The Big Ten has been scrutinized early this season as being an inferior conference to other BCS powers around college football. After last week’s debacle against Pac-12 opponents, one could agree with these “experts” about the lack of quality teams in the Big Ten.
However, the conference rebounded nicely this past Saturday to post a 10-2 record for the second time this season. Other than losses by Michigan State and Indiana, mostly every team had no trouble coasting to victories while others had to rely on missed field goals, backup quarterbacks and a weak non-conference opponent to get a win.
With conference play just under two weeks away, there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut favorite in the Big Ten and this could prove to be an exciting season in the conference. Things could get interesting by October, especially since there are three undefeated teams currently in the Big Ten.
Illinois 44-Charleston Southern 0
This game was just too easy for the Fighting Illini. I wished they weren’t able to schedule such an easy opponent because I don’t believe this team is capable of being competitive in the conference. However, Illinois was led by backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole’s five touchdown passes. A boring and unimpressive win against a team that hasn’t won a game since 2010, Illinois needs to do this against a stronger opponent this season.
Minnesota 28-Western Michigan 23
The Golden Gophers are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2008 when they began 4-0. Minnesota got its third victory of the season after starting quarterback MarQueis Gray went down in the second quarter with an ankle injury. The theme of the day on Saturday, the backup quarterback, was present at TCF Bank Stadium as Max Shortell threw three touchdowns to lead the Golden Gophers to an impressive win over the Broncos.
Nebraska 42-Arkansas State 13
Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini left the team at halftime due to flu related symptoms. He was rushed to an area hospital for precautionary reasons. This didn’t stop Nebraska from claiming another easy win over a nonconference opponent. This is another game I wished didn’t happen because it proves nothing as the Cornhuskers were clowned last week by UCLA.
No. 12 Ohio State 35-California 28
This game had “upset special” written all over it as the Pac-12 looked to continue its early-season dominance over the Big Ten. The Bears gave Ohio State all it could handle as they scored 28 points on what has been a stingy defense thus far this season. Unfortunately, California couldn’t break away from the Buckeyes as kicker Vincenzo D’Amato missed three field goals.
Purdue 54-Eastern Illinois 16
The Boilermakers responded well after a tough loss to Notre Dame last week by pounding a MAC opponent at home. Purdue, who were without the services of quarterback Robert Marve, were led by Caleb TerBush’s two touchdown passes and Akeem Hunt’s 106 rushing yards. Purdue could be a sleeper team in the conference and will open its conference slate at home against Michigan on Sept. 29.
Northwestern 22-Boston College 13
One of the more underrated teams in the country this season, Northwestern, defeated its third consecutive opponent from a BCS conference. The Golden Eagles could not run the ball on a defense that has become more stagnant over the past few weeks. Northwestern was led by its dual-quarterback tandem of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian, and also received a huge boost from Mike Trumpy’s 107 rushing yards.
No. 17 Michigan 63-Massachusetts 13
What’s new here? Michigan was once again led to an easy victory over a weak opponent by Denard Robinson’s 291 passing yards and four total touchdowns. While this win made the Wolverines appear to be inferior, I want to see this team handle a stronger opponent like this easily. The Wolverines will face Notre Dame on the road this Saturday for another early-season test.
Penn State 34-Navy 7
It hasn’t been an easy start to the season for Penn State and its new head coach Bill O’Brien. The Nittany Lions were able to get its first victory of the season after two heartbreaking losses to Ohio and Virginia. Penn State benefitted greatly from Matt McGloin’s four touchdown passes.
Iowa 27-Northern Iowa 16
The Hawkeyes haven’t been great on offense this season as they’ve adjusted to injuries at the running back position. Iowa was able to benefit from the performance of walk-on fullback Mark Weisman. Weisman had three touchdown runs to propel the Hawkeyes to an important victory at home.
Ball State 41-Indiana 39
After losing starting quarterback Tre Roberson last week, the Hoosiers couldn’t respond to its loss as they were beaten by in-state MAC rival, Ball State on a field goal. Ball State kicker Steven Schott connected on a 42-yard field goal as time expired to defeat Indiana on the road.
Wisconsin 16-Utah State 14
The Badgers have been a major disappointment early in the season and barely managed to avoid its first loss at home to a nonconference opponent since 2003. Utah State came in to Madison,Wisc. with upset on its minds and had a chance to win but kicker Josh Thompson missed a field goal with under 20 seconds remaining.
No. 20 Notre Dame 20-No. 10 Michigan State 3
The Spartans came into this game as an early-season favorite to win the Big Ten but failed to score a touchdown against the Fighting Irish. Michigan State was held to 50 yards rushing and went 5-for-17 on third down. This loss won’t hurt the Spartans chances to win the conference but it does hinder its chances to reach the National Championship game, if they really had a chance before this loss.