Best & Worst: Big 10 Week 5

October 3, 2009

Written by Jon Miller

Best of the Big Ten:  Ohio State did a nice job in slowing down an Indiana offense that was starting to gain some traction.  Or, you might say the numbers Indiana put up against Michigan last week came against a defense that is still a long ways away from what the stout bunch of Buckeyes can deliver.  Ohio State’s offense is still not a group that I would call impressive, but I am not sure there is such a thing in the Big Ten this year, at least consistently.  Over 30 first downs without eye-popping total yards…just an efficient and relentless machine this week.

Best of the Big Ten Part Two:  Wisconsin continues to climb the ladder in the Big Ten, at least in my mind.  They put up more than 450 yards of offense and 31 points against Minnesota, despite committing three turnovers.  However, Minnesota was equally charitable, giving the ball back three times as well.  Bruising back John Clay put up 184 yards on the ground as the Badgers battered the Minnesota front seven for 295 yards on the ground.  The Badgers aren’t pretty, but that’s not an adjective you would use to describe many of their teams over the past 17 years.  However, they are getting the job done, and a road win in the Big Ten is always a nice thing to have.

Worst of the Big Ten: Illinois is making a bid to locking up this category each and every week.  They did put up 393 yards of offense against Penn State, but their defense, or 11 guys that have to be out there when the other team’s offense is on the field allowed 513 yards of offense to the Nittany Lions, including 338 on the ground.  Iowa fans, you watched the Nits struggle at home lasts week against the Hawkeyes in all phases of their offense…doesn’t this make you wish the Illini were paying a visit to Kinnick Stadium this year?  Illinois is now 1-3 and I really, really missed the mark on my preseason analysis on that team.  They are not playing with any heart, and when their best defensive player said his teammates quit in the season opening loss against Missouri, I think he was right.  I will write this again; when Illinois comes back on Iowa’s schedule in 2011, Ron Zook will not be their head coach.  They still have non-conference games against Cincinnati and Fresno State at the end of the season.  They will be out of contention for a bowl game by then and might lose both of those games.

Worst of the Big Ten, Part Two:  Purdue was up 21-3 on Northwestern with 11:52 left to play in the second quarter.  Northwestern then scored the next 24 points to win 27-21.  Purdue committed SIX TURNOVERS at home.  Six!  That includes five lost fumbles.  It’s the third straight heart breaking defeat the Boilermakers have suffered.  Perhaps they are not as bad as I thought they were, but their record is going to be right where I had anticipated.  That was a huge win for Northwestern, by the way.  It keeps their bowl hopes alive.

ROAD WARRIORS:  There were five conference games today, and the road team won three of those contests.  That is on top of two road winners last week.  The Big Ten is not a ‘great league’ this year, but it’s salty and I don’t know that there will be too many ‘guarantees’ this year.

Jon Miller’s Weekly Big Ten Power Rankings Week Five

1 Ohio State:  They did what good teams usually do at Indiana; dominate

T-2 Iowa:  Yeah, it was shaky.  But it was a trap game and they are 5-0

T-2 Wisconsin:  Badger fans should feel good about the way their team is playing

4 Michigan:  Young team showed moxie in forcing this game to overtime

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5 Penn State:  Good numbers against a horrible team

6 Michigan State:  Michigan had a chance to deliver the kill shot; Rasputin alert?

7 Minnesota:  Once again, their lack of defense will limit their upside potential

8 Northwestern:  Pat Fitzgerald kept them focused down 18 early

9 Indiana:  They won’t go winless

10 Purdue: They might

11 Illinois:  Right now, they just belong here

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Still Way Too Early Bowl Projections

ROSE:  Ohio State

CAP ONE: Iowa

OUTBACK: Wisconsin

CHAMPS: Penn State

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ALAMO: Michigan

INSIGHT: Minnesota

DETROIT:  Michigan State

Week Six Big Ten Schedule

Michigan at Iowa: Young Wolverines in their toughest game of their careers?

Illinois at Penn State:  Jake Christensen in Happy Valley

Purdue at Minnesota:  Decker for 200 yards?

MSU at Illinois:  Good matchup in January, not so much in October

Wisconsin at Ohio State:  Bucky three wins in Shoe since 1999

Indiana at Virginia:  I don’t really know what to say here

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