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 smell of fall is in the air, and conference teams are beginning to settle into their identities. We have the top of the conference: Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. We have Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa, which will likely contend deep into November. We have the mushy middle. Then we have the tragicomic trio of Rutgers, Nebraska, and Illinois bringing up the rear.
The league went in 2-1 in non-conference play: Ohio State and Purdue held up their end of the bargain, Rutgers most decidedly did not. We had turtles grilling varmints, a murder in Ann Arbor, a non-con harboring, and a gross stampede somewhere near the swamps of Jersey. In true B1G fashion, the showcase game was a rock fight. The season is truly under way - Wisconsin retained a piece of livestock statuary.
Maryland Terrapins - (Defeated Minnesota, 42-13) Maryland ran all over the Gophers, making the Terps’ previous loss to Temple even more confounding - until one learns that three offensive linemen were suspended against the Owls. A strong running game combined with an opportunistic defense is a potent mix in the Big Ten. Next up: Idle (@Michigan 10/6).
Purdue Boilermakers - (Defeated Boston College, 30-13) An erstwhile snake bitten Purdue squad defeated a ranked team by more than two touchdowns. The Boilers have weapons that can trouble any opponent, provided they do not sabotage themselves. Purdue should be a favorite on the road this coming weekend. Next up: @Nebraska.
Wisconsin Badgers - (Defeated Iowa, 28-17) Wisconsin has discovered that pigskins can fly. On the strength of his arm, Alex Hornibrook led a clutch fourth quarter drive to doom the Hawkeyes. The Badgers were strong enough on the lines to survive this annual brawl, and they sit in the West’s catbird seat. Next up: Idle (Nebraska 10/6).
Penn State Nittany Lions - (Defeated Illinois, 63-24) The bad news is the Nittany Lions trailed Illinois in the second half. The good news is they still managed to win by 39 points. Penn State is undefeated through four games, as one would expect. This coming weekend will be highly consequential. Next up: Ohio State.
Ohio State Buckeyes - (Defeated Tulane, 49-6) The Buckeyes disposed of the Green Wave. Thus far, Ohio State has outclassed its opponents athletically. This upcoming earnings report is the first opportunity for an upgrade, and will bring some clarity to the B1G East landscape. Next up: @Penn State.
Illinois Fighting Illini - (Lost to Penn State, 63-24) The Illini were expected to lose, and they did just that. Holding a second half lead against Penn State was an encouraging sign - showing that Illinois has enough coaching and talent to be competitive, against one of the league’s best, through several quarters. An off week followed by a trip to Piscataway should get them to three wins. Next up: Idle (@Rutgers 10/6).
Michigan Wolverines - (Defeated Nebraska, 56-10) Michigan absolutely stomped Nebraska, winning every phase of the game. Wolverine line play and attacking defensive style were both very impressive. Was it enough for an upgrade? No. Simply put, it is hard to promote a ranked team for defeating a winless mess at home. A win in Evanston will boost Harbaugh’s crew. Next up: @Northwestern.
Michigan State Spartans - (Defeated Indiana, 35-21) Coach Dantonio broke out another successful fake kick. Defense took away a lot of Hoosier weapons, while the offense plodded down the field for the most part, mixing in a few turnovers and big plays. A home game against the mighty Chippewas should flush out any remaining desert toxins. Next up: Central Michigan.
Iowa Hawkeyes - (Lost to Wisconsin, 28-17) Punting is still winning, but punt returning was losing for Iowa this week - two turnovers in the punt return game is not very Ferentzian. A muffed punt in the third quarter was particularly costly, setting up the Badgers’ second touchdown. This game was much closer than the score might indicate, and Iowa is still a formidable team with a chance to represent the West in Indianapolis. Next up: Idle (@Minnesota 10/6).
Indiana Hoosiers - (Lost to Michigan State, 35-21) The Hoosiers never have enough to get over the hump. Stevie Scott was shut down in the run game, and pass protection was not good enough to sustain a downfield passing attack. Indiana is a decent team that needs to find (and add) another ingredient. Next up: @Rutgers.
Northwestern Wildcats - (Idle) Northwestern will have had two weeks to prepare when they face Michigan on Saturday. Fitz puts on his wizard hat and conjures one or two great game plans a year. The Wildcats lost to Akron last week, so have fun storming the castle. Next up: Michigan.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - (Lost to Michigan. 56-10) The Cornhuskers embarrassed themselves, their fans, and the game of football this weekend. In order to turn things around, Nebraska needs to show progress and at least keep it close against Purdue (this was an odd sentence to write). Next up: Purdue.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - (Lost to Maryland, 42-13) A team from the Delaware Triangle - the guys with the garish flags and uniforms - took the Gophers to the woodshed. Distressingly, Maryland did it with a better run game, both offensively and defensively. Not like that, Minny. Not like that! Next up: Idle (Iowa 10/6).
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - (Lost to Buffalo, 42-13) The Scarlet Knights got blown out by a MAC team at home. That’s right, they consummated a self-MACrifice. Patience is running thin, and investors associated with our conference now feel that they have been “consummated” by Rutgers. The Listing Committee considered de-listing from OTC BB (over-the-counter bulletin board) to another marketplace, but there are limited options and it is a long season. The Pink Sheets will be the next stop should this slide continue. Market Guidance: The presumption is that this slide will continue. Next up: Indiana.
I will be unable to participate in the comments on Monday, as I will be jetting off to catch the first blush of autumn in Gstaad.
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.