Week 2 in the Big Ten was, in many ways, statement week for the conference. Ohio State's goal was to quell any doubt that it deserved it's #2 ranking, Michigan wanted to state that they were for real, and Iowa wanted to make sure everybody knew that this wasn't the same old 'lose an early winnable game' squad from years past. The rest of the conference all had eminently winnable games, and the statement there was that the conference is strong top to bottom. That worked pretty well, except up in Dinkytown.
Minnesota, Minnesota, why dost thou vex me so?
Miami vs. Ohio State:
Ohio State, for all their success, still has this 'yeah, but' stigma to them. It's unwarranted, I feel, but it is what it is. The Buckeyes went a long way to eradicate that in the Rose Bowl, and stripped it bare against Miami. the 36-24 score wasn't as close as indicated: The Ohio State defense was opportunistic and aggressive, hit Miami hard all day long, and came up with several big plays. On offense, Terrelle Pryor was efficient as a passer, but his below 50% completion percentage is cause for concern. What isn't a concern is his ability to run, though. Time and time again he avoided the pass rush, found open field, and made a play. The special teams play was almost atrocious, giving up two huge touchdowns, but partially redeemed themselves with big returns of their own and a blocked fiel goal. Still not a stellar day from a team where the coach believes the punt is the most important play in football.
Michigan vs. Notre Dame:
After last week's performance against Connecticut, there were a lot of Michigan doubters that said do it again before we get on the bandwagon. Well, I don't know if there's a lot of room left on the Michigan bandwagon this morning. QB Denard Robinson's incredible performance topped last week's impressive debut, and thrust him into the thick of the Heisman talk. Robinson was a one man wrecking crew, and went through Notre Dame like a combine through a wheatfield. The defense still has some questions, though. I mean, when you let a cornfed farm boy burn you for a 95 yard TD late in the game, you need to make adjustments, but Denard Robinson will win a lot of games for this team. He's taken a pounding over two games, though, and his health is a requirement for this team.
Iowa State vs. Iowa:
You know the drill: Iowa finishes strong, wins a bowl game, and comes into the next season with talk of serious contention for a Big Ten title, and possible BCS championship. Then they lose to Iowa State, and expectations need to be re-calibrated. Yeah, about that. Iowa spanked the Cyclones, and they should've. Ricki Stanzi was particularly patriotic, throwing 2 TD's, but the storyline was the dominant running game. No, that's not a misprint. What has been a bugaboo for Iowa the last few seasons was a dominant force yesterday, as Adam Robinson (156 yards) and Jewel Hampton (84 Yards) gave the Hawkeyes 240 yards on the ground, their most since Herbert Hoover was a West Branch ne'er do well.
Penn State vs. Alabama:
Going on the road against the defending national champion with a freshman quarterback was a tall order. It must have felt, in a way, like the Army of Northern Virginia felt right before Pickett's Charge. That's a helluva task ahead of us, and we might get butchered...but we just...might...do...it. Well, Penn State didn't get butchered, but they never eally stood much of a chance, either. Especially with the way they played last night. They could've made a game of it, but kept shooting themselves in the foot. I see a lot of good things in Robert Bolden, and next season when Alabama comes to Happy Valley, I expect him to play much better than he did last night. And really, for a freshman in that environment, he wasn't terrible. Made a couple of bad throws, but held up under pressure admirably, all things considered.
Most of the Conference Against the Great Unwashed:
Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue, and Illinois took care of business against vastly inferior teams, including several FCS schools. Northwestern, Illinois, and Michigan State made quick work of their opponents. Wisconsin methodically took down San Jose State, and Purdue won, but not in a real convincing manner. I really thought Purdue would have gotten off to a faster start, but after last week's disappointment in South Bend, a win is a win is a win. But hey, everybody took care of the teams they were supposed to, so it was a good day for the Big Ten in that regard. What's that? Minne-who? Minne-what? Ohhhhhhhh, Minne-SOTA. Well, yes. About that...
South Dakota v. Minnesota
I want Minnesota to do well, I really do. I'm a native Minnesotan, after all, but my allegiance is to Ohio State after
attending school there drinking my way out of there right after high school, and the many heartbreaks I suffered as a kid at the hands of Ski-U-Mah. I'll let MIchael Corleone explain:
Good Lord, gents, losing to an FCS school is very ACC-ish of you. There were a lot of questions about Minnesota's defense entering the season, and they were all answered yesterday. They flat out suck. I just can't be any more blunt than that. Tim Brewster, for all his reputation as a recruiter, doesn't get results on the field, as was apparent yesterday, and the offense is good, but I don't think they're good enough to win shootouts every week. Hunker down, Dinkytown, it's going to be a rough ride. But I'm still calling the USC upset next week, I just have a feeling.
Granted, that feeling could very well be acute heartburn, or the onset of a heart attack, but it's a feeling nonetheless.
So there's you delayed kneejerk reaction for the conference for week 2. For the most part, it's gone according to scripts. I think you can classify Michigan as a slight surprise, though. I'm not surprised that they're 2-0, but I am very surprised at how Denard Robinson has emerged so quickly. OSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin are the top three, there's a lot of questions that need to be answered by the middle of the conference, and the Minnesota loss has me re-thinking my pre-season 6 win prediction.