It wasn’t the best week to be a Big-10 fan. Only two of the now 12 teams in the conference lost, but they were two of the more defining games of the conference. Let’s take a closer look, starting with the “Legends” division.
Let’s start off with the best result by far for the Big-10, and one of the biggest results of the week: Michigan State knocking off Boise State in a battle of top 25 teams. All of the talk coming into this week was about Michigan-Alabama, but the Spartans showed this week that they are the best team in the conference. Le’Veon Bell wins the “Heisman favorite” after week 1 award after a staggering 44 carries for 210 yards and both touchdowns for his team. However, Andrew Maxwell struggled mightily, tossing three picks and no touchdowns, and that’s not a good sign for MSU fans.
Northwestern won one of the more exciting games of the day, knocking off Syracuse 42-41 in a surprising shootout. The Wildcasts relinquished a huge lead, but came back, and notched the game winning score in the last minute of play. The offense looks great, but allowing 41 points to Syracuse means that the Big-10 offenses will be licking their chops.
Nebraska handled their business, knocking off Southern Miss 49-20, and at #16 in the country, the Cornhuskers might be Michigan State’s biggest competition not only in this division, but in the whole conference. Meanwhile, Iowa and Minnesota impressed no one, as Iowa squeaked out an 18-17 win over Northern Illinois. Minnesota needed three overtimes to knock off a UNLV team that isn’t expected to do much of anything this year.
Now, it’s time for the ugly part, and I put this off as long as I could. It was an emotional time on Penn State’s campus, as a depleted squad took the field to try to shake off one of the worst offseasons in recent memory. Well the Nittany Lions understandably struggled, but I’m not sure how many thought they would drop their opener to Ohio 24-14. I thought it was going to be a long year for Penn State, but I was wrong. It’s going to be a longgggggggggggggggg year for Penn State.
Then, there’s Michigan. The team with all the hype. They came into the game #8 in the nation, and they were the title hope for the conference, as Ohio State is on postseason probation. All the hype was that Denard Robinson would lead them to victory, and make his claim for the Heisman, and I just have to ask….why? Why is there all this hype around Robinson? Sure he burst onto the scene in historic fashion, but what has he done since? Other then being fast and having a decent arm, is there anything he’s done to warrant any of this hype. Well he was shown up by the monster defense in Bama, and they were trounced 41-14. The Wolverines might not even be a top 25 team by the end of the season.
Elsewhere in the division, most teams notched blowout victories against subpar opponents. The Buckeyes registered a 56-10 win over UCF, which included one of the best catches you will ever see. Purdue gave Western Kentucky a 48-6 thumping, while Illinois scored a pedestrian 24-7 win over Western Michigan.
Probably the biggest headscratcher was #13 Wisconsin barely hanging on against Northern Iowa, winning 26-21. The score is a tad eschewed, as NIU notched 14 of their 21 points in the 4th, but it’s still an interesting final score. Wrapping up the division, Indiana registered an unimpressive 24-17 victory over in-state rival Indiana State.
Looking forward to next week, there aren’t a ton of marquee games, but there could be some interesting matchups. Purdue will be on the road at #22 Notre Dame, who is fresh off a 50-10 win over Navy in Ireland. This game should be a better barometer for both teams, as they faced weak competition in week 1.
Other then that, the Big-10 and Pac-12 are rivals this week, as they have three matchups. Nebraska should be able to handle UCLA on the road, even though the Bruins notched 49 points in their opener against Rice. Illinois travels to Arizona State in a battle of two teams that should finish mid conference by the end of the year. And Wisconsin will also travel out west to take on Oregon State, who had their season opener against Nicholls State postponed due to Hurricane Isaac.
What did you think of Week 1 for the Big 10? Are the Spartans the favorite to go to the Rose Bowl? Let us know in the comments!