Three weeks into the 2010 season it's time to take a look at the eleven teams in the Big Ten and rank them according to their play thus far. We call it the 'glamour" rankings because until Big Ten season starts it is more about catching the eye of fans and voters across the country than anything else. The real season begins a week from this Saturday! Anyway, here we go...
11. Minnesota - If you lose at home to South Dakota, you deserve to be in the basement. They did rebound and play a decent game against USC, but moral victories don't really matter on a list like this. They have given up 90 points through three games, the most points in the conference, and are also towards the bottom in points scored. Things are a mess in Minneapolis.
10. Purdue - Marve has been anything but marvelous. Not only that, but Keith Smith is done for the season, which is a killer since he caught 91 passes for them last year. Both have helped to contribute to the Big Ten's most inept offense thus far. Regardless of their record in the non-conference, things will probably get very ugly for the Boilermakers when they hit the Big Ten.
9. Indiana - It's hard to get much of a read on Indiana since they have played a schedule that would hardly challenge a WAC school. They may be 2-0, but their opponents have been Towson and Western Kentucky, who was 0-12 last year by the way. It's not exactly like the Hoosiers overwhelmed the Hilltoppers either. Until they do something against a decent opponent they will remain towards the bottom. Their upcoming schedule includes Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State, and we aren't holding our breath.
8. Illinois - Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has shown some major potential and Mikel Leshoure has become a solid back, but they have only been able to beat the directional schools thus far (Southern and Northern Illinois). Yes, they lost to Missouri again. Their next game is against the Buckeyes, and then we will know much more about them.
7. Penn State - Let the griping begin. Fans in Happy Valley think this is a top twenty team, but their offense has been anemic so far. Evan Royster has been the single biggest disappointment of any player in the Big Ten, and true freshamn quarterback Robert Bolden is still learning the ropes. While the defense has held its own and will keep this team in a lot of games this season, this squad has not passed the looks test. We predict three more losses this season.
5. Michigan State - The good news is that the Spartans are 3-0, and fresh off an overtime thriller against Notre Dame. The bad news is that they have caused their coach to have a heart attack (we do love ya Dantonio). After a sleeper against Northern Colorado, come true tests against Wisconsin and Michigan. They have a ton of weapons on offense, as they have proved by putting up the second most points in the conference, and they don't have to worry about playing the Buckeyes in 2010.
4. Michigan - The exploits of "Shoelace" have covered over the weak defense of the Wolverines. Let's be honest, when UMass scores 37 points on your defense, you have some problems. However, he is a dynamic player who can keep you in any game. Wolverine fans are praying he just stays healthy down the stretch. That's because, though this team should start 5-0, the last seven games will be very brutal. Keep an eye on how they hold up.
3. Wisconsin - Though this team has started 3-0, they have yet to post an impressive victory. In fact, that's why they find themselves behind the Hawkeyes, who lost on the road Saturday. With ten starters back on offense, they might have the nation's premiere power game, but the defense has seemed like a liability. Something tells us that Saturday's game against Austin Peay will fail to answer most of our questions.
2. Iowa - Until Saturday's loss at Arizona, many pundits thought this was the best team in the Big Ten. Without doubt they have a top ten defense and some experienced skill position players. It really comes down to how well the offensive line progresses from this point on. They do get Wisconsin and Ohio State at home, though, and are still a very big threat to win the conference.
1. Ohio State - Call us homers if you'd like, but Ohio State has looked head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. A 3-0 start, including a solid victory against Miami (Fl), has been highlighted by a greatly improved offense. If the special teams can be shored up, this team should be the class of the Big Ten.