1. Michigan State
The Spartans remained undefeated after coming back from a 17-point deficit at Ryan Field on Saturday. A team built on its rushing attack showed it could throw the ball too, as junior quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Sparty is in search of its first Big Ten title since 1966.
Wisconsin went into Iowa City and beat the Hawkeyes thanks to a fake punt on their final drive (sound familiar?). The Badgers only loss this year to Michigan State, but they’ve had their way with pretty much every other opponent. Their offense is dangerous with the two-headed rushing attack of John Clay, James White and fifth-year senior quarterback Scott Tolzien.
3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes still had a bad taste in their mouth after losing to Wisconsin last week, which was unfortunate for Purdue. Ohio State beat the Boilermakers 49-0, with 42 of those points coming in the first half. At halftime, OSU had outgunned Purdue 415-47. Can you say domination?
Iowa fell to 5-2 after losing to Wisconsin on Saturday. The Hawkeyes were undefeated in the Big Ten coming into this weekend’s game, but poor execution at home diminished all hopes of winning the Big Ten. With no timeouts and under ten seconds left in the game, running back Adam Robinson failed to get out of bound, and the clock expired along with Iowa’s chances of taking the Big Ten.
Michigan didn’t play this week, but the 5-2 Wolverines are still in the top half of the conference. They’ve lost two in a row, but those have come at the hands of Michigan State and Iowa. The schedule gets considerably easier for the Maize and Blue with their next three games coming against Penn State, Illinois and Purdue, which should get them back on track.
The Fighting Illini don’t look terribly impressive on paper with a 4-3 record, but those losses have come at the hands of Missouri, Michigan State and Ohio State. Those three teams’ record combine for only one loss. Illinois dominated a very talented Indiana offense on Saturday, holding them to 13 points while forcing four turnovers. The Illini are sixth in the Big Ten after the victory, and could easily move up as they have no ranked teams left on their schedule.
The Wildcats fell for the second straight week, but their loss to Michigan State on Saturday should give fans hope. Northwestern should have won that game after going up 17-0 in the first half and holding a ten point lead in the final quarter. In the second half, the team lost focus and let the Spartans back into it. If the Wildcats play like this against the likes of Indiana and Penn State, their season will get back on track.
The Hoosiers got rocked at the hands of Illinois by a score of 43-13 on Saturday. It’s no secret that Indiana doesn’t have much of a defense, but getting held to 13 points is something that the team will take to heart in practice this week. Quarterback Ben Chappell was averaging 310 passing yards per game coming into Saturday’s match up. Even though he threw for an impressive 279 yards in this one, he was picked off three times.
Nobody expected an injury plagued Purdue team to win their first two Big Ten games, but that may be all Boilermaker fans have to hang their hats on in 2010. After upsetting Northwestern and beating Minnesota, Purdue was crushed by Ohio State on Saturday. They never made it past the Buckeye 39-yard-line in a game where they were shut out.
10. Penn State
Penn State started the season in the Top 25, and that shows you why preseason rankings mean nothing. The Nittany Lions beat a terrible Minnesota team on Saturday to improve to 4-3. However, their other three victories have come against Youngstown State, Kent State and Temple. What started out for a promising year for Joe Paterno’s club could end up without a bowl appearance.
Minnesota lost. What else is new? Tim Brewster was fired after last week’s loss to Purdue, but things got no better for the Golden Gophers who lost 33-21 to Penn State on Saturday. There was good news in Minneapolis, however, as quarterback Adam Weber became the fifth player in Big Ten history to throw for 10,000 yards.
Illustrations by Nina Lincoff / North by Northwestern. Logos courtesy of the Big Ten.