I’m quickly running out of bad things to say about the Big Ten and it is only the end of week three.
The Big Ten has just three undefeated teams left: Minnesota, Northwestern and Ohio State. And, with the way the rest of the conference has performed so far, Ohio State has looked like the best team in the Big Ten.
But, the Buckeyes looked so unimpressive in its 35-28 win over Cal, they actually fell four spots (from No. 12 to No. 16) in the AP poll.
Michigan State, a favorite to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl, looked woefully bad against Notre Dame, losing at home 20-3. Wisconsin struggled to beat Utah State at home, 16-14. Despite being 2-1, the Badgers have to be one of the most disappointing teams in the country so far.
Penn State earned its first victory of the season, defeating Navy 34-7, a win that they Nittany Lions desperately needed.
Nebraska, Michigan, Purdue and Illinois all recorded blowout victories against sub par opponents. Minnesota defeated Western Michigan 29-23 and Iowa knocked off Northern Iowa 27-16.
Indiana’s bid at a perfect season ended (no surprise here) at the hands of the Ball State Cardinals, 41-39.
Something must be said about the Northwestern Wildcats, though. Northwestern defeated Boston College 22-13 on Saturday. With the win, all three of the Wildcats’ victories have been against teams from other BCS conferences. And, with their next four games against South Dakota, Indiana, Penn State and Minnesota, the Wildcats have a real chance to head into the Nebraska game with a 7-0 record.
The 10-2 record in week three is much improved from the 6-6 mark in week two. But yet again, in the two marquee games—Notre Dame at Michigan State and California at Ohio State—the Big Ten struggled.
I have defended the Big Ten in previous years, saying that outside of the SEC it had been the best conference. An argument could be made for the Big 12 in a couple of seasons, but I felt overall the Big Ten was second only to the SEC.
The last big non-conference game for the Big Ten comes next week when Michigan travels to South Bend to take on the same Notre Dame team that just dominated Michigan State.
And for the conference’s sake, Michigan needs to bring home a victory.