The Real Season Starts Now

By Alex on September 27, 2010 at 4:00p

The Big Ten is tough this seasonThe 2010 regular season has been very enjoyable thus far. The good in the Big Ten has included Ohio State beating Miami, Michigan and Michigan State beating Notre Dame, Wisconsin downing Arizona State, and both Indiana and Northwestern starting off undefeated. The bad features Minnesota losses to South Dakota and Northern Illinois, Iowa going down in Tuscon, Penn State getting beat like a rag doll in Tuscaloosa, and Illinois once again losing to Missouri. 

While all the out of conference play has given us a chance to see who looks good and who doesn't, the only thing that matters the rest of the way is the Big Ten season, which starts this weekend. The winner of the conference is the recipient of an automatic BCS bid, giving anyone a chance to redeem themselves for poor starts (even the 1-3 Fightin' Tim Brewsters). Starting this week the intensity will go up a notch, teams will appear more focused, small injuries will be pushed aside, and fans will finally get to see the true colors of the conference's teams as they march towards the Big Ten crown.

The Buckeyes have won a share of five straight conference titles, and are looking to set a record by going after number six. Things won't be easy this year as a night game at Wisconsin, road game at Iowa, and home games against Penn State and Michigan stand in the way. OSU will be the favorite, though, heading into week five of the season, but it will be interesting to see how things play out and how the contenders sitting right behind the Bucks fair when it matters most. Let's take a look at how Ohio State's Big Ten foes currently stand heading into Big Ten play and draft a forecast on the next eight weeks or so.

"Wow, that Clay guy is good"#10 Wisconsin (4-0)

The Badgers are undefeated after beating UNLV, San Jose State, ASU, and Austin Peay thus far. John Clay and freshman James White have set the tone on the ground with a combined 770 yards and 10 TDs, following the lead of what may possibly be the nation's top offensive line. Scott Tolzien has not been that impressive with just 2 TDs against 2 INTs, and his play will really be the determining factor when it comes to Wisky having a shot at the title. The Badgers have a tough opening game at Michigan State, which will tell a lot about both teams. If they can skate past that game, they will have to face OSU and Northwestern at home, and Iowa and Michigan on the road which will all prove as difficult tasks. The Badgers are good, but I see them only winning two of the latter four games and I think they finish 6-2 in the conference and 10-2 overall, possibly sliding into a BCS game.

#18 Iowa (3-1)

Iowa lost a tough game at Arizona a few weeks ago, but rebounded strong, pummeling Ball State 45-0. Ricky Stanzi can show up as Jekyll or Hyde for Kirk Ferentz's team and it seems the special units are a toss-up as well. The one standard is the defense which will be tough all season long and I can't wait to see the first meeting between Mr. Clayborn and Denard. The Hawkeyes have a really tough stretch coming up, as they play Penn State at home, Michigan on the road, Wisconsin at home, and MSU at home. They then take on Northwestern in Evanston two weeks later before playing the Buckeyes at Kinnick the following week. I'm not sure Iowa has what it takes this year as they are down to just one running back and their offensive line has taken a step back from 2009. I will say the Hawkeyes go 6-2 in conference play and finish 9-3 on the season, heading to the Capital One Bowl.


#19 Michigan (4-0)

Is Michigan really back this time? That is the question everyone wants to know. They looked impressive taking down UConn and Notre Dame the first two games, but then again UConn is 2-2 (after a loss to Temple in week 3) and Notre Dame is sitting pretty at 1-3. Their other two wins have come in a close 42-37 victory over FCS UMass and this past week against BGSU. One thing that is for sure is that Denard Robinson is one heck of an athlete and can beat any team in the nation with his legs. His passing numbers have been great, but I for one, don't believe his 10 yard slant passes to wide-open receivers that go for 50-yard catch and runs will fly in the Big Ten. No team in the conference will be able to stop Shoelace, but teams will be able to slow him down and contain him, forcing him to make passes while under pressure. He also may not hold up the entire Big Ten season as he clearly is extremely fragile, having to leave in two games this season. UM will shoot it out with Indiana this week before three straight games against MSU, Iowa, and Penn State. Games against Wisconsin and at OSU to end the season won't help, but expect Michigan to improve upon last year's 1-7 conference record and make their first bowl game since 2007. Meeeeeeeeeeechigan finishes 4-4 in the conference and 8-4 overall, good for a trip to the Outback bowl.

