There's a lot to be said for being the best. The best teams win championships, sell out stadiums, receive national attention and have an inside track at the best recruits. There has been a lot of debate on this site and others over who the best team has been in the B1G so far. Is it Wisconsin? Illinois? Nebraska? Michigan? I'll leave that for someone else to argue about.
As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I am not interested in figuring out the best team. I am also not interested in figuring out if one flawed team in the middle of the pack is marginally better than another flawed team. I am interested in the left end of the bell curve: the worst teams in the conference.
While this will certainly change throughout the season, three weeks in the picture is fairly clear. Iowa's loss against Iowa State was disappointing, but their comeback against Pitt keeps them out of this discussion for now. Army's 0-2 record prior to beating Northwestern makes that a bad loss, but the Cats won their previous two games without too much trouble. Michigan State disappointed almost all college football fans in their loss to Notre Dame, but, record aside, ND seems like a good team. Joe Bauserman's 2-14 performance against Miami has Ohio State fans thinking the worst, but neither the Buckeyes nor Penn State look bad enough at this point to be contenders. Maybe later on in the year, but not yet.
There have been three teams that have been consistently ranked at the bottom of the OTE Power Rankings: Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue. Let's break down these teams so far and see who is ahead (or behind) in the race to the bottom of the B1G.
Worst Team Resume: Purdue
Wins: MTSU 27-24, SEMO St. (FCS) 59-0
Loss: at Rice 22-24
Last week's win over SEMO St. was nice, but the close games against Rice and MTSU do not bode well for the future. While Purdue's record is not as good as it should be, and that loss to Rice really hurts, their two wins are more than Indiana and Minnesota have at this point. The Boilers have an off week, which is followed up by a home game against the Irish. After that game, Purdue might be the worst team in the B1G, but at this point they are not.
Worst Team Resume: Minnesota
Win: Miami (Ohio) 29-23
Losses: at USC 19-17, New Mexico St. 28-21
The Gophers looked pretty good opening weekend against USC, but couldn't quite pull off the upset. The Jerry Kill Era seemed like it was off to a decent start, but the following week's loss to New Mexico St. was pretty bad. In their other two contests, the Aggies have lost to Ohio and UTEP. The win over Miami was a good one, as the RedHawks are one of the stronger programs in the MAC. The Golden Gophers should get an easy win against North Dakota St. this Saturday, which will put their non-con record at 2-2.
Worst Team Resume: Indiana
Win: South Carolina St. (FCS) 38-21
Losses: Ball State 20-27, Virginia 31-34
The Hoosiers started out the season by losing to Ball State in Lucas Oil Stadium. Kevin Wilson's team then mounted a spirited comeback at home against Virginia. Indiana couldn't quite get a stop when they needed at the end of the game; the Cavs drove down the field for a late score and added a two-point conversion to tie it up. Then Edward Wright-Baker got sacked and had the ball stolen from him by a completely unguarded defensive end. IU bounced back the next week with a win over FCS South Carolina State, although they managed to break the school record for penalties in a game with 20. A game at North Texas, a team that ranks 116th in points against, is next for the Hoosiers.
At this point, I would say that Indiana has the dubious honor of being the worst team in the B1G. In another month or so, the picture will be even more clear. Conference play will have started and Purdue and Minnesota will have faced off. Maybe one of the middling teams will self-destruct and find themselves in the debate. I'll check back then to see how the conference is shaking out and we'll separate the bad from the very bad.
Purdue vs SEMO St.