It’s October and Big Ten football is officially here.
I’ve been very critical of the Big Ten as a conference so far this season and rightfully so. September was an absolutely brutal month for the conference on a national stage. But, with the first week of conference play officially in the books, let’s take a look at some of last week’s results and see how things went down.
Obviously the marquee match up was Ohio State-Michigan State. A game in which the Buckeyes won in traditional Big Ten fashion, 17-16.
Nebraska came from behind to beat Wisconsin at home. Trailing 20-10 at halftime, the Cornhuskers were able to outscore the Badgers 20-7 in the second half to earn the 30-27 victory.
It will be interesting to see what kind of momentum a great win like that will do for a team like Nebraska. The Huskers will travel into Ohio Stadium this week for a primetime game. Will Nebraska feed off of that momentum, or did they use most of their juice to make that comeback?
Northwestern remained unbeaten on the season and it defeated Indiana 44-29. If they can get by Penn State in Happy Valley this week, the Wildcats have a real shot at being 7-0 heading into the week seven contest with Nebraska. And, with no Michigan or Ohio State on the schedule for Northwestern, it has a real shot at winning the Legends Division.
Speaking of Penn State, the Nittany Lions have rebounded incredibly well after an 0-2 start, winning three consecutive games. PSU won its B1G opener last weekend in a 35-7 rout over Illinois.
Minnesota suffered its first loss of the season as it fell to Iowa, 31-13. And in the only non-Big Ten game of the week, Purdue defeated Marshall in a shootout, 51-41.
As we’ve already hinted at, the big game next week features Nebraska and Ohio State in Columbus. I’ll have more on that game in my weekly Thursday column.
But the other game I’m really interested to see is Northwestern at Penn State. We can find out a lot about the state of both programs from this game. After losing its first two games, many thought Penn State was in for a miserable season. But, after winning three straight, the Nittany Lions have shown a sense of pride for dealing with all that they’ve dealt with in the last year.
On the other hand, Northwestern finds itself in unfamiliar territory. The Wildcats aren’t used to being unbeaten this late into the season. They’ve already knocked off some decent opponents too in Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College. Playing in Happy Valley is a whole different animal, though, just ask the Ohio Bobcats.
While this may be as bad as the Big Ten has been in the last ten years, there is just something about Big Ten football that makes it special.