Week one was bad, but week two was much, much worse.
Despite going 10-2 as a conference in the first week of the season, I wrote that the Big Ten did not look very impressive in doing so. Now, following a 6-6 mark in week two, I am even more convinced the Big Ten may be headed for another down year.
No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 16 Nebraska both lost. Both results were somewhat surprising. Nebraska looked extremely impressive in its 49-20 win against Southern Mississippi. But the Cornhuskers went into the Rose Bowl and lost a highly entertaining game against UCLA, 36-30.
The Badgers weren’t as impressive in their opener, but were still picked by many to win, or finish near the top of the Big Ten. However, Oregon State had other ideas as the Beavers stunned Wisconsin 10-7.
Two of the projected top teams in the Big Ten, losing to middle-of-the-pack Pac 12 teams does not bode well for the conference.
Iowa needed a second half comeback to beat Northern Illinois in week one. The Hawkeyes, however, failed to score a touchdown against in-state rival Iowa State and fell 9-6.
Illinois got steamrolled by Arizona State, 45-14, making the Pac 12’s record against the Big Ten 3-0 last week.
Penn State looks headed for a dismal season as the Nittany Lions fell to Virginia 17-16, one week after losing to Ohio 24-14. And Purdue fought hard, and played a tough game against No. 22 Notre Dame, but the Boilermakers came up just short in the end 20-17.
Six teams did record victories for the conference, though: No. 11 Michigan State, No. 14 Ohio State, No. 19 Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Indiana.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines both got wins, but did not impress in doing so. We all know how the Ohio State game went, as the Buckeyes had highs and lows. But, Michigan had to hang on to defeat Air Force 31-25. Air Force is a difficult team to prepare for, but Michigan’s defense looked pretty bad, allowing 290 yards on the ground.
Indiana and Minnesota both recorded blowout wins, but both played bad teams. The Hoosiers defeated Massachusetts 45-6 and the Golden Gophers knocked off New Hampshire 44-7.
The only team that probably did what it was supposed to do was Michigan State. The Spartans defeated Central Michigan 41-7.
Northwestern earned somewhat of an upset victory over Vanderbilt, winning 23-13. Given the Big Ten’s record against the SEC in recent years, we’ll take it.
I know it is still early in the season with only two games being played. But this is one of the worst week’s the Big Ten has had in quite some time. And, in just two weeks, the conference’s image has already taken a serious hit.
The marquee match-up featuring a Big Ten team next week is with Michigan State hosting Notre Dame.
And for the sake of the conference I will say this: Go Sparty.