Around the Big Ten: Week 4

Hello friends,

The Big Ten has the top two teams in the country!  Isn’t that exciting?!

Ohio State’s once unanimous hold on the top spot is no more as Michigan State is now pulling away some first place votes and find themselves in the number two spot.  You could make a very good argument for Ole Miss being ranked higher than either OSU or MSU, but the bottom line is that, rightly or wrongly, they’re not.  So the Big Ten is the best conference in the country, right?

Very wrong.

Take those teams away and you have a lot of very bad teams and a few teams who are probably pretty good.  The Big Ten is as top heavy as any conference has been ever.  And the two great teams can’t play each other for the Big Ten Championship. Hooray!

Now on to the games.

Kansas @ Rutgers, 11:00 AM (BTN)

So we start at the bottom.  Through two weeks, Kansas has given up a combined 96 points to Memphis and FCS South Dakota State.  Maybe they’re just underperforming!  Let’s check what Bill Connelly thought of Kansas this year.

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Oh god, it’s worse than we feared.

Rutgers, meanwhile, just got spanked by Penn State and is still reeling from a rash of suspensions of players and coaches.  The Scarlet Knights will win, and it won’t be particularly close.  But I’m fairly certain most Northwestern flag football teams could compete with Kansas.

#22 BYU @ Michigan, 11:00 AM (ABC)

GAME OF THE WEEK ALERT!  We all know by now that BYU has been blessed with superhuman Hail Mary powers.  They’re a very solid team who gave UCLA a lot to think about last week. If Michigan has eyes on being better than just mediocre, beating a ranked BYU squad in the Big House would be quite the statement.  To do so, Michigan will need Jake Rudock to play well, which may be asking a little too much.

CMU @ #2 Michigan State, 11:00 AM (BTN)

The second leg of Michigan State’s Michigan tour brings them up against Central Michigan. For what it’s worth, CMU hung with Oklahoma State and Syracuse.  They won’t win on Saturday, but Michigan State does tend to play games where the scoreline doesn’t show the gulf of talent between the two teams, so don’t be shocked if this game is technically close.

Southern Miss @ Nebraska, 11:00 AM (ESPNNEWS)

If ever there was a time for Nebraska’s offense to get in a rhythm, it’s against a Southern Mississippi team that gave up 50 points to North Texas.

Bowling Green @ Purdue, 11:00 AM (BTN)

Bowling Green is favored in this game.  And they could probably be favored by even more.  Because Purdue is awful.  And Bowling Green, despite not having anything resembling a defense, does have a great offense and beat Maryland a few weeks ago. Prepare for more embarrassment, Purdue.

Indiana @ Wake Forest, 11:30 AM (ESPN3)

Wait, this game isn’t even on real TV?  Why? This could be a very exciting game!  Indiana’s Jordan Howard is the leading rusher in all of college football, believe it or not, and Indiana Twitter is pushing hard for Gameday next Saturday when Ohio State rolls in to town. If they enter conference play at 4-0, it just might happen.

Maryland @ West Virginia, 2:00 PM (Fox Sports 1)

This week in “I Forgot They Were A Big Ten Team,” Maryland plays West Virginia in a game that you could be forgiven for thinking is an ACC contest.

North Texas @ Iowa, 2:30 PM (ESPNU)

Iowa is only a half step down the Big Ten West ladder from Northwestern. North Texas lost to SMU by 18 and Rice by 14.  Iowa to roll.

Ohio @ Minnesota, 2:30 PM (BTN)

We need to talk about Minnesota, y’all.  Last week, they beat Kent State, 10-7.  Illinois beat the same Kent State team 52-3.  Minnesota, therefore, is not nearly as good as their showing against TCU would have you believe.  Their offense is a train wreck and it might be a while before they get it figured out, if they ever do.  It’s kind of hard to buy into the Golden Gophers as a Big Ten West contender just yet.

Western Michigan @ #1 Ohio State, 2:30 PM (ABC/ESPN2)

Cardale Jones is starting for Ohio State, but you’ve got to figure that the leash is getting much, much shorter.  Ohio State’s offense looked downright putrid against NIU, and it was slow out of the gates against Hawaii too.  It’s difficult not to root for Cardale Jones, the undisputed Twitter King, but he needs to get it in gear this week if he wants to keep his starting job over J.T. Barrett.

San Diego State @ Penn State, 2:30 PM (BTN)

Good news for SDSU fans, you beat San Diego by 35 in week 1! Bad news, you just lost to South Alabama in OT.  Penn State showed signs of getting back on track against Rutgers last time out.  They’re clearly not a competitor for the Big Ten East crown, but Christian Hackenberg is playing for his draft slot, so that’s always fun to follow.

Middle Tennessee State @ Illinois, 3:00 PM (ESPNNEWS)

Remember when I said that Illinois might be a good team?  Well I retract that and in fact deny ever writing that.  They’re bad, MTSU isn’t, and I expect Illinois to lose.

Hawaii @ #22 Wisconsin

Corey Clement’s injury situation is still unclear for Wisconsin. Bad news for fans of good running backs who are fun to watch. Joel Stave continues to beat expectations, but for Wisconsin to be the real deal, they need a healthy Clement.  It looks now like the Badgers and the Wildcats are on a collision course that will determine the winner of the Big Ten West.

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