Now that we've made it through the first week of the season, at least as far as the Big Ten is concerned, take a look at how everyone came out of the weekend.
Minnesota (1-0) - Won at UNLV 30-27 in triple overtime. Anytime you can go on the road and win for a team that's really struggled the past few years, you take it. MarQueis Gray is a scary player for Big Ten defenses to plan for. He's a tough, physical runner and a streakier passer than Taylor Martinez, think about that for a minute. For a team that is looking to build, this is a big win, even vs. a middle of the pack at best Mountain West UNLV squad. They can do some things on offense, special teams is kind of a mess. It could be the difference between them being bowl eligible or not, they're going to have a lot of difficulty winning games in conference play. Next week: vs. New Hampshire (BTN)
Michigan State (1-0) - Defeated Boise St. 17-13 with a late TD. Le'Veon Bell and that Sparty defense are the real deal. The rest of the offense is another story. Sparty is thinking Rose Bowl, they had a defense that can take them further than that. Will their offense catch up? Next week: @ Central Michigan (ESNPU)
Northwestern (1-0) - Held on at Syracuse, winning 42-41. Northwestern blew a 35-13 lead after Syracuse scored 28 unanswered to take a 41-35 lead with just over two minutes to play. Northwestern back-up quarterback led the game winning two minute drill hitting Demetrius Fields for a 9 yard score with :44 to play. Wildcats starter Kain Colter was banged up a little which kept him out of the game late. That is a situation that is worth watching. That is a player Northwestern cannot afford to lose. They say he'll be fine but injuries can be funny things sometimes. For the Wildcats, allowing Syracuse to get back into the game and take the lead is concerning, but much like Minnesota, winning a game on the road like this is big for their program. Next week: Vanderbilt (BTN)
Penn State (0-1) - Lost at home to Ohio 24-14. Ouch. There was discussion that Ohio could spoil the day for Penn St. and boy did they. Penn St. got off to a decent start but the emotion of the day wore off and Frank Solich's Bobcats took control of the game in the second half. It's going to be a tough go for the depleted Nittany Lions. Next Week: @ Virginia (ABC)
Illinois (1-0) - Defeated Western Michigan 24-7. Illinois with a decent game in Coach Tim Beckman's debut in Champagne but QB Nathan Scheelhaase was hurt and had to leave the game. Illinois has some talent, but they'll be hard pressed to do much without their standout QB. The Illini are the other team named when asked who can challenge Wisconsin on the Leaders side of things. That conversation changes if he can't lead them. Next week: @Arizona State (ESPN)
Ohio State (1-0) - Steamrolled Miami-Ohio 56-10. Urban Meyer's debut in Columbus was a resounding one. After a sluggish first quarter, falling behind by a field goal, they reeled off a 56-7 run, squelching any hopes Miami had of a monumental upset. Ohio St.'s defense ground the Red Hawks to a halt, holding them to -1 yards on 20 carries. The offense looked ok, too racking up more than 500 yards of offense. If this is where Coach Meyer's team is starting out? Look out. Next Week: UCF (ESPN 2)
Iowa (1-0) - snuck out a win over Northern Illinois in Chicago, 18-17. Northern Illinois isn't a push-over. Northern Illinois did win the MAC last year, so take that for what it's worth. Iowa had their opportunities to win this comfortably and had to count by three instead of seven. That's a recipe for an upset, but Iowa managed to hang on. Chalk it up, move on, but with a senior QB, Iowa should expect better if they want to challenge for the division. Next week: Iowa St. (BTN)
Purdue (1-0)- Hammered Eastern Kentucky 48-6. Just what the doctor ordered. Many are expecting this Purdue team to be a bit of a sleeper should Wisconsin stumble in the Leaders division and they showed that they might just be a team capable of doing that. They handled their business and left little doubt. Five turnovers are a concern, however, so let's no go overboard and call them the next big thing, but they showed more than enough to say they're a team worth watching. We should learn a lot about this team next week when they make a trip to face the globetrotting Irish of Notre Dame. Next week: @ Notre Dame (NBC)
Nebraska (1-0) - Defeated Southern Miss 49-20. Nebraska's offense looked explosive and efficient despite little on the ground from Burkhead and Martinez. You can debate the improvements to Martinez's mechanics, but he was on point with his arm. Nebraska is fortunate to have a lot of depth at the running back position; they should be able to sustain the loss of Burkhead through the non-conference slate just fine but will need him when conference play begins. Lots of receivers got into the mix as well and having Kyler Reed back should add a dimension to the offense that was missing last year. Barring any more significant injuries, this could be the best offensive unit in the conference. The defense looked better than last year, but concerns still remain as Southern Miss was able to make some hay on the ground. Tackling needs to improve. Some special teams concerns as well, but for now, chalk it up as a bad day for Maher, it happens. Next week: @ UCLA (FOX)
