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.
The fundamentals of our conference remain strong. Despite losses to luminaries from the Sun Belt, MAC, American, and Big 12, there is a solid foundation in place. B1G teams did defeat teams from the MAC and MVC (Missouri Valley Conference), after all. Fear not. B1G values of entrepreneurship, hard work, line play, and punting will win through in the end.
Across thirteen games this week, the league went 6-7 in non-conference play. A high profile Ohio State win is the best thing that happened for the conference. On the down side...there was a lot. There was a loss to Troy (playing without Hector), a loss to BYU (playing without Joseph Smith), a loss to Kansas (playing without Gale Sayers), a loss to Temple, and a loss to Akron. This conference may have seen darker days, but I do not remember them.
Indiana Hoosiers - (Defeated Ball State, 38-10) The Hoosiers defeated the Cardinals, rounding out a solidly competent run of non-conference play. Three straight wins (and an unblemished record) merit an upgrade for Indiana. Next up: Michigan State.
Ohio State Buckeyes - (Defeated TCU, 40-28) The Buckeyes disposed of a Big 12 contender which was playing twenty miles from its campus. Watching this game was jarring, as compelling high level football was a stark contrast to other B1G action on Saturday. Next up: Tulane.
Michigan Wolverines - (Defeated SMU, 45-20) The Wolverines outclassed the Mustangs. Entering conference play, Harbaugh’s squad has punched down effectively, while losing to its only opponent with a pulse. Next up: Nebraska.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - (Defeated Miami Hydroxide, 26-3) The Gophers have been better than every team they have played. They differ from other conference members in that they actually won against lesser opponents. Next up: @Maryland.
Penn State Nittany Lions - (Defeated Kent State, 63-10) Penn State fulfilled its B1G duty by consummating a MACrifice. See how it is done, Northwestern? Penn State is exactly where it should be entering conference play. Next up: @Illinois (Friday, 9/21).
Illinois Fighting Illini - (Lost to USF, 25-19) Illinois lost a heartbreaker in front of dozens of fans at Soldier Field. A B1G team would generally be downgraded for losing to a team from “The American,” but Illinois is an exception. Lovie’s team fought hard and nearly won. Next up: Penn State (Friday, 9/21).
Iowa Hawkeyes - (Defeated Northern Iowa, 38-14) The Hawkeyes are the kings of Iowa. Next up: Wisconsin.
Purdue Boilermakers - (Lost to Mizzou, 40-37) Purdue managed to keep this game close throughout, while still committing a dazzling penalty or two. Purdue is not going to win too many games, but they have enough talent in the right places to scare a lot of people. Next up: Boston College.
Michigan State Spartans - (Idle) MSU picked a good time to take a week off. In a mild upset, the Spartans did not suffer significant attrition to the ELPD police blotter. Next up: @Indiana.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - (Lost to Troy. 24-19) Losing a close opener to a P5 rival was not enough for a downgrade last week. Losing to a G5 team is definitely worthy of a downgrade this week. Nebraska lost a home game to a Sun Belt team. Jeepers. Fortunately, there are not many tall buildings to leap from in Lincoln. Next up: @Michigan.
Maryland Terrapins - (Lost to Temple, 35-14) This was not pretty. Perhaps it is proximity to Our Nation’s Capital, but there seems to be a great deal of drama and intrigue surrounding this program. This egregious failure is more in line with recent tradition. As a reminder, Temple lost to Villanova. Next up: Minnesota.
Wisconsin Badgers - (Lost to BYU, 24-21) College football playoff contenders do not lose to BYU at home. Badger tactics, which stress workmanlike drudgery and droning, currently have more bugs than features. Next up: @Iowa.
Northwestern Wildcats - (Lost to Akron, 39-34) Northwestern squandered a 21-3 halftime lead. The mighty Zips scored three defensive touchdowns in the second half to doom the Fightin’ Fitzes. People paid money to watch this. Next up: Idle (Michigan 9/29).
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - (Lost to Kansas, 55-14) The Listing Committee usually meets quarterly, but in rare instances administrative action must be swift and decisive. This is such a case: Rutgers created a Kansas winning streak. An earnings report this dismal must have consequences. As a result, Rutgers is now listed on the over-the-counter bulletin board. A fraud may have been perpetrated on the Big Ten Conference, so an investigation is ongoing. Next up: Buffalo.
Unfortunately, I will be unable to defend my analysis in the comments. I will be jetting off to my
panic room compound in New Zealand for some reflection and reorganization.
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.