Up until now the B1G has been playing some pretty good football. In week one the B1G went 10-2 with a 2-1 record to other BCS conference teams. The other loss came in a close game to NIU who were in the Orange bowl last year.
In the second week the Big Ten went 11-1 with a 3-0 record against BCS opponents and 1-0 against the top 25. While we only played 3 BCS teams the B1G also recorded win a win against ND.
So in review the Big Ten is:
5-1 VS BCS foes.
1-0 VS ranked teams.
Not too bad, huh? The biggest problem is that, while the Big Ten has been playing great, the schedule has been less than daunting. Now let's take a look at the breakdown of this weekend.
This weekend the B1G:
Plays six BCS teams and ND
Plays 3 top twenty five teams.
This weekend we play as many BCS teams, and three times more ranked teams than in the first two weeks combined. Things have gone great to this point in the season but a bad showing this weekend and all of that goes out the window. There are seven games the B1G games to keep track of this weekend.
1. #16 UCLA vs. #23 Nebraska. - This is probably the most important game for the B1G's reputation this week. This is a matchup of two top 25 teams. Nebraska will have the home field advantage and there is no reason they shouldn't be able to win this game.
2. Illinois vs. #19 Washington. - I think this is the second most important game for the B1G this weekend. Illinois will be playing the Huskies in Chicago, which makes it much more like a home game for them than the Huskies. Also Illinois has been playing football like their hair is on fire. This game seemed like a sure blowout before the season started, but Washington should be on upset alert after seeing the kind of football Illinois has been playing. A win here would be great for our conference and could push Illinois into the top 25.
3. #20 Wisconsin @ Arizona State. - This is another good matchup for the B1G. Wisconsin will have to go out west and play a good Arizona State team in their home arena. Arizona State has only played one game thus far, a 55-0 win over Sacramento State. Being that Wisconsin is the ranked team they will be expected to win. A loss could knock them out of the top 25 (I don't think it will but it's possible).
4. #4 Ohio State at Cal. - This game is important because we will be going out west and will be expected to win by a lot, especially after Cal barley beat Portland State this weekend. Baring some kind of disaster there is no reason we should lose this game, but a weak showing could hurt the conference's perception along with our National Title hopes.
5. UCF @ Penn State. - UCF is 2-0 with wins over bad teams. This is a game featuring a bowl banned Penn State team that can't be ranked, but UCF is one of the best teams in the AAC and will be a decent test. I would think Penn State would be the heavy favorites. Penn State already beat Syracuse and a win here would solidify Penn State as a good team and will make October 26th at the Shoe all the more exciting for us.
6. Iowa at Iowa State. - Two bad teams from Iowa play each other in a regional rivaly that has no impact whatsoever on the national scene. Who gives a crap? Iowa should be the favorite seeing as Iowa State is 0-1 with a loss to The University of Northern Iowa. This game doesn't really matter and should be a snoozer. A win would be nice, but it wont really matter much either way.
7. #21 Notre Dame at Purdue. - What is the only thing that could be less exciting than two crappy teams from Iowa playing each other in a game no one cares about? Two crappy teams from Indiana playing each other in a game that is pretty much over before it starts of course! Notre Dame has one loss but is still a good football team. Purdue on the other hand is looking like by far the worst team in the conference this year with their only win coming in a narrow game against Indiana State. If Purdue loses, no harm done. If they somehow pull out the upset then it would be good for the B1G, plus it would be nice to be able to troll the scUM fans about their best win coming against a team Purdue beat.
The rest of the games are against bad opponents and there could be some upsets in those games amongst the mediocre teams in the conference (I'm looking at you Indiana and Minnesota), but as long as none of our good teams get upset we should be ok. It's a big weekend for the B1G. Here's hoping they don't blow it...even though we all know they will.
EDIT: updated with new AP rankings