Sep 14, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats running back Treyvon Green (22) runs with the ball against the Western Michigan Broncos during the third quarter at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Question - Who Can Stop Ohio State?

Sep 7, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; San Diego State Aztecs running back Chase Price (22) is taken down by Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier (10) and defensive lineman Michael Hill (77) at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 42-7. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has become something of a laughing stock among college football circles (at least SEC ones), but the Buckeyes look to be the sole driving force to save face for the rest of the conference. But is there anyone left in the conference who can take down OSU, particularly after a potentially season-defining win over a decent Penn State team?

We’ll look at the rest of the schedule for the Buckeyes, as well as potential contenders in the championship game, weighing up each team’s chances. Feel free to offer your opinions/lambast me in the comments box, or hit me up on Twitter.

 

The Remaining Schedule

Sep 14, 2013; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers running back Akeem Hunt (1) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Dan Fox (48) and nose tackle Louis Nix (1) in the third quarter at Ross-Ade Stadium. Notre Dame won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

@ Purdue

Expecting a letdown after last week’s emphatic victory? Unfortunately, it’s not coming at the hands of the struggling Boilermakers. I really like their defense, but they have neither the depth, nor even the talent to stick with Ohio State for more than a quarter. This could be ugly.

 

Odds of taking down the champ: Lloyd Christmas had better odds with Mary Swanson.

Oct 26, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Ryan Lankford (12) catches a pass during the first half against the Michigan State Spartansat Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

@ Illinois

The Illini are about as middle-of-the-road as you can get – they’re not a bad team, but there’s nothing particularly good about them either. Still, that’s a hell of a lot better than last season, which is a step in the right direction, and they have a shot at a bowl, needing 3 wins out of their last 5 games. Make that 4 games, as they ain’t winning this one.

 

Odds of taking down the champ: If they played a perfect game, they’d probably still lose.

Oct 5, 2013; Bloomington, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Glenn Carson (40) stops Indiana Hoosiers running back Tevin Coleman (6) before the line of scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana:

Last season, the Hoosiers nearly gave Ohio State and their fans a collective prolapse as they lost a 52-49 shootout. This year’s incarnation is a better team, and they could cause similar problems this year. Let’s be honest, the Buckeyes defense hasn’t exactly been a rock, so Indiana could cause some problems. The Hoosier defense is worse, so expect lots of points. The game is in Columbus, which tips the odds in favor of OSU, but they may be focused on another game the following week. Just a mere trifle of a game…

 

Odds of taking down the champ: Don’t write off the Hoosiers. I don’t think they’ll win, but I won’t be surprised if they do.

Oct 19, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (28) runs the ball avoiding a tackle by Indiana Hoosiers safety Greg Heban (9) in the second quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

@ Michigan

If someone’s going to knock off the Buckeye’s, their hated rivals TSUN are the most likely to do it. They are the one team in the conference with the talent and depth to run with Ohio State, and there’s the small matter of utter hatred for each other. The game is in Ann Arbor, giving Michigan the edge, but they need to avoid turnovers and don’t let Ohio State build a lead – kind of like Penn State did. This will be fun.

 

Odds of taking down the champ: Good, and it could be necessary to win the Legends.

 

The Title Game (aka Legends Division)

Oct 26, 2013; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock (15) looks to pass against the Nothwestern Wildcats during the third quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa:

Can they make it, can they win: The Hawkeyes played Ohio State hard earlier in the season, yet still lost by 10. Even if they did make the title game, tough with 2 conference losses, they may find it a tougher game this time round.

 

Michigan:

Can they make it, can they win: Already covered it. Interestingly, should the Wolverines win at the end of the season, it could be a strong possibility that they play each other in the championship game too.

Oct 19, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Danny Etling (5) is sacked by Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) during the 2nd half at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 14-0. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State:

Can they make it, can they win: Despite the tough closing kick to their schedule, my gut says the Spartans are heading to the title game. Their defense isn’t just good, it’s downright nasty, but their offense struggles at times under Connor Cook and that should be the case against the Buckeyes talent. Their running game is tough, but you won’t beat OSU with it.

Oct 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back David Cobb (27) rushes with the ball in the second half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 34-23. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota:

Can they make it, can they win: The Golden Gophers are a surprise team this year, and are already bowl eligible, but 2 league losses make it unlikely they’ll be representing the Legends at the big dance. I can’t see them taking down Ohio State this year regardless.

Oct 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah (8) jumps over a Minnesota Golden Gophers defender in the second half at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 34-23. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska:

Can they make it, can they win: If the Cornhuskers can navigate their nasty schedule to make the title game, I could see them giving OSU a battle. However, they lack toughness on defense, and I’d be surprised to see them representing the Legends.

Northwestern:

Can they make it, can they win: Four conference losses already? Yooouuu’rrree out!

Tags: Big Ten Leaders Big Ten Legends Connor Cook Illinois Fighting Illini Indiana Hoosiers Iowa Hawkeyes Michigan State Spartans Michigan Wolverines Minnesota Golden Gophers Nebraska Cornhuskers Northwestern Wildcats Ohio State Buckeyes Purdue Boilermakers

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