Big Ten Race Anything But Clear


SEP 15, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Gophers running back Donnell Kirkwood (20) rushes for short yardage in the first quarter against the Western Michigan Broncos at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

With all of the drama that surrounded the league in the off-season, most fans and pundits alike didn’t forsee the plunge that the Big Ten would take just four weeks into the 2012 season.

Michigan got thumped by Alabama in week one, then fell to Notre Dame in a very turnover-heavy matchup on Saturday. Wisconsin got outmanned 10-7 in week two by an Oregon State squad that finished 3-9 last season.  This weekend  Iowa lost to Central Michigan, 41-35, and Michigan State barely slipped past Eastern Michigan.

With just three teams in the most recent AP Top 25, (Ohio State, Michigan State, and Nebraska), the Big Ten is in trouble.

 Ohio State is inelible to take the Leaders crown or carry the league banner in a bowl game, though they sit at 4-0 and look very potent under first-year coach Urban Meyer. Wisconsin has replaced QB Danny O’Brien with a former walk-on named Joel Stave, and still aren’t the dominant running team we have all come to know them as.  

In fact of all teams, Minnesota (4-0) and Northwestern (4-0) sit atop the Legends division standings. Granted, both teams have played a lighter schedule than some, but that speaks volumes of the league’s early struggles.

Moving forward the Big Ten needs its top caliber teams to step up. Though Michigan sits at 2-2 they still have a chance to prove themselves in conference play, starting with Purdue in two weeks. Michigan State has a great defense, but their quarterback play is shaky and the line play has been inconsistent as well.

Wisconsin, even with all the struggles and coaching turnover it’s experienced, remains in line for the Leaders division crown if it can win out.

Northwestern and Minnesota both have gotten off to great starts, as we mentioned, but the schedule will not be filled with FCS teams or teams with losing records any longer.

This Big Ten race could be one of the most interesting we’ve seen in years. Whether or not that is a positive or negative remains to be seen.