Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: October 3, 2011 10:55 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

Stay delusional UM.

Since: Feb 17, 2008
Posted on: October 3, 2011 10:15 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

Stay Classy MSU.

Since: Jan 26, 2007
Posted on: October 3, 2011 9:14 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

After losing to Wisconsin (Lock of the week), Nebraska will have to run the table to win the legends division. Can they get by Michigan, Mich St and Iowa? I dont think so. Look for the Nebraska/Iowa game in the last regular season game to mean a lot.

Since: Aug 16, 2011
Posted on: October 3, 2011 8:37 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

I am an OSU fan, but we will be lucky to win 3 more games even with our tat 4 back. We are not sound on either side of the ball.

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: October 3, 2011 5:31 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

I learned a lot this week in the B10:

1.  Wisky is awesome and is clearly one of the top 3 teams in the country--sorry Oklahoma, but you've beaten nobody.

2.  Michigan is very good this year and has a better chance than Nebraska of winning their division in my opinion.

3.  Michigan State looked very beatable considering OSU was without a lot of players and yet Miami beat them far worse.

4.  Northwestern looks a lot better with Persa, but too bad they got Michigan, Iowa, and Nebraska for 3 of the next 5 games.

5.  Illinois is a good team this year and might be the team to challenge Wisky in their division.

6.  OSU needs their players back to have a chance in the next few weeks.

7. Iowa still has some potential this year as if they beat PSU this weekend, they have NW, Indy, and Minney coming up for easy wins.     

Maybe I'm a glass half-full kinda guy, but I think there are plenty of good things to think about the B10 instead of all this negative dribble.    &nb
sp;     &n

Since: Apr 16, 2007
Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:45 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

I said that OSU would probably lose 2 games before nebraska, when several players are set to return. 
And that OSU will likely lose 3 games this season, miami, msu, and wisconsin.
I expect herron to run over nebraska, a mediocre turnover prone nebraska offense.
OSU will have their #1 WR back in Posey, after having to start their 3rd and 4th WRs.
Herron will rush for at least 200 yards. Relieving Miller a little bit.

But overall the big 10 is very weak, and i am not saying that OSU is not. It is likely the worst season in 7 years or so. If they can survive with only 3 losses, every OSU fan will be happy. Although i could easily see 4-6 losses.

MSU will do okay in division play, will likely beat michigan. The game against nebraska will be exciting. 

Michigan will turn the season around once they play against a defense, or an offense. Nebraska, Northwestern, MSU, Illinois, and OSU will likely beat the wolverines. oh well.

Illinois is surprising, i expected northwestern to be my surprise team, persa is an excellent qb. but he is all that they have.  

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: October 2, 2011 7:57 pm

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 1)

After having watched Wisconsin twice this year, they will go undefeated and face either OU or LSU in the championship game.  Wisconsin is big, strong, fast, and most importantly they have a great QB.  I love what they are doing and they will be hard to beat!

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