The Ohio State Buckeyes are clearly the class of the Big 10 this year. Urban Meyer has brought in an offense that the Buckeyes seem to be running to near perfection. Quarterback Braxton Miller looks like a potential Heisman candidate and the team may have a good shot at running the table. The only issue for the Buckeyes is that they are not bowl eligible in 2012 thanks to NCAA sanctions they received this summer.
So other than the Buckeyes, the Northwestern Wildcats and Minnesota Golden Gophers are still undefeated as well. Yes you did read that right. While both teams may be undefeated, neither squad has had any major challenges on the schedule thus far. With Big 10 play beginning on Saturday, the tests will quickly be getting tougher.
Each team really relies on their defense as the backbone of the team. The Wildcats are giving up only 18 points a game, while the Gophers just 16 points a contest. Defense will be crucial down the stretch during conference play as stopping players like Montee Ball, Le’Veon Bell, and Denard Robinson won’t be easy.
Northwestern averages 31 points a game and Minnesota has only put up 29. The Wildcats have the advantage on the offensive side of the ball in other areas than just points. Their ability to rush the ball effectively will be key as the weather worsens when the season progresses. The Wildcats are averaging over 220 yards a game on the ground and that’s 40 more than the Gophers are posting.
Northwestern has a schedule advantage as well. They get to avoid both the Wisconsin Badgers and Ohio State, but if they overlook this week’s opponent, they could run into problems. The Wildcats take on the Indiana Hoosiers tomorrow and there could be an upset in the making. The Hoosiers have an explosive offense that averages 36 points a game, while ranking 13th in the country when it comes to passing. If Northwestern looks too far ahead they could be in trouble.
Although it’s easy to root for these two underdog squads in the Big 10, the fact is they haven’t proven anything yet. The teams they have faced have a combined record of only 10-20, and many of them don’t play in strong conferences. It is going to take a victory over the likes of the Michigan or Michigan State to really start turning some heads.