The dust has finally begun to settle. All is as it should be in the land we call the Big Ten. Minnesota’s traditional collapse came at the hands of Penn State, which was so dominate that its quarterback put a Golden Gopher safety in the hospital. Meanwhile, Notre Dame racked up more than 600 yards of total offense against the Boilermakers. So now the two perennial paper champions of the Big Ten have been put in their place – as disappointments. Iowa rebounded from the thrashing Ohio State put on them and thrashed lifeless Illinois, 35-7. And of course, the Michigan State defense let Mike Hart run all over it. So as a new week commences, we look forward to seeing more Big Ten team’s championship hopes become as torn as the cover of Drew Stanton’s copy of NCAA 2006.
No. 6 Ohio State (1-0 Big Ten, 3-1 overall) at No. 16 Penn State (2-0, 5-0) – 7:45 p.m. – ESPN
The lone game between ranked opponents in the Big Ten looks to be a battle. The game sets the white-hot Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson against Buckeyes linebacker A.J. Hawk and the now-legendary Ohio State linebacking core. Penn State freshman stud wide receiver Derrick Williams ran for another two touchdowns, and he looks to replace Ted Ginn, Jr. as the Big Ten’s Swiss Army Knife player. Ginn’s production has paled in comparison to last year’s when he averaged a touchdown every eight touches. Since giving Troy Smith the starting job – most likely a package gift involving cars and free clothing – Ohio State’s offense has gelled and looks to test the strong Penn State defense. Happy Valley will be loud enough to give Joe Pa a stroke, but it won’t be enough. Ohio State’s linebackers aren’t going to be shaking in their boots when Robinson comes chugging along.
Ohio State 21, Penn State 17
Iowa (1-1, 3-2) at Purdue (0-1, 2-2) – 4:30 p.m. – ESPN2
Purdue better learn how to tackle, and fast. Iowa’s offense clicked last week when quarterback Drew Tate finally found his rhythm. But remember, the game was against Illinois, which only puts up points on the hardwood. Purdue should play angry after Notre Dame displayed an offense that looked as if it should’ve been in an Arena Football League game. Kirk Ferentz has been unable to work his Big Ten magic this year; the Hawkeyes were held to a pathetic 10 points in losses to Ohio State and Iowa State. In the losses, once-Heisman hopeful Tate looked more pathetic than Michigan State’s kicking game. Iowa is playing against another laugher of a defense, and the Hawkeyes should pull out a much needed conference win in a season that is inches away from becoming a serious implosion.
Iowa 28, Purdue 20
Illinois (0-2, 2-3) at Indiana (0-1, 3-1) – noon
The least exciting game of the weekend, this matchup provides a perfect example of why people shouldn’t judge teams based on their records. The teams’ combined five wins have come against big-time football schools: Rutgers, San Jose State, Central Michigan, Nicholls State and Kentucky. The Ron Zook era has not gone exactly according to plan, but there are no reports of him crashing any frat parties – yet. Giving up 61 points to Michigan State will eventually drive any man toward the happy sauce. Indiana should stick to basketball. The one bright spot on either team has been Indiana quarterback Blake Powers, who, if playing for a contender, would be getting serious Heisman hype. In the end, Powers will be the difference.
Indiana 31, Illinois 17
No 14 Wisconsin (2-0, 5-0) at Northwestern (0-1, 2-2) – noon – ESPN
We have to tip our hats to Wisconsin, which has blazed out of the gates to a 5-0 record. We’d also like to congratulate the only Wisconsin quarterback worse than John Stocco – Brooks Bollinger, who looked awful in his first start for the Jets. Brian Calhoun has become a reincarnation of Ron Dayne, and Calhoun’s combination of power and speed has put his name among the Heisman candidates. Northwestern’s pinpoint passer, Brett Basanez, has put up respectable numbers this year – 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Wisconsin will win, despite the fact that Stocco hasn’t thrown a tight spiral since the fifth grade.
Wisconsin 42, Northwestern 10