Wisconsin (1-0) - Struggled to defeat Northern Iowa 26-21. I know the numbers say Danny O'Brien had a decent game, but Northern Iowa is an FCS team that has no business being in a 5 point game at Wisconsin. Montee Ball had what would be a nice game for mere mortal running backs, but the Heisman Trophy finalist is held to a higher standard. Perhaps they were looking ahead to next week, but this is your defending conference champion, folks. Do better Wisconsin. Next Week: @ Oregon State (FX)
Indiana (1-0) - Defeated Indiana State 24-17. This game looked more like a game featuring two FCS teams than it did a Big Ten team playing an in-state guarantee game vs. an FCS team. And the FCS team had every opportunity to win the game but showed why they are an FCS team. Indiana struggled to put the Sycamores away. This just looks like a bad football team. Find me three more wins on that schedule? Good luck. Next Week: @UMass (Gillette Stadium, ESPN 3)
Michigan (0-1) - Hammered by Alabama 41-14. This could have been a whole lot worse. Michigan was outclassed vs. Alabama. It was pointed out during the game that while watching football this weekend, no other SEC team looked anything like Alabama did Saturday night. So, take solace, Michigan, this was more about how good the Crimson Tide is more than it was that Michigan might be considerably overrated (which, they might in fact be). Time will tell on that. Next week: Air Force (ABC)
Ranking the B1G:
1. Michigan: Giving them a pass. Bama's that good, but Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State all have a case to be in this spot.
2. Ohio State: Most complete effort in week one. Scary how good this team could be by Thanksgiving weekend.
3. Michigan State: Giving the stout defense the nod over the juggernaut offense.
4. Nebraska: Offense better than advertised. If they can tune up tackling issues and kicking game blunders, have a chance at BCS berth. Talented depth at RB is a beautiful thing for Big Red.
5. Purdue: Solid effort with room for improvement. Not completely convinced they're better than Wisconsin, but after week one, they looked better, but it's just week one.
6. Wisconsin: Life after Russell Wilson isn't quite as nice yet. Going to have to be much better to three-peat.
7. Northwestern: Offensive punch (assuming Colter isn't hurt more than they're letting on) but defensive issues. They'll catch someone sleeping, but probably don't have enough to challenge for the division.
8. Illinois: If Scheelhaase is hurt for any length of time, it could spell doom for the Illini.
9. Iowa: Senior QB + neutral site + mid-major defending champion = nail biter? No, it shouldn't.
10. Minnesota: Nice win, Gray is scary for opposing defensive coordinators, but not much else, progress is evident, though. Chance to go bowling if they get a couple breaks.
11. Penn State: It was another emotional day in Happy Valley and it wasn't enough to win the game. The road will be long for the Nittany Lions.
12. Indiana: Looks like its going to be another long year in Bloomington. *Insert lame "How long until basketball season?" joke here*
Player of the Week: Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State: 44 carries, 210 yards, two TD's. He had a beast of a game when his team needed it. Boise State was doing what they do and grinding its way to another win over a strong BCS team. MSU's offense was doing everything it could to give the game away so Bell says "give me the ball" and carries his team to victory. A very big victory. He also did college football a huge favor and ended the Boise St. conversation before it even began. That should be good enough to get POtW.
- How irrelevant is Indiana football? They're playing a ROAD game AT UMASS. No Big Ten team should have to do that. I realize they're playing it at Gillette Stadium, but seriously, how much interest is there in this game in Bloomington, much less Boston?
- It doesn't appear as though any of the injuries are serious yet, but already in week one we're seeing some injuries that could have significant impacts on their seasons. Rex Burkhead at Nebraska, Kain Colter at Northwestern and Nathan Sheelhasse at Illinois all left the game early due to injury. Michigan also suffered a big blow to their secondary in losing Blake Countess for the season on what was a unit that already suffered from depth issues. That will be put to the test early and bears watching for the Wolverines.
- Purdue has a pretty interesting opportunity to get a statement win early in the season when they travel to South Bend next week. The Irish will be traveling back from their little trip to Dublin* where they trounced Navy. While I don't think jet lag will be much of an issue, you have to wonder how all the hoopla and unique circumstances of that trip will impact Notre Dame's preparation for the Boilermakers who are certainly capable of winning that game.
- Remember, it's only week one. A lot can and will happen and a lot can and will change. That's part of why we keep coming back.