#20 Penn State (3-1)

I don't think Penn State is a good football team this year and I think they have proved they are at least a year, if not two away from seriously contending for the Big Ten title. Rob Bolden has tremendous potential, but the game at Alabama showed he's just not ready for primetime. And what about Evan Royster? Oh yeah, the "Heisman Contender" has just 297 yards and 1 touchdown this season and has not looked like the workhorse Joe Pa will need in a tough Big Ten this year. PSU goes to Iowa next week, before facing a tough three game stretch in late October-early November against Michigan, Northwestern, and OSU, and finally taking on Sparty at home in the final game of the season. Penn State finds a way to go 5-3 in the conference with defense and the running game (supported by Stephfon Green and soon-to-be-stud frosh Silas Redd) and ends up 8-4 in the Alamo Bowl.

Will Dantonio be disappointed once again?#21 Michigan State (4-0)

Before you get your panties in a bunch about MSU, know that they haven't played anyone noteworthy other than Notre Dame (who is now 1-3), and needed a fake field goal for a score in OT to take them down. The one thing Sparty has going for them is that they don't have to play Ohio State this year, allowing for them to make a legitimate run at the Big Ten crown. The problem though is that the next five games are home against Wisco, at Michigan, home against Illinois, at Northwestern, and at Iowa. They will be lucky to win two of those games in my opinion and their season finale at Penn State is no cupcake either. Michigan State finishes the conference slate at 3-5 and 7-5 on the season. They go bowling, but a disappointing finish to what appears to be an exciting start to the 2010 season.

Northwestern (4-0)

NU is probably not going to win the conference this year, but they are going to pose some serious problems for opponents. Like MSU, the Wildcats fortunately do not have to play the Buckeyes (or Michigan), but games at PSU and Wisconsin and at home against MSU and Iowa pose threats. Dan Persa appears to be the real deal, throwing for over 260 yards per game with 8 touchdowns against just 1 interception so far this season. He will lead NU to a 4-4 conference record and will bring Northwestern to another bowl game at 8-4 on the season.

Indiana (3-0)

Smart move by IU scheduling Towson, WKU, and Akron to start the season 3-0, but the only other "gimme" on their schedule is the October 16 non-conference game at home against Arkansas State. The Hoosier offense can certainly put up a lot of points, but their defense is lousy and will have trouble stopping many improved Big Ten offenses this year. I do think they will give Michigan a game this coming week before falling just short, but the rest of the way will not be pleasant and IU will finish just 1-7 in the conference this year, missing a bowl game at 5-7 overall. 

Illinois (2-1)

Illinois has no "gimmes" the rest of the way in a schedule that includes eight conference games and a trip to Fresno State to end the season. The Fighting Illini open up with OSU, Penn State, and MSU to start the conference slate, and finish with road trips to Ann Arbor and Evanston in two of the last three games. I think Illinois wins one game at best in the conference and loses at Fresno to finish at 3-9 and pretty much finishing Ron Zook's stint in Champaign. 

Like a G6, like a, like a G6Purdue (2-2)

Purdue looked alright, with their only loss coming to Notre Dame, but then they just went and did something silly, losing to Toledo at home on Saturday. The Boilermakers are such a hot and cold team and could lose or win any game on their Big Ten schedule this year. I can see them going 2-6 or 3-5 in the conference to finish 4-8 or 5-7 overall, not exactly a step forward from last season. A lot will depend on the health of Robert Marve, who has been banged up of late (and missed most of the Toledo game), as well as the play of the defense who, as Buckeye fans know, can be a big difference maker in many games. The schedule difficulty isn't terrible, but I just can't see Purdue getting it done to make a bowl game this year.

Minnesota (1-3)

Ever want to see what it's like for an entire football team to give up on a coach? Take a trip to Minneapolis, where it once looked like an OSU road trip at night to TCF Bank Stadium could be an upset-alert type game. Now Tim Brewster's team is the laugh of the conference, after losing games to South Dakota and Northern Illinois and narrowly beating Middle Tennessee State 24-17. The Gophers did play USC tough, only losing 32-21, but it appears they have just completely folded this season. I can't see Minnesota winning more than one game at best in the conference and an 0-8 season is definitely possible. Think a 1-11 or 2-10 season ends Tim Brewster's run at Minnesota? Want Glenn Mason back Gopher fans? The answer to both of those questions is yes.


Comments Show All Comments

Leanenaud's picture

I'll be interested to see who takes over at Illinois and Minnesota after their tragic 2010 campaigns are finished. I see Illinois going for SEC sloppy 2nds again with Richt. Al Golden to Minnesota?

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I thought Mangino was a sure thing at Minni.

