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? Me. 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.
Apart from Michigan State, the top of the conference played to preseason expectations. The league was 8-4 in non-conference play. Across the thirteen games this week, we had one conference beat down, a Nerd Bowl loss, a desert defeat, a disappointing Big 12 rivalry renewal, and a fire in the spacecraft.
Penn State Nittany Lions - The Nittany Lions did not look like the team that struggled with Appalachian State last week, but Pitt is no App State. This was a stomping that is more in line with preseason expectations. Next up: Kent State.
Maryland Terrapins - The Terrapins played a version of TERP SMASH against Bowling Green this week. They went full B1G, rushing for over 400 yards and only passing sixteen times. Only turtle devotees saw it, though, as it was only broadcast on the Mizlou Television Network. I did not think Maryland could handle success this well. Adding Durkin back into the mix might send this whole thing sideways. Next up: Temple.
Wisconsin Badgers - Second verse same as the first. The Badgers followed the usual plot of playing with their prey until it is exhausted, then grounding it into powder. They will continue to improve - the loss of two-a-day practices means power running teams take longer to reach peak efficiency. Next up: BYU.
Michigan Wolverines - The Wolverines consummated an in-state MACrifice, and looked generally competent in the process. This week, the fighting Harbaughs move on from Directional Michigan to Directional “Baptists That Can Read.” We may not know more about Michigan until conference play begins. Next up: SMU.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - Nebraska lost a heartbreaker to the Buffaloes. The first game mistakes were legion, and avoiding even one of them would have made the difference. A team coming off a 4-8 season lost a close first game to a team with talented skill players. There was a definite improvement in defensive aggression and offensive potency. Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez (the only scholarship QB on the roster) injured his knee, and his status is in doubt. Next up: Troy.
Ohio State Buckeyes - Ohio State annihilated Rutgers. This coming weekend’s earnings report will help define the strength of conference narrative, as the Buckeyes take on the Horned Frogs in Jerry World. Next up: TCU (@Arlington, TX).
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Everyone knew this was coming, but at least Rutgers scored this year. A crucial earnings report comes up for the Scarlet Knights, too. In the name of all that is B1G and Delany, please win. Next up: @Kansas.
Iowa Hawkeyes - Iowa retained the Cy-Hawk trophy, with its fourth consecutive win in the series. In a scintillating showcase, the Hawkeyes scored thirteen points and recorded fourteen first downs against the Cyclones. Iowa is exactly the team we thought they were. Next up: Northern Iowa.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - The Gophers defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs. An injury to the starting running back, combined with a true freshman starting his second game at quarterback, limited the Minnesota offense. Fresno scored 79 points last week, this week they scored fourteen. The Antoine Winfield Jr. game-saving interception is a play for the ages. That is two highlight reel plays in two weeks. The kid is a stud. Next up: Miami (Hydroxide).
Indiana Hoosiers - The Hoosiers held off the Cavaliers at home. Indiana does not look like a particularly good team, but they certainly are not horrible, either. So far, they have a double digit road win and a win over a P5 school in a monsoon. A win next week could see Hoosier stock move up. Next up: Ball State.
Illinois Fighting Illini - The Illini beat the Leathernecks. If you are in the survivor pool, congratulations. This game had as fine a catch as you will ever see - Illinois’ Edwin Carter leaped to catch a high pass, was hit and flipped, landed on his head, and still held on to the ball for a touchdown. He was led directly to the locker room with a knee injury. Next up: South Florida.
Northwestern Wildcats - If the Wildcats move up for beating a conference foe on the road, they simply must move down for losing to Duke...at home...by two touchdowns. Anyone who watched the second half of this game regrets it. David Cutcliffe bedevils Fitz at every turn. Next up: Akron.
Purdue Boilermakers - The Boilers lost to EMU. You know, like Rutgers has. Purdue is an engineering school famed for producing astronauts - a profession renowned for precision and discipline. It is amazing that stupid and selfish play continues to doom them. Two fouls - an unsportsmanlike celebration and an unnecessary roughness - did them in this week. A team that could be undefeated is winless, and faces a steep uphill climb as it moves toward October. Next up: Missouri.
Michigan State Spartans - The Spartans lost to Arizona State on a walk-off field goal in a late night desert clash. As a Nebraskan, I knew this was a scheduling mistake. Michigan State seems moribund after two weeks. A bye week might get things back on track. Next up: Idle (@Indiana 9/22).
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.