This is the time of the week to judge which teams have overperformed, met, or underperformed expectations. Who gets to set and judge these expectations? I do. I am an investment committee of one (though I may deign to consider the opinions of others). Truth is not truth until and unless I say it is.
It was a thinly scheduled week in the Big Ten, with only nine squads seeing action. While few in quantity, at least the contests were competitive. Michigan State defeated Central Michigan in the only non-conference tilt. Ohio State and Michigan showed their mettle in tough road wins. Penn State was impressive in defeat. The Wildcats showed they can pounce at any time. Purdue is learning how to win. Nebraska has a long way to go...a really long way to go.
Ohio State Buckeyes - (Defeated Penn State, 27-26) Ohio State started the winning drive in the shadow of its own goal post, and steamed down the field. The Buckeyes found a way to win a tough one on the road, which merits an upgrade. They are the top team in the conference until someone knocks them off. Next up: Indiana.
Michigan Wolverines - (Defeated Northwestern, 20-17) Michigan clawed out of a 17 point hole to beat the Wildcats in Evanston. The Harbaughs got punched in the mouth and then punched back. The Wolverines are on a four game winning streak, with the only loss - to an apparently good Notre Dame team - in the opener. The combination of a winning streak, a “good loss,” and the grit to overcome a Fitz ambush merits and upgrade. Only good teams can overcome that type of deficit on the road. Next up: Maryland.
Purdue Boilermakers - (Defeated Nebraska, 42-28) Purdue won a road game at Nebraska by two touchdowns. Let’s face it - Nebby is not good, but winning at Memorial Stadium still means something...sort of? Right? The Boilers let their opponent wear the clown shoes this week. When Purdue mitigates the foolish errors, they can scare anyone. They play the role of “chaos team,” with stock ratings fluctuating almost weekly. Next up: Idle (@Illinois 10/13).
Penn State Nittany Lions - (Lost to Ohio State, 27-26) Penn State’s rating is unchanged. Such is the price of greatness. Viewers watched Coach Franklin out-think himself in real time, which was amazing. The dud of a play call on fourth down served as an anticlimax for an excellent contest. Either team could have won, and Penn State remains one of the top three teams in the conference. Next up: Idle (Michigan State 10/13).
Northwestern Wildcats - (Lost to Michigan, 20-17) Once or twice a year, Fitz comes up with an outstanding game plan/ambush. This week was an example - the Wildcats got out to a 17 point lead. It was clear that Michigan was going to mount a comeback, and the agonizing question was whether NU could hold them off. They could not. Next up: @Michigan State.
Michigan State Spartans - (Defeated Central Michigan, 31-20) The Spartans consummated a MACrifice against the Chippewas. In typical Dantonio fashion, the score was not as lopsided as it could have (or should have) been. Michigan State is consistent that way. Next up: Northwestern.
Indiana Hoosiers - (Defeated Rutgers, 24-17) The Hoosiers went on the road to Piscataway and got a win. It was not at all impressive, but it was a win. Indiana is two wins from bowl eligibility. Next up: @Ohio State.
Wisconsin Badgers - (Idle) Nebraska fired one of Paul Chryst’s closest friends in football - Mike Riley. There could be blood on the tracks in Madison this coming weekend. Next up: Nebraska.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - (Idle) Iowa and Minnesota are coming off of bye weeks. Both teams are coming off tough losses - one close, one not so close. Expect a glorious regatta of punts and power plays. Next up: Iowa.
Illinois Fighting Illini - (Idle) The word in the OTE home office is that the upcoming game against Rutgers is the Illini Super Bowl. I like Lovie’s chances. Next up: @Rutgers.
Iowa Hawkeyes - (Idle) Another piece of livestock statuary is on the line this weekend, as Iowa fights to retain Floyd of Rosedale. I suspect the punt return team has seen a lot of reps in practice. Next up: @Minnesota.
Maryland Terrapins - (Idle) Maryland has been successful with a physical run attack this season. The next earnings report could show how far the Terps have come, and how much further they have to go. This will be a toughness litmus test. Next up: @Michigan.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - (Lost to Purdue, 42-28) Nebraska has developed an obdurate self-destructive streak. It isn’t easy to lose a home game with nearly 600 yards of total offense and only one turnover, but the Huskers found a way. Perhaps 136 yards in penalties and a total lack of situational awareness played a part. So many players do so many comically stupid things so often. The results are ugly, and this weekend they will get uglier. Next up: @Wisconsin.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - (Lost to Indiana, 24-17) Rutgers managed to come within a touchdown of a B1G team. Should the Scarlet Knights manage to win one of these games, the Listing Committee will take it under advisement. Next up: Illinois.
I will be unable to participate in the comments on Monday, as I will be jetting off to see fall foliage in New Hampshire.
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.