Chris Lauderback's picture

You sure? I figured the Gophers would steal "Dauber" from Minnesota State.

tampa buckeye's picture

Maybe they will hire North Dakota state's coach. 

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I also thought Les Miles was a sure thing to go up North......

DaveM's picture

I don't know if anyone will be headed to Champaign for the game this weekend, but I wanted to let everyone know that downtown Urbana is throwing an Oktoberfest party on Friday and Saturday.  I highly encourage Buckeye fans to attend!

BucksfanXC's picture

This the best thing going on? I'll be there, I was looking for something to do post Saturday.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

BacknBlack's picture

Wisky is going to be very beatable until Toon and Gilreath return. Wish they were on the schedule sooner.

I agree the velvet fog is next in line for the Gophers job.

Matt's picture

Small point, but the Buckeyes are not looking to set a record with the 6th conference title, but rather match Woody's mark (1972-1977) of 6 consecutive outright or shared conference titles.

JakeBuckeye's picture

That article comparing Boise State and tOSU's schedule is a big bowl of crap.

It uses almost all "Well this team beat this team, and that team lost to that team which Boise State beat" type of arguments.

Oregon beat Purdue last year, and Purdue beat us. Clearly Oregon was much better than us based on that logic. Its too bad it was never settled on the football field. (Sarcasm on, FYI.)

Bucksfan's picture

It's hard not to be excited about this Buckeye squad.  They just seem nasty with any string player you throw in there.  Some issues with them, like getting to the QB, young CBs that you can pick on, a running game that gets better the less you play your senior captain.  I don't know.  Wisconsin had the Bucks beat the last 2 years in almost all phases, and some special play from unlikely sources was the difference.  Bielema really hates Ohio State, and absolutely abhors losing to them, they're going to be very, very amped.  It's also a bad matchup with their passing game vs. the Buckeye secondary. 

Well, there's a reason they play the games.  Never know.  Just would hate to lose to Wisconsin, tie them for the Big Ten, and then subsequently lose out on the national title and maybe even the Rose Bowl bid on account of those drunken clowns.

O-H!  8 more games!

BuckeyeChief's picture

Thinking about it for a few days, that game is starting to give me ulcers. All I can remember is 2003.

"2014 National with it!!!"

buckeyedude's picture

Wisconsin has a passing game? WTF?



iball's picture

Wisky aint got nothin, neither does Iowa. We're cruisin to the NC. And another Heisman.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

osukdawg76's picture

It's Camp Randall at night.  That game is anything but an auto-W.  We needed a late drive two years ago against them to win on the road.  I expect much of the same thing this time around.

I, for one, welcome our new coaching overlords.



btalbert25's picture

While that Wisconsin team wasn't very good, neither was that Buckeye team.  I'm not saying it's going to be a slam dunk or anything, but it's going to be the hardest game Wisconsin will play all year.  It may very well be the toughest Buckeye game too.  While, I think it may be close, it's going to take near perfect play from Wisconsin and a couple of let downs on by the Buckeyes for Wisconsin to win that game.

Now, has this team had some let downs here and there?  Absolutely.  The problem, I think with this year's D is that there is a lot of youth in key roles.  Last year we had experienced solid players to rotate in, like Rose and Worthington.  This year it's guys that don't have a lot of experience.  As the year goes on, it will continue to get better and better.

iball's picture

OT, Greg Oden out for pre-season, return unknown.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers


Brionte Dunn just committed 2012 class is looking good


Brionte Dunn just committed 2012 class is looking good

Beadman's picture

While your assessment of Michigan's offense is accurate, I think the bigger issues lie with the Defense.

They lack speed and size in the defensive backfield and cannot seem to stop the short passing game (which seems to result in long gains).

I do believe that the team will end up with a better record this year, I'm still not convinced that they can compete adequately against the Big 11 opponents.

I guess we'll find out after November 27th.

By the way, I read quite a few NCAAF blogs and websites and find this one to be very well-done.  Keep up the nice work.

Oh...........I am a Wolverine fan.........hope you don't mind.

                      All of my good friends live in Willard.

buckeye33's picture

It really doesn't matter how many wins Wisconsin or Iowa long as we're not one of them.  Save the bravado for after the season...there are no "gimmies or auto-W's" in the Big Ten (especially on the road). The cliche of "one game at a time" is really the only way to look at this objectively.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I still think Wiskey and Iowa are totally beatable. We will be the best team on both sides of the ball they will face all season, including whatever Bowl game they may reach. But they wont be our toughest marchioness. I this k we already rolled that team in game #2. Until we get to our Bowl game of course. OOOOO HHHHHHHH!!!